Stuff and Nonsense: February 2010


2.21.2010

"Let the more loving one be me."

★★★

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

"The More Loving One" by W.H.Auden (21 February 1907 - 29 September 1973)

★★★

2.17.2010

Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison


Once upon a time, there was a witch who had two apprentices. One apprentice, Amanda, was very beautiful and practiced wicked magic. The other, Mira, was neither particularly beautiful nor particularly wicked, but adored her “sister” and wished to do whatever was necessary to please her. Alas, Mira’s adoration was misplaced for her beautiful “sister” used that love to trap Mira in a magical mirror and make her a slave.

Recognize this story yet? Yes, it’s “Snow White” with Amanda as the Wicked Queen and Mira as the Magic Mirror. However, “Snow White” is just the start of Mira’s journey to freedom and redemption ...

I have to say that, while Mira’s cunning ways and manipulation of others frequently bordered on wickedness, it was hard not to sympathize with her plight. After all, Mira had not chosen to be trapped in the magic mirror and, without a body, could only attain her freedom with the assistance (willingly given or otherwise) of others.

Overall, a fast and enjoyable read for those who don’t mind a little moral ambiguity.

Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison (Viking, 2004)

2.15.2010

Reading Round-Up

As I mentioned last week, I gobbled down a bunch of books while I was in the hospital. I am too lazy to flesh my notes out into a proper post for each, so here is a general summing up:
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Hard Love tells the story of John Galardi -- a lonely teenager who has starting writing his own zine. He befriends another zine writer, Marisol, but their friendship is sorely tested by John's crush on her. Marisol likes girls, you see, and John ... well, John doesn't know what he likes. Except that he'd reallyreally like someone to touch him. I read Wittlinger's Parrotfish in 2008 as part of the A-Z Reading Challenge and enjoyed it so much that, when a student came in raving about Hard Love, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. I was not disappointed. Wittlinger has perfectly captured the confusion and loneliness of young adulthood without lapsing into pure pathos.
The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists by Peter Laufer
The subtitle really gave it away -- this book was not about butterflies so much as about the ways humans (for good or ill) interact with butterflies. While interesting, it left me feeling kind of "meh." This is not Laufer's fault -- I just think I would have been happier reading Sharman Apt Russell's An Obsession with Butterflies which is more "science-y."
Nylon Road: A Graphic Memoir of Coming of Age in Iran by Parsua Bashi
Bashi recounts growing up in Iran and all the things which occurred that eventually led her to immigrate to Switzerland in 2004. Bashi pulls no punches and Nylon Road is as much an indictment of Western culture as it is of Iran's "religious" regime. A hard, but entertaining read.
The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid
Based on a blog by the same name, this book covers Reid's attempts to lose weight. It's a satisfying, if light, read and the built-in animated flip book made me grin. I would, however, not recommend purchasing this book as it is a more-or-less straight regurgitation of her blog. Just go to the dietgirl archives and start reading.

2.14.2010

"I am a draper mad with love."

"I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast."

(I was researching some types of cloth mentioned in the later Betsy-Tacey books when I found this quotation from Dylan Thomas's Under Milkwood ... of course, I saved it up for Valentine's Day!)