Monthly Archives: May 2013
On a day when the country pauses to honor its mothers, it only makes sense for an author and lover of literature to highlight the mothers of readers’ favorite fictional characters. Let’s start with the fairy tales of our youth. Cinderella? Snow White? Er, perhaps some later classics. Maybe the lads fare better. Like Tarzan? Oliver? Huck Finn?
Okay, so you don’t have to read too many books to determine a pattern when it comes to mothers in literature. Authors love their moms. No, really. They love them and respect their power to influence their children so much that they kill them off in droves. Some authors are kind enough to kill off their characters’ moms in the noble act of childbirth, but most prefer more violent murders, since it creates a lifelong motivation for vengeance in their main characters.
Still not feeling the love? Look a little deeper. If orphans like Oliver Twist didn’t suffer from the absence of a mother’s love, they’d never be sucked in by the first scummy person to give them some attention. What would Fagin be without his orphan minions? If motherless lads like Huck Finn didn’t lack the social skills needed to be accepted by society, skills taught at dinner tables by reprimanding moms, they’d never flee their boring well-behaved towns to have the adventures readers crave. If loving moms didn’t sacrifice themselves to save their helpless babes, how would an orphan like Harry Potter, who was raised with little love, ever be compassionate enough to sacrifice himself for the greater good? That’s a lot of power to unintentionally give a group of people you don’t love.
Good writers do little by accident. If they remove the moms from their world, it’s not due to any lack of love or respect but quite the contrary. Literature illuminates the best and worst of reality. Only by seeing a fictional world without mothers can we grasp their real power. Writers know what the rest of us know (or should), that moms make the world a better place!
So take good care of the moms in your world today. Pamper them, make them dinner, let them sit back and relax. Just be careful of what book you bring them to curl up with. You wouldn’t want them getting the wrong idea.
Happy Mother’s Day to all, but especially to my mom, my sister-in-law (who’s a mom-to-be this year!), and all my friends celebrating with their little ones. You may be absent in my books, but you’re ever-present in my heart!
The pollen in the air tells us we’re soon approaching summer. Assuming we don’t overdose on Benadryl before we get there, many of us will likely find some time to sprawl out on a beach or back porch for some summer reading. I don’t know why ‘beach reads’ tend to be the lighter, quicker stories that we pick up more for fun than for some deep literary enlightenment, but typically they are. Frankly, I’m fine with that. Sometimes it’s good to drink deeply from the fountain of knowledge. Other times, I just want a fruity frozen margarita and a steamy love scene.
So do margaritas and beach reads mean the philosophical discussions of book club must come to an end until fall? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean the girls (or guys) can’t get together for some fun discussions of even the most shallow reading material. Every book can be discussed, and not every book discussion needs to sound like it belongs in the halls of academia. My book club does a fabulous job of mixing serious literary discussion with more lighthearted, and sometimes lightheaded, book chat. So at your next book club, let the group get their discussions of themes, characters, and craft over and done with, and then have a little fun with your book, beach read or not. Reading is as much for entertainment as enlightenment!
Book club questions for after the first few glasses of wine:
- Give the Twitter version of the book (140 characters or less). Put your fingers down, you don’t actually have to count.
- Who in the book would you hop in bed with? Girl crushes/bromances are totally acceptable.
- Who in the book did you want to bitch-slap? When & why?
- If you were to write the author, would it be fan mail, spam mail, or hate mail? What would you say?
- If this were an episode of Law & Order, would you want to play the dead body or the psycho?
- Who would cast as the main characters if the book were to be made into a movie? Please take into consideration any characters we see naked or shirtless and make them hot.
- If this book became a musical number on Glee, what two other books would it be a mash-up of?
- If you abandon this book club and join another would you recommend it, get the “flu” the day they discussed it, or attend one way or the other assuming there would be wine?
And there always should be wine . . . or margaritas.
To read some reviews of the books my book club and/or I have read over the last year, check out On the Nightstand, my book review site. I recently added a review of the first five books of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, a fantastic time-travel romance tale. And since the moms will not want to be disturbed during the thousands of pages of Jamie in his kilt, a review for the kiddos, too, of Suzanne Collins’ series The Underland Chronicles.