Once more into the gothic realm we wander. This time, our choice morsel is a "Queen-Size Gothic". Frankly, I have never crawled into anything "queen-size" other than a bed. Not that I'd badmouthing queen-sized women (have you ever heard of a man being "queen-size" except maybe the late Divine?), because I think I could stand to have some meat on my bones, but that is grounds for another posting elsewhere.
Shadow Of A Man takes to the fertile ground of the post-Civil War South as your proper young heroine leaves her Northern schooling to return to the family plantation now that her father is dead. But the poor girl can't seem to catch a break. On the riverboat taking her to the port nearest her home, some cad attempts to plonk her bustled ass into the paddle wheel. A handsome gent saves her at the last moment and...well, it doesn't take Norman Mailer to figure out where this is headed.
A seriously hot but dangerous fellow hounds her every step, doing his best to woo her as well as prize the family property from her grasp. She resists, deciding to return the plantation to its former grand state. But one day, while nosing around in New Orleans, she swears that man walking away from her is her father. Is she going mad? Is it a plot by our devious dark hottie? Will anyone die just to spice things up?
There are the usual balls and cotillions, women in large dresses sweeping up and down winding staircases, men pulling said women to their firmly muscled chests and a dark secret that could shatter the lives of our heroine and hero. Okay, that last bit was melodramatic, which this book never is. Really. No, my nose isn't growing longer. Quick, look over there.
Good for what it is, but it isn't much. I can see this as a costume drama on Lifetime Network. Not that I'd see it on there. If they don't have Judith Light chewing up the scenery, I can't bear to watch that channel. Like they referred to it on Family Guy: "Lifetime--Television for idiots".
I'll try to find one with some serious mental qualities next time. Until then, I'll keep trying to live life according to the ideals of the gothic heroines. Now if only I could find a hunky guy with a firm chest to cleave to.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I am amazed at how hard it is to find gothics in used bookstores. Actually, it is quite depressing. The town where I live -- phrrrrpppptttttttt!!!!!!!!!! Zilch. Nada. And eBay? Oh, my god, forget it. The folks charge more for shipping than they do for the item itself. Theft is one word I could use to describe that behavior, but I'm not cause people are big whiny babies who want to claim offense when you even look in their direction. Waa waa waa!!!
So, you'll notice there is no artwork with this posting. Sorry to disappoint. Well, not that I'm disappointing anyone except myself. No one reads this blog. Who cares? You want political commentary, look elsewhere. Who wants to spend all their time keeping up with that insanity any way? Okay, I will go so far as to say that everyone pointing fingers at whatever political party is opposite them in this whole Foley scandal does not get it. We are talking the violation of young folks, even if it is an IM. I get a pervvy IM, and I block them. Still, we're talking about Foley, a person who was supposed to be a role model and hopefully hold himself to a higher standard. Well, he was probably holding himself, and that's all. It doesn't matter what party is doing what for whatever reason. Worry about the pages who put up with this crap. THAT is where the concern should be. Of course, as Confucius supposedly said, "When a finger points at the Moon, an imbecile looks at the finger." Quit looking at the finger, politicians!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, so much for trying to live up to the gothic heroine's standard of ethics. I got really petty with a co-worker. She sits at her desk and eats most of the day. That's fine. But those first few chews of anything crunchy are always done open mouth. It is what my mom would call "chomping your food". I've been tolerating it for days and days, but it got to the point it was like a jack hammer on my head. I snapped. Well, as much as I'm able to snap. I prairie-dogged out of my work area and said, "For the love of all that keeps me from screaming, please close your mouth before you start chewing. Sorry if I'm being a bitch." She muttered, "Okay." She hasn't eaten anything at her desk since, which is fine for me, but she also hasn't said a single word to me. Oh well. She doesn't realize how close I came to pitching my coffee mug at her.
So, I'm dashing about in my snuggly long knitted cardigan the other day. I love the thing, found it in a Goodwill store and it didn't hardly smell. Anyway, now that it has gone from toasty to frigid, I live in the thing. I'm really prone to getting utterly lost in things, like reading. I'm in this bookstore (no names, please) looking through this book on the whole punk history. I'm enjoying the pictures and scanning the text. I felt like I was in the middle of a documentary. I vaguely notice my cardigan move, but I'm in the middle of what they like to call a power aisle, and there are people zipping around me, stirring up a healthy breeze and all, so I don't give it much thought. Then I felt something touch my thigh and a warm breath near the hem of my skirt. I slamed my knees together and felt a rather satisfying smoosh. I looked down to see this little boy, maybe two or three if he was lucky, fall to the floor. He looked up at me, and I could see the eruption of screaming building. I dropped the book next to him and walked away as quickly as I could. I must have cleared three aisles before the scream hit, and I had to wince. It cut right through my head. Guilt maybe? Nah. I just wondered what I smooshed between my knees, and if the boneheaded parents of the junior perv would believe the bruising came from that big coffee-table book falling on his little pointed head.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
We start with one of the more outlandish titles I've read. Lord Satan by Janet Louise Roberts (but whose copyright lists a name of "Louisa Bronte," which makes you wonder if she truly is related to those wacky sisters of old).
Most gothics deal with supernatural material, but like most episodes of "Scooby Doo," the truth is that people are either under the influence of something (drugs, poison, paint chips or massive guilt combined with a touch of crazy) or they are just plain up to no good. This novel, barely larger than a novella, actually offers up not just one devil but two. Well, technically, three, but that would be spoiling things if I explained.
You have your basic set up here. Beautiful, young, innocent girl, suddenly alone in the world, discovers she has a distant relative, in this case a cousin. She travels to his castle. He is handsome and brutal, and our chaste heroine doesn't understand why her underthings get damp when cousin Vincent whips and curses some poor servant. Before you can ignore the vague incest element (Oh, come on! We ARE talking about Victorian Europe here, for the love of God!!), our perky, sickeningly sweet character stumbles upon a Satanic mass with nude women and bloodletting. What has she gotten herself into?!? But she seems to forget the next day when her rugged cousin talks to her and wiggles his eyebrows at her.
Soon she is falling for this lout and trying to change his ways. Still fairly typical of this sort of thing. Oh, I forgot to mention Vincent's dearly departed mommy keeps popping up to chat with our heroine about how to run the house and how to remove ring around the collar. Toss in slaughtered girls on the moors, rumors about Vincent's status amongst the townspeople, Vincent's growing love for his dear cousin and the admission he is half-devil.
Hang on. Did you just say, Vincent is a half-devil? Yup. A real cinder of the old block because Daddy was a full-blooded devil. No, really, you aren't misreading this. Devils. Magic powers. Chats with Satan. Cavorting with denizens of the Underworld. Yes, a devil.
And now this dirty devil wants to marry our poor sweet God-fearing girl.
This could be a sitcom. The scenes in which the Devil Daddy comes to have dinner with his half-breed son and his blonde squeeze are loopy and funnier than they were meant to be. The catch phrase could be "Vincent! You got some damning to explain."
Okay, I'll let up. Is this any good? Well, at 159 pages, there isn't enough time to find a lot to bitch about. It moves fast enough. And it almost seems like the story is nearly beside the point because the author obviously liked the characters, and she almost lets them overpower the story. Our plucky heroine maintains her sense of purpose and shows her loyalty and devotion by the time you reach the end, so she doesn't leave a completely bad taste in your mouth.
Verdict: Not as fun as a TMX ELmo, but good for a quick read.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
When I refer to "classic" gothics, I do not mean the seminal works by Walpole or Radcliffe. (Ah-HA! You thought I was an airhead who knows nothing about literature, didn't you?) And the volumes I intend to extoll the virtues of are not the near-literary cousins written by Wilkie Collins and the like. No, no, I mean to wallow happily in the formulaic deluge of titles that were so popular from the 50's through the mid-70's. They were pumped out with the intention of hitting the pressure points with equal parts of scares, hinted-at sex and good-natured violence.
Are the heroines smart? Not terribly. In fact, even when faced with clearly presented evidence, they often ignore warning signs and stumble directly into more trouble.
Are the stories and situations realistic? Well, in a general way, yes, but, mostly, no. I can't vouch for how women acted or felt they HAD to act in the early days before liberation began, so a woman cleaving to the firm chest of a man ruling her life sounds like so much bullshit to me. However, I have to benefit of being alive today and not back in 1837 or whenever.
Do they even attempt to present women in a positive light at all? Yes, definitely. Sure the heroine is occasionally saved by the big strong man, but she is usually the one who roots out the trouble and imperils herself to discover the mystery. Most, but not all, heroines in gothics tend to exhibit the finer qualities of virtue, honor, loyalty and persistance in the face of adversity. That's more empowering than reading about stupid chickie-chicks sleeping with their bosses, co-workers, emotionally-bankrupt guys while wondering why their lives are such utter shit. (Hello, Bridget Jones!! Braindead damn book that I, with total disgust, launched across the room while feeling insulted by it.)
I love gothics because I completely accept the level of silliness in which I am about to immerse myself. I don't read them to exorcise some inner demon. I don't look to them to answer any of life's questions. I don't expect to see myself or my peers reflected in the characters. Basically, its like watching an Adam Sandler movie, but without having to see him do his typical schtick that makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Given my stated dislike of romance novels, what I'm about to say might just sound like I'm contradicting myself.
I LOVE GOTHIC ROMANCE!!!
(Here after, gothic romance novels shall be called "gothics," as opposed to "Gothics," meaning people who celebrate an alternative view of life)
Actually, the term "romance" in "gothic romance" is mostly not there except as a vague underlying motivation for the main character. Oh, and don't even get me started on the phrase "romantic suspense". It smacks of political correctness (even though it was used decades ago). Some things just cause me to have blind rages. That phrase and cell phones are two such things.
Why such love to a genre that has, in the last five-plus years, fallen prey to non-stop werewolf/vampire sex orgies? Not that you care (but if you are reading this, you must or you're damned nosy or bored), but I find the gothics to be like fairy floss (an old term for cotton candy) -- insubstantial, but delightful while it lasts. No reasonable person should ever approach a gothic with the thought that reality exists anywhere between the covers of the book, and that is THE liberating element. You accept, before reading, the chance for thrills and chills and nothing more. If the book fails even these low expectations, then you toss it aside and move on.
Most of the traditional gothics should be looked upon as print versions of either old Universal period horror films or, perhaps more accurately, the period horror films from Italy and Spain that seemed to flood theaters back in the 60's and 70's. They both have all the trappings of a fine gothic: remote locations, spooky castles or manors, elaborate clothes, sinister characters and an incredible lack of logic.
(Next time, I'll finish my little explanation justifying this blog. And another pretty picture as well.)
Conjured by Gothic Rowena at 8:01 PM
Monday, October 02, 2006
Hi, I'm Rowena. Just your average book fiend with a purpose. Let's get started.
Even if it might be bad form, let me start by saying this: I hate romance novels. I'm not going to belittle the people who do read them, and I definitely won't badmouth the bulk of the people who write them. At least the readers are reading, and some of the writers make some serious money. Both can be VERY good things.
That being said, I base my dislike of the romance novel (Trust me when I say that this IS leading somewhere.) on the many I have read, from the Harlequin monthlies to the juicy thick "chick lit" types. (My general ambivalence to "chick lit" in general is a subject for another blog, which I won't take the time to create.) While the actual writing styles of of various romance authors can be very good, I find my main argument stems from the main character being mostly unrealistic. Actually, if I knew people who acted as stupidly as some of these "realistic" heroines do, I'd never invite them along for Drink Night. Bad choices are one thing, but compounding a known bad choice by continuing to make bad choices is neither insightful nor humorous. Going into further detail would alter this topic into a sociological discussion that has no place here. (Note To Self: Here's another idea for a blog I won't be developing.)
Suffice to say, most romance novels, in spite of their technical quality, paint unrealistic images of my gender, and I can't support that.
(Next time, I'll bore you with the whole point of this blog, AND I'll add some images, just to spice things up.)
Conjured by Gothic Rowena at 8:19 PM