This week I have been...
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (with Christina Lamb). More than just a memoir, this book helps you to understand not just what it is like to live under threat from the Taliban, but also the social, historical and political context that allows extremism to take hold. Malala is intelligent and passionate about the importance of universal education, demonstrating the harm done by ignorance, her frustration with those who would warp her religion to make it a tool for oppression. A powerful read from an extraordinary young woman.
I have also begun 11.22.63 by Stephen King, in which a teacher is sent back in time to try to stop the Kennedy assassination. This book has a new, perhaps unique, take on time-travel. In this universe, it seems that there is a proper timeline, an established chain of events, and time really doesn't want to be altered. Every time you go back to the past (down an invisible flight of stairs in the pantry of a diner) the timeline resets itself. Or does it...?
I finished season 1 of Heroes, which I had been buddy-watching "with" my sister. I won't write a full review of this, but will put some of my thoughts onto the page in bullet-point form.
- Fun, entertaining, incredibly cheesy at times, but not the greatest mastery of storytelling in the world. It felt a bit first-drafty, with plot holes and continuity errors, and seemed a bit disorientated. All I knew going into this show was "save the cheerleader, save the world," but I'm still a bit unsure of how saving Claire actually helped with saving "the world" (read: New York City) and how much of trying to prevent the coming apocalypse actually helped to make it (almost) a self-fulfilling prophesy.
- There were several characters with their own subplots, but the ones that interested me the most were Claire the indestructable cheerleader, the adorably geeky Hiro and his friend Ando, Peter Petrelli (although I loathed his family) and the psychotic super-villain Sylar (played by Zachary Quinto, the young Spock in the Star Trek reboot films), who could perhaps be argued to be a darker version of Peter. Peter absorbs other people's powers by standing near them. Sylar absorbs other people's powers by killing them horribly.
- Sylar reminded me in some ways of Spike from Buffy, starting from the time when he paid a visit to the Bennet home and charmed the mother while waiting for the daughter to come home. Both have mommy issues, and both have a sinister dangerous charisma which is disturbingly attractive.
- A couple of characters had what I called "the Umbridge effect," which is to be so creepy and unpleasant they make the watching experience less fun. Claire's father, who Jenny and I christened Creepy Bennet, was one of these, morally ambiguous, doing terrible things for noble motives, but making my flesh crawl, and not in a good way. He does get some backstory and character development along the way, but I will keep up the nickname. Also, Peter Petrelli's politically ambitious brother Nathan, and their mother, were just plain slimy, contemptible. And there were a bunch of sinister corporations and mobsters whose stories just didn't interest me. Ultimately, sexy psychopathic supervillains are much more entertaining than slimy older guys in suits.
The verdict: Probably not something I'd re-watch over and over, but it sustained my interest enough to order the second season second-hand. (I intended to renew my Netflix subscription to watch the rest of the season, but the internet is a bit slow and unreliable on my computer and doesn't always like streaming videos.)
Judith asked me the other day if I was going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, to which I answered unequivocally "no." I haven't written any fiction for a while, or at least not stuck to anything. And a couple of days ago, I was feeling sad about this lack of productivity, and my brain said, "surely you can write something, just a drabble or a short story?" But it seems I can't do short stories. With short stories you really need to keep it simple, about one thing, one event, just a couple of characters. And the plot bunnies got breeding, and the basic idea expanded and spread, until I came up with something that might at least go some way towards the 50 000 word count required to complete NaNoWriMo. My only fear is that I have two weeks before November starts: what if I lose interest? I'm not too concerned about hitting the 50K mark, but I'd like to write something in November. (I also have an idea for a drabble slash "fanfiction*" about two of the supporting characters in a novel I wrote several years ago. Hardly enough for a novel, but something.)
Enjoying: Pumpkin spiced lattes. As well as Starbucks, which I don't tend to visit, one of our local coffee shops has this as a limited edition autumn flavour, and it is delicious, one of the things that had me actually looking forward to autumn, which I tend to dread a little.
*Can one write fanfiction about one's own unpublished writing? I'm not sure this drabble is "canon" but I want to explore the relationship between these two characters nonetheless.