Archive | February, 2012

On shameless(?) self-promotion

29 Feb

The real question is, "What would Blair Waldorf do?"

On several occasions in the past few months, I’ve been kind of chided by people I respect and admire about all the “self-promotion” I do on this blog and social media. And it made me feel pretty ashamed, which made me think about this whole idea of shameless self-promotion, and how shameless it really is.

Here’s the thing. Yes, I’m being a big, annoying show off. But I’m not doing it for my ego, or because I assume everyone in the world wants to know what I thought about whatever book I read. I’m doing it on the off chance that somehow it will help me get somewhere one day. I know that to even get close to achieving my goals, I have to put in a lot of hard work first. And some of that hard work involves “selling myself”, as unnaturally as it might come to me. (more…)

Reading list from The Marriage Plot

26 Feb

“To start with, look at all the books.” From the very opening line of The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, it’s clear that literature is going to be pretty important here. After all, it’s a novel about three Brown graduates as they navigate their first year out of university and into the “real world”, which all their critical theory has left them, ironically, pretty poorly equipped to navigate.

This is a book that plays at pulling apart ideas about love and marriage and all its complications, and it peppers the overlapping stories of the three protagonists Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell with references to all the texts we probably should have read at uni. It’s a love triangle story at its heart, but Eugenides is attempting something a little bit critical – enquiring whether “the marriage plot” is still a meaningful literary form, when marriage hardly seems a satisfying goal for these characters with such wild, youthful aspirations. As Eugenides told The Millions, “Instead of writing a marriage plot, I could deconstruct one and then put it back together, consistent with the religious, social, and sexual conventions prevailing today. I could write a novel that wasn’t a marriage plot but that, in a certain way, was; a novel that drew strongly from tradition without being at all averse to modernity.”

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Rihanna, I don’t want to hear your Chris Brown collaborations

25 Feb

I should probably preface this by saying that I love Rihanna. I think she’s cool, and feisty. She’s got guts, and besides, even if you’re too cool for pop music, you can’t deny that every song she comes out with has the ability to turn any party around. And I do believe she’s a grown woman and can make her own decisions about her personal life, even if they may very well be bad ones.

I also believe that guys who beat up their girlfriends (or guys who beat up their boyfriends, or girls who beat up their boyfriends, or anyone who beats up anyone, really) are not necessarily just misogynistic assholes. They might be, but it’s usually a little more complicated than that. I believe that people who do things like that are deeply messed up and need psychological help rather than just punishment. It’s pretty simple – people who are happy and well adjusted and have been brought up well don’t want to hurt people. Maybe it’s naïve, but I generally always think rehabilitation rather than retribution should be the first response.

But I also believe that if you sign up to be famous, you have at least a base level of responsibility to understand how your choices influence the rest of the world. If Rihanna still wants Chris Brown in her life after that infamous night three years ago when he bashed her face in, and wants to hang out with him in her own private time, that’s her call. I’m all about forgiveness, and I can understand how when you love someone that much, you can let anything slide. But she has a responsibility to understand that recording music with him and going around in public like nothing ever happened, as if we never saw those police photos with her face all bloody and purple with bruises, just isn’t all that cool. (more…)

Thinking about Kurt Cobain, in honour of his birthday

22 Feb

kurt cobain beautiful

It was Kurt Cobain’s birthday earlier this week. He would have been 45, which kind of blows my little mind. And even though it should really have nothing to do with me at all, it makes me feel peculiarly, deeply sad.

Here’s the quasi-embarrassing thing. I have a beautiful black and white poster of Kurt framed on my wall. I think it’s just the most stunning, incredibly poignant picture – smoking and playing guitar, his hair greasy and tangled against a stubbly cheek. I see people notice it and politely pretend not to notice it when they walk into my living room, which I guess is nice. It’s nice not to have to explain how even though I’m not 16 anymore, there’s still something I find so beautiful and mesmerising about him. Even though I’m past that phase where rock music meant everything to me, listening to Nirvana still wrenches something inside my belly, reminds me of sadder times and gives me that peculiar, gloomy comfort. That line from Frances Farmer, “I miss the comfort of being sad,” makes perfect sense to me in moments like this.

It’s terribly uncool, but there’s still something about that angst that speaks to me, even though I was never a part of it at the right time. I was a generation too late, but I still feel, somehow, like I’m part of this huge group of people who have felt the same way, at some point. And I think that’s what makes Nirvana and Kurt’s whole legacy so enduring, and so important to so many people.

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Gatsby update

18 Feb

He’s still adorable.

gatsby

Love between the lines (Guest post on Liticism)

15 Feb

muchado

 Yesterday I had the pleasure and honour of contributing a guest post to the lovely Beth Blanchard’s Liticism blog. It’s about love and literature and reading Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favourite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, No-So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals by Maura Kelly and Jack Murnighan, and it makes me giddy with pride and excitement to have the opportunity to contribute to such a great blog alongside some really wonderful writers. You can read my post, Love Between the Lines, here.

8 romantic things

14 Feb

Bookmarc Valentines Day card

Super-cute Bookmarc card

Hey, so it’s Valentine’s Day. Look, I know how uncool it is to even have it on your radar, but given that I haunt so many American blogs, it’s hard not to be aware of the date.

The thing is, it’s always kind of assumed that, if you’re a girl, you’re either pathetically misty-eyed and crazy about the whole thing, or you’re alone and desperate and bitter about it, and also crazy. But really, most of us are kind of in between. Kind of indifferent, really. There’s all this Occupy Valentine’s Day stuff, which does kind of appeal to my cynical side, but I just don’t care enough about this day to even hate it.

And really, why would I hate it? Sure, it’s dorky and lame and “if you really love each other you don’t need a special day to remind you of it” and blah blah blah. But I’ve had a couple of really great Valentine’s Days in the past, with all that sweet romantic champagne and rose petals sort of thing. And it was nice.

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What I read: January

12 Feb

death at intervals

Death at Intervals by Jose Saramago

Basically, I think the way this book came to be written is that Saramago thought, “Hey, what would happen if people couldn’t die?” And so this fictional country was created, where one day, on the first day of the new year, nobody died. If you’re a lover of Latin American fiction, and the various strains of magic realism that tend to go on throughout it, then the concept won’t be too difficult to accept. What’s interesting is the way this deathlessness so quickly becomes a terrible thing rather than a blessing. The character of Death (or death – she insists it is spelled with a lower case ‘d’) becomes a villain because she doesn’t kill. And when the story gradually morphs almost into the realm of the love story, it’s pretty beautiful and enthralling, despite the time it might take to grow on you at the beginning. (more…)

A particularly feline playlist

11 Feb

The Cure Lovecats

Or, 11 songs Gatsby likes

Obviously, I’m talking about my adorable baby kitten Gatsby, whose favourite songs may be of less interest than those of the artist formerly known as James Gatz (but then again, maybe not?). But I warned you I would do this. Next thing you know we’ll be sharing an email address

Anyway, we like songs, and we especially like songs about cats. So, we put together a little playlist for when you’re feeling particularly feline.

1. Kitty by The Presidents of the United States of America 

I don’t care what you say – I really think this song is just about a cute little cat. (I also think Peaches is just about eating fruit. Why do you have to ruin everything?) Anyway, little Gatsby and I love rocking to this. He makes the little meowing sounds at the start.

2. The Lovecats by the Cure

Possibly the coolest cat song in the world, and it suits us just perfectly, because we are the lovecats.

3. Phenomenal Cat by The Kinks

The cat in this song is just about the coolest cat in the world. He just hangs out in his tree, chilling out and getting fat and telling everyone about all the adventures he’s had. That’s so how I imagine Gatsby will be when he’s a little old man.

4.Cat Claw by The Kills

Because we’re just rock stars, basically.

5.Cat People (Putting Out Fire) by David Bowie

Naturally, my cat would be a Bowie kind of cat. I’m bringing him up to be a bit rock ‘n’ roll, a bit glamorous, a bit camp. He LOVES his pretty pink kitty carrier, and so what?

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Cute pictures of my kitten

10 Feb

My friend L, who calls herself a crazy cat lady, and who kind of is, except that she’s cute and blonde and not a deranged old woman, wrote on my Facebook wall the other day:

“Rebecca, as much as I completely and utterly adore your writing, there is something you should know: the internet is not interested in anything that doesn’t involve cats. It’s a bit like how she’s cheer captain (CATS) and Taylor Swift is on the bleachers (EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE INTERNET). So let’s just stick to writing exclusively about Gatsby the Catsby from now on, K?”

And you know what? She’s right. So, I was going to write a book review, but instead, let’s just take a moment to think about how adorable my kitten is.

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