Compost 1

Real_Compost

Like compost, a post full of decomposing and recycled material. Possibly nourishing. Potentially fertile.  May contain shit and piss.

It’s a post that’s a combination of things.

We’re just back from a four day trip to my home state, Rhode Island, for the regionals soccer tournament. Maine teams typically get crushed, thanks to demographics and not having a strong soccer culture. The highlight was tying the 31st best team in the US. My son scored the lone goal that day (he’s a striker), and he did a Wayne Rooney style celebration. I wasn’t sure about the celebration, but I was happy to see him so overjoyed. He’s a nonfiction guy, currently reading I Am Zlatan on his ipad mini and Why Do Men Have Nipples in paper. Here’s an action shot:

davidatcoastal2013

My other little guy is having a great summer on his own terms, which means a lot of all-day-in-his-PJs, meeting his friends at the park, watching episodes of the Simpsons and playing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and Minecraft on the computer. He’s way into The Walking Dead comics on his ipad right now, but also reads a little in his paper Hitchhiker’s Guide set (he’s on book 2). He also likes to just sit and think about things. He’s a natural philosopher, as you can tell from this picture:

photo (1)

In other news, I’m still working on my Penhally Bay paper. I’m very undisciplined and prone to forgetting my original research question in search of some more foundational issue. I guess it’s a hazard of being trained in philosophy. So, I haven’t even gotten to talking about the actual romance novels. Instead, I’ve written several pages on method in popular fiction studies and on the dangers of mimetic representational analysis therein.

One thing that’s helped is being part of Jo Van Every‘s Monday writing group. Every Monday we all call in to a conference line and share what we plan to work on. We work. Then we call back 90 minutes later. Over the past year I have tried a few different writing groups, coaches, apps and writing strategies. I keep meaning to write a post on that.

One of the papers I’ve read recently is a classic article in reader response theory from its heyday. The author says reading involves an interaction between self and other. The nature of that confrontation depends on the background of the reader and upon the specific text. 

She says there are three modes of reading, including the dominant pole:

The dominant pole is characterized by detachment, observation from a distance. The reader imposes a previously established structure on the text and in so doing silences it. Memory dominates over experience, past over present. Readers who dominate texts become complacent or bored because the possibility for learning has been greatly reduced. Judgment is based upon previously established norms rather than upon empathetic engagement with and critical evaluation of the new material encountered. The reader absents the text.

Second,

The submissive pole, in contrast, is characterized by too much involvement. The reader is entangled in the events of the story and is unable to step back, to observe with a critical eye. Instead of boredom the reader experiences anxiety. The text is overwhelming, unwilling to yield a consistent pattern of meaning.

Third,

Productive interaction, then, necessitates the stance of a detached observer who is empathetic but who does not identify with the characters or the situation depicted in a literary work. Comprehension is attained when the reader achieves a balance between empathy and judgment by maintaining a balance of detachment and involvement. Too much detachment often results in too much judgment and hence in domination of the text; too much involvement often results in too much sympathy and hence in domination by the text. 

The author of that article makes some claims about gender, etc., which are not my interest (namely, that men are more likely to take the dominant mode, women the submissive). I also would not characterize the three modes of reading in the way she has (her interests were pedagogical, and her readers were students). But I found it interesting to think about my own reading somewhat along those lines. for example, I just listened to a Bella Andre Sullivans book, From This Moment On, which I did not like at all. I could not get into it, and instead of enjoying the text, I kept judging the text (for example, thinking things like,  “If a computer were programmed / or a committee hired / or a focus group consulted to write a romance novel, this would be the product. Utterly bland.” Or when the heroine thought,

Oh God. He was beautiful, but so big. Bigger than her brain had computed, even though she’d seen him, felt him inside of her, more than once already.

…and my immediate reaction was “this is clearly a problem with your brain, not with his penis.”

On the other hand, I’m half way through Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do, and am so engrossed. I’m not anxious, but I am immersed and not judging, just enjoying. It’s a very funny book, and full of the kind of self-aware characters I love.

Google reader is dead. Long live Google Reader. I’m actually now a contented Feedly user, but this was my favorite tweet from today:

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 6.53.38 PM

A few people have noticed that my old blog, Read React Review, is defunct. The reason is simple: I stopped paying my web host. I just couldn’t stand the idea of paying for a blog I don’t update. I *thought* I had moved it over here to WP.com, but apparently not. I’m definitely pleased that people remember specific posts well enough to miss them, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

On that note, I’ve been thinking about the many significant ways Romanceland has changed since I started reading blogs (2007). I hope to write a post on it this month.

 

I hope you are having a good Canada Day or Independence Day week, or July, or whatever it is where you are. Let me know what you are up to!

10 responses

  1. I am sad to read that ReadReactReview is no longer around. The librarian in me ponders the loss of knowledge in this digital world and how our digital heritage will be understood in 100/300/800 years. I fully understand choosing to not maintain a site you have left but I hope it is archived somewhere and that you kept your own hard copies.

    Like

  2. Let’s see. I wrote two short stories in June, which was a miracle given that it’s a horribly stressful and brain-eating time at my dayjob. I’m preparing for Readercon in Massachusetts, which happens next week – I got to re-read one of the formative fantasy trilogies of my youth (Riddlemaster) in preparation for an author-specific panel on Patricia McKillip, and am now catching up on her most recent few books. I also wrote a whole batch of book previews, and have been checking out books coming out in the fall and requesting galleys. …And, not much else. I’m on week 4 of a weightlifting program (5X5) that runs 12 weeks.

    Like

    • Congrats on prolific writing, in a stressful period. Your comment made me fantasize for a minute about driving down to Comic Con to see you and Natalie!

      Like

  3. So that’s why!

    (I’ve been looking for a number of your posts this week and wanted to cry when I couldn’t get them)

    (On second thought, I might still cry *sniff*)

    Like

      • I’ve been feeling that I came across as demanding and petulant, when it’s not how I meant my comment at all.

        I will be ecstatic if they can be imported over, but I absolutely understand if it’s not possible–it does make no sense to pay for something you don’t use.

        With that said: most if not all of your posts said something to me, personally, and some of the comment threads were/are important to me still today.

        Like

        • I didn’t take it that way at all! I truly thought no one would miss it, at least that no one would notice for a while. I’m stunned by the number of DMs and emails I have gotten in the days since it’s been unavailable. I learned a valuable lesson about how interconnected all of our writing is when we do it online, and hope to have it back up soon. 🙂

          Like

gorillasinthemistblog

a site about Dian Fossey, scientist

Literature and Medicine

Reading Literature for Life

Prof's Progress

... on making sense, one word at a time

Bkwurm

Bkwurm: /book*worm/ n. a person devoted to reading and study

Nyssa Harkness

Media and Cultural Studies - Disability Studies, Genre Fiction, & Gaming

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

Love is the Best Medicine

Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance Authors

Blue Moon

Audiobook reviews and book reviews. Occasional opining.

specficromantic

reviews by a speculative fiction romantic

Centre for Medical Humanities

This site has now closed

Miss Bates Reads Romance

Miss Bates is Austen's loquacious spinster in Emma. No doubt Miss Bates read romances ... here's what she would've thought of them.

Badass Romance

heroes, heroines, and books that demand to be taken seriously

badnecklace.com

not quite pearls of wisdom

Thinking in Fragments

but making connections too

Tales from the Reading Room

A Literary Salon Where All Are Welcome

momisatwork

thinking about teaching, learning, home and family

Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health

Heloise Merlin's Weblog

Virtual people read books, too!

Bblog Central

Your source for book blogging.

A Striped Armchair

Bookish thoughts from a woman of endless curiousity

Sonomalass's Blog

Another day in paradise

RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk

Featuring Author Interviews and Commentaries

Something More

my extensive reading

avidbookreader

a reader blog

The Romantic Goldfish

"Cheapest mother fucking goldfish on the planet"

Shallowreader

...barely skimming the surface

Joanna Chambers

Romance author

THE DAILY RUCKUS

ROYALTY, ROMANCE NOVELS, AND A LITTLE RUCKUS