Saturday, April 4, 2009

Twilighting in Japan

I have a good excuse for not having written in a long time.

My teenaged girl has forced me, kicking and screaming, into reading the Twilight series. For those of you with no connection to all things adolescent (or perhaps, to anything involving popular culture), Twilight is the immensely popular vampire saga that has overtaken the teen literary world.

First, let me explain myself: I have not a gothic bone in my body except for a penchant to dress in black. Being a practical sort, I am mostly uninterested in vampires, werewolves, aliens and ghosts. Most of the stories bore me to tears. How many times can you read the cliches about the undead without thinking, I would rather be rearranging my sock drawer than taking in this drivel?

So, imagine my surprise when I became instantly hooked. I am on book four of four lengthy novels and I started the series a couple of weeks ago. Prosewise, the writing is fairly lame...and full of repetitious cliches that inspire a lit crit major to want to flee screaming into the dark (whether it's full of blood sucking creatures or not).

However, the author has a true talent constructing witty dialogue and engaging suspense. Plus, it reminds me of that long dormant part of me that witnessed unbridled passion, heartbreak and romantic redemption. It's pleasurable to feel those dangerous passions again without having to actually go through the heartbreak.

Claire, of course, is thrilled that I am addicted. I have been delighted to discuss plot, theme and characters with my daughter as well as the real life issues of sexuality, self esteem and true love. These themes are tricky now in her life and will continue to amp up in severity as she enters high school. I am thankful that we have a "safe" place to discuss them. Her finely calibrated "this is a teaching moment" radar doesn't engage while discussing hot vampires and werewolves.

Many of our discussions boil down to the age old question for women of all ages: Would you rather give yourself to the safe, dependable guy who allows you to be yourself or the exciting, "perfect", mysterious one who tempts you to change the essence of who you are? Can you have both?

Hmmmm. I wonder. Can you have the best of both worlds: human and eternal? Can you be simultaneously safe and passionate? Can you love both states of being equally and not ultimately have to make a choice between them? A part of me would like to think that it is possible to continuously live in that magical period between day and night...

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Well first let me just say, my passion in far from "long dormant"... Oh quite the contrary. Additionally I would like to say that the best relationship is one of trust and friendship. The romantic version of passion is largely a product of over developed imaginations. Real passion comes when you have utter trust in a person and you can let go yourself totally with that person. That is the core of true romance, true love both physical and phsycological. It is not you get instantly from someone 9thats hormones) and is somthing that is long term once aquired.

Lauren said...

Frankly, I don't think it's possible to have all those things in one person, but that doesn't mean there can't be an exciting friend in one's life that challenges you to extend your boundaries beyond your comfort level. The long term, intimate relationship kind of inherently dooms the mystery and danger aspect, at least eventually, because isn't it the lack of these things that makes the relationship safe and comfortable?

Ultimately, it's up to each of us to find the excitement in life by seeking new adventures (even if they are as tame as learning to paint,etc.). Hopefully that safe, dependable person encourages us,and even joins us at times! It's these kinds of relationships that give people the courage to try new things, knowing there is a haven to return to when the going gets rough.

Always so thought provoking, Nancy! Your daughters are so lucky to have such a mother as you!

Charlotte said...

Have you also discussed with Claire the absolute lameness of her mother? That perhaps Bella could have been more trusting and open with her parents and not gotten into such a mess in the first place? That Bella needs to go to college and do some living on her own, without taking care of anyone else?
There are some great feminist critiques of Twilight out there, along with the lit critiques.
Having said that, I loved the books and have read them twice. Beatrice has me beat by a factor of 4. I think S. Meyer caught the manner of being in teenage love perfectly.
I think her writing is tame, but I love the way she uses literature to reflect her characters - Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Romeo & Juliet. I don't think there is a mirror-book in book 3, I don't know why not. I have found the books to be a great vehicle for talking about standard tropes in literature: foreshadowing, foils, trajedy, etc. as well as topics of girl-ness.
Now you need to move on to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. A word of caution, the first one is the best (as Beatrice's teacher said, you keep reading them hoping that it will be as good as the first) and there is more than heavy breathing and chewed-out headboards.
Thanks for the letter to Beatrice. She's nervous, but good :)