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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Musings

First of all, congrats to Sia McKye for winning the t-shirt of Friday Mornings at Nine! Please email me your address (marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com) and I'll send it out to you ;-). I'll be giving more of them away throughout the summer and, hopefully, there will be ARCs soon, too...

In other news, I've been finding myself increasingly fascinated by the whole Twilight scene, ever since reading that first book. I have a handful of plot- and characterization-specific criticisms of the novel (biology-class lustfulness aside--LOL), but if asked to choose Like or Dislike, I have to admit to being squarely in the Like category. And I'm a bit surprised by that because, although I've always enjoyed paranormals, I've never been into the vampire thing...and even less so into werewolves.

However, I adore love triangles, and this series has an incredibly compelling one at the heart of the story. Arguments can be made about the effectiveness of the introspective writing style and whether the themes/metaphors are or are not "anti-feminist" (who else finds equating "premarital sex" with "the death of the soul" worthy of intense debate?!), but I can't get away from how intriguing it is that this series has captured the imagination of so many. That it's tapped into a powerful vein of female fantasy. And that it touches upon primal elements at every turn.

Doesn't stop a great many people from despising these books, including some rather public figures. I recently read a criticism of Stephenie Meyer's writing by Stephen King, which was filled with the kind of vitrol that always seems...overly personal somehow. It reminded me of this article I'd read last month on 50 Author Putdowns, where authors get the chance to bash their literary rivals. For example, Mark Twain's loathing of Jane Austen was well documented. In 1898 he wrote: "I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

Yeah. Charlotte Bronte and Ralph Waldo Emerson weren't big Austen fans either... In stating the obvious, not every author is universally loved, and it's neither possible nor reasonable to expect it.

However, there's more to the Twilight craze than a polarization on her narrative style and use of symbolism. More even than the "Team Edward" vs. "Team Jacob" thing. And I've been trying to wrap my mind around the totality of it: the passionate fan identification with the characters, the thousands of pages of fan fiction, the endless stream of interviews/tweets/online debates that involve not just Meyer but the actors who were cast in the saga's movie roles (esp. Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner).

My first reaction, actually, was to be a little frightened for the actors when I realized this craze seems to have eclipsed (yeah, okay, the pun was intended) even the fanaticism surrounding the Harry Potter films. It made me wonder anew about both the blessing and the curse of such tremendous commercial success. How do they all deal with the constancy of it? With what feels, to me, like an overwhelming social responsibility in addition to the unrelenting pressure of attention and the claustrophobic scrutiny by both fans and rivals?

So, if it were YOU in the midst of this media storm (as either an author or an actor), what would you do to try to temper the insanity? Could you handle having a bodyguard 24/7? Would you be willing to give up your privacy and anonymity for the tremendous wealth, recognition and opportunities that such success would bring? Would love to know your thoughts!

15 comments:

Pamela Cayne said...

First of all, this comment: "I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone." is why Twain should be required reading (and I'm not talking about his dislike of Austen, just his delightfully almost Sue Sylvester-like insult.)

Second, I would not turn down the enormous success, even with the bad things associated with it. 1-I feel I'm of an age and maturity to deal with it, 2-It'd go away eventually, and then I (and my family) would be comfortable for life, and 3-The good you could do (talks, lectures, donations, hiring Bon Jovi for a dear friend's birthday party) I feel would outweigh the bad (tabloids, unflattering pix, scorn and attacks by other writers/readers/critics).

Bring on that success, Marilyn--I'm ready!!!

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL, Pam!!! If I could be one of the friend-recipients of a Bon Jovi party, I'd be jumping up and down and squealing like a tween who just spotted R-Patz on the red carpet ;). However, I wish you meteoric literary success with or without Jon and his black leather pants as a motivator. And you're so right about Twain! His criticisms are fabulously creative and even rival Sue's sometimes. (Although, her "elves in your hair" comment to Will on GLEE still has me laughing...) xo

Edie Ramer said...

I agree with everything Pam says. Especially like the comparison to Sue Sylvester. lol I feel like I should practice my insults. I'm nowhere near Twain or Sylvester's league.

And I'm ready for the success, too! I would have no problem handling it.

Marilyn Brant said...

Edie~I'd need to practice a lot to come up with a single insult as clever as those two... ;) Wishing you Twilight-esque levels of writing success!! I truly believe you (and Ms. Cayne) have the maturity and clear-headedness needed to handle it well. Plus, I'm hoping to see both your books and Pam's onscreen someday!

Pamala Knight said...

I agree with Pamela and Edie. Hopefully the discomfort associated with the fame would be temporary or at least not too intrusive for too long because I certainly wouldn't turn it down.

One of my literary heroes, Cormac McCarthy, leads by ecample for me though--notorious yet reclusive ;-). Perfect.

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala~I hadn't thought about Cormac McCarthy in a long time, so you inspired me to visit his website (run by a "society", not by him, of course!) and read his bio. I had to laugh aloud at one section. It said that after he'd hit the NYT bestseller list for All the Pretty Horses and finally got all of the commercial success that had eluded him before, he bought a new pickup truck with some of the money and just kept writing ;). I'd probably just get another little Honda--LOL--but I love his focus... Wishing fabulous success for you, too, my friend!

Brittany Roshelle said...

The beauty of writing is that it appeals to someone in the way one person will love a movie and another will hate it. I can't imagine other authors bashing authors--they both have fans, why the need? :-)

I certainly would not mind being in a media storm--I'd just stare at my bank account when I felt objectified! Lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wah-hoo! Oh you know I'm so loving the idea of wearing that Tshirt, Marilyn, lolol! I do believe I have your email from when you were a guest Over Coffee, I'll send you the deets in a bit.

Twilight. I've not had any great desire to read them. *hanging my head and shuffling my toe in the dirt. I did watch a couple of them with my kid. Once I got past all the teen angst, there was a story. I wish Stephanie the best and I'm not at all slamming her, but the stories don't grab me. Obviously, I'm in the minority considering the frenzy over her books.

Would I like to give up my privacy? No. I'd definitely have a hidden place to write or just get away and yah, you still can do that in this day. Bodyguard? In a position such as what celebrities face, oh yah. Of course the perks of having a housekeeper would ofset the privacy issue. I would have a place that was all mine and where shut the door and the world out when needed.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn,
I didn't read the Twilight series *shrug* but I've seen the films with my dd. Wait, maybe I did read book one...no, no I think my dd "told" me all about it. Both of my kids do that. Sit for hours and give me blow by blows of the books they are reading and what they think along the way. lol big cell phone bill for my ds who lives in Kansas. I have no idea why they do this...*whistles and plants tongue in cheek.*
I'm split down the middle-one part of me would be horrified to be so "famous." The other would absolutely love it. And enjoy taking friends on spa weekends. Cheers~

Marilyn Brant said...

Brittany~You're right in that tastes are so subjective, and I really agree with you that there's room enough for all different kinds of author voices out there. LOL about the bank account--I like your attitude!!

Sia~Congrats, hon! Hope you'll like wearing the shirt ;). And you made me laugh with the comment about the housekeeper!! You've got the right idea there... Even I, despite my love of privacy, would give up a fair bit of it so I wouldn't have to cook or clean EVER AGAIN!

Nancy~ooooh, a spa weekend...I've never done that! Between you and Sia, you've got me fantasizing about some definite advantages of great wealth and fame ;). I loved hearing about those long calls from your kids--how wonderful is that?! Your knowledge of story craft is fabulous... They must really enjoy being able to discuss a novel in such depth with their writer-mom!

Rain Maiden said...

I read the first three Twilight stories back in 2007 and loved them. The books reminded me of my high school crush. I love a private life...couldn't give it up.

Marilyn Brant said...

Rain~I've heard several people express something similar about the Twilight series--how it reminded them of their first loves :). So glad to know you enjoyed the stories! I'm really curious about books 2-4 now...

tonya kappes said...

Yea! Sia! *blushing with jealousy!*
I would definitely NOT turn down success with my books. I just want a book on the shelf...sigh...

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

This is an interesting discussion because some actors and actresses do seem to have amazing boundaries. I suppose they must do the press junket stuff, but many manage to pull up the draw bridge and are not lured easily into the public hoopla. I guess they catalogue shop and have their Starbucks Lattes sent to them. LOL

Marilyn Brant said...

Tonya~I've got my fingers crossed for you that you'll get your book on a shelf soon :).

Tina~LOL! Can I have Starbucks lattes sent to me, too?! You're absolutely right, though--some actors have a knack for managing to keep their private lives (mostly) out of the media spotlight. With some stars, though, the press will take *any* information on them if he/she is hot enough, just because public demand is so high. If the actors hide out or refuse to do interviews, the reporters just find the actors' old dry-cleaning lady or their h.s. driver's ed teacher or something and interview that person instead...it's crazy ;).