Okay. A couple friends of mine and I are doing weekly writing prompts to encourage us to write, to think outside of our boxes, and to just have some damn fun. I am choosing to share my terrible, rushed, unedited attempts with the internet because I hate myself or something. Again this week I grabbed inspiration from my beloved oc’s, and while I think the idea was alright, the execution was not there at all.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is, in a word, beautiful. In a few words it is a masterpiece of storytelling, weaving an accurate history of the machine that is the American aeronautics industry with the true stories of the Black women who made that machine run, the marriage of which ultimately lead America to the moon, into a narrative that is informative, entertaining, inspirational, and heartbreaking.
This book is first and foremost an accurate history; there is no dialogue and no plot, but there is plenty of detailed information about the mathematical problems that the West Computers were tasked with solving each day. Shetterly does not want to bore us though and the subject matter hops about from maths, to race relations, to the womans personal lives, and back again. The flow of the narrative is perfect; never sitting on one topic for too long without being jumpy, never letting the reader grow bored but never letting us notice when the shifts occur. Shetterly does a phenomenal job letting us know this is not just an isolated bit of history, no, the math, the racism and sexism, the political climate, the women themselves do not exist in bubbles; Black history is not a month, it is American History and we need to hear it all or we aren’t getting the full story.
“Sometimes, she knew, the most important battles for dignity, pride, and progress were fought with the simplest of actions.”
And what a story it is. I started Hidden Figures with a roll of blue tabs to mark every time I cried. By the seventh marker I realized there were too many too frequently; I had cried, settled myself,then cried again over a different incident later on on the same page! I wasn’t just tearing up either, I was full on, have to sit the book down and collect myself, sobbing.
It isn’t that this book is “sad”; this book is inspiring. This book is powerful. This book is the story of the foundation of my very existence; the names and stories that led our country to the moon, led women into STEM, and ultimately led me to a world where I would never have to be one of the “girls”.
This is the reason I was so disappointed with the movie.
Now we all know the movie can never be as in depth as the book, this is the downside to any transmedia adaptations, and I was willing to accept the inaccuracies I saw that were made for times sake. I get it; you can’t adequately cover the period from WWII to the Moon landing in two hours and its best to rearrange some things to make a good story. It is annoying. It is not a deal breaker.
My deal breaker came with the realization that the East Computing pool had been retconned into existence, well past the time they had been dissolved, so that a made up white woman could be a featured role in the film. It came when I noticed that every incident of segregation, every microaggression, every bit of blatant racism was fixed with hard work or the help of a white man. It came when I realized that this movie was made for white people.
In the book the women featured take down “Colored Girls” signs to preserve their own dignity; they use the “Whites Only” bathrooms and dare someone to stop them; they pester the white men to join meeting daily until eventually they just give up and let them in. In the the movie the not racist White Knight character fixes all of these problems for the women allowing a white man to take the spotlight for “saving” the day.
The racism depicted in this movie is the glossy, G-rated racism that doesn’t make white people uncomfortable to look at because they know that in the end it will all be set to rights by the white characters who aren’t really racist if you give then a chance.
If I look past the fact that the movie adaptation completely undermines the entire point of the story then, yeah, sure, it was a good movie. The acting on almost all fronts was superb, the sets were glorious, and they did an alright job squeezing the book down into a film. Its okay. I hate that it blunts the sharp edges of racism while trying to act as if its showing you racism. I hate that it undermines the accomplishments of the West Computers by giving them to a white man. I hate that it can’t hope to portray the emotion of the book. But as a stand alone experience it’s okay.
Hidden Figure by Margot Lee Shetterly is a solid 5/5 stars.
Hidden Figures directed by Theodore Melfi is a weak 3/5 stars. Maybe even 2.5, I am just that disappointed.
My friends and I are doing randomly weekly prompt challenges to inspire us to write more. I didn’t do last weeks and finished this weeks 3am on the due date. oops. I managed to snag some inspiration from my OC’s from back in the day. Hope you enjoy!
Happy TAG! Tuesday everybody! This little time capsule (for it is still Feb 5th) is going to be the A-Z TAG! It’s 26 questions so let’s jump right in!
Author you’ve read the most books from?
Philippa Gregory; I’ve read 17 of her books.
Best sequel ever?
Toss up between Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch and Meridon by Philippa Gregory.
I am still reading 1984 by George Orwell! I’m in the Afterward though
Drink of choice while reading?
I only drink water, tea, or juice. So basically water, grassy water, or sugary water
E-reader or physical book?
I’m sorry what kind of question is that? I read books thank you very much.
Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school?
Okay no one because high school Tarina was. . . look it wasn’t great. Probably Victor from Write Naked by Peter
Glad you gave this book a chance:
Habibi and Blankets by Craig Thomson. I HATE graphic novels but I picked these up to challenge myself and they were two of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read.
There area lot of books that I think too few people recognize but, because it’s on my mind.I’ll say Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Important moment in your reading life:
Ah. There are a lot. I guess the most important was all those years ago when i managed to read Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book all by myself and the rest, they say, is history.
Kinds of books you won’t read?
I won’t read romances. I have. I regret it.
Longest books you’ve read?
Maybe Stephen Kings Under the Dome? It clocks in at 1,075 I think. I believe some of AsoIaF are longer but they were also physically shorter books so I think Dome is still longer.
Major book hangover because of:
Kingkiller by Patrick Rothfuss. That got me in some kind of head space for like 2 weeks.
Number of bookcases you own?
Technically 0. My shelves are attached to my wall and came with the room so I’m just renting them.
One book you have read multiple times?
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory
Preferred place to read?
Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book?
My first thought was “Hope is swift and flies on swallows wings; kings it makes gods and meaner creatures kings.” which is from Richard III by Shakespeare. I’ve never actually read Richard III but when i was 10 I read a book in wich one of the characters was a homeless drunk who would quote books at people to prove he used to be somebody and he quoted that to a group of children; it wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned he’d misquoted it saying it was from Hamlet. In any case that quote has stuck with me for 13 years even if I can’t remember the book I’d actually read it in.
I didn’t read keep better track of what I’d read growing up. I used to keep sporadic lists but nothing complete and now there are so many stories floating around in my memories, and some I know I’ve forgotten. It makes me sad not having a way to look back. I would also like to have an idea of how many books I’ve actually read. I usually guess somewhere between 600-700 but who fucking knows.
Series you started and need to finish (all books are out)
I don’t really start series unless I’m able to finish them, or get caught up quickly. I guess maybe The Jenna Fox Chronicles because I didn’t know there was more than one of them until recently.
Three of your all-time favorite books
Childhood End by Arthor C. Clarke, Meridon by Philippa Gregory, Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory
Unapologetic fangirl for:
Gentlemen Bastards, Kingkiller, Lunar Chronicles, The Three Musketeers. No shame.
Very excited for this release more than any other:
THE REPUBLIC OF THEIVES!
Worst bookish habit?
Laying my books face down and open probably. It’s really bad for their spines.
X marks the spot: Start at the far left of your bookcase and pick the 27th book:
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Your latest book purchase?
Well i just got Wires and Nerves Vol.1 by Marissa Meyer but I just orderedHidden Figures
ZZZZ-snatcher: last book that ket you up WAY late?
1984 by George Orwell; I have been working nonstop and yet I still spent hours up the other night reading
Now I know my ABC’s. . . If you’re reading this I TAG you to answer these 26 questions
“I have stolen princess back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written song that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”
And thus begins a tale as old as time; a tale of revenge, magic, stupidity, and a young man fumbling to understand women. Our narrator is right, you’ve probably heard it.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is one of those stories that attracts a following, a cult if you will. It is a story that inspires artists, fan theorists, and fan fiction writers. It is the perfect story, so much so it makes me want to rip my hair out.
The tale begins withThe Name of the Wind and is told as a story being recited by Kote, the innkeeper in Newarre, and recorded by the Chronicler, who collects true stories. Each novel comprises one day in the present time allowing us to see the troubling events of today as well as hear the story of the man who claims responsibility for it all. The war, the demons, the poverty, Kote says it is all the fault of the man he used to be, the legend who is said to be dead; Kvothe Kingkiller.
If you go looking for reviews of these books you are going to find one of two attitudes; it is a “classic” or “cliche” depending on who you ask. It is convoluted; it is clever. The narrator is unreliable giving the story depth, flavor, and mystery. The narrator is a typical humble brag twat who is too good at everything and is designed to make you hate-love him. Rothfuss is building to the plot twist of an age, or Rothfuss is capitalizing on an age old, well worn story model. The only things everyone seems to agree on for sure is the The Doors of Stone is never. Coming. Out.
Personally I love the novels, novella, and short story that make up the Chronicles. I think the story-telling framing devise that Rothfuss uses is perfect for creating just enough uncertainty among readers that we can enjoy the story for what it is while still never truly trusting that we are getting an accurate depiction of events. This slight mistrust add depth like you wouldn’t believe, I honestly hate it. Not because it’s bad but because it’s so good you almost don’t see it. I want to rant and rave about the shallowness of some aspects of the plot but if I think about it for more than a minute I start to see that maybe this isn’t all it appears to be. Fan theories add to this convoluted overthinking of every detail, and spending a bit of time discussing “clues” with others always opens my eyes to things I had over looked, or things I hadn’t quite connected before.
Basically these books are the definition of a humble-brag.
Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect. There is clever and then there is trying to hard to be clever and I think Rothfuss crosses that line a few times. There are several places were I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and go “But of course.” and shout “Unreliable narrator” at me all you want if I’m not enjoying to story because of something, that’s more an excuse than a plot devise. I also adore the way Rothfuss writes. To a point. When I say there are whole sections of The Wise Mans Fear that are written in rhyme I fucking mean that there are whole sections of The Wise Mans Fear that are written. In. Rhyme. Rothfuss writes pure poetic word porn but he also has a hard time not using adverbs every single line. I’m with Stephen King on this one; “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Not only are they lazy when overused but they don’t sound great. They are like one sour note in an otherwise perfect harmony.
The second book in the series, The Wise Mans Fear, has one of the worst cases of Middle Book Syndrome I’ve seen in a while. It’s not that Rothfuss seems to be rambling or is even a little unsure of himself; it’s more that he has X, Y, and Z that need to be accomplished but they are in no way related so he has to play Connect The Dots with various plot points. The result is me having to take a minute part way through the book to go “And this is where he ran out of ideas and went ‘Fuck it!'”
While the two novels tell us the story of Kvothe and events surrounding the telling of the tale itself the other two additions to the series are focused on two mysterious and well loved side characters. I say “side characters” but what I mean is they are life itself. Plain and simple. They are beautiful fae children and Kvothe does not deserve their love. (This is me warning you about my bias)
The first is Auri, the enigmatic (gods I can’t ever use that word without thinking of Aysl) young woman Kvothe finds living underneath the University. In the novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things we follow Auri for a seven day period in her solitary life in the Underthing. This book made 3# in my Top Books of 2016 because of the beautiful word porn and unique, single character plot…if you can call it a plot. I didn’t mention in that post that Auri, our only character, exhibits signs of severe mental illness, namely Obsessive Compulsive Disorder brought on, in theory, by the same stresses of University that cause a few students each term to “crack”. Rothfuss himself says it is not a book for everyone, it is a book for the broken people. It makes a lot of things about Auri clear though so if you are even a little bit interested it’s worth knuckling through.
The second is Bast, Kotes fae student and the only person in any of the books that is good enough for Kvothe. Even if Kvothe doesn’t deserve it. His story is told in The Lightning Tree, a short story that appears in the Rouges anthology. His story is also pretty Day-in-the-Life, showing how a fae princling amuses himself in the middle of Newarre. It does give a good look at the type of person Bast is but not much more that you’d get from his actions in the second novel. It is, if I’m being honest, a story of no consequence but if you love Bast, and you should, it is well worth your time.
Then there is The Doors of Stone; the novel that is never coming out (I’ve gone on about this before). If you want to get into this series I wouldn’t blame you if you waited for the last book before diving in. That being said not having an ending and being able to get caught up in discussion and fan theories is half of the fun of these books.
If you love fantasy, if you love to hate your protagonist, if you love a book written in poetry and rhyme, and most of all, if you want to hear a good story The Kingkiller Chronicles is for you.
All told I give the whole lot 5/5 stars. Have you read Kingkiller? What did you think of it?
Inside flap/Back of the book: Too much info? Or not enough? (Discuss)
FAR TOO MUCH! I like going into things blind; books, movies, video games, I don’t want to know anything. Obviously I can’t always go into something 100% blind but you’d be amazed by how often I manage it. I have bought books knowing as little as one person saying they hated it (yes, hated it so vehemently that I had to see what the fuss was about). Books like The Name of the Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora I read knowing only that my friend told me I had to. I even have a bunch of naked hardcovers on my shelves that i picked up secondhand with nothing but the title, and maybe a quick glance at the first paragraph to go on.
This is probably why i have never read Harry Potter; I have done a PHENOMENAL JOB avoiding spoilers for that series for so long “just in case” I decided to read it one day and then, in the last few years, random people kept spoiling things for me and now I literally don’t give a shit anymore. It’s also why my reviews tend to skirt around even basic plot points. I just can’t handle any information besides “It’s historical fiction, set in this place”.
New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: audio book, e-book, paperback, or hardcover?
Paperback or hardcover but I am partial to hardcover if it’s a book I feel like I’m going to want to keep for a while. I’m hard on my books 9and everything else in my possession) so they need to stand up to being tossed in a bookbag, lugged around, thrown, dropped, packed up, moved around, etc. Hardcovers just stand up better BUT paperbacks are lighter and more portable so sometimes it’s just a matter of the size of the book.
Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, taking notes, making comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean? (Tell us why)
Eh. Okay here’s the thing, I don’t give a shit about writing in books. I know. I know. Blasphemy; I’ll go find a stake you get the fire going.
I honestly think that scribbles and notes add to a book. I buy mostly used books and when I find scribbles and underlined bits it makes me feel connected to someone I will never know who read the same words I’m reading. I personally tend not to write in my books though because I usually find I don’t have much to say until after I’m finished reading it and then I’m not going to go back and take notes. The most I would want while reading is to highlight passages I like but I find sticky tabs work best because I can easily go back and find them. Maybe one day, with my favorite of favorites I will go through with a highlighter and a pen and permanently mark the pages but for now it never happens. Except reference/nonfiction books. Those i take notes in.
In your best voice read for us your favorite first sentence from a book.
I’m going to skip this one. 1) because I cannot read to you and 2) because I only have 188 books at my disposal right now and not a one of them has a first sentence that i could claim to be my “favorite”. I don’t remember if i have a favorite first sentence.
Scratch that, I keep coming back to it so here it is; “Marty was dead, to begin with.” Something about it always makes me chuckle.
Does it matter if the author is male or female when deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the authors gender?
I usually don’t pay attention to the authors gender when deciding to pickup a book. I do find that I tend to read more books by female authors but I tend to like books by male authors more.
Ever read ahead? Or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?
I used to always read the last sentence of a book before I started the book; I have no idea why it’s just what I did (I’m talking elementary/middle school age). That evolved into me just reading the last 3 words because it was less spoilers but I kept my tradition. It’s weird. I really have no idea why i did that.
Nowadays I will look ahead if a book is getting dull or is at a part i really hate; I never read ahead i just look to see when some dialog might be coming up, or a change of narrator or something.
Organized bookshelves or outrageous bookshelves?
Always organized. In my previous home I had them organized by purpose; my fiction (organized by color) was in my bedroom, on another shelf in the room was my fairytales/childrens books. Downstairs were nonfiction/reference organized by subject, then by author. On another shelf were graphic novels and comics organized by series/author and stand-alones were by color.
Now i only have one self so most of my books are in a giant rainbow with some reference books to the side.
Under oath; have you ever bought a book based off of the cover alone?
Oh hell yeah. I do it all of the time seeing as i don’t read the backs ever.
Take it outside to read, or stay in?
Depends on the season; i love reading in the hammock when it’s hot out but i do a lot of reading outside all year long because I take public transportation everywhere; it’s pretty common to find me reading on a bus top somewhere i the city.
A couple of friends and I have been doing weekly challenges to write based off of a random prompt pulled from a cup. So far I am having a ton of fun with this. I am writing so much lately and it’s bleeding into other projects like my novel, or some short stores I have been wanting to work on.
This weeks post is late. I did not have internet for an amount of time and was unable to post so this prompt was for the week of Jan. 29th-Feb. 4th. Since I have chosen, for reasons, not to participate in the prompt for Feb. 5th-11th I’m posting this prompt now. It’s well over 3,500 words again.
Week 3: Outside the cabin the wind howled, while inside the old womans fire was almost out.