Thursday, September 1, 2011

"'Hail Mary,' prayed Lovejoy between her teeth, 'Mary, make me cocky and independent.'"

A few things today.

First, I and mine got through the hurricane unscathed, but the news reports make it clear that we were lucky. My heart goes out to everyone devastated by this storm. Especially our neighbors to the north in Vermont! The Big Picture at The Boston Globe put together a great slideshow of photos from Hurricane Irene -- check it out.

Second, a FAQ: Are you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.? No. This blog is my only online presence; I am not on any other social media sites.

Third, my title today is a favorite line from An Episode of Sparrows, by Rumer Godden, which I just read. I've talked about Godden before on the blog and want to recommend a few of her books again, in addition to AEoS: A Candle for St. Jude; China Court; Greengage Summer; and In This House of Brede. (If you're planning to read your first Godden, maybe don't choose that last one first -- it's very long, takes place in an abbey, and practically nothing happens. I wouldn't want you to give up on Godden altogether if that turned out not to be your thing. Frankly, An Episode of Sparrows also might not be the best first choice; hardly anything happens in that one either.) Godden just has the most distinctive and beautiful voice, and she's fabulous with relationships, artists, children, dialogue. She opens up my understanding of the way a book can sound, and until she does, I don't even realize it's closed.

Fourth, I watched, and greatly admired, the movie Winter's Bone. Loved these characters and this darkness! And it was written, produced, directed by women (Debra Granik was the director) -- SO refreshing to see more women breaking into the movie industry in positions of power. I hope that keeps happening.

Fifth, in some recent research, I stumbled upon an obnoxious quote, but couldn't find any information about who to attribute the offensiveness to. Here's the quote: "Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe and not make messes in the house." I poked around online... and found website after website attributing this quote to Robert Heinlein.

Which is when I began to sigh to myself. Robert Heinlein is a famous science fiction writer. The person who said the quote is clearly a bit of an asshole. How much do you want to bet that this quote, attributed to Robert Heinlein, was actually spoken or written by one of his characters, not Heinlein himself? There's a difference! While it would be an enormous waste of anyone's energy to try to fix all the wrongness on the internet, I do wish people would be more clear with their attributions. Did J.K. Rowling say, "How could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who knew the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death? They, who had seen proofs of the immensity of my power in the times when I was mightier than any wizard living?" Of course not (even if it might work as a metaphor for her success ^_^). J.K. Rowling doesn't go around saying weird things like that; that was Voldemort (In Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33). I'm sure there are plenty of things my own characters have said, thinks my main character has thunk, or concepts presented in the voice of my narrator, that I wouldn't want attributed to me, as if I'd taken that position on things in real life. Part of writing a worthwhile book is filling it with people who say good things and people who say bad things, good thoughts and bad thoughts and complicated thoughts that shift and change and are owned by characters. It's fiction!

So anyway. To set the record straight, the guy who said the obnoxious thing about mathematics is apparently (though I haven't read the book yet) the character Lazarus Long, in Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlein. (For all I know, Lazarus Long is otherwise delightful. But my heart rises up in defense of a rather large proportion of people who are deeply human despite not being able to cope with mathemetics.)

And that's all for today. :o)