Saturday, April 9, 2011

P-Books vs. E-Books, The Future of Reading, and Reading Literature of Other Cultures

One can argue that I don't know how to look at a calender, and they would be right. For some reason I thought last class (April 7th) was week 13 (the last class) and I read and blogged about the novel Thirsty. So here I'll blog about what I was supposed to blog about on Thursday, and on April 14th, when we actually read the group of novels that includes Thirsty, please go to the previous blog post.

"P-Books vs. E-Books"
I can honestly say that I have very little experience with e-books, and I have no experience with e-readers. The only e-books I can say I have experienced are the ones that you read from your computer. But I do find Digital Rights Managament facinating. The "Sharing" section speaks briefly on this. Some companies limit their e-books to be "lent" only twice, and in some cases, once. The "Secondhand Books" section also touches on this. The author says "Few e-readers support lending or reselling ebooks" which, to me, is unfair. I paid for it, it is now my property. If I want to sell it or give it away, I should be allowed to. However, I do understand the used property market, as I have been following the used videogame issue for a while. When you personally resell something, nothing is sent back to the people who originally made the item. At the same time, they already got their money, and they are not physically making another copy, and they are not losing money. They just are not making any new money from a resale. I know that was a brief run down, but it's the basics.
I'm still not sold on e-books, but I do have to say that the ability to highlight and make notes is pretty intriguing. I have some books from my undergrad that I highlighted in (my undergrad teachers told us it was ok and recommened doing it!) and when I re-read them I cringe. I know that I could always pay the $12 and buy a new copy and support my favoutire authors. Yet at the same time I like looking back at my copy of Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone that I read for the first time during a class called "The School Boy" that deals basically with homosexuality and children. My copy of The Golden Compass also has many notes about children and agency that I love reading. So even this e-book highlighting doesn't sell me.

"The Future of Reading"
"Story trumps all. It doesn't matter if you get to see clips of Lauren Conrad at a photo shoot on the screen while reading her new novel, This Book is a Symptom of Publishing Companies' Desperation." If I live to be 100 years old, or if I get amnesia, I hope I will never forget this one quote. I really don't mind if people are reading online, on ebooks, or in print, or messages in the sky. As long as you're reading and you're liking it, I'm happy and I think we're safe from falling into a dystopia (more or less). I like this quote because the story really is what makes something sucessful (though as I write this I am questioning myself...). I actually like the idea of the online medium and the riddles and the need to come together to solve the riddles, but really, haven't we all read a book, watched a movie, or played a video game where the story just wasn't there? Sometimes we finish the thing in question just for the spirit of not leaving things unfinished, even though there's nothing that's holding us to it?

"Reading Literature of Other Cultures"
Along with the article, I will also draw upon the seminar from Thursday. I am someone who enjoys literature from other cultures, as long as it has been translated or written in English because I am sadly uni-lingual. Personally I think it is strange to feel like you have nothing to say about a piece of literature because it is set in a culture that is not your own. As the article suggests, you can imagine yourself there, and you can always go research the culture in question. You can always speak about it in terms of its complete strangeness to you, and compare it to your own culture. As I think back to my elementary public school experience (burr) I can't recall any books that were outside of the Canadian/American culture. I read some books myself, including some of The Royal Diaries series (fictional diaries of real historical royality as children), and a book called Sakuran and some others that I can't recall the titles, but in the classroom I can't recall ever reading something outside of our own setting. In highschool we read The Forbidden City, but that's an American's view, there to explain everything we might find foreign and confusing to us. Maybe I think that we should have more culturally diverse material in the classroom because of my small town's inadequate reading collection, but that's where I stand. Don't make everything the white version of Canada/America. And I certainly don't believe in localizing the material-and this was something brought up in the seminar, wherein an international book will have the culturally specific bits removed and re-localized. Eg, a book that is set in Japan is now set in America when it is translated to English. Why do this? As people who belong to a diverse world, it would probably be beneficial to present children/young people these different cultures without having to mask them with our culture.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

M.T Anderson and the "Vampires, Changelings, and Radical Mutant Teens" article

For this week I read "Thirsty" by M.T. Anderson, and I read the whole thing and was flipping though the last pages and came across the other things the author has published. I didn't even realize that he wrote Burger Wuss, Feed, and the two volume The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. I have to say that I enjoyed the book, but initially I did not buy the Lord of the Vampires, Tch'muchgar, is going to come back and destroy everything. When Chris, the protagonist, describes the rituals that his town did, I just thought that his town was crazy, but then I was supposed to believe in it. Sorry, I just don't. I might just have a problem with naming things that I'm supposed to be scared of. Then he gets the holy plot device and they give it a name and how to "activate it" (Moon Prism Power!!! :p ) and I just find that so corny (out of Sailor Moon, of course).

What I did like about this book is how Chris' life is presented. I genuinely found his struggle to exist in the human world while slowly becoming a vampire intriguing. I know that if I had read this when I was in high school, I probably would have sat back and day dreamed for hours imagining what I would have done in his situation.

As for the article, I have to say that nothing in particular stood out to me. In my last undergraduate year I took a course on vampires in literature, so the article is pretty much a repeat. It did alert me to some interesting book that I want to read though.

(I had a nice long paragraph that was deleted randomly, and no amount of undo/redos will get it back. So I'll try to sum up my brilliance again.)
I particularly liked how the article discussed how young adults may not associate themselves with/as adults; therefore, they may not readily swallow the morality that adults are giving them (especially considering that adults will reinforce that young adults are not yet adults). In the last paragraph it reads that young adults need these types of novels because "the paradoxical questions of emotional and moral struggle as well as the contradictory issues of humanity may be asked and thought about without cynicism or deprecation." Vampire/paranormal fiction has always been one of my favourite types of literature, and the reasons why are always hard to articulate for me. I like the complete differentness of the world being presented; it is unlike what everyone has told you what life will be like.  It gives you different sets of morals. The end of Carrie Jones Need makes you stop and think, wow, seriously, she did that? Anne Rice's Lestat drinks from morally corrupt people, so does that make him, as a vampire, morally acceptable? Though not supernatural, Hannibal Lector eats the "free-range rude" which makes you reconsider him as a moral character (fourth year honours seminar on cannibalism in literature...good times). Something that literature concerned with the supernatural offers is new moral stances in a new world that is available to them.

So my re-typed thoughts about the article are not quite as great as they were originally, so maybe I'll fill in my thoughts some time tomorrow. I swear the moment I fall asleep I'll remember something epic...