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Ladies, shall we join the gentlemen...

Wednesday 7th March, a dark and stormy morning out there, but no rain for us today apparently.

Coalminer's Daughter. Finished The Hunger Games tril. The tale of Bathsheba Everdene (I'm sorry, I mean Katniss Everdeen, but I kept thinking of Far From The Madding Crowd, because this proud coal-miner's daughter in the sticks has three contrasting suitors, and spends the trilogy choosing between them)*. Verdict, the first was very readable, gripping and even inspired, in the way it combined teen reality tv princess and sadistic tv wipeout game. The second installment had middle-book-of-trilogy, let's just go round the circuit again, disease. Can't be helped, commercial fiction will do this. If the target audience doesn't have any objection (and clearly they don't) why not repeat a winning formula at least once? The third installment was a lot more substantial, but when the tv wipeout game morphs into a vicious civil war between the two political factions in this remnant of the USA (hey, lets call them the Republicans and the Democrats), the first person narrative becomes really inadequate, in my opinion.

I suppose the trouble is, Katniss isn't officer material. There's no reason why she should be, her name was just picked out of a hat. But there's no reason why she shouldn't be, and for me this was a bum choice on Collins's part. It means we get a full-on war, told from the point of view of a deracinated and paranoid squaddie, who happens to have been picked out to be Poster Girl for the conflict; who doesn't care what's going on, doesn't have any witty asides, and who dismisses all the politics and all the war-room discussions as nothing to do with her. And her Forrest Gump "I was just here and they made me a hero" act definitely isn't sweetened by any naive good-hearted charm.

The failure in the narrative is one reason why I won't be recommending this series. The second is that though you might have thought, in your innocence, since aimed at shaping the minds of young teens, that this would be an "anti-war" story, it certainly is not! This is a story that glorifies militarism, much in the same way as Bigelow's "It's incredibly cool to be a damaged vet!"The Hurt Locker.

Still, it kept me reading and got me posting. The movies may well be better fun. Though if Katniss is going to come out on screen as "a futuristic Joan of Arc" there are going to be a lot of changes!

Also consumed, Charlize Theron in Young Adult. Suckered by the trailer, which includes every single one of the three good lines, along with the rest of the full house at The Dukes. We sat in stony silence, all of us. Respect to Theron, she did a very good job, but what I saw was bitchy, shallow point-scoring, directed at all and sundry: spiteful and not funny. Net result, I worried that I was judging Juno harshly when I found it a little sickly. No longer.

People understand and even approve when you say you don't like the way everything in the world is about men, and male-dominated values. Unfortunately they just get purely bewildered when you say you don't like the ladies' section of this man's world, and don't aspire to be admired there.

You don't want to be a man, and you don't want to be a woman either? Huh? What can she possibly mean?

Ah, well. It's a koan.

*You've read the books, and you thought Katniss only had two guys after her? No, she has three. The third being a tyrannical older man, arguably quite insane; whose imperious love-gifts and favours are a feature of the whole series; who fascinates her, and for whom she develops a strange kind of respect.


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