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To be trashy, or not to be trashy...
A shameless hub!
Day Two of the 30-day-blog-and-hub-challenge, and already I'm struggling to find ideas.
But I have decided to tackle a subject that I have trouble expressing my opinions about: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.
I will tell you a story.
One evening, in early 2009, Linda heard tell of a book and an accompanying film called Twilight. She listened patiently as her friend described in some detail the strange and rather silly-sounding relationship between a girl and a vampire, and a developing love triangle involving a werewolf. Ludicrous, thought Linda, that sounds like something I will absolutely never read. And she didn't read it then, because she had no interest in it. If it wasn't by Anne Rice, then she was having nothing to do with it, because Linda had a tendency to be a little judgmental and sometimes stuck to what she knew just to be stubborn.
The more Linda heard about Twilight, the less she wanted to read it. She felt happy in her decision to stay away from such badly written trash (she assumed that it was badly written, although she had never actually read a single word of it). She really thought no more about vampires for almost a year, and had many a wonderfully pleasant evening reading some excellent and award-winning fiction such as A Fraction of the Whole, and The Books of Pellinor. Life was beautiful for Linda, until the work of Stephenie Meyer was mentioned to her again around the time of her birthday in 2010, April. Then her life was broken beyond repair, never to be quite the same again.
On a particular social networking site Linda's life was made a misery by several of her so-called friends. She was bombarded, bombarded I tell you, with messages containing taunts and jibes, and even threats. It's all true (see any of my earlier hubs for evidence of my lying nature). 'You don't know what you're missing,' 'you will fall in love with Edward Cullen, just as the rest of us have,' 'Edward's not an abuser, it's all blown out of proportion,' and other such bullying messages flooded her inbox daily. Fearing for her sanity, and possibly even her life (some of the messages were just so awful: 'go on, read it, you might like it') she eventually gave in to peer pressure - peer pressure I tell you, she never wanted to read those damned books.
'I'd never given much thought to how I would die - though I'd had reason enough in the last few months - but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.' Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, p1.
Linda grudgingly decided that there was nothing really wrong with that for an opening sentence. She read on, vowing that she would stop reading and give the awful book a flaming death as soon as she found the bits that demeaned women and showed a blatant disregard for everything that feminists had fought for over the years.
She read some more.
After two evenings she realised that she had read the whole book.
She rushed into town to buy the sequel.
Linda was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with a fictional character.
She had been sucked in (pardon the pun) to the silly world of teenaged vegetarian vampires.
Her peace of mind was gone. She read all four books of the saga in quick succession, then read them all again. She wanted to read them a third time, but she was beginning to worry about how much she was neglecting her children and how often and sharply she was snapping at her long-suffering partner. She read something else. It was fine, an excellent piece of writing that she can't remember. Because vampires remained at the front of her mind, so much so that after she had read two more random books in a daze, she relented and allowed herself to read Twilight once more, all the time knowing that she was weak and that her choice was shameful.
A few months have passed since I last read those awful books that I love so much. Life has thankfully returned to normal, and I am once again finding daily pleasure in many, many things. I hardly ever think about vampires, real or fictional, but when I do it's always with a knowing little nudge and wink to myself, for I know that I will enjoy my guilty pleasure again some time in the middle distance. It joins the likes of the predictably placed Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, on the list of books that I will read again and again.
Many will shudder at the thought of Meyer's work being placed alongside that of Tolkien in my estimation. But I don't judge books based on how well they are written according to more educated people, I judge them based on my personal emotional response to them. What would be the sense in denying myself the fun of feeling seventeen again when I go into that little vampire bubble, just because there is a widely held view that my choice of reading material is not good enough?
I do not believe that Meyer wrote her novels in order to educate her readers, or to expand their minds. I think she just wrote a beautiful love story, and very cleverly included characters and dialogue and plot twists that would tantalise and leave its silly girly readers (that's not a criticism: sometimes it's just fine to embrace your pink and gushy side ladies - and gentlemen!) breathless and deliciously jealous of her fictional heroine. I've made myself out to be embarrassed about my love for these stories; this is not the case. I am proud to be a Twilight fan, proud that I am still in touch with my inner teen. Life is too short to be serious and grown up all the time.
I cannot comment on the quality of writing in the Twilight Saga, because I am now blind to any flaws it might have. I will leave the intellectualising to other people. I prefer to just take the books at face value and enjoy them for what they are: a bit of delicious fun. After all they were written to be enjoyed, not to be analysed. I view Shakespeare in the same way. It's a shame that Shakespeare's plays are analysed from the off in schools, and that they become something to be endured in a stuffy classroom, rather than something to be enjoyed in performance.
It seems that I share something in my writing style with Stephenie Meyer: not knowing when to stop!