Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

So it continues here

I should say “Starts here,” but no, that’s the blog starting here. This whole reading and needing to, I dunno, debrief, has been going on for years. Since I was a kid reading Robert Cormier and wanting to see the stories of background characters in The Chocolate War (I wanted fanfiction before I even knew it existed!) to finding Harry Potter fandom and metaing about the politics at the Ministry of Magic (and oh, god, the legal system: how fucking SCARY is the legal system in that world?!) to where I am now, I’ve found that I can’t really just *read things*. Not if they get at me in some way. I need discussion, I need some debate, I need some closure for the stuff that’s made me think and imagine and empathise. Or, if something is especially awful, I need to vent. 

The idea of a read-though didn’t come from any of my book fandoms: it was actually a concept that the Ace Attorney fandom introduced me to: a “playthrough, case-by-case,” of the games which are, let’s be fair, very much “visual novels.” I suppose the attraction of the game was, for me, what I like about good books: well-written characters, complex storylines, great dialogue, and a hell of a lot of room for thought. Combine with a sense of humour and great music, and I’m hooked. (But it was the writing which won me over most of all.)

Anyway, through that fandom, I got the kind of meta and discussion that rivalled book fandoms. It was awesome. And since the games are fairly “take no prisoners” in their approach to delivering, erm, rather intense material, I think it was needed. Jokes aside about tentacle monsters and big gay lawyers with complicated and inconvenient feelings for one another and the really unnerving stares of at least two of the villians, you also have orphaned kids, post-traumatic stress disorder, one character with persistent anger management problems (Franziska von Karma is awesome, but seriously) plenty of violence, and at least a couple of shades-of-grey should-mentors-REALLY-be-getting-that-close-to-their-students? relationships. Oh, and a creepy pedophile who refers to the object of his affection as his little “teen queen.” And a legal system which is dangerously flawed, where defendants are assumed to be guilty and the mark of a good prosecutor is to get a case closed in as short a period of time as possible (did I mention that capital punishment exists in this universe as well?). And all of this, kids, is canon. There’s enough to discuss there before we start speculating on Apollo’s childhood or whether Kristoph and Phoenix were sexually involved in those seven years between the third and fourth games or what would have happened between Mia and Diego.

We need to discuss things, I guess. And I shamelessly LOVE meta. I love hearing other people’s theories (there is a beautiful essay someone wrote suggesting that Phoenix Wright displays behaviour consistent with being a sociopath!). And I love organising my own somewhere. 

The series that made me want to do this, in this sort of metatastic fashion (ie. actually discussing the material and not using it for LULZfuel) was Manna Francis’ The Administration. There is so much going on. So much to discuss. So much that has struck some sort of chord with me on some level. And the fandom? Is like a ghost town that wasn’t exactly a metropolis to begin with. So, yes, I figured I’d do read-throughs of, well, that series.

And then I got thinking: “I read a lot of serials. LOTS.” Sure, I have my usual likes (psychological thrillers, complicated, screwed-up, unhappy protagonists and characters who  are flawed to the point of looking believable– and at the same time, perfectly unredeemable, suspense, multi-layered things about “the system,” stuff dealing with power on pretty much any level, dystopian futures, et cetera) but every so often I will read something off the radar in those terms: because everyone else is talking about it, because I’ve seen excerpts on Tumblr and gone “WTF?” and I’ve had feelings about that stuff, too. 

A few warnings: I like stuff that probably isn’t in everyone’s taste. I will talk about the stuff I like, and that will probably include descriptions of explicit sex and violence. I also have the sort of sense of humour which… well, let’s just say that IRL, I’ve received some horrified looks. And I think that if you’re putting your book out there, it’s no longer your baby, it’s a consumable product, and therefore deserving of review, praise and criticism (the later two based on its merits if applicable). If this upsets you, grow a thicker skin, stop writing, or learn when to look away from the reviews which don’t grind your gears and focus on the ones which do. 

(And I’d like to put it out there: I’ve seen some hideous criticism of some amazing work– or even more sadly, complete ignorance of it. If you want to see a crazy, foam-at-the-mouth rant, get a few gin and tonics into me and start telling me about how the Fifty Shades series is so amazingly popular, or how Cassandra Clare is the quintessential fanfic writer who crossed over into original stuff while expressing complete “What’s that? Never heard of it” about The Administration series. Sometimes being known and loved isn’t the mark of a good writer, it’s the mark of good marketing, trending interests, and loyal followers. And a public that is still pretty damned conservative. [The latter is another gripe for a later entry… anyone want to buy me those gin and tonics?])

Some more warnings: I spoiler. The nature of this is that I talk about what happened in a section of the material I’ve just read, so it isn’t really rocket science, but probably bears stating: I will refer to stuff that has happened. If this is an issue, don’t read an entry until you’ve read the material yourself. 

To be honest, spoilers don’t bother me that much, because I’m always going to interpret a situation my own way and focus on the stuff that grabs my attention, and in a few rare cases, I actually prefer having a headsup about particular things. I sighed with relief when one of my favourite writers said that no, neither of the two leads dies at the end of things, and yes, they have a reasonably happy ending. (All this is relative, though, and dependant on me getting very into the characters. I mean, I was the creepy little shit who cheered when Gwynneth Paltrow’s head turned up in the box at the end of Se7en, and thought that was a nifty twist and surprise.) 

Another thing: even though I haven’t done very much of it here, I swear. I know there are still a few people who get highly offended about that, and I’ve had people being extremely condescending towards me, who’ve advised me that FaceBook will ban me for saying “shit” (since they don’t ban stalkers and pedophiles and hate commmunities, I’m pretty sure I’ll be free to live another day of posting depressing status updates and pictures of cats) and who’ve pitched fits because of it. With one notable exception, where I did modify my behaviour for strategic benefit, I really don’t give a flying fuck what people think of my potty mouth. It didn’t seem to hurt Gordon Ramsey’s career, and this ain’t my career. 

This should probably come as no surprise to the person who is an avid fan of a book with the word “fuck” in the title, either. Grow up and get over it.

I think that’s everything. Basically, I’m still finelining the system here, as I haven’t done this before, but I suspect there will be tags with whatever I’m reading or referring to, so hopefully searching won’t be a nightmare.

Oh, one last thing: I don’t usually just read one thing at a time. So expect a range of stuff to be “on the go” at once if you’re following.

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