I know, go ahead and judge me, I’m the worst sci-fi fan ever. I cannot stand zombie narratives. The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, Left 4 Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead…I can’t get into them. Part of it is instinctual revulsion – I’ve never done well with gross things on screen – but at this point part of it is some kind of misplaced hipster spite. Those kinds of stories are so popular with almost everyone else I get a certain perverse pleasure out of being in the minority.
This is why, when I tell you that you should read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, you should listen. Continue reading
Last week, the world lost one of its greatest authors of fiction. Terry Pratchett passed away on March 12, 2015. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, and finally succumbed to what he referred to as his “Embuggerance”.
He was most famous for his Discworld novels, but sadly I’ve only read one or two of the approximately 70 novels. The work of his that I know and love best is his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. It’s the story of a frumpy, sweater-wearing angel, a surprisingly amicable demon, and a misplaced antichrist all trying to avert the apocalypse. Pratchett had a unique ability to take the most overused tropes of fantasy fiction and turn them on their ear with simple, matter-of-fact language.
If you haven’t had a chance to read his work, I highly recommend it. The man himself may be gone, but he’s left the world a wonderful legacy in his books.
Today’s assignment-based adventure was the Manitoba travel assignment: go to a small town outside the city limits and write a tourism article. It was actually a lot of fun for me, because I was lucky enough to be the first in line to pick my group’s town, so I could pick a place I knew well. So my classmate an I spent about three hours today driving to and from Pinawa, Manitoba.
I know the town well because my grandparents live up there, and I’ve spent a good portion of my childhood summers roaming the town’s streets whenever I wasn’t tied up in swimming lessons. But I got to experience the town in a new way with Jenina, who by her own admission has scarcely ever ventured outside of Winnipeg, and was not at all accustomed to country living.
Like a baby deer taking her first steps
Her delight at the swinging bridge and taking selfies with the surprisingly tame deer wandering the town’s streets was amusing to watch, but it also re-opened my eyes to some of the great parts of a town that I had begun to take for granted.
The view from above
And it also helped me get back in touch with my rural roots. I may be stuck in the city for now, but I think the simple life is what I ultimately aspire to.
I love starting a new book. Everything from picking it off the shelf at the bookstore to coming home and settling down in my chair, ready to crack the spine. There’s something special in that anticipation, the feeling that you’re about to embark upon a magical adventure. You get ready to be swept away.
Only that doesn’t always happen. Instead of sinking into the story, I’m more and more finding myself stuck on the outside, criticizing character exposition and picking apart every piece of prose. Maybe I’m just getting pickier, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to read writing that makes you forget all the rules and sucks you in, pulling you along behind the story like a can behind a wedding car. I want writing that makes me feel, that makes me anxious on behalf of the protagonist when they’re in trouble and makes me throw the book across the room when a character does something particularly stupid. Which has happened before; you should see the looks I get at home when I start yelling at a paperback.
I’m sure CreComm hasn’t helped: when you spend all day every day picking apart your own and others writing for minute flaws, it will inevitably transfer over to your daily life. But I can’t help but feel like it’s ruined my ability to enjoy a piece of fiction for what it is, be it mindless entertainment or otherwise, without going all editor brain on it.
And don’t even get me started on my new favourite phenomenon of getting too anxious to read the really good books. It’s only been in the last few years, but I get too invested in the characters, can’t handle the narrative twists and turns, and end up putting the book away about halfway through because I’m too scared of what might happen. To fictional characters. Oh, anxiety brain, what would I do without you.
For someone who professes to be a reader, I do precious little reading these days. Hopefully it won’t stay that way.