Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Tuesday

"Language forces us to perceive the world as man presents it to us." ~Julia Penelope

Happy Tuesday Fact #1: My article about book trailers is featured in this month's issue of The Samhellion! (You have to scroll down once you get there; there's no direct link)

Happy Tuesday Fact #2: I finished my 3rd? 4th? draft of Summer's Song yesterday, and today I'm officially handing it over to some readers for feedback. I'm so glad to be done with it... (for a little while, anyway, 'til the comments come back!)

And in other news, I had to put down Nineteen Minutes last night without finishing it. I hate doing that. I rarely do that. In fact, the last time I put down a novel halfway through was...hmm...last summer, Perfect Match, also by Jodi Picoult. Maybe she's lost her allure for me.

I wasn't crazy about Nineteen Minutes from the start - the characters seemed contrived, too much like caricatures than actual teens, sort of the worst-case scenario of every situation you might see in a high school. And I almost lost it a few chapters back, when this one sophomore, the golden boy/star athlete says to his girlfriend (she wants him to stop picking on the nerdy kids in their class). "I can't. Because if there isn't a them, then there is no us."

No way a 16 year, especially one as vapid as Picoult has made this one out to be, would have that much self-awareness. And even if he did think it, he wouldn't say it out loud to the new girlfriend he's trying to impress. I was like, "Oh, please."

But the thing that put me over the edge last night - and you may think I'm overreacting here - was a description of a teenage girl, who walks into her mother's bedroom and the mother is wondering when she grew up, because she has all these curves. And the girl is wearing a "wifebeater tank and boxer shorts."

I cannot tell you how offensive I find the word "wifebeater." It makes my skin crawl. I refuse to let any of my own student use it. It's a horrible, misogynistic word that basically condones spousal abuse. And if someone can tell me why it's okay to be a part of our vocabulary, then please enlighten me.

I'm terribly disappointed that Picoult chose that descriptive term. She certainly wasn't doing it for effect. Worse, it didn't even make sense from a writer's perspective. The scene is written from the mother's POV; she's a judge and she's also out of touch with her daughter and teens in general. There's no way she would use that word to describe what her daughter is wearing.


So that's that. The book is going back to the library today. And I think I may stay away from Picoult in the future. Too bad.


Marianne Arkins said...

Isn't it interesting how a simple word or a short scene can ruin your enjoyment of a story?

I don't enjoy Jodi Piccoult... too depressing.

Judy Thomas said...

You know.. I'm a mom. Granted my kids are all older than teenager now (the youngest will be 21 this year) but I've never even HEARD that term to describe a tank top. I am so out of touch.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was going to ask you about the Jodi Picoult book, and whether I should take it out of the library, or buy it (saw it on sale recently.)

You've answered that question!
Love, Mom

windycindy said...

Thanks for your input! I have not read any of her books! I suppose one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch. One of my son's have used that term and I immediately told him we had to talk! Cindi

Dru said...

I'm not a fan of her books after half-starting one of her earlier novels.

I hope the next book you read is more fulfilling.

LaskiGal said...

I was a fan early on, but, like you said, she has lost her allure for me. I don't know what it is . . . many characters, plots, seem all too contrived. I can't connect, on any level. And that WORD. UGH. I hate, hate that word--I don't care who says it or in what context.

Alex Andronov said...

The description seems totally out of place to me.

I have to say this: "I can't. Because if there isn't a them, then there is no us." disturbs me even more.

Using unsavoury language is one thing, but being out of control of your characters is quite another.