Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From the Heath Arsenal: Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker

and a few other things besides.

"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara. Also by Bambara: The Salt Eaters, Gorilla, My Love, and The Sea Birds are Still Alive.

A young girl learns about injustice during a neighborhood outing to FAO Schwartz. This was excellent, and made many valid points, but really just read it for the language. It had such a wonderful cadence to it, it was really amazing.

"Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right, this lady moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup. And quite naturally we laughed at her, laughed the way we did at the junk man who went about his business like he was some big-time president and his sorry-ass horse his secretary. And we kinda hated her too, hated the way we did the winos who cluttered up our parks and pissed on our handball walls and stank up our hallways and stairs so you couldn't halfway play hide-and-see without a goddamn gas mask."

POETRY! Just brilliant! I need to read more of TCB, definitely. Language is so important; when writers have it, reading becomes musical and flows like a river (I hate metaphors), when it's bad, it just sticks and fouls up everything else. This is relevant in filmmaking, too. You can have a good idea, a good situation or story, but what good are these things if you can't skillfully tell the story? Stephenie Meyer is insufferable for this reason, her language (especially evident in the dialogues) is choppy, silly, and just NOT BELIEVABLE. Do you really expect me to believe that Edward Cullen chuckles that much? You've written a character that has gotten away from you, the author! I don't care what crackpot commune you're living on, no one (Healer, Seeker, Host, Hell-fire-breathing Demon) talks like that. I don't believe for one minute that you, Stephenie, believe in what you're writing.
(Incidentally, I have abandoned The Host, by Stephenie Meyer.  I don't think any further explanation is needed. Although the acknowledgments at the end of the book were useful in convincing me that we have indeed, as a culture, entered the IDIOCRACY years. . . Ugh. Yes, I'm being a snot.)

"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker.

Story of two daughters, one who has discovered her now-in-fashion African American roots, told from the mother's perspective. Names get changed (Dee to Wangero). Quilts are argued over (Wangero wants the special ones). Being comfortable in one's skin is questioned ("You don't understand your heritage"). I liked it. Of course I had no patience for the older, more important sister (Dee/Wangero). Where do people get off with their GIVE ME THIS and GIVE ME THAT? If my kids ever pull this with me when I get old, the only thing they'll be getting is a swift back hand. . . I was extremely pleased by the ending.

"When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet. Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout. I did something I never had done before: hugged Maggie to me, then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero's hands and dumped them into Maggie's lap. Maggie just sat there on my bed with her mouth open."


Lastly, has anyone seen QUARANTINE? Or the original Mexican film on which it was based? Thoughts?