I hope this past weekend treated everyone nicely! I spent pretty much all day Saturday babysitting my neighbor's five kids, all of whom are sweet but rowdy. Once she came home, I just fell over onto my bed and didn't get up again until Sunday. I don't know how single parents do it -- eight or nine hours and I am ready for a dark, quiet room to get my Garbo on in. I want to be aaaaaaalone.
Today's exciting event is going to be a new recipe for making eggplant parmigiana in which the eggplant is baked instead of fried. It's an America's Test Kitchen technique -- and my experience with America's Test Kitchen anything is that sometimes it is amazing
(like their fluffy buttermilk pancakes recipe), and sometimes it is just. Freaking. Awful. (Um. The list is huge.) Fingers crossed, people! I hope I am not wasting eggplant here!!Day 11 - A book that disappointed you
Blah. Do you want the list in alphabetical or chronological order? The first book I ever remember being deeply disappointed in is the Christian Bible. My dad's family are a bunch of crazy Italian Catholics, many of whom have converted to a different type of Christianity (like Jehovah's Witness), or were born again evangelical-style, so I have always had a copy of the Christian Bible, starting with, you know, My Little Golden Book of Crucifixion or whatever. (My dad even had a special bible in comic book form for us.) When I was finally old enough to realize what it was and what was going on, I sat down and read it. And I was like, "What? Really?" From the way people were talking about Jesus, I thought it would be, like, his diary. Super interesting, right? But it is not
Jesus's diary and thoughts about the world. It was actually like a supermarket tabloid, but from 2,000 years ago. (Or, you know, whenever. Depending on your world view. Which I am not critiquing.)
Anyway, I must have been, like, seven or eight, and I pretty much immediately lost interest in Christianity. Perhaps if Jesus had worn eyeliner and the Christian Bible really was
his diary, I'd've been more interested. You know, like:
Dear Diary, Today I am gonna give a speech and tell people to quit judging each other and just, like, love each other or whatever. I hope a lot of people come. Can you believe that, like, they want proof of God's love? What jerks. Of course, I love them anyway! Then I'm going to turn water into wine and do some other stuff, I think. Well, really I just like to go with the flow, but these dudes need some head-slapping to get them in the mood to rebel against the idea that in order for God to dig you, you've gotta follow the rules. They're all like, blah blah, Judaism, keep kosher, the letter of the law, and I am all like, you must chill! Okay, I've gotta go and, like, heal the sick now. Peace out.
You know, like a combination of Angela Chase and Pete Wentz -- or Anne of Green Gables. Haha.
I ended up being a religious studies major and doing a lot of studying of Christianity and reading the Christian Bible a bunch more times anyway
, but, yeah, the Christian Bible was a huge disappointment from the point of view of a non-Christian seven year old.
More recently! I was disappointed by the Harry Potter series (I think there were only two or three books when I started reading it, and I wasn't surprised that people liked the first one -- but I thought, and continue to think, that they are terribly written, kind of boring, and get most of the fun/interesting stuff from other authors), and Anita Blake (seriously? a prudish, religious heroine takes on vampires and werewolves who all want to do her or kill her? I read that fanfic when I was in single digits), and, of course, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
. From all the hype, I'd expected something awesome -- or at least enjoyable. Sigh for the millionth time.
As a genre, I am disappointed almost entirely by post-Cold War espionage novels. They're either ridiculous or boring (or both!) with bland heroes and a faceless "Middle Eastern" villain, and the story almost invariably stars a white man who is embroiled in something either terribly low-stakes or unbelievably silly, the highest stakes evarrrrrrr omg!!
As a kid sneaking the Cold War espionage novels out of my mom's bedside table, I found spies and spying to be incredibly glamorous and simultaneously tragic -- and eminently relate-able. The villains were almost always given names and faces and that might actually be (I am realizing right at this minute) where I developed my tendency to sympathize with villains. What I took away from those Cold War novels was that sometimes regular people become villains through circumstances and bad decisions and poor judgment, not just because some people are "just evil."
And then, of course, there's the WWII espionage novels I also read a lot of and loved. Those aren't about fighting a faceless evil either -- and again a lot of the "villains" of those are sympathetic, but, actually, some of them are
just evil. Just horrifyingly evil, just terrifyingly evil -- but for me that was a real
terror, a terror I knew all about. I was one of four Jews in the small town where my family lived for five years (hint: I was related to the other three) and regularly came up against anti-Semitism, and people who hated me just because I was Jewish. Not just adults either, but children -- who I guess were just aping their parents, but that's not how it felt
when I was a kid under attack by brutal classmates who never pulled their (mostly metaphorical) punches.
So reading those books was in a lot of ways wish fulfillment for me -- and, of course, the Resistance
!!! Heroes of my childhood in many ways. (And I wish I hadn't been an adult before I learned that there was a Jewish resistance, too. Jeez.)
Anyway, these (interesting plots, sympathetic -- or, at least, three-dimensional -- villains, relate-able heroes) are things that are missing for me in post-Cold War espionage novels, to the point where I've given up and quit reading them. There was a brief period in the early 90s where there were a couple of "cyber terrorism" novels, but they were less about spies and more about action heroes defeating hacker nerds, which I was not very interested in back then, and am definitely not interested in now. I am totally open to recommendations, though, if you have a particular favorite modern espionage novel. Or, hey, if you have a recommendation for a good WWII or Cold War espionage novel -- they've all run together in my mind, since it's been about twenty years since I've read one; I can't even think of any authors or titles!
So tell me -- what books have disappointed you? Oh, and I wanted to mention that even if you're not doing this meme in your own journal, or at all, you can still comment on a particular day if it interests you! Everyone's comments are welcome all the time.( Other days of the book meme )