As previously mentioned, Deliberatepixel.com is in flux right now, and, as a complement to preparing for the future, I've done a bit of looking back at the past. The result? I made a print book of my favorite posts from the last two years: Deliberatepixel Offline: 2009–2011.
Like many another crime fiction junkie, I'm mildly obsessed with Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy. I pounced on the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, when it first appeared in the States, and was rather thrilled to discover a good crime story with a startling unique and complex female character at its heart - an unfortunately rare occurrence. All too often, especially historically, women only occupy the backdrops of noir genre tales.
But beyond the story itself, the (anti-)heroine Lisbeth Salander has also seemed to find herself in the middle of a popular criticism debate about women, violence and the representation of both in art. The graphic depiction of both the violence - extremely sexual in nature - she is subject to and the violence she delivers in return has been the justification for critics to discuss whether or not her story deserves to be taken seriously or if it's nothing but salacious drama only befitting the pulp from which tradition it springs.
Everyone has their pet hot-button issues. I have quite a few of them, actually, because that’s the kind of annoying, self-righteous gal I am. But if there is one issue that is guaranteed to fire me up fastest and with the most indignation, it’s book banning. I can’t stand it. In any of its forms - banning, censoring, burning. It’s all part and parcel of the same act. Whether it’s bullying a library to remove a book from its shelves or publicly lighting on fire books by which one is offended, people attempting taking away from other people the right and responsibility to make up their own minds pretty much sucks.
There isn't an artist, living or dead, who ever frustrated, confused and inspired me as much as Jack Kerouac did. Yes, I crossed paths with him precisely when I needed to, as a disaffected youth obsessed with consuming words and creating meaning. Yes, the passage of time has tempered my feelings for him, and given me a more realistic perspective. But, still, that fascination and affection - it lingers. It always will.
Do you live like there's no tomorrow? Are you gone? Real gone? Do you have a large galaxy of friends? Do they wear goatees? Well, then - you might be a beatnik.
If you remain in any doubt, just fill out the handy questionnaire at the link, and the results will be analyzed to determine if in fact you are a beatnik. Most people only come down with a case of beatnikism as young adults - fortunately, once you've had it, there's very little chance of you getting it again. Also please be aware that, should your test results come back positive, your road to recovery can be assisted by many services offered by the community. Such as gainful employment.
Of course, I expected I would think that even before I read the book. Not only am I rabidly anti-authoritarian and passionate about freedom of information and copyright reform, but I also love young adult novels. I'd be sold on this book even if it weren't written as well or didn't have as engaging a story as it does. Since it does, though, that makes this teenage Orwell 2.0 even more fun.
You can get a free electronic copy in various formats at Doctorow's site, and if you feel you'd like to pay forward the favor of a free ebook, you can donate a paper copy to a librarian or teacher who needs one.
Another note on young adult books in general: a few weeks ago, Doctorow said, simply that they were "a parallel universe of little-regarded awesomeness." John Scalzi also pointed this out. I'm glad the two of them, who have extensive audiences listening, are saying this - but to those of us who technically classify as adults and still unabashedly read YA novels, it's no surprise. I long ago realized that there is more creativity and originality in the novels being published for teens than there is in the current mainstream fiction offerings for adults. If Little Brother doesn't do it for you, try some Cecil Castellucci on for size.
Yes, it's a link to an entire blog dedicated to that one topic.
As a side note, from my own personal experience back in my free-wheeling single days, yes, you can pick up girls in bookstores. Even though I was technically picked up in the bookstore cafe, and the man in question turned out to be probably the least literate one I've ever known. Whatever. I'm just trying to toss out there a bit of hope for those angling for bookish girls.
Books are awesome. Getting more books into needy and/or disaster-ravaged areas, and into the hands of kids who otherwise might not get them, is even more awesome. Which is why the Dewey Donation System deserves to be praised and supported and just generally talked about all over the place. Their 2008 book drive is collecting books for both the Children's Institute and the Rockhouse Foundation, and there are Amazon wish list and online donation systems galore, so donating is a pretty quick and painless process. Stop on by and help out.
After the trailer for the upcoming 3-D movie version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, one of my favorite books, was leaked to the internet, the studio went ahead and released their own, higher-quality one. I have some trepidation about seeing a book I love through another's perspective, which I generally have with all movies adapted from books - but, beyond that, I'm excited to see this.