the curse of the raven boys

Every time I feel like going online to complain about The Raven Boys, my internet goes out. I got halfway through the book, logged in to wordpress to write about why I wouldn’t be finishing it, and then the internet went out for almost two days. I ended up finishing it, went over to goodreads to give it one star, and then the internet went out for the entire weekend. Earlier, I came here, a crowded Starbucks, logged into goodreads, and got a blank screen. As I hit ctrl-r, I heard waves of discontent roll over the tables. No internet. I picked up my coffee and left.

This post is a bit of a test. If I can get to the end, maybe my internet bad luck will break and I will be able to discuss why The Raven Boys is both incompetently written, baffling, and maybe a little racist..

Yesterday I saw an old friend and we walked around the city and and ate Japanese food and went to an escape room, which was something I became vaguely aware of after Sherlock S4 because that last (not-good) episode kept getting compared to an escape room and apparently everyone except me had been to one at some point. Working out the puzzles was fun, but I’m clumsy with locks, getting things in and out of a lock at the gym is always a struggle, so entering the codes correctly was a little bit difficult.

Outside there was a poster advertising the film Valerian, and it took me a moment to figure out what it was advertising because the leads looked so sulky and grim that I thought it might be an adaptation of The Turn of the Screw set in space. The last time I thought about Valerian was 10 years ago when a French woman tried to slap me because I said that Fujiko was better than Laureline.

Context: We were well into the second hour of a very expensive nomihodai and we’d been trying to drink our money’s worth in whisky cocktails. It was more than a little awkward because I hadn’t realised it would only be the two of us and I am not exactly the greatest conversationalist, and then for some reason, she ordered shots, which were not included in the nomihodai, but the bartender served because why not. However, tequila reduces my natural shyness, so when her (more than slightly racist) monologue about the terribleness of Japan turned to manga, I stopped smiling and nodding and I objected strongly to her description of Valérian and Laureline as better than anything Japan had to offer. “Laureline is nothing more than a cut-rate Fujiko,” I said. In case she hadn’t understood, “A bargain basement Fujiko,” I added.

“You say that again, I slap you,” she said, and I think it was supposed to be playful, but it came across as super intense, so I started to discreetly edge away (we’d been sitting next to each other on the banquette), but a drunk’s version of discreet is anything but, so I edged myself on to the floor.

She leaned over me, “Some people, they say I look like Laureline.”

“Naaaawwwww,” I said, and started giggling. She harumphed and ordered another round of cocktails, and then when they came, she drank them both. What I’d meant was, you don’t have red hair.

Anyway, now that I think about it, Fujiko/Laureline would be an amazing crossover pairing. And Henry James in Space would be super amazing.

That stroll down memory lane took up my internet time, so now I can’t complain about the book I read today, Virginia Heffernan’s Magic and Loss: the Internet as Art. I agreed with some of its points about the value of the internet, but overall it was so silly and poorly written that I started to question my own beliefs.

Lyric poetry has always been short. That’s why it’s not, for example, epic.

I think that is supposed to be a joke, but it is almost impossible to tell.

I confess to taking gross liberties with traditional books, savoring the rule breaking, skipping forewords, concordances, and boring chapters, while lavishing prurient attention on jacket copy, dedications, and acknowledgments.

Oh, you rebel!

It’s no surprise that the Harry Potter generation, who grew up on serial fantasy fiction set in the labyrinthine hallways of a magic school—as well as on suspenseful literary television like Lost, which is built on cliffhangers, errors, and indirection—have taken to the disorienting pagination of the Kindle and the lost-in-the-funhouse narrative that thrives in ereader form. These are books that defy the miserable school essay format: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them. They are filled with fake-outs and unfulfilled promises. The best Kindle books serialize easily and pulse with suspense that drives the reader emotionally (rather than rationally) through the maze. There are mistakes, redundancies, false starts, red herrings, loose and dead ends. Purity. The Goldfinch. Fifty Shades of Gray. Gone Girl.

Those are all straightforward narratives, I mean, if she thinks they are exceptionally twisty, someone should buy her a copy of Armadale or Lady Audley’s Secret. Additionally, one would think that in a book about the internet, a mention of the internet origins of Fifty Shades wouldn’t be out of place. There’s nothing “lost-in-the-funhouse”, assuming that’s a reference to Barth, about any of those books.

And I can’t even get into the last chapter, which drops the technology theme and rambles on about undergraduate grudges. If I hadn’t been so close to the end, I would’ve given up and gone back to The Raven Boys, which is the last book I dropped (at chapter 4).

Next on my summer reading, either Joshua Cohen’s The Book of Numbers or Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock. After that, I should be back to Harry Potter – I’m #6 on the waiting list now for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

winds of winter

I finished A Dance with Dragons a week ago. The only part that surprised me was that “Young Griff” was still alive at the end of the book, and that Queen Selyse hadn’t pushed Shireen and Patches into one of Melisandre’s fires. It seemed that Val was foreshadowing an unpleasant end for the poor girl. As I expected, Jon Snow was killed. Will Melisandre bring him back, or will he come back with blue eyes, as a special-snowflake wight who can control his urge to murder people? The existence of Coldhands shows that it’s possible, but it’s unlikely because Jon will need to go south of the Wall for plot reasons. My friend J,  who is only watching the HBO series, told me that Jon is already back in S6, but she refused to tell me if it was via Melisandre, the Others, or if he somehow managed to survive being stabbed a lot.

V: So, is he alive-alive, or is he like Lady Stoneheart?
J: Who’s Lady Stoneheart?
V: Catelyn comes back and kills a lot of Freys.
J: That doesn’t happen in the show.
V: Do a lot of Freys get killed? They need to go… How are there six seasons? I thought each book was a season.
J: I don’t know.

If there are six season, there must be six books out, right? I tend to scroll past things I’m not into, but I had some vague memory of a year ago, a couple of years ago, seeing a Metafilter thread about the release of The Winds of Winter.  It wasn’t listed on the library’s Overdrive site, which is where I get 90% of my reading, so I stopped by the library to see if I could get a paper copy.

The librarian didn’t see The Winds of Winter listed in the computer, so she called over another librarian. Librarian #2 was hella confused by my request, and then she patiently explained that The Winds of Winter had not been published yet and that fans had been waiting a very long time.

Watching the series is next, but for some reason sitting down and watching a lengthy television series always seems so intimidating and time-consuming. It almost feels like an obligation–must watch Game of Thrones before the three months of HBO Go expires!

the roses of highgarden


I’ve been imagining Highgarden as the California of Westeros, the breadbasket of the country with roses blossoming in winter; however, the maps image search has brought me shows it further inland, which makes sense because it would have already been conquered if it were on the sea. There are a few things I have questions about, but I’m sticking to the non-spoilery safety of image search until I finish the next book. I was told that “nothing” happens in book 4 and that it was skippable, but the Grimdark Rapeworld called Westeros continues to be a relaxing place for a mental holiday. 

As of A Feast for Crows

Favourite characters:

Sansa. Because Littlefinger is the worst and he has been perving on her since the first book and she is still alive, which is more than can be said for her parents or her brothers, and she doesn’t even have her wolf for protection.

Brienne. Because she is stubborn and strong and kind of dumb and ridic loyal and as Virginia Despentes points out, some women “are just never featured in novels written by men, who only create women they want to have sex with.”

Jon Snow. Because he knows nothing, or so I’ve been repeatedly told. Tbh, I’m a little unhappy with everyone dying and coming back because that will make it less special when Jon dies and comes back (probably, I’m assuming this will happen).

Gendry. Because he’s an artist, artisan. I hope he doesn’t have a destiny or anything and he gets to survive and make things.

It’s probably a sign of my current exhausted state that I find the extreme male-gaze in these books amusing rather than annoying. So many nipples! Carefully described breasts as a form of character development, along with unexpected lesbian interludes. Yet, somehow, male homosexuality is a rumour, for example, Loras never unexpectedly gives a Jaime a blowjob. Renly/Loras, heavily implied, but not confirmed–if they were women, I’m sure readers would be told exactly what they did in bed and the size/colour of their nipples.

I was going to take a break and do Yuletide canon review before moving on to A Dance with Dragons, but I dunno, it’s the last one and then I’m done. Still, Yuletide is coming.

catch the wheel that breaks the butterfly

Last Oasis single & my soundtrack for the week.

I turned off my internet at around 8PM PST last Tuesday, and except for watching Yuri!!! on Ice and checking Liam Gallagher’s twitter, I haven’t been back. It’s always been Metafilter with my morning coffee, various fandom communities during my lunch break, and then maybe an hour (or two) of clicking on things before bed. Now I don’t feel like doing that at all, but I’m sure the desire to waste time online will return.

For the past week, I’ve been listening to Oasis and I read A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords and now I’m on A Feast for Crows. I want to talk about these dumb books, but at the same time, I can’t because I don’t want excessive spoilers. Going in, I knew that Sean Bean doesn’t live (is that even a spoiler?) and about the Red Wedding because someone showed me a clip of it and I wondered why I should care about the deaths of characters I didn’t know.

As of right now (in A Feast for Crows), the only thing that surprises me is that Jon Snow is still alive. Obviously he has to die so he can be released from his vows, and then come back so he can ride a dragon.

After seeing Supersonic, I had to see what the Gallaghers look like now (same). I had a lot of thoughts about Oasis, both the music and the brotherly love, but that will have to wait until a better day. Anyway, I was pleased to see that Liam’s twitter was exactly what I expected.

why-is-liam-fishing

What is this? I have no idea and that’s what makes me love it.

Haruki Murakami loses Nobel Prize

A couple of years ago, the newspaper in my small Japanese city ran that as a headline along with a picture of a mildly confused Murakami. Did the article ever mention the actual winner? If it did, I can’t remember.

From a recent Dylan interview:

“There’s a lot of things I’d like to do,” he says. “I’d like to drive a racecar on the Indianapolis track. I’d like to kick a field goal in an NFL football game. I’d like to be able to hit a hundred-mile-an-hour baseball. But you have to know your place. There might be some things that are beyond your talents.

Everything worth doing takes time. You have to write a hundred bad songs before you write one good one. And you have to sacrifice a lot of things that you might not be prepared for. Like it or not, you are in this alone and have to follow your own star.”

It seems that everyone talks about working hard and reaching for the stars, but the idea of something else, sacrifice, rarely seems to come up in my readings about creativity and productivity. “You have to sacrifice a lot of things that you might not be prepared for”.