Nov. 6th, 2014

fayanora: Sammi Hanratty classy (Sammi Hanratty classy)
I made this comment about my Lyria story on a friend's LJ, and felt it was good enough to repeat here:

I'm not writing a simple story. The Lyria/Playground of the Gods story is a complex mix of high fantasy, science fiction, and horror with comedic elements and urban fantasy elements (but no elements of romance stories, even though there are relationships/romances between some characters). Also, I plan for there to be the occasional completely unrealistic and absurd thing happening, inspired by the kind of unrealistic and absurd stuff that happens in reality, because sometimes reality has everything from WTF Moments in the middle of a serious time, like the Christmas Truce in WWI, to Deus Ex Machina stuff like a whole fleet of enemy ships wiped out by a freak wind. Because that's just how I do things; I don't do simple genre tales, they're boring. Life is complex, and fiction should strive to equal life's complexity.

~ ~ ~

Also adding here one other thing: Sometimes random shitty stuff happens to the good guys, like that freak wind gets *their* fleet of ships instead. And other times, the good guys are incompetent. Sometimes, the leader of the good guys is not really suited to the situation zie finds zirself in, and this is true of the Lyria series: the leader of the good guys is Kell, God of Innocence and Innocents. He is not suited to lead people against an enemy force, and He knows it. But He got saddled with the job and can't pawn it off on anyone else. So of course Lyria decides to do her own thing, only just barely cooperating with Kell since she knows He is aware of His shortcomings.
fayanora: wtf Picard (wtf Picard)
I was just thinking on something someone said ages ago about the book "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. What they said was that it isn't a romance story. And that's correct, it's not. But their reason, or one of the reasons for saying that, was "Humbert Humbert is an unreliable narrator." Which means that his credibility is not high. Which means, basically, that he's a liar.

I understand why they say his credibility is low, but to say he's an unreliable narrator... I don't think so. Maybe that would be true if he tried spinning us a tale of Dolores falling madly in love with him, and Quilty trying to snatch her from his loving arms so he had to defend her, but that is NOT the story he tells us.

In fact, Humbert seems quite candid, to me. He's honest about his actions and his motivations for them. He was honest about his obsession with his lost love, honest about the fact that he was obsessed with Lo as a replacement for his lost love, honest about the fact that he led Lo's mother on so he could get closer to Lo, honest about the fact that Lo was not a consenting partner in all of this, and honest that he killed Quilty because Quilty got between him and Lo, at Lo's behest.

So I'm confused. If he's supposed to be lying about something, what is he supposed to be lying about? What exactly is it that makes him an unreliable narrator? Is it just the fact that he's a child molester? If so, that's a pretty weak reason, given the evidence. If the version of the tale he gave us was him lying, I can't imagine why he would paint such an unflattering and unsympathetic image of himself for us. Because in the end, he still admitted to child sex abuse and to murder. And given that he was, as far as I can tell, only charged with murder of an adult man, I can't imagine why he would volunteer the information about his sex abuse of Dolores. Even accounting for the fact that it was a different era, I'm pretty sure sexually abusing a child was still illegal back in the 50's.

Come to think of it, thinking of things this way, there are only three possible solutions to explain these facts. Because child molesters come in two basic varieties: 1. Unrepetant repeat offenders, which lie and make excuses and never volunteer information of their crimes. 2. One-time-only offenders who feel remorse and can be rehabilitated, but who still aren't likely to volunteer information about their crimes. (Though it is possible.)

Either 1. The book never mentioned that the cops also knew what he'd done with Dolores, or 2. Humbert Humbert is a completely unrealistic depiction of a child molester written by a man who didn't have the faintest clue what such people were like, or 3. Humbert was so full of remorse for how he messed up Dolores's life that he volunteered the information about what he'd done to her.

Number 1 being true would not give any reason for him being "an unreliable narrator" other than the fact of his being a child molester and murderer, which given the fact that he confessed to those crimes and does not make excuses for them, is a weak reason.

If number 2 is true, then the fact that he's written by a man with no clue what child molesters of any kind are really like, then that basically means Nabokov was writing to deliberately make him look bad, and I can't see how his being unreliable is relevant, since he's still telling the truth, even if he is poorly written in this scenario.

And if number 3 is true, well, he's still telling the truth. Unless the truth is somehow even worse, which still wouldn't explain the unflattering and unsympathetic picture of himself that he paints for us.

So however you slice it, the only reason to call Humbert Humbert an unreliable narrator is the fact of his being a child molester, a supposition which is in direct contradiction with how he tells the story. So basically, No. He is NOT unreliable. He was wrong to do what he did, he messed up Lo's life, he murdered a man, and he deserves prison, but as far as I can tell, he was honest about his deeds, his motivations, and that what he did was wrong.*

And even if he were indeed an unreliable narrator, how exactly does that fact contribute to "This is not a romance story," when the story is literally not even remotely written as one??? Whoever said that took one fact and one supposition, neither of which was related to the other, and somehow tried to make a claim that they were related. Which is really fucked-up logic from where I'm standing.

Like I said, they're not wrong about the fact it's not a romance story. Anyone who's ever actually read the book, and paid attention, knows that much. But to use the questionable supposition of Humbert being an unreliable narrator to support that statement is just absurd.


* = The only thing I can think of is that maybe the critic in question couldn't see Humbert's honesty because it got lost in all the flowery language? Which just means that whoever it was needs to reread it a few times, and/or expand their vocabulary.

Ugh

Nov. 6th, 2014 09:21 pm
fayanora: WWYDT? (WWYDT?)
Having no appetite is bad, especially when I know I need food. Having a headache at the same time, thus limiting the foods I can eat, is worse. But now on top of those, my upset stomach is actively making anything I do eat taste horrible. Whenever I am about to eat something today, my stomach has basically said "FUCK NO FUCK NO FUUUUUUCK NOOOOO!" But not in a "I'm actually sick, food would be a bad idea" way. More of an "I'm a spoiled brat turning up my nose at all foods" way.

Oh yes, and diarrhea. Damned IBS.

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