I guess I already angered someone on the interwebs.

This is an Open Letter, because some people like to parade their ignorance, small-mindedness, and egomaniac attitudes for the world to see.

Someone on Tumblr reblogged my James Joyce letter and then added this comment with it.  Looking at their site, I found out that they are really into James Joyce.  First thing’s first: I did not mean to upset anyone.  The thing about literature is that everyone can interpret it differently.  And because I do not share the same opinions about the first 62 pages of a certain book, I am small-minded and ignorant.

I guess before anyone else reads anything else I write, I should state that this blog is a work of satire.  Do I really want to throw this book out the window?  No.  At this moment, I say I do, but I would never actually do that to a book, whether I like it or not.  And, I am going to finish it.  Just not any time soon.

I kind of feel special for writing something that angered someone enough to be harsh about my literary opinions, but at the same time I am sad for them.  Because they are making a snap judgement on me as a person because of a 700 word comedic blog post.

 

 

An Open Letter to James Joyce

Dear James Joyce,

I don’t really know how I would start this letter because I am neither that big a fan of your work, nor that interested in how you are these days — mostly because you are very much so dead.  So I guess the best way to do this is to just dive right in.

I’ve been attempting to read your “legendary” novel, Ulysses, for the past month and let me tell you something: it isn’t going well.  Now, I consider myself to be a very capable reader.  I can understand and break down themes, hidden metaphors, and unreliable narrators.  I have read my fair share of classic literary works and I usually only have a few bad things to say about them.

I have even read Homer’s The Odyssey, the work you based this door-stopper of a novel, a couple of times.  When I was in college, my Greek Literature professor even told the guys in our class not to sell their copies of it back to bookstores because nothing makes a man look sexy and smart than having The Odyssey on their bookshelves.  And I decided to keep my copy too.  Not to help me pick up men, but because if I was going to drudge through the 10-year struggle of Odysseus getting back to his wife, I was going to keep the evidence and brag about it when possible.

But you, sir.  I am seriously contemplating throwing this novel out the nearest window, and watching passing cars drive over it repeatedly while I sport a shit-eating grin.  You have taken all of the amazingness of Homer’s epic poem and shit on it.  Even more so, you like to talk about your characters shitting.  I don’t understand much of what it is you are trying to say in Ulysses, but when I do, it’s about defecation.  So I’ve at least got that going for me.  I now know the gastrointestinal tract of one of your main characters.

Although I have been reading your classic for a month, I have only gotten 62 pages into your 700+ page work.  And I am not one to give up on novels, unless they are complete trash (are you listening, Lauren Wisberger?).  But I cannot wrap my head around your work.  And I know you intentionally did this, being the cheeky bugger that you are.

If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.

I can easily picture you sitting at your writing desk laughing maniacally as you write your three well-thought-out sentences a day, that have nothing to do with the story, but can be interpreted a hundred different ways.  “Oh they will never get this!” you say, as you chuckle to yourself.  This is unacceptable.  Why would you want to write a novel that nobody understands anyway?  I guess you are right, it does make it immortal.  But it also makes it painful.  With every sentence I read, I feel bits of my soul slowly breaking away.  Your last words when you died were, “Does nobody understand?”  You must have been talking about Ulysses and then began kicking yourself in the dying head for not making it clearer.

But I will not give up.  I am frustrated to hell and don’t want anything to do with you now.  But you and I, James, are just going to go on a small break.  I am going to see other people — Toni Morrison for instance; she is next on my to-do list. — and you will remain sad and lonely until I decide to give you another chance.

Mr. Joyce, what you’ve written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Sincerely yours,

allex

P.S.

I have read your steamy love letters to your wife, however, and maybe you should have given erotica a shot.  You would definitely be giving E.L. James a run for her money.  And she, at least, doesn’t deserve to be immortalized in literary fame.

Well, There Goes My Body Image

Everything, now.  Recently I have been watching Ryan Murphy’s Nip/Tuck while simultaneously reading Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series.  Although one is a contemporary television show and the other is a dystopic sci-fi trilogy (turned tetrology), they both have an underlying theme: body image and plastic surgery.  I may also be about 10 years behind on both of these, but they still hit hard.

In case anyone else has been living under a rock,  Nip/Tuck is about two plastic surgeons who live in Miami, Florida.  And like any good series, both surgeons are in the business for two different reasons.  Christian Troy is the sexy one, who sleeps with insecure thirty- (or forty- or whatever- really) somethings to bring in business while Sean McNamara is the do-gooder family man who only wants to help people be the best they know they can.

Now I never watched this show when it was on because of what it was about.  Two male plastic surgeons red-penning mostly women’s skin, pointing out each and every one of their imperfections.  Even worse, they have scenes dedicated to the surgeries.  I don’t do well with fake blood, and Ryan Murphy does not embellish or leave anything out.  Unfortunately for me, the first time I watched, I was eating some cheese pizza.  So while I am enjoying my meal, scenes of cutting up people’s faces, breaking nose bones with hammers, and sucking fat from stomaches blotched my computer screen causing me to immediately lose my appetite.  Well, not lose my appetite, but did make my pizza a bit less desirable.

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Half of the surgeries they do are for young, already beautiful women who don’t need any work done.  As for most of the men who want surgery, it’s nine times out of ten so they can get laid (e.g. third nipple removal, moob removal, circumcision, penis enlargement…).  Although they do do some pro bono work, most of their cases are for unrealistic wants, showing how crazy some people can be in going under the knife.  One episode, they did a breast reduction for a woman who had Dissociative Identity Disorder (or split personality disorder) and one of her personalities was an eight-year-old girl who was the gatekeeper 2014-04-08 08_23_44 pmto the 20+ other identities she had and wanted them reduced so she wouldn’t be picked on. And if she didn’t get it done, she would unleash the floodgates of crazytown upon Miami.

I know that these are supposed to be unrealistic to keep the show interesting, but come on.  And when a serial rapist starts cutting up models and beautiful people, the wonderful doctors at McNamara/Troy decide to fix the beautiful people’s faces pro bono! But when a severely depressed and overweight woman asks to get The Swan treatment done before her high school reunion, they tell her she’s too unstable and refuse her the surgeries.  Although it did end with her killing herself, I feel like giving her some kind of surgery — even if it was something small — could have helped her with her dilapidating  self image.

And seeing all of these people cut themselves up for a straighter nose, bigger boobs, or facelift really gets me thinking.  But more importantly, watching what is actually done to a person when they get a facelift or liposuction really makes me never want to do any of those things ever.  And the fact that they start almost every episode with them asking their client what they don’t like about themselves really can be damaging to one’s self-esteem.

Moving on to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy, we meet fifteen-year-old Tally.  Tally is ugly in her society’s eyes.  But like all boys and girls before her, she can’t wait until she turns sixteen.  Because that is when she gets to be pretty.  In Westerfeld’s series, when you are born, you are a Littlie until you are twelve.  Once you’re twelve, you are taken away from your parents and move into Uglyville with all the other Uglies.  But when you turn sixteen, you are allowed plastic surgery to turn you pretty.  And then you get to move into New Pretty Town — which is basically a giant party at Pleasuretown.  But when Tally meets Shay, a girl who doesn’t want to turn pretty, her world changes.  And when Shay runs away and Tally is threatened with never turning pretty if she doesn’t help find her, what is she to do?  Betray her new friend or risk never being what she has waited her entire life for?

I think Scott Westerfeld suffers from writing brilliant works too soon for their time.  Uglies, as well as his series Peeps, just misses other literary trends.  He missed the dystopic boat by about three years with The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies; Peeps, a novel about humans contracting a virus that turns them into cannibals — like vampires — although published the same year as the Twilight phenomenon was glossed over.  But Uglies has real-life issues buried underneath the sci-fi world that still rings true.  Our society now has their ideas on what is beautiful.  Just open any magazine or watch any television program.  These ideals are subliminally flashed upon us like a scene from A Clockwork Orange almost daily.  The fact that it makes news when companies such as Dove and Aerie have ad campaigns using real women without photoshop says something about what our society pressures are.  And Uglies has a fifteen-year-old protagonist who at first wants nothing more than to get plastic surgery.  Girls shouldn’t have these body-conscious insecurities at such a young age.  And since I believe young readers usually read novels that have older protagonists, twelve-year-olds were subjected to these ideals.

But where Westerfeld diverts from social norms is when Tally learns about what being pretty really does to you.  Being pretty doesn’t only change the way you look outside, but your personality as well.  The surgery makes you easily manipulated and controllable.  You become vapid, lazy, and entitled.  Which in a way, isn’t it kind of like that now?  Hasn’t Dr. Drew Baird and The Bubble from 30 Rock taught us anything?  How many pretty faces have to call a tennis racquet a fart and a woman who correctly plays tennis a bitch until society stops being lenient on pretty faces?  Even now with the most recent “hot” James Franco hitting on a seventeen-year-old girl incident.  How nonchalantly society forgave him because he’s attractive.  When coincidentally, just a year ago my old high school teacher was arrested — and sentenced 10 years — for having sexual relations with a student who was at the time a minor.

As usual, I digress, but in the Uglies series, once Tally discovers what becoming beautiful means, she does everything in her power to stop it.  Although I am only halfway through the series now, it was tough for me to read the first book.  Tally does make a complete 180 in her ideas on body image and self-worth, but in the beginning it was heartbreaking to read.  Listening to how Tally’s society functioned — giving Uglies nicknames pointing out their imperfections such as Nose, Skinny, or Squints — was too much.  The idea of a good time for Tally as an Ugly was taking selfies and scanning them into her computer so she could play with her face, and see what kind of changes she could get with her surgery.  I just felt that it was so close to accurate for today.

While watching Nip/Tuck and reading Uglies, I couldn’t help but think about myself.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I am no supermodel.  To quote Mindy Lahiri, the second half of my Liz Lemon/Mindy Lahiri spirit animal, I fluctuate between chubby and curvy.  And growing up in this fluctuation was difficult.  Constantly being reminded of my size by media, peers, and even family didn’t help my self-esteem.  For years I coped with food, which only made it worse. Now I accept my love for food, and try to use portion control instead of comfort eating.

Besides, I like who I am.  Sure, I could lose a couple pounds, but that’s doable.  With controlled diet and exercise — as well as a complete brain switch for that matter — I can do it.  I have done it.  But my big butt and bump in my nose makes me who I am.  My spoon thumb and stubby legs are not ideal, but they’re mine.  Because I love myself, I love my imperfections. And what makes them imperfections anyway?  They all come together and combined with who I am on the inside, make me who I am.  So by my standards, there is never anything wrong with that.

 

 

 

The Color Purple or It Gets Better… Eventually

#5 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Published:
1982
Reasons For Being Banned/Challenged:
Challenged in an Oakland, California high school honor class (1984) due to “sexual and social explicitness” and its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history and human sexuality.”
My Rating: Two long-lost sisters finally reunited

Sorry everyone foe the long wait in posts.  For the past week, I have been traveling around Ireland and ironically, there are plenty of sheep but no wifi hotspots.

The Color Purple was a book I had never read before.  I knew of it but I had no idea what exactly it was about.  But holy jesus, I was not prepared for what I had gotten into.  Within the first few flips on my kindle, Celie, our narrator and heroine, was being raped by her father.

Thanks for the heads up, Alice.  There is nothing I wanted to start my commute with than a fourteen-year-old describing her father raping her.  It’s waaaay too early for me to handle this subject matter.  Can’t I at least get a cup of coffee in me first?

Anyway, when I got past all of that,  I did appreciate the fact that The Color Purple is a really fast-paced book.  Because of this, within a few pages, Celie was away from one asshole man and forced to marry another one.  But she does mention that he had two children from her father and he took them and got rid of them after they were born.  Celie hates men.  Really hates men.  Like cut off a dude’s penis and throw it into a field hates men.  And that is made evident with her disinterest in even mentioning who her new husband’s name is.

Mr. ___, as it is stated in the book, was sweet on Celie’s younger sister Nettie.  But her father wouldn’t allow her to marry him because of her age, so instead he gave him Celie.  And because Celie doesn’t have a say in the matter, it happens.

And if her father isn’t bad enough, Mr. ___ is worse.  He beats the living crap out of her, and his kids are tiny assholes.  When Celie first married Mr. ___ — because his first wife was murdered by her lover — she was smacked in the head with a brick by his older son.  Happy housewarming!  Here’s a brick to the face!

And now she has to raise those shitsnacks like her own.  But one day when she goes into town she sees her daughter with another woman.  The entire time, she thought her daughter was dead, but instead, she is being raised by another woman who is a missionary.  Knowing her daughter is fine, she can go back to her terrible life.

But her sister does come to visit her, and gets hit on by Mr. ___ the entire time she is there.  When she tells him that there is no chance in them getting together, he tells Nettie that she is never allowed to visit Celie again.  When Nettie tells Celie this, she also tells her that she will write to her every day until her death.  But Celie doesn’t hear from Nettie again.

The only problem I had with this book was that there were too many characters.  Cellie introduces us to Mr. ___’s son, Harpo who marries Sophie, but then gets arrested, causing Harpo to start dating Squeak, whose real name is Mary Agnes.  But Mr. ___ also has Shug, his girl on the side that he has loved for forever.  And one night, Mr. ___ brings Shug to their home to be nursed back to health by Celie.  And after a while, Celie and Shug becomes friends and then fall in love.

Yes, Edward Cullen, I am confused.  I can’t keep all of these characters together.  And this isn’t even including the white people Sophie has to work for to get out of jail, Nettie’s entire backstory of what she was doing  the entire time she was supposed to be writing to Celie and the people she met.  Nettie actually ran off to the woman who is raising Celie’s daughter — and also her son — and asked if she could be their nanny.  She then goes off and becomes a missionary with them to England and Africa.  And then there are all of the people in Africa that mean something to Nettie.

While Celie and Shug are becoming closer than ever, Mr. ___’s has been snaking Nettie’s letters the entire time.  And by the way, at this point, like 20 years have gone by.  When Celie finds out what Mr. ___ did, she almost Hulks out and kill Mr. ___.

So to keep her from killing her dickhead husband, Shug has the idea of letting Celie move into her new house in Tennessee.  While Shug and Celie are playing love nest, Celie also begins sewing pants and selling them from her store she now owns.  And how did she get it?  She found out that her father was not the man who was raping her.

Celie and Nettie’s real father owned a really nice shop that was serving both whites and blacks.  But the white customers were mad that he was becoming so successful that he was lynched.  After he died, their mother became unhinged and Celie’s I-thought-he-was-my-dad-but-he-was-really-my-stepdad swooped in and married her.  But in his will, their real father gave Celie and Nettie his store.

When Celie starts making tons of money on her pants design, Shug tells her that she has fallen in love with her 19 year old flautist — and she is like 50 at this point — and is going to try to date him.  Oh yeah, Shug is also a popular lounge singer.

So while Shug ditches Celie for a child, Celie and Mr. ___ become besties.  Who sit on each other’s porches and chat it up about what they loved about Shug.  It is weird that both husband and wife were dating the same woman and now can share love stories with each other.

After all of the shit that Celie dealt with for the past 30 yearsish, she then gets a telegram saying that her sister’s boat from Africa has sunk.

I am just an emotional wreck right now, Alice.  What else can go wrong?  NOTHING!  Because at the end, everyone comes back together and are all buddy-buddy.  Because Shug comes back!  And Nettie is alive!  With Celie’s children and new husband!  And so is Sophie!  And Mr. ___ and she are friends!

Thank god because I couldn’t take any more depressing news.  I really couldn’t cover everything that happened in this novel.  But in the end, it was vey good.  I would recommend it, mostly so you could actually follow the storyline.

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

Want to read along with me?
Check out the Banned Books Challenge page to see my progress!