Sunday, May 24, 2009

twilight and long stories

UPDATED: For the perfect musical accompaniment for this post, load up "Where the Road Meets the Sun" [link will open in a new window] on YouTube, also available for purchase on iTunes. And yes, this is the song featured in the Grey's Anatomy season finale. Such perfect lyrics "I don't know whether we'll end up together, but I always know that our love is true." As you were...

Shel Silverstein wrote many poems, one of which, aptly named "Invitation" has long been favorite of mine.
He writes:

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer ...

If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in!

Come in!

Doesn't it sound like something magical is just about to happen? Whenever I think of this poem and of stories and campfires in general, I can't help but hope that the tales he is spinning will be long ones.

I love long stories.

I love to read long stories and I have a habit of telling long stories (I'm working on that). There is something truly delicious about stumbling upon a new world that's wrapped up a tale that lets you hang out there for a while. Reading a good book is like dreaming with your eyes open and like a truly great dream, it's wonderful when you don't have to wake up right away. I love an author who lets me linger.

On the recommendation of a fellow book lover, I recently dove into the Twilight saga. Yes, I know it's a vampire love story written for teenagers, I never claimed it was high art. But it is a well written and delicious diversion. And it is a looong story. Like eating a warm brownie when you know should eat broccoli, this isn't stuff you can live on, but it makes for a great weekend. Today I finished book four, and after 2379 pages it's time to say goodbye to Bella and Edward, Carlisle and Esme, Emmet, Rosalie, Jasper and Alice. I feel a little bereft.

There are rumors of a possible book five. Stephanie Meyer was working on a concept piece when it was leaked online and in protest she lay down her pen. The partial manuscript is on her site and I'm still debating if I'll read it or not. It seems unlikely to get picked up again, so if the rough draft is all there is I probably wont be able to resist. I can help wishing that there was more.

I'm not sure what it is about these books that has so captured people's imagination. (They were insanely popular long before Robert Pattinson embodied Edward in the movie version and set a generation of teen girls on fire.) At its core it is Romeo and Juliet -- the classic lovers who cannot be together. But while I get annoyed with Romeo (every time I see that play live I want to scream at him "she's not dead!!" even as I am also secretly hoping that this time it will all work out) Edward and Bella do a pretty decent job of figuring out just what this love will cost them and whether or not that is a price either can afford to allow the other to pay. They are surprising adult in their rationality (I supposed it helps to be over a 100 years old) and at the same time, surprising chaste in their love. Meyer puts some lovely devices in place and does and admirable job of sticking to her own rules even when they inconvenience the plot.

So here I am at the end of another satisfyingly long story. I loved what Meyer did with the story. I suppose if I get really lonely for the raining world of Forks, Washington I can always go back to the beginning and read it again. Committing to a long story is a bit like falling in love, you know going in that there's a decent chance you'll get your heart broken. The trick is in discerning when it's going to be worth it.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "Fairy tales don't tell kids that dragons exist, they already know that. Fairy tales tell kids that dragons can be killed." Sometimes grown-ups need to be reminded of that too.

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