Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Reading

Venturing outside my normal topics of posting, I wanted to share a book with you that I'm reading called "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. No, it's not literature in the traditional sense of the word, but neither does it qualify as "romance" or "science fiction" or "historical fiction." Rather, it's a combination of all three genres which is why it has appealed to so many fiction-readers. In fact, the entire series has been so beloved that the books have been on the national bestseller lists since "Outlander" was published in 1991. In this first book that I'm currently reading (all 640 pages or 896 depending on the format), 1945 nurse Claire Beachamp recently reunited with her husband following a separation due to World War II finds herself transported to 1743 Scotland when she touches the boulders of an ancient henge while on a walk to pick herbs. From there, her adventure starts.

Now, some of the dialogue is silly (one exchange has our heroine, Claire, saying, "Ugh!" in response to hearing some terrible incident involving her Highlander lover, Jamie Fraser, a written vocalization which never fails to stick in my craw). There is also the unreal ease with which the heroine accepts Jamie's love (thereby seeming to forget her still-living-in-another-time period husband without that much of a blink) as well as the rather ... er ... politically incorrect punishment from said husband (Jamie spanks the bejeesus out of her with his belt when she disobeys him).

All that aside, I've found myself transported right along with Claire despite my high-minded preference for more intellectual literature. I recommend "Outlander" to anyone who's looking for some fun, light, engaging summer reading.

On a related note, I've actually been reading more tradition romance novels. Rubbish to be sure, but enjoyable nonetheless. The books seem to go along with my penchant for movie and television watching. I wondered why I've abandoned writing, why I put aside my heavier reading pursuits in favor of silliness.

I wonder while I lecture J on the necessity of school, of passing classes, of not running around with hoodlums as friends, while I dole out medications to the boys and tie and re-tie M's hair in ponytails and listen to J tic because he's so stressed out over summer school. Today I meet with the principal of the school because in truth, J's needs are not being met. I've come to the conclusion that if he's unmanageable in school, it's because he's not being managed correctly. The other day he cursed me out, using...well...using my favorite F-word in the world. Yeah, THAT one. I was surprised, horrified, wanting to get a switch off the tree and mete out my own punishment, but I realized the stress over school had simply reached a boiling point. Something isn't right in Denmark, so to speak.

I don't think I need to wonder why I'm escaping into escapist fiction. When I was in law school, I used to escape the serious lifestyle of studying with video games and made-for-tv movies. Today, there's stupid fiction, hot sex between the pages, happy-ever-after endings, and ... made-for-tv movies. I'm not doing anything different than I did back then.

Last night we went to the Pomona Fairgrounds for the fireworks. The show was preceded by monster trucks and freestyle motocross. I had to laugh that in Pomona (versus the big show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena) when the announcer asked everyone to clap and cheer for our servicemen, firefighters, and law enforcement, the crowd booed law enforcement. D and I laughed hard along with all our compadres in the crowd. I don't think any police officer wanted to stand up in that crowd! We had fun though, yelling out wildly for the Bounty Hunter who stirred up so much dirt with his wheelies that it took a full ten minutes for the air to clear. We collectively gasped when the motocross guys did no-handed flips with their motorcycles and one truck caught fire after too many donuts. And then the fireworks. We took pictures with our cell phones along with the rest of the crowd - no fancy cameras and tripods for the cheap seats! Even though J stayed home, choosing to hang out with a neighbor, A, M, D and I enjoyed ourselves despite the long and slow exit. For the evening, we escaped and forgot our usual troubles.

Well, back to "Outlander."


Fromage de Merde said...

Silly fiction, the new anti-drepression med. Monster trucks, the new anti-entertainment medium. Ugh, the new craw sticker. I just can’t keep up with you any more. I am so behind. Fromage, the eternal slacker…

Jerseykids said...

i am HUGE outlander series fan!!! i have them all. i keep re-reading these and each time i get the same thrills and joys :) i just finished them all again(as well as, sadly, the last harry potter) and i'm on the last of the outlander series.

rumor has it that this was to be the last one, however i will believe it when i see it ;)

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butterstar said...

Ooh, I am all about the romance genre. I don't understand why it gets such a bad rap, when you look at the other escapist fic out there like sci-fi and mystery. It's all about how good the individual writers are. Yeah, not particularly literary (most of 'em, anyway), but still well-written, if you know who to read.

I am still trapped in the seemingly eternal struggle of whether my planned series should be romance or not. I really don't want to be pigeon-holed, but it keeps wanting to be romance. Who am I to say no?

At least my current novel isn't romance. Of course, it defies genrezation. Which means it will defy marketing. Or selling.