Monday, February 10, 2014

BOOKS | The Hunger Games

I just finished the final book in The Hunger Games series. One of my friends commented a few days that she was surprised it took so long for me to hit these books, since these are the type of books one would expect me to read. Fair enough - just that I had been on something of a reading dry spell, and I haven't actually been reading much fiction the last few years. I had been reading for work, for knowledge - but I haven't actually been reading for fun. Perhaps the fact that I was so taken with the Hunger Games books is a good sign that I am at this place in my life when I finally am able to read for fun.

The books were definitely richer and darker than the movie - which always reminds me of how the cinema can be such a vulgar entertainment. The Hunger Games is a narrative on the idea of Panem et Circenses (Latin for "Bread and Circus") where politicians rule by material appeasement and entertainment. Cinema itself might qualify as our modern mode of Circenses. Then people are rich enough, and entertained enough, they forget things like civic duties, and ignore injustice within the political and social system, it seems.

Which feels so close to modern life - and I am as guilty of this as anyone.

I love the social consciousness in The Hunger Games books, and while I disliked the tedious journey the third book took to get to the conclusion - it was a fitting ending.

I just hate the love triangle in the book between Katniss, Gale and Peeta. Quit it - the story of Katniss is more interesting than the love triangle. Not every story with a female lead needs romance.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Stephen King and Carrie

I'm not really a big fan of Stephen King. I think some of his books are longer than necessary and he needs better editors. I do like some of his short stories though, and I believe the truth of why his writing is so compelling is because of his understanding of human psychology.

I was reading this essay on Mental Floss earlier about the story behind King's first bestseller, Carrie. Stephen King started his writing career sending his stories to men's magazines for tiny paychecks (if he's lucky). Someone accused him of not being able to write a female character convincingly. He decided to pick up the challenge, and the idea for Carrie emerged from his brain.

King modeled Carrie White after two of the loneliest girls he remembered from high school. One was a timid epileptic with a voice that always gurgled with phlegm. Her fundamentalist mother kept a life-size crucifix in the living room, and it was clear to King that the thought of it followed her down the halls. The second girl was a loner. She wore the same outfit every day, which drew cruel taunts. By the time King wrote Carrie, both of those girls were dead. The first died alone after a seizure. The second suffered from postpartum depression and, one day, aimed a rifle at her stomach and pulled the trigger. “Very rarely in my career have I explored more distasteful territory,” King wrote, reflecting on how both of them were treated.

It made me think about Stephen King's writings - the ones I have actually read: The Shawshank Redemption, Different Seasons and The Green Mile - his "non-horror" works. King as a writer, is an astute observer of human nature. But more than that, there is deep compassion in his stories.