Archive for January, 2014

The Magic of Simplicity

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Is simplicity a style? An approach? A philosophy? A gimmick? It’s different things at different times, I suppose, but at the moment, I’m enjoying its copious rewards in felt. Here’s a dude I poked up in the last few weeks:

Blue Daddy

Blue Daddy

Here’s his baby. (The dollhouse rocking chair is courtesy of my mom, who bought it for me in Maryland. Thanks, Mom!)

Blue Baby

Blue Baby

And here they are together:

Blue Love

Blue Love

Right now, they’re sitting on our mantel, and I keep going over to visit them and say hello.

They’re SO FREAKING CUTE.

Finis.

Donna Tartt: Why No Women?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

I’m getting fond of attaching monsters to things, and particularly to blog posts, so here’s another.

Ayayay

Ayayay

He seems pretty worried; hence the name.

I’m also getting the sense that I won’t be able to keep up this monster-creation business forever, at least not in drawing form. (For whatever reason, perhaps because it is a zillion freaking times slower, felt seems more open-ended.) I hope to prove myself wrong, though. The subconscious is a mightily expansive place.

Meanwhile, I’m curious about something in Donna Tartt’s work. Fresh off the immense satisfaction of her latest novel, I went back to her first, The Secret History, which I devoured as a college student. It’s still wildly absorbing and impressively written, especially since she was in her twenties when she published it. And her plotting—you know, good plotting. Very, very good with the plot. Sure, the romanticization of scholarship (and particularly scholarship of the classics) feels kinda juvenile now, and with academia in my now-pretty-distant wake I find it impossible to fall for, but I was right there with her when I was 19 or 20.

What I wonder about, both in The Goldfinch and in The Secret History, is: Why no women? (Her second book, The Little Friend, does have a female protagonist, as I recall—but I think everyone else is male? And the protagonist is a young girl . . . which, totally fine, but not a woman.) The Secret History has five central¬†male characters, almost all of them indelible and alive on the page (not Charles, though), and a single woman who scarcely exists. (She’s one of those ephemeral, wispy women, without opinions or personality, who serves as a projection screen for men.) Same dealio for Goldfinch: Three main characters, all male, all copiously detailed, plus a) a dead mother (who has a smidgen of character, but not much); b) another gauzy love interest who’s nothing but gossamer on the page; and c) one more minor love interest, less diffuse, but still minimally sketched.

It’s weird. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, except that Tartt doesn’t think women are people? Which . . . I hope not. Why wouldn’t she have chosen a female narrator for The Secret History¬†or The Goldfinch? I can’t help but wonder if it’s because those books are (at least in some sense) (and quite intellectually) action-adventure novels? Or in the case of The Goldfinch, a bildungsroman? But if that’s the case, ARGH. So very frustrating. There is just no reason that a woman can’t be the protagonist of any kind of novel. And think how much richer The Secret History becomes with a female narrator . . . if for no other reason than that THERE WOULD BE A WOMAN in the novel, instead of just men.

My friend Sarah (Hi, Sarah!) pointed out that since Tartt is writing in the tradition of Dickens and also of children’s literature, where the motherless young urchins are almost always male, she may be polluted in that way—i.e., with no notion of women being in those kinds of stories. Maybe she simply couldn’t imagine it. It’s a great theory, and I can entirely see it, but again, ARGH. Couldn’t Tartt then look at that, in herself? Couldn’t she ask herself why she can’t imagine women into a certain type of story?

I don’t need Tartt to stop writing adventurous, Victorian-esque novels about directionless orphans who fall under the sway of great personalities. But I would be so thrilled to see one of those novels have at least one believable, fully fleshed-out adult female character—or even two. Two, Donna, please?

FYI, Spike Jonze is Now My Favorite Film Director

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Happy New Year! Here are some monsters I made before I left for the East Coast:

Yay

Yay

I’m not sure how celebratory they’re feeling. I’ve never been particularly into New Year’s myself, not least because I just cannot stay up that late, especially not for a party. For a movie or a discussion about feelings, well, perhaps. In fact, both of those things have happened in recent years.

In other news, I already loved Spike Jonze, especially after Where the Wild Things Are and definitely after I’m Here. Then we saw Her, and well, just fantastic—so, so smart and moving and insightful and brave. And he wrote it. And it is my favorite movie of his, although Where the Wild Things Are (which I absolutely need to watch again) is also in contention. All three movies are about emotions; the latter two are more specifically about intimacy. And are those not my favorite topics of all time? THEY ARE. And is Jonze not masterfully insightful and careful and specific about examining those topics? HE IS.

I would recommend seeing all three in some kind of proximity, ideally with someone who is as interested in and invested in emotions and intimacy as you are. Such a rewarding experience.

Spike Jonze, thank you.