Thursday, July 24, 2008

"We went to the moon to have fun...

...but the moon turned out to completely suck."

Have you all read Feed by M. T. Anderson? (That's a link to the Amazon page, if you'd like to read the book's premise. Which you probably don't need to do, because you've read the book already, because you aren't years behind, like I am. You're probably all reading the Octavian Nothing books. Whatever. It just means I'm better than you are at resisting the feed. *thhhbbbtttt*)

Like I was saying, Feed. I'm reading it for the second time this week (by which I mean, I also read it for the first time this week. And now I'm reading it again. For the second time. This week. And ever. I HAVE ONLY EVER READ IT TWICE. THEY WERE BOTH THIS WEEK).

Ahem.

I have something to say about Feed, but I'm not entirely sure what it is. That may not surprise you.

Here's the thing (WARNING: spoilers ahead!). There seem to be things I love about Feed. And while reading it, I find myself wandering around writing questions compulsively on post-its (as I often do), and most of these questions are for the author. Because, after all, when your narrator has very real feelings, but (1) is out of touch with those feelings, (2) is slightly dim, (3) is ill-equipped to deal with his present circumstances, and, especially, (4) is inarticulate, you're setting yourself up for a serious challenge. I wonder, did Anderson ever feel trapped behind Titus's inarticulateness? How did he manage to make it such a beautiful and funny and expressive inarticulateness?

"Then there was this wham and Marty was all, 'Oh, shit,' holding on to his face, and I sat up and was like completely there was no hope of sleeping with these morons doing rumpus on my armrest."

Or, very simply:

"I hoped she could see my smile in the light of my brain."

Or:

"I had never been someplace with that much of angry in the air, like it was crammed. Like the whole air was buzzing. Like all of the lights on the dashboard were teasing us. We were hurtling forward, and it was like we were fueled by how much we hated each other."

Also, I wonder if it was very sad to write a book that wasn't just about the end of a world -- it was about the end of our world. I know it was sad to read. The animals with no more forest to live in -- the hawks perched on street lamps, never looking down, "like they sat alone on Douglas firs" --

"I miss that time. The cities back then, just after the forests died, were full of wonders, and you'd stumble on them -- these princes of the air on common rooftops -- the rivers that burst through city streets so they ran like canals -- the rabbits in parking garages -- the deer foaling, nestled in Dumpsters like a Nativity."

Parts of the book were wickedly funny, and that had to help. For example, the name of the girls' favorite show: Oh? Wow! Thing! Can't you just picture it exactly? And here's how the presidential administration tries to explain away an intercepted chat of the President's: "It has to be understood that when the President referred to the Prime Minister of the Global Alliance as a 'big shithead,' what he was trying to convey was, uh -- this is an American idiom used to praise people, by referring to the sheer fertilizing power of their thoughts." HA HA hee hee hoo *snorfle*

But seriously, back to the sadness. At the end of the book, when Titus watches the "shit-stupid sun rise over the whole shit-stupid world", oh, you feel it. The sadness is the reason I wanted to read it again. I started the book thinking, this world is a nightmare, this feed feels too familiar for comfort, and this narrator is kind of a dope. I finished the book thinking, no, no, bring me back to Titus. I love Titus. Don't let this world end.

But of course it has to end.

I wonder if it felt a bit icky to market this book. Sending it out onto the feed, and all.

Anyhoo. Rock on, M. T. Anderson -- and I'm not done yet. While I was at the library, I also picked up his picture book Me, All Alone, at the End of the World, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, because, well, it's the sort of title that catches the eye of hermit types, plus the pictures reminded me of my ideal home (I don't know if Kevin Hawkes could lead me there, but he sure as hell can paint it). Okay. I loved this book. I think I'm going to have to buy it. It was about being with yourself and also being with other people; it was about being happy with "soft loneliness;" it was about being alone in a particular place but knowing you're not alone in the world. It was a lot like Feed in some ways -- it captures something about how you can be perfectly alone and quiet and content and peaceful and happy, until someone suggests to you that you aren't doing the right things, the "fun" things. And that person is partly right -- the fun things are fun, and it's good not to be alone always -- but you were right, too, the way you started, alone and content. There's an ambivalence perfectly contained in this book. It is the great ambivalence of my life. :o)

Next I'm in the mood to read some Rumer Godden, and maybe also dig up some more Kevin Hawkes. What are you reading, and what can you recommend? Oh: and speaking of rumors, I might be getting a new roof sometime in the next eon. They've patched the gaping hole in the ceiling and I've reclaimed my meditation corner, which is an improvement. But Jesus hasn't been back, and I have to admit, I still don't have a lot of faith....

11 comments:

ICQB said...

Hi Kristin,

I'm looking forward to your book coming out this fall. It was mentioned over at the bookshelvesofdoom blog in a very positive light, so I found it over at Amazon and read about it. I found your very entertaining blog through the Amazon page too.

Congratulations, and hope everything is coming along nicely with the other books. Hope you don't mind if I queried your agent.

Good luck with the new roof.

Amanda said...

don't you just love rumer godden? my library holds queue includes heck: where the bad kids go (basye); ink exchange (marr); ghostgirl (hurley); and climbing the stairs (venkatraman). dawn (fellow misfit) was kind enough to send me i wanna be your joey ramone (kuehnert) and stealing heaven (scott). and, last but certainly not least, the UPS man brought me your book today. to say i'm excited is an understatement:)

NoGrandmother said...

You know, your writing really inspires me: it makes me want to work harder and get better.

I can't wait to read your book.

Sam said...

Feed creeped me the hell out. As for my queue, I've been reading a lot of sequels lately: I finished Catherine Gilbert Murdock's The Off Season and am about to start Inkspell.

(Btw, hi! I'm Rebecca's friend. We met a long time ago in Cambridge. Doesn't that sound romantic?)

Adieminx said...

Hey,

Picked up a proof of Graceling at work, and loved it! Will definitely be heartily recommending it to all and sundry.

kristin cashore said...

icbq: Thanks! I don't mind at all that you queried my agent, and I wish you luck -- she's awesome. Thanks for the kind words!

Amanda: As long as you know you're completely welcome to hate it! (And let us know if you recommend any of those reads -- I haven't read any of them yet.)

Owlet: You rock. Thank you.

Sam: I totally remember you! We were at that place with the brewery and the food near Kendall Square that I can never remember the name of, weren't we? I liked your review of Feed. I still haven't read any Catherine Gilbert Murdock, I need to bump her closer to the top of my list. Sometimes the to-be-read list starts to feel a little overwhelming...

adieminx: Thank you so much! DIdn't Gollancz do a lovely job with the cover (despite the skinniness)?

Adieminx said...

Yeah it's pretty cool, although there was a double take cause I thought she was wearing a watch!

kristin cashore said...

Ha! No wonder she always knows what time it is...

Dawn said...

hi kristin - i've been meaning to write to you for an age. i think we were in the same writing class when m.t. anderson visited? in any case he was such a dreamboat, and i keep intending to read 'feed' again because it is just. so. good. i just finished 'little brother' by cory doctorow which reminds me of 'feed' in its dystopian tone. also, a long overdue congratulations on your books! go simmons women! -d

kristin cashore said...

Hi Dawn! I was in that class, though I have to admit I hadn't read Feed at the time, so tragically, the whole talk was a little wasted on me. I have been late in appreciating MT. Thanks for your congrats and great to hear from you! What are you up to? Feel free to email! I have Little Brother on my bedside table at this very moment. Also -- go Simmons!

Gina said...

I'll have to read Feed sometime. ^^ Once I'm finished with this trilogy by Garth Nix. Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. I'm only on the second book, but it's really good so far. And each book is really long, too. <3