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Essay: The Twilight Confession
The Shakespeare of YA Vampire Lit (???)
By Christine Stoddard
Okay, I admit it: I finally read Twilight. Or should I say I ate it? I gulped it up like a pelican in an old cartoon. I wolfed it down and left not a crumb to spare for even the most ambitious mouse to find. That's the first confession I'll make. The second confession is that I enjoyed it. I won't say that it changed me and is destined to become the next Anna Karenina. I won't say that I've committed long passages (or even short phrases) to memory. I probably won't be recommending it to my children one day, either. I liked it the same way I like pretzels. It's not dark chocolate, but, damn, it'll do when I'm itching for a snack. And I'm pretty much always craving the written word.
It's no big deal that I read a book. I do that just about everyday. I'm hardly a book snob, either. My philosophy has always been to read widely and at all levels simply to gain exposure to different forms of language use and, hopefully, new perspectives, too. What did surprise me is that I liked the book despite all of my preconceived notions that it was some sexist wad of fundamentalist Christian nastiness. I had read article after article, blog post after blog, about Twilight being full of Mormon bubblegum nonsense.That, and the fact that I've never been one to chase after trends, made me avoid it. But like Ugg boots, Facebook, I acknowledged that it might eventually creep into my life, though likely months or even years after it hit the world at large.
That day came when I hit my neighborhood library. I don't go there often, preferring to go to the city's main library, the state library, or the university library, which are all concentrated downtown. My neighborhood library, Ginter Park, is so small that it qualifies as more of a reading room. But I went there not for the book selection; I went there for WiFi. Thanks to Verizon, I had been without home Internet for days. Since I had a long drive coming up, I decided to check out the audio books after checking my email.
There weren't many choices. I kept coming across all of these magical YA audio books. I didn't have time to visit one of the bigger libraries before my drive, which meant I had to walk out with one of those teen vampire audio books, something on auto repair or a course in basic Spanish. Thanks, but I have AAA and I'm well beyond gracias and buenos días.
Immediately after picking up those YA books, I thought, I need some context. That's when my mind jumped to Twilight. Ginter Park might not have much, but it does have lit's Greatest Hits. And whether you want to admit it or not, Twilight, at least in terms of sales, is one of them.
I finished Twilight over the next 24 hours. Anytime I had a break, I devoured as many pages as I could. It was hard not to empathize with the confused and insecure but smart and passionate Bella. But Edward pissed me off! I don't care if he's a vampire; he has no right to talk to Bella like she's a stumbling child. (I guess that's where the fundamentalist Christian influence comes in.) Nonetheless, I wanted to see how their love story unfolded. High school romances are a personal guilty pleasure, with images of cute boys leaning up against lockers or cars being hard to resist. Back in the days when holding hands or pecking was a “big thing” and saying “I love you” was scary but also deliciously exciting. Surprise, I'm getting nostalgic.
Anyway, now I have a better sense of what the whole Twilight craze is about, though I still have no desire to watch the movies. Maybe I'll read the whole series. I remember there being a lot of chatter about Bella giving birth and how freaky that scene was. First things first, though, I've got to watch “Girls.” I'll be the last college-educated, liberal, female twenty-something living on the East Coast to cross that off her list once I finally do.
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