Rue’s Race

Were there really readers who thought that Rue was ” the little blonde innocent girl you picture“? The text says specifically – and on a variety of occasions – that she has dark skin and thick black hair.

One has to have major issues going on to imagine a character described this way as “blonde.”

As a literary critic, I find it very curious when people impose their own psychological problems on the text. I’m now reading criticism on a novel where a 50-year-old protagonist leaves her husband and finds a much younger lover. Many male critics of that age bracket obviously bring something deeply personal to the reading of the book and give strange moralistic rants on how it’s wrong to leave one’s husband right in the middle of their scholarly articles!

I also remember how a very famous critic read the scene where a former husband viciously brutalizes his ex-wife as evidence that their relationship had progressed and they would now be very happy together.

The good news is that in literary criticism such things are rare enough to be memorable. In sociology, however, people do nothing but sell their psychological hangups as scholarship.

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Hunger Games: A Review

On the advice of reader V., I read the first book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games.  This is not my genre but I wasn’t risking anything since Amazon gives these books out for free on Kindle.

I have to say that, considering the genre, the book is quite good. The prose is nothing to write home about but, in spite of the impotence of the vocabulary and the hobbled nature of the grammar structures, there is nothing in this book even remotely resembling the vicious injuries to the English language one has seen in the Twilight series.

Hunger Gameis highly entertaining and it reads very easily. As you can see, I read it in a day (a bout of regular Friday night insomnia helped.) The premise has been a little overdone, of course. As I read, I kept wondering why it is that societies that suffer from obesity enjoy fantasizing about starvation so much. I guess such fantasies tickle their appetites and allow them to eat more than they could normally manage to stuff into themselves. I know that all the descriptions of endless meals made me eat like a maniac yesterday.

The main problem I had with the book is how completely inconsistent the main character was. I understand that this is the fantasy genre, but there has got to be at least a pretense at some internal logic in the novel. Katniss, who is extremely self-sufficient, strong, resilient and opinionated, suffers from a debilitating lack of self-esteem. She somehow manages not to know that she is attractive and spends the entire novel alternating between feats of self-reliance and profound belief in herself with extremely obnoxious and unmotivated bouts of “But it isn’t possible that he likes me. Oh, of course he doesn’t like me. And nobody likes me. And this is all a conspiracy because there is no way anybody likes me. And, of course, he, of all people, doesn’t like me. And people in general don’t like me. And if somebody says in public that he is in love with me, it will make everybody laugh at me because I’m probably five years old and I think being loved makes adults look ridiculous.” To me, it made zero sense.

Another problem was that I had to make a huge effort to remember that these characters are supposed to be 16. Peeta, for example, behaves like a very mature 40-year-old man. If anybody has seen this kind of 16-year-old boys, especially among those who, within the structure of their society, are considered sheltered, please let me know.

Later on, I will write a separate post addressing the issue of whether this is a feminist book. This is a debate that has been raging for a while and even The Nation has an article on the subject in its most recent issue, so I want to share my point of view.

This is the end of the academic year and I’m in need of light, distracting reading matter. This means that I will definitely be reading the next two books in the series. I’m not planning on watching the movie because, for one, I have no doubt that Hollywood has made exactly the kind of product that the book tries to criticize: flashy, gaudy, full of obnoxious special effects, with half-naked surgically altered starlets rolling in the mud for the delectation of the viewing audience. Every last shred of the timid social critique that the novel offers will have been excised form the movie.

Besides, I have no doubt that the film producers have cast 25-year-old starlets to play 16-year-old characters. The only people who can play 16-year-olds are either actual 16-year-olds or extremely talented performers of the caliber that Hollywood is not familiar with. Otherwise, this becomes a huge circus where adult men and women pretend to be kids, making themselves look ridiculous in the process.

Of course, if there are people who are willing to tell me that the movie is not that bad, I’m willing to listen.

Do share whether you liked the novel and why. I’m very interested in how people feel about it.

Confiscatory Dreams of Useless Losers

On the subject of the most recent post, I have proof for those of you who are wondering why I referred to Liberals as useless.

Just read the following post and never ask me why again:

So I think there should be additional brackets at, say, $5 million (55% tax rate), $10 million (60%), $40 million (65%), $100 million (70%), $400 million (75%), $1 billion (80%), $5 billion (85%), and even $10 billion (90%).  Someday someone will have that much annual income, if they haven’t already.

I’d argue that this principle should apply even more so to the Federal estate tax, which after a certain point should become all but confiscatory.

What shocks me is that somebody could write the following in complete seriousness and not even be ashamed of their resentful, envious, vile, useless, ignorant self-importance. Not only hasn’t the useless creature who’s been churning out these confiscatory fantasies created anything of value, he is also too stupid to open a history book and to read about what happens in societies where dreams of confiscating the untold riches of the billionaires are made true.

For the especially clueless, here is a newsflash: confiscating the money of the ultra rich and sharing it among the ultra poor or pouring it all into social programs makes the entire society hugely, miserably, disgustingly poor. Then, starvation begins. If we had a poor society to begin with, it becomes even poorer as a result of these measures.

How come there are people who still manage somehow not to know that when history textbooks are plentiful and easy to find?

Who has confiscated the brain matter of the idiot writer of the above-quoted post? People, be kind and give it back to him. The poor critter is suffering.