Reasoning with Vampires

Twilight-hating blogger shares her views on vampire fiction

Reasoning with Vampires
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How did the blog start?
After I thought my boyfriend had heard one too many rants about the terrible writing in Twilight, I decided we both needed a different outlet for my tirades. There’s only so much Twilight-talk boyfriends should have to endure.

Why Twilight?
One could do this sort of thing with any novel. Even the most luscious language is far from technically perfect. I’ve gotten a lot of recommendations for other books to do when I finish the Twilight Saga (though I’m not sure I ever will be done). I’m doing this with Twilight because I have never before encountered a novel (or novel series) that was so riddled with flaws – across grammatical, logical, and/or psychological.

What, exactly, is wrong with Stephenie Meyer?
I try to direct most of my criticism at her writing or the Writer Known As Stephenie, because I know there’s far more to her than the crimes she has perpetrated on the page (or I hope there is. It’s too depressing if not). Stephenie Meyer’s writing has flawed grammar, abused punctuation, gaping holes in logic, maudlin prose, and despicable so-called heroes.

Stephenie Meyer supposedly left out physical characteristics of Bella Swan so that readers can more easily imagine themselves as the protagonist. It’s lazy characterisation if you ask me, but it’s also a nifty narrative trick. However, the character has absolutely nothing nice to say about herself, and I think that was a really warped thing for an author to do to emotionally-vulnerable teenage readers.

Bella and Edward: why is there relationship so terrifying?
To start, Bella is a disappointing protagonist all by herself. My favourite thing to dislike about Bella Swan is how completely unaware she is. This series is narrated by someone who forgets to breathe, cannot find her own lips, mistakenly believes the rain has stopped (though in truth she was merely carried inside a house), and takes an inordinate amount of time to realise that the weird sound she’s hearing is herself sobbing.

Bella hates herself because (among other things) she’s clumsy and doesn’t fit in; Edward hates himself, because he has murderous urges. At first, she thinks he hates her, but mostly he just wants to kill her. Then there’s a languishing period where he ignores her, and she assumes it must be because she’s insignificant and uninteresting. Four days after they start “dating”, he still wants to kill her and tells her how easy it would be, which might be fine with her because Bella would rather die than be away from him. Bella engages in risky behaviour that’s tantamount to attempted suicide after Edward leaves her. Without intervention, she would have died jumping off a cliff in New Moon, and Bella enjoyed - actually enjoyed! - her near-death, since, if she’d succeeded, it would have meant that she wouldn’t have had to live without Edward. For his part, Edward stalks Bella, trespasses into her room to watch her sleep without her knowledge, and disables her vehicle to prevent her from visiting someone Edward disapproves of.

Again, this story is designed so that the reader can imagine being Bella. All of this unhealthy behaviour is presented as wonderful. Over and over, the saga depicts deplorable behaviour and then calls it the greatest romance of all time. It’s not the kind of relationship that should be idolised.

So, why are these books so gloablly popular?
It would be nice to dismiss the Twilight madness as mass hysteria like the Dancing Plague of 1518, but there’s more to it. Fantasy is an addictive genre. It’s intoxicating. It’s easy to get lost in hundreds of pages of sexy, inhumanly powerful man-candy. Twilight is non-specific enough that many readers can adapt the text into their own idea of lovely, which inevitably broadens the novel’s appeal.

I think there’s a certain amount of mild brainwashing at work, too. When you read page after page of “wonderful,” “beautiful,” “sexy,” “love,” “perfect,” “heavenly,”, you start to accept that it’s true. After several hundred pages, you’re right there with Bella, skipping through the rainbows bouncing off of Edward’s sparkly skin.

If given your choice, what book would you like to see reach Twilight levels of adoration?
I know I might seem pedantic or like a literary snob, but I’m not super-hard to please. I’d prefer a book where major plot points aren’t resolved with, “Enh. Never mind” (New Moon and Breaking Dawn), where obstetric procedures aren’t performed with cuspids (Breaking Dawn), where parents don’t condone sexual assault against their own daughters (Eclipse), where the reaction to stalking isn’t flattery (Twilight), you know... that sort of thing. I don’t think it’s asking much.

Team Edward? Team Jacob? Which are you?
There are so many other sports I’d rather play, if only to avoid being on a Twilight Love-Interest Team. Can I try-out for Being Kicked in the Face Team instead? No? Ok. . .

Does the popularity of these books say anything about the state of modern literature, or the reading public in general?
The Twilight craze does seem indicative of low standards, but I have a lot of faith in humanity. Today we have the benefit of thousands of years of literary giants at our beck and click. I’m betting on the endurance of literary greatness.

In replies to my posts and in my inbox, there’s an ongoing dialogue about the value of language. Many of my readers care about grammar, storytelling, and literary technique. My readers make me feel so hopeful about the future of words. They’re an amazing, brilliant, clever group of people, and I’m privileged they spend so much “time” with me. Actually, I’m betting on them. There are stewards of modern literature out there having rational conversations in calm tones – even if you can’t hear them over the squealing of Twilight fangirls.

Then again, I might be suffering from delusions of wishful thinking. If things are on a grand decline, I’m going to have fun making juvenile jokes about semicolons while it happens.
Check it out at www.reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com

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