Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reviewing the Reviewer

On April 14, the NY Times ran a review of the HBO mini-series, "A Game of Thrones"  (Which is based on George R.R. Martin's novel). A lot of people took exception to it, most notably this part:

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
I was one of them. As I read this (and re-read it) I found myself wondering how she could be living in such a large city and not run into a single woman who read fantasy. Especially since there are so many who WRITE fantasy! Yes, epic fantasy as well as other forms. Then I got angry. The only way I would be interested in epic fantasy is because there was sex in it?? Errrrr, no. I'm one of those who likes a story and plot, and if the sex fits in, so be it.

Apparently, she took a lot of flack over that review and decided to explain it HERE.

Oh, my.  Personally, I think she should have let sleeping dogs lie. Definitely did not make things better. Now, I certainly don't agree with the idjits who threatened her -- that is totally uncalled for and certainly not civilized. But to write a piece of total snark to explain one's self is not all that civilized either.

Going back, once I got over my puzzlement and anger, I re-read the entire "review" and came to a couple of conclusions. First, this wasn't a review of the mini-series. It was a review (and indictment) of the fantasy genre. The entire "review" read as though she were reviewing fantasy, and epic fantasy specifically and it certainly came up wanting in her book.  The second thing that crossed my mind was "This person doesn't like fantasy. Nor does she understand it, and she doesn't want to."

That's what the original review and the later "explanation" told me. She doesn't like fantasy and doesn't care who knows it. She reviewed a mini-series that she would not watch and because of that dislike of the genre in general, she couldn't really give it a decent review -- because she doesn't understand fantasy (and epic fantasy).

Now, I'm not saying that a reviewer has to necessarily LIKE the genres of films and books they review, but they should certainly (a) keep an open mind and (b) at least understand it a little bit. To make sweeping statements about possible viewers as she did in the original review was very wrong. Last time I looked, I didn't have the dangly bits and I really, truly enjoy George R.R. Martin's wonderful books, and so do quite a few other female type people. So to call this "boy fiction" is really unfair. I would think that by now she would have learned to not make generalizations. Well, probably since the fall-out from her original review, she may re-think the use of stereotypes.

I'm still rather dumbfounded though that she doesn't know a single female who reads fantasy.... Hmmmm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How do you say goodbye?

How do you say goodbye to a loving friend you've never met? Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques were friends of mine, but I never met them. Never said hello or gave them a welcoming hug, but they were friends nonetheless.

I remember when I first met Brian Jacques. It was in 1988. My younger son was 10 years old and we found a book called "Redwall". It was mis-shelved in the adult fantasy section of the library and the idea of warrior woodland creatures and a fantastical abbey in the forest was just too delectible to leave there. So we checked it out. Over the next two weeks at bedtime, there we were, my son in his pajamas and me sitting on the edge of his bed, learning to know Brian Jacques and his wonderful world.

A lot of years have passed, and my son has children of his own, but I haven't let that stop me. On February 5 of this year I was checking to see if, by chance, there was a new Redwall adventure for me to read. There is! It won't be released until May, but there's a whole new adventure for me! Then, minutes later, I learned of the passing of Brian Jacques. I grieve for the silencing of Mossflower Wood and the stilling of the great bells at Redwall Abbey. Its a sad thing when a never-met friend passes. But its also a wonderful thing that he touched our lives.

Not quite two months later, as I thought of books to buy for a grandchild, I was stunned to hear that another old friend had passed on. The creative and lovely Diana Wynne Jones, who gave us so much is also gone from our lives. The magic she brought into our world is immortal as long as we read her books. My first introduction to her imagination came with "Howl's Moving Castle" that my son brought home and we read together. Oh, the excitement and wonder of it all! And both of us enjoyed immensely the stories of magic in our own slightly changed world happening in the Chrestomanci stories. To take something familiar and change it just a bit to make it magical and wondrous was such a gift. I am so glad that Ms. Jones wrote such books and gave us such sights to see with our mind's eyes.

The world was honored by the presence of two such wonderful people, and we who heard their stories were forever changed by them.