Tag Archives: sisters

A Recent Text-Message Conversation with my Sister

Or, a progress update on Middlemarch. (For the record, spelling and grammar from this text-message conversation have been corrected on both sides.)

Her: With great heaviness of heart, I just purchased Middlemarch.

Me: Woot! she said, with great enthusiasm.

Her: I’m already getting sleepy a paragraph in. That might be an upside…

Me: Haha! Texting me about paragraphic progress will help keep you awake.

Her: Haha! But I want to sleep!

<<the next day>>

Me: I made it through chapter one last night. I pat myself on the back.

Her: Haha! I’m halfway through chapter three!!! I win!!!!!!

Me: For now!!!!!!!!

I’m sure she’s still winning, though. I am through chapter four, bookmark sitting restfully at chapter five, and not feeling inspired to press on. Am I permitted to draw my conclusions after only four chapters?

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The Hunger Games

Image via Amazon.com

The books in the Hunger Games trilogy are great books to read if you are, in fact, hungry, and on a diet, because they are so hard to put down that you will find it a challenge to get up and get yourself something to eat. True story.

I finished reading the trilogy this month, and unlike the girl in my book group who loved them, I came away from the books with mixed feelings, but no loss of weight, which was a little disappointing.

Caution: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were both riveting books that moved along at an arresting pace. (I read Catching Fire in approximately 24 hours.) Katniss, with her general distrust and her inability to play to audiences, was likable, and certainly sympathetic; and Peeta was like the dream boy that seemingly everyone but me thought Edward or Jacob (from the Twilight series) was – something like my dream boy, anyway.

My principal complaints about the trilogy came with the third book, Mockingjay.

First I have to confess to being a bit a dismayed by the amount of time that Katniss spent sedated in book three. Throughout the first two books, she found a way through, even in the face of apparently insurmountable sorrow or difficulty. Of course, in the first two books, she had had the freedom to overcome; in book three, that freedom was demonstrably absent – whether because she was sedated or because the people in District 13 weren’t really free. Perhaps that was an irony Suzanne Collins intended us to observe.

Then there was the rather grotesque role that Katniss was required to play – a mascot for the revolution, a living symbol – still a pawn to be used to advance someone else’s agenda, to inspire the people to fight.

I finished the books the same weekend that, a year previously, my sister got married and moved halfway across the country; right at the end of Mockingjay, Prim, the sister whose place Katniss took in The Hunger Games, is killed by a bomb. Katniss’s certain numbness to all the things she’d imagined she would experience in some way together with her sister was particularly poignant. My sister didn’t die – but I could relate in a very small way to that feeling of loss, and the vacancy left behind that will never be quite filled.

But my chief complaint is the way the books ended. You expect characters to emerge from stories changed in some way, and certainly the horrors that Katniss and Peeta witnessed and were at times part of would change them. But Katniss and Peeta were more than changed – they were completely broken, changed beyond recovery. I wasn’t expecting them to regain any sort of childish innocence, but I did hope that their story would end with a more complete happiness. And that, to me, was the most disappointing thing about the books, the idea that there would be no healing, no recovery of their former selves.

Two New Things

For Spring Break this year I went to visit my sister in Dallas, and among the number of fun things we did was watch the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which abounds with smoldering glances from the misunderstood John Thornton, played by Richard Armitage.

I had already seen and admired Mr. Armitage on the BBC series “Spooks”, which they play here in the U.S. as “MI-5”.  In that series, like in North and South, he plays a tortured soul, haunted by memories of his past.  Someday, perhaps, I will understand what exactly it is that makes the tortured soul so attractive.

I’ve also recently discovered the novels of Georgette Heyer, and while my appreciation for these novels is somewhat more reserved than my appreciation for the smoldering glances of immensely good-looking tortured souls, I have certainly enjoyed becoming acquainted with them.  They are a delightful distraction from the day-to-day.

Imagine my joy upon discovering that Richard Armitage recently recorded three of Georgette Heyer’s novels for Naxos AudioBooks (The Convenient Marriage, Sylvester, and Venetia)!

It would also appear that these are available from Amazon.

I’m just saying…I do have a birthday.  In July.

I’m not a freak.

The other day, I was chatting with my sister while the two of us perused stuff on the Internet.  My sister chanced upon this button, which says “I am gone forever. [Exit, pursued by a bear.]”

And then, because it was just the two of us, I felt completely free to unleash the full force of my enthusiasm upon her, and immediately replied, rather incoherently (for such is my joy at stumbling upon bits of things that I love in real life), “That’s a famous stage direction!  And Mary Stewart uses it as the chapter-heading quote in one of the chapters of Madam, Will You Talk? It’s Shakespeare; from The Winter’s Tale!”

Immediately after my enthusiastic outburst, however, I teetered on an edge of the abyss of insecurity, primarily because people often find my memory disconcerting, not to say downright creepy.  Not knowing me, you are perhaps even at this moment making the face I encounter so often, one of disbelief, mingled with fear, at the things that I remember.

I always used to think of remembering things about people as being a courtesy – confirmation that I was, in fact, listening.  For the purposes of avoiding that face, though, I’ve adopted a strategy (false as it is) where I pretend that I don’t remember various details about other people’s lives.  Most people don’t realize that a good memory can be a kind of curse, and you find yourself wishing that you didn’t remember – or at least not with quite so much clarity.

I said, “Do you think I’m a creep because I remember things?”

My sister laughed.

I said, “As in, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’?”  (I didn’t say, “And that I remembered an obscure usage of the quote?” but it was implied.)

She said, “No,” and then said, “You have a good memory.  Embrace it.  Celebrate it.”  She said I should say, “Yo, I gots a good memory.  You gotta problem wit’ dat?”

Perhaps next time I am confronted by the disconcerted face, I will break that one out.  But I doubt it.  Ye olde “popular vernacular” tends not to roll off my tongue in a very convincing manner.