Friday, April 23, 2010

Dear Stephenie Meyer: Here's What Really Happened

I finally gave in and read the entire Twilight series.
Now, before I launch a defense of Stephenie Meyer's writing skillz, I would just like to say:
these things are POISONOUS.
It's because they're good, and because they resonate, but man, when I'm in the middle of one of those books, I can't stop thinking about it. I am, like, living in Twilight world, and it dredges up all kinds of things I thought I had managed to suppress. These books make every single man I know look like a snivelling, weaselly loser (Which may or may not be the case, but I somehow doubt that Twilight has given me real perspective on relationships). These books make me want nothing more than to sell my soul for love and Romeo. These books make my life look like it's backlit by fluorescent bulbs.
I really can't tell whether that's because I want Vampire Pattinson for all eternity, or simply because I am a big fat sucker for a good story.

People like Stephen King like to criticize Stephenie Meyer's writing abilities. But when was the last time you had to stay up until two in the morning to find out what the hell happens at the end of a Stephen King book? (Answer: never. Stephen King is the Charles Dickens of the 20th century: 500 pages of boring, boring descriptions of a decent 50-page plot.) So clearly she's doing something right.

Firstly, and technically, the woman is a master of POV decisions. Imagine the Twilight series written in third person. Imagine the Twilight series written from Edward's point of view. Massive suckfest.

Secondly, and most importantly, Stephenie Meyer absolutely kills the emotional truth of a seventeen-year-old's first experience with love, and she does it not only by an accurate portrayal of the relationship, but by what my creative writing instructor called "putting it in the body." Every emotion, every desire and denial and fear and worry is manifested in the physical bodies of the characters, so that even if you haven't had that particular experience or emotion, you have felt the physical effects. That's what makes it all so relatable.
And it's also what makes it so g*ddamn painful.

Up until the fourth book, in which there is, of course, a delightfully happy and satisfying ending, I could totally relate. I have felt that intensely for someone, and lost it all, and found solace in a second and better person who doesn't quite evoke the same sorts of emotions, and then I have rediscovered the first person and went through falling in love with him all over again. And in Twilight, not only do all these exciting things happen, but the roiling emotions are somehow sustainable, and have no illusions mixed in. And I hated every time I woke up from the reverie of those books to realize that I have to deal with real men, who have, like, issues, and flaws, and are sometimes kind of smelly in the morning.
The fourth book continued the delicious trend of pure fantasy, but it was also where she lost me, because she wrote what should have happened, instead of what did happen to all of her readers.

If this were real life, this is how the fourth book would go:
Bella, while getting ready for her upcoming nuptials, stops by to see Edward one day and discovers that, far from the perfect being she had originally accused him of being, he actually a) is cheating on her with some totally skanky, human-blood devouring vampire she-fiend; b) has a pretty serious gambling problem, c) has lied to her the whole time about being a vampire vegetarian and is slowly working his way through the neighboring town, d) is, like, so over this whole love thing and would way rather just "hang with the boys" and chase less demanding vampire trim for the rest of eternity.
She then goes and runs to (the far superior and much funnier) Jacob, who, it turns out, has either a) lied about not having imprinted and has actually imprinted on her, so he is perfectly and desperately in love with this girl who just got clotheslined by Edward and for the rest of their miserable lives he will love her uncomfortably more than she loves him, while she pines over the immortal Edward who is still doing whatever he immortally does, just absent her company; or b) has not lied about not having imprinted, which he will then proceed to do with someone else just as Bella is starting to get over the sparkly-skin dickitude of Edward and starting to fall in love with Jacob for real.
At which point Bella has to pick her own broken heart up off the ground, dust it off, and figure out where to put it until she can stand to look at it again.

I'm glad Stephenie Meyer violated the emotional truth of the fourth book to give me a happy ending. Really, I am. That's what stories are for. Happy endings. But it was still a bit of a shocker to be able to relate so well to the physicality and the raw emotion of the first three books, and then find out that, unlike you, this self-sacrificing b*tch gets to have an acne-free eternity with her first love, while you had to man up and get over it and create some sort of steel cage where your heart once lived.

Just sayin'.

Also, update: I finished the second of my stories about my hometown, but exercise has taken a backseat to working overtime at the moment. Desperately waiting for May!

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