Stick Figures

Why I Want to Be Published: A Somewhat Meta Review of Reviews

imageI don’t write negative book reviews.  My reasons for this are mostly selfish.  Perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to get published and a hypothetical bunch of people will write somewhat flattering reviews of my book…though I suppose scathingly harsh reviews wouldn’t be so bad (because, as the cliché goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity).  But writers hope for good reviews since they’ve struggled to send that over-edited block of textual thought (which is, in the end, a rather solid abstraction of the fluid, unattainable work of the imagination) out into the universe…and they’re hoping to see ripples come back.

My husband once asked me, “Why is it so important to you that you get published?” The question stumped me.  I had plenty of reasons for writing–some selfish, some not– but publishing is more an issue of connectedness.  I don’t want fame.  I want people to have read my words, empathize with the characters, lose themselves a little bit in their lives, and be haunted by the ghost of the book even after they turned the last page.  I want them to think about it later.  That would mean something in the essence of the book moved from short-term enjoyment to long-term effect.  I want to–as corny as it sounds–move someone.

They say art is a mirror to life–that we react to books and paintings and music and other abstractions with the essence of the human element in them because we see something of ourselves.  So…if I make art, does it count as art if nobody is there to experience it?  (Insert tree falling in the woods metaphor here!)  Well, I suppose, I am reading it.  I see surprising bits of myself in my writing and react to them, so I guess there’s that.  But how much more cool is it to know that someone else read your human bits and are approximating the same thing that you are–that they are also human and their humanness is reacting to your humanness.  Fire catching fire.

And what if someone who read my book was kind enough to write a review?  That review would be another block of textual, abstracted, thoughty bits, but in it, I might see evidence of the fire I set.  And I guess that would make me feel…warm. 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond

YA Romance Reviews

Microreview in Twenty or Less: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

imageFormerly average high school senior screws up, pumps up, and gets pinned with a crime he didn’t commit.  Read it!

Think you can write a better microreview of Twisted in twenty words or less?  All challengers welcome!  Alternatively, if you’ve read and enjoyed this book, please leave your thoughts below.  🙂


Book Destroys Movie: Confessions of a Shopaholic

ImageRecently, I’ve been on a Sophie Kinsella kick and blasted through the highly entertaining Confessions of a Shopaholic in anticipation of watching it retold in the magic of moving pictures–or as close as I could get to “magic” with a library DVD, a grimacing husband…and my own creeping pessimism.  Because, really, my excitement had nothing to do with seeing a good movie.  No, my twisted anticipation was born in the surety that the thing would be a complete train wreck.

So was it as horrific as I’d hoped? Short answer: no.  Really, the film wasn’t terrible, but as I expected, it didn’t live up to the book.  Frowning, I dragged the cliché “the book is always better” from its moldy crypt and flailed it around while my husband promptly searched for the manliest movie with the most explosions possible to cleanse his tainted palate.  But, if the box office has anything to say about it, there are books that do quite well as movies.  Their narratives are more compact and work better in a two-hour squeeze.  They have plots that are driven by action or settings saturated with descriptive imagery.  Most importantly, these books include character arcs that are easily conveyed by external means–chiefly through the use of riveting dialogue or action. 

The failure of a book-turned-movie to do well on the big screen is usually–no surprise–the inability of movies to deeply submerge the audience in a character’s thoughts and internal conflict.  The real enjoyment in reading Confessions of a Shopaholic definitely wasn’t watching Rebecca Bloomwood, a.k.a. Becky, purchase gobs of designer clothes and other nonsense.  It was in listening to Becky’s thoughts–how she talked herself into every purchase, reasoning around her own self-imposed rules with outrageous justifications created on the spot.

The book was written almost as a series of vignettes wherein Becky would set out with a plan and a bounce in her step only to fail in the most embarrassing and, subsequently, most entertaining way possible.  In order to truly appreciate the absurdity of her failures, one must hear Becky’s thoughts and how, over the course of a scene, she reasons herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She makes us uncomfortable because she does not think like a heroine.  Most people who dislike the book cite an inability to identify with Becky.  She appears to lack any redeeming qualities and garners the attention of an attractive, intelligent businessman despite her obvious faults.  Really, the book is a study in how to write a well-developed anti-hero.   Identifying with Becky isn’t the point, though we may from time to time on a superficial level.  The point is to kick our heads back and laugh in disbelief as she continuously self-destructs. 

That said, the movie made a valiant effort to convey some of the internal narrative–most notably the mannequins that talk Becky into buying various overpriced apparel–but we barely scratch the surface of how broken she actually is. There are other points I could make about the Americanization of the plot and the changes that were made in the interest of playing up the book’s barely-there romance, but none of this matters as much as the film’s inability to give us the real Becky.