While I was not the targeted audience for Harry Potter when
it was first released, I did eventually read the books, and one of my fondest
memories is sitting outside the local coffee shop with two friends discussing
horauxes. Yet, I always felt some
disquiet or something off when reading Harry Potter. Part of it had to do with Hermione, but that
wasn’t the real reason.
I could never
really but my finger on it. And then I
realized that while Harry Potter starts as an outsider, the true outsiders of
the book are the readers.
fact, this is true for many books. Yet
with Potter it means something different.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione work in part because they start as outsiders,
as the un-cools, though as the series progresses that status shifts, as it must
be considering what happens in each book.
Ron does, however, function as the least of the trilogy and thereby a
latch key to the group. But in the realm
of the book, the readers are muggles, and muggles are really not that important,
those wizards that come from muggle families seem to have a lack of
interest. Reading the back stories of
some characters such as McGonagall or Remus, one learns that those wizards who
are part muggle are far more common.
Yet, Hermione seems to be the one character who exhibits any influenced
by muggle society and this in her desire to free the house elves. The view of most of the wizarding world is
that muggles are to be tolerated and sometimes they come up with something good
– such as a train – but otherwise just pat them on the head and keep them out
of the business. Perhaps the most
disturbing story of muggles in the Harry Potter universe has to do with the
development of the train to Hogwarts, built by muggles who had their memories
wiped – perhaps unpaid muggles who also would have lost wages, at the very
least tax money would have been used. It
is hardly surprising, considering this, that Voldemort had so many recruiters.
Dumbledore is less than stellar here for look at his treatment of Petunia. Actually, I really am starting to feel sorry
for her. It is awful to be the other
sibling of a much beloved person. And Petunia
lacked magic, she wasn’t special in anyway.
Lily may have been sweet, but that doesn’t remove the treatment of
parents, of almost indifference that Dumbledore shows – because surely Petunia
can’t have been the only non-magical sibling ever. Dumbledore’s letter, while an attempt to be
kind, no doubt rubbed salt in the wound.
Then years later, imagine being made responsible for your nephew, who
someone tried to kill. This doesn’t
justify her treatment of Potter, but she is at least worth feeling sorry for.
(Evans Sisters by Wishing On A Star. Wattpad)
reader is a muggle and in most cases, at some point, in the re-reading of
Potter, the reader will wonder what would be their life in the world. Undoubtedly most of these musings have an owl
appear in them, but as the reader ages, perhaps this changes. While we still want to be Harry, Ron or,
especially, Hermione, but a sneakily suspicions dawns that we might be a young
and not mean Petunia. It is hard not to
take the slights to muggles in the book just in passing. The outsider status is still there. The wizards look less cool and more like
holier than thou idiots – honesty, if the wizards are secret what could be the
reason for that – hmm – they lost a war against muggles, perhaps. Give a person a frying pan, hit wizard, break
wand, war won. Right? Of course, there are larger questions – like
what would a wizard do during a war, considering house elves would wizards side
with the Confederacy? What about the
Holocaust? What does it say about wizard
morality if they didn’t get involved in the Holocaust? These are heavy questions and not many, if
any, readers are going to ask them
reader is still a muggle, is still an outsider.
that is brilliant.
intentionally or not, Rowling highlights the importance of representation in
books. It’s truly the Potter books are
largely white with most of the major actors being male. This is something that she breaks in her
Causal Vacancy (her best work, btw), and something that for all its wrongness Cursed
Child also did. And Vacancy too is about
being an outsider in the real world, of being too different, of being the other,
of being the outsider because of the family, of color, of size, of class. Harry Potter puts the reader in the position
of other – any reader, really.
of this, it is a hint, only a hint, the barest hint, of what it would be like
to constantly read (or see for that matter) stories where what the reader is
always secondary, if present at all. So
even if Harry Potter isn’t perfect in terms of representation, it still contributes
to the conversation in a vital way. That
is true magic of Rowling’s work.
Anyhow, somehow in a long-convoluted way that isn’t very
important and happens again and again in stories, Paris discovers who he is and
is accepted back into the royal family of Troy, despite Cassandra suggesting
that they kill him. Who wants to listen
to a girl after all? Especially a blonde
one with big boobs? Then because after
all, who makes a better ambassador than an uneducated shepherd, Paris was sent
by Priam to Sparta.
second, the Nano-second, that Helen and Paris set eyes on each other it was “WOOHOO! EIGHT PACK!
Hot MAMA! Whoa Baby! I need me some of that honey.”
means, of course, that Menelaus didn’t notice anything.
was so clueless that he actually went on a “business trip” for a few days. When he got back, he was missing a couple
were, in no particular order:
2.Most of his treasury
Helen had left him something – his daughter Hermione, who
kept pointing in the direction her mother and Paris had gone. Like any younger sibling, Menelaus went
running to his bigger, stronger, meaner older brother to deal with those
bullies the Trojans. Agamemnon said,
“What up bro?” and Menelaus told him.
Greeks started to get a posse together and discovered they were missing two
people. The first was Odysseus so the
oldest king Nestor (he had fake teeth made from peacock teeth) went to go get
him. Odysseus was so mad, said Penelope
from her loom, that he was trying to plow rocks. Nestor, who was not related to the Long-Eared
Donkey who shows up in Christmas Specials, took Odysseus’s son Telemachus and
put him in front of Odysseus’s plow. Odysseus
stopped plowing thereby proving that he wasn’t mad.
slapped Nestor upside the head for being a smart ass.
other person the Greeks were missing was Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior,
even though he hadn’t done any real fighting yet and hadn’t been old enough to
marry Helen at the time. He was to take
the place of his dad who was too old.
Now, Achilles’ mother Thetis was foretold to give birth to a son who
would be greater than his father, so Zeus didn’t want to sleep with her. Makes one wonder why more women didn’t try
this method of birth control. Thetis ended up marrying a human king. In
fact, this was the wedding that Discord crashed. Greek stories have a funny sense of time. I think they all knew Dr. Who or the
Master. Anyway, Thetis loved her son and
dipped him in the River Styx when he was a baby. Most of him, just not the bit of the heel she
was holding, and she had been schooled not to double dip. This christening as it were, made all of him except
that bit of heel invincible.
course, he never put concrete around that bit of heel. He even wore sandals. Sandals, I ask you. Men.
might be a beefcake with a little brain, but despite her flaws, his mother had
part of one. She knew that it was
foretold that her son would win great fame but die in Troy, and like any mother
she didn’t want this to happen. Therefore,
like any mother, she dressed him up like a girl and hide him at a court of
someone else because no one ever thinks to look there. Mel Brooks’ History of the World hadn’t been
invented yet, after all. The disguise
couldn’t have been that good because he got one of the court ladies knocked
up. Anyway Odysseus, the crafty bugger,
showed up and threw a bunch of goods on the ground. These included fabric and a sword. Achilles picked up the sword, Odysseus said got
you. Achilles shrugged and wondered why
his beard wasn’t a giveaway.
there were other problems. The Greeks
assembled quickly, but discovered that there wasn’t any wind. And no one could fart enough to get the ships
to go across the sea. A soothsayer said
that a noble princess must be sacrificed to insure the wind and everyone looked
He demanded, and then conceded that okay, fine, he would sacrifice one of his
daughters, after all he had two. So, Aggie
sent a letter to his wife, telling her that he had arranged a marriage with his
eldest daughter Iphengia to Achilles. Clemmie,
short for Clymmentstra, screamed yes and jumped up and down in joy. Her daughter was marrying the most eligible
bachelor in Greece, and she hadn’t even had to go on that television show or
take a naked selfie. She got together a
great wedding party. Penghu, on the
other, took down her posters of the great poet Homer and put up ones of
Achilles. She liked the dresses, at
didn’t take long for the ladies to arrive and then Iphengia was quickly seized
and sacrifices to the gods. (Or Artemis saved
her at the last moment. Whichever you
prefer). Aggie said, “Just kidding sweetums.” Clemmie left swearing, “I’ll get you and your
little dog too.”
really should have listened.
the Greeks sailed to Troy. I’m really
not sure what they ate on the way. But
they got there.
were not happy to see them. But the men
in Troy were manly men and didn’t listen to the women who suggested that they
bake Helen in a cake and send it to the Greeks.
was lots of fighting, which meant there was lots of dying of little people that
no one really cares about because they only ones who get good press are the
heroes. Who cares about the guy with the
squint who didn’t dodged the arrow? He
only has six children.
that fighting made the gods a bit bored.
Which meant they got picky and touchy and don’t piss me offy. See, Apollo had a temple, you would think
from the way he kept acting about it that it was his only temple, but it
wasn’t. The Greeks lay waste to the
temple – this means they ate all the food, drank all the booze, killed all the
men who couldn’t escape, and took the women as slaves. One of these slaves was a woman whose father
was a priest of Apollo, and unlike some men I could mention, this dad was a
good dad. He wanted to save his
best explained by the fact that he was not a priest of Zeus.
priest got together as much wealth as he could find and sent it to Agamemnon as
a ransom for his daughter. But the great
leader Aggie declared that really didn’t any more tripods and horses. He was a high king, thank you very much. What he didn’t have, he went on, was a lovely
young woman with pillow like breasts and the inability to speak. Well, that was he didn’t have her until he
took the priest’s daughter. He really
didn’t want to make a return, thank you.
priest snorted. There was a reason he
was a priest and not a warrior. Gods
were nasty when they were pissed off. The
priest prayed to Apollo who visited plague upon the Greeks. After all, he didn’t like the Greeks, so really,
he just needed an excuse, and this priest was a good priest. The Greeks started dying like flies. Actually, not like flies – flies are beggar
all hard to kill.
it’s important to note that no one famous was killed by the plague of arrows,
but the kings were getting snarky. No
one likes it when your chef gets shot in the chest and dies in the stew. It becomes messy. Aggie was not happy at all. First, he had to sacrifice his daughter, and
now the kings wanted him to give back his soft pillow. And why was Achilles sticking out his tongue? Stupid beefcake warrior. What was the use of being high king, Aggie
thought, if all you got to keep was tripods?
And now Menelaus was whining. Aggie
sighed and gave his pillow back to the pillow’s father.
stuck out his tongue once too many times at the high king. Right, Aggie declared, “that cuts it. Since you don’t like women anyway, give me
your womanly pillow!”
was not too thrilled about this. It was
true that he preferred to share a bedroll with his man Patroclus, but that
didn’t mean he didn’t have a use for women.
He had to have a son somehow, and the gods weren’t listening to his
request to get Patulous pregnant. In
fact, his mother just looked at him strangely.
bothered to ask the women what they wanted.
That wasn’t important. They were
little more than pillows. Just remember
never to give them a dagger and all would be well, if you were a man.
decide to go on strike and sulk. After
all, it always worked with his mother, it should work with King Aggie too.
first the Greeks didn’t care much.
Achilles might be able to cleave a piece of wood in two, but you always
had to explain everything to him. Where
did the sun go? Why is it dark? What is that red stuff? It was like fighting two battles.
on the other hand were absolutely thrilled.
No Achilles! They each rushed to be the first into battle.
wasn’t a good day to be a Greek.
wasn’t a good few days to be a Greek.
The Greeks started to care. It
wasn’t, some of them realized, that Achilles was such a great fighter, but more
that his reputation allowed the others breathing space. Mumbling began to start behind Aggie’s
Again. At this point, Aggie was more than willing to
chuck being leader. It seems to be nothing
but headache after headache. Ruling was
overrated. His wife, however, had never
been much of a pillow.
day, the Greeks were badly routed. They
fled screaming from the Trojans who were raining fire and brimstone on them. Maybe not the brimstone, more like flaming
arrows and whatnot. Maybe Greek
Fire. Did the ancient Greeks have Greek
fire? Well, if they did the Trojans
were using it. And flaming poo. Flaming poo always grosses people out. The only thing new about the dog poo in brown
bags was the brown bags.
saw the fleeing Greeks and smiled. Not
so much in pleasure, but that self-righteous, I told you so type of smile. You know that teacher caught the student
cheating type of a smile. He began to
make bets in his mind. If an arrow gets
that solider there, I will do pushups.
He was about to share this idea with his buddy, pal, mate or just
platonic friend Patroclus. When the man
in question, jumped up from his couch in angry and began storming about the
rate, Achilles thought, he should just get himself a wife. Women made less noise.
just going to sit there eating grapes and olives?” Patroclus demanded.
nodded. He couldn’t very well eat
popcorn as it was still in North America at this time. Undoubtedly some Europeans would claim that
it hadn’t been invented yet, but that is very Eurocentric.
snorted in disgust. “You should have
stayed with the women,” he mumbled before leaving the tent. Achilles signed. He had learned that sometimes it was just
best to let Patroclus rage a bit before beating it out of him in a wrestling
really should have followed him.
stole Achilles armor and went down to rally the Greeks. Everyone thought it was Achilles because it
never occurred to anyone that Patroclus would pretend to be the other man. He
never did anything without Achilles. He
always stood in Achilles’ shadow and let the stupid strong man do the hard work
while offering critiques about sword swings.
who can, do; those who can’t, offer constructive criticism.
was something that Hector, prince of the Trojans, remembered all too well. Now, Hector wasn’t the strongest, he wasn’t
the child of a nymph, and he fathered children who aged very slowly for some
reason. But at heart, he was a good man
because he was strangely, the only Trojan, or even Greek for that matter who
was faithful to his wife.
an important to thing to remember because it explains quite a bit about what
happens to Hector.
was watching the battle and he noticed something a bit strange about Achilles
(who we know was really Patroclus).
Achilles would bash someone over the head, and then stop looking to see
what his soldiers did. This in and of
itself was not too unusual, Achilles was a battle leader after all. But then, Achilles
would shout out to some nameless solider, let’s say Spiro and point out that he
was wielding his sword like a woman making bread, whatever that meant. It’s okay Hector didn’t know either.
did know that the man in Achilles’ armor was not, in fact, Achilles.
armor was really shiny. Incredibly
shining. There was this nice embossed
breastplate with two horses on it (but of course, nothing covering the
heel. And why did Achilles need armor
after all?). Hector decide that he
wanted the armor, and since it wasn’t Achilles, he figured his chances were
chances were better than good.
wham, bam, and thank you for the head man.
second that Particular’s head fell from his body, the action, on the battle
field paused, mostly because Ares, the god of war, had let out a shout of
victory – he had thought it was Achilles, you think gods would have known
he and Achilles were related.
happen next would not occur again until Ophelia was buried thousands of years
down the line.
war with a corpse as a rope.
didn’t want the corpse, what would he do with it after all, but the armor was
got the armor, the Greeks got the body.
was not pleased by Patulous’ death. He
threw the tantrum of all tantrums. You
know the type that a child throws in the story when a parent will not buy a
worse. Achilles was somewhat divine
to stop his temper tantrum, Aggie sent back the girl, his mother got him new
armor, and he was given a birthday cake even though his birthday wasn’t for
that make everything better? Nope. Achilles wanted his best buddy back, his
bedroll mate, his course friend of no relation.
Who cares that they had attacked the Trojans for no good reason? Who cares that it was a war? Achilles wanted Hector chopped into little
Little Mermaid” is, perhaps, one of Anderson’s most well-known tales, though
most people I would wager, do not know the source material and cling to the
Disney version. The duo of Metaphrog
does not do Disney.
is a good thing.
tale left me conflicted when I re-read it as an adult, leaves me conflicted
whenever I read it know. It isn’t the
stepping on knives bit; it’s how the prince treats the mermaid. She sleeps at the foot of his bed, he pets
her, she is his dog – faithful to the end.
But in fairness to the prince, it isn’t that the mermaid wants him; she
really wants a soul. He is a way to gain
a story. The whole relationship is
strange, yet the mermaid succeeds to a degree because she has more of the
“Christian virtues” that the prince should have.
ways, this excellent adaption of the story shies away from those issues. The Little Mermaid here is in love with the
prince (and perhaps legs). The
adaption’s ending is faithful to the choice that Anderson’s character makes.
Yet, the image is subtly different for the choice occurs before the
wedding. Despite the use of legs,
including slit dresses, Metaphrog seem to have tamped down the sexual elements
of the story as well as the idea of a soul -the term immortal is used instead,
which means the original mermaid might not have had a problem with that.
issues aside there is much to love in this.
The artwork – blues and greens – is wonderful. The paneling of the story is great.
There are people of color, though the two central characters are
white. The Sea Witch is not an Ursula
type and comes across as a helper.
impossible for me to dislike any book that has a badger/hedgehog crossbred as a
character. I just can’t. I want Crust.
I want my own Crust now.
Volania Mulch resembles in appearance Frankenstein’s Bride. Her purple hair stands up straight, and she
has a put together/rag doll appearance.
But appearance is where that resembles ends, for Crimson is her own rag
and bone girl, if she is rag and bone at all, for her past is somewhat
that is not least of the mysteries. She
finds herself in Assumption Cemetery, a place inhabited by ghosts, a fish
monster by the name of Simon, a werewolf by the name of Wisteria Smials, a
vampire by the name of Quinton, and the human Parameter Jones, who is a magician.
someone keeps leaving her cool presents, like Crust who is a badger/hedgehog
with two heads.
a cute first volume, and there is much to like.
There is the friendship that develops between Crimson and Wisteria,
which expands to add Parameter (who is a poc, though Simon is green). The friendship is the best part of the
series, for the girls do develop a good friendship without a rivalry, at least
so far, for the interest of a boy. The
cover, therefore, with Crimson between two boys is slightly misleading.
fact, Crimson’s reaction to Quinton, who is mockery of some other famous
vampires, is so wonderful that it does a body good.
is great. It is somewhat like a darker
colored I Hate FairyLand crossed with Funko Pop!
Disclaimer: ARC of the Kindle edition via Netgalley.
mention Holocaust Denial someone always asks how can a denier be so stupid,
what could motivate someone to deny something so documented. I usually counter with, well, you have people
who believed slavery really wasn’t that bad; it’s a little like that. It’s true that such a comment is most likely
a facile respond, but it is a hard answer.
The reasons seem to run from a desire to shock to a refusal or need to
defend the honor of one’s country to straight forward and outright anti-Semitism
(not that you couldn’t say the first two points aren’t).
could also argue that the denial was not something that started long after the
war was over. In this book, Tom Bower chronicles
the Swiss attempt to keep Nazi gold, stolen from Jewish citizens of various
countries. In some case, the gold was in
fact deposited by rightful owners who were killed and whose heirs could not
inherit because proper documents were not to be had.
It is a
maddeningly story, even if Bower’s prose is a little dull. It does call into question how neutral the
Swiss were, or how neutrality should be defined. What is chronicled is one part sleight of
hand, one part finical and bureaucratic genius, and one part a lack of gall (on
behalf of some of those trying to get access to the gold).
ways, the cynicism exhibited by the Swiss government and banking establishment
seems to suggest a refusal not only of compassion but of realities of the
Second World War. A start of denial
that might have a grounding in greed or covetous of a monetary gain.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. Open Road is doing the kindle edition of this previously released work.
Ginny has a problem. It’s a huge problem. She doesn’t know a great many things. She lives with her father in a town in Wales, and she is one of the few people of color in the village. She has never met her Haitian mother from who she inherits artistic skill, talent, and interest.
In many ways, while not perfect, Ginny’s life is good. But then, as is always the case in such books, something happens and things change. In this case, change is brought the visit of a woman, who sparks a desire or allows Ginny to give voice to questions.
While race is not a huge factor in the novel, it does make an appearance, or several. And yet this is not a novel about race. It’s true that Ginny does deal with racism in both a family setting and a societal setting. It is also true that she is not the only person of color to do so, yet the focus of the book is the mystery that Ginny must solve – the mystery of her past.
That mystery concerns her much loved father, and that mystery is one that is not dependent on race.
It sounds strange, perhaps. But think about, how many mass market teen and pre-teen books with a poc as hero/heroine have a race as a central theme and/or driving plot point? This book doesn’t ignore race; Ginny is called slurs, she wonders about her sense of self as a poc being raised only by a white father in a white community, and she wonders about art and race. Yet removal those conversations or change them to reflect a different minority group, and the story is about any teenager and the search for identity. It’s refreshing really.
It’s true at some points one feels that Ginny’s mother as passionate outsider is a bit of an over played trope (poc is passionate, white family is passionless), yet Pullman does not go down that tired old road.
In terms of the mystery that Ginny solves, too say too much about it would give away major spoilers. Much of the mystery plot does work, and there are one or two places where disbelief does need to be suspended a little.
And yes, this book does pass the Bechdel test. Ginny’s best friend is Rhiannon and why they do at times talk about boys, they talk about more. The two girls have a great and real friendship. It is one of the charms of the book. Ginny is not the only good woman/girl in a world of men. She has female friends and they act female as opposed to men with boobs.
There are wonderful touches in the book – in particular with Ginny’s interest in art and how it manifests in a variety of ways. There are some wonderful passages about the scenery and places, in particular Ginny’s kingdom – a passage that details a very real connection to places.