Tag Archives: stephenie meyer

A Little Fluff Never Hurt Nobody

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Let’s be clear here. A little literary fluff, in moderation, is a good thing. Like drinking a case of beer (without anyone else’s oral assistance) while watching Hockey Night in Canada. Or reciting poetry to sharpen your addled brain. Or indulging in poutine after said night of debauchery and preparing for the poetics part the following morning (a person needs energy!).

That’s all chicken noodle fluff for the soul.

Whatever the hell it is that made it onto this post as the Pic of the Day is not a good thing, in moderation or even once in your life. REPEAT: If you see the above product while shopping, call in a Code Blue, throw yourself in a tent, and rub those rosary beads you carry with you for good luck. Oh, and pray the jar doesn’t consume you.

Last week, I finished this month’s book club novel, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, an impressively researched story about a young lady coming of age in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s,  freeing me up for a bit in between Curling Was Full choices. (Spoiler alert: Everyone dies at the end of Manhattan Beach when the Manhattan Project goes south and wipes out all the main characters, who’d taken refuge on a beach. Kind of a lame ending.)

Obviously I reached for the marshmallow fluff next, and just finished my latest Jack Reacher book (#20 in the series), Lee Child’s Make Me. I am now as content as a pig in…umm…a blanket?

Anyway, one of the reasons Mr. Child has my eternal love is that he doesn’t pretend to be anyone he’s not (or should I say JR doesn’t?). He has you hanging from page one, kicks some ass along the way in Nowhere, USA, then brings everything all together with a little bow on top. Nice.

But Lee Child’s real “piece of resistance” is the way he throws in facts, figures and stats. Unlike the Dan Brown Paradox, Mr. Child is not pretending to solve a centuries-old clue (except how some guys are always jacked up on testosterone maybe) when he discusses heavy subjects like suicide, the Gettysburg Address, and the dark web, all three of which he addresses in Make Me. More than that, he somehow makes it relevant to chasing bad guys around places like Mother’s Rest, Nebraska.

This got me to thinking, though. Trusting Goodreads as I do, I was curious what readers around the world considered the biggest pile of fluffy fluffiness. Well, I – and by extension you – now have the answer. Here’s the full list, but the Top 10 Most Popular Fluff Books goes like this, with Stephenie Meyer wearing the Empress’s New Clothes, Sophie Kinsella donning the queen’s crown, and Stephanie Perkins taking home the raciest title award.

1. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella

2. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

3. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

4. The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger

5. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

6. Can You Keep a Secret?, Sophie Kinsella

7. One for the Money, Janet Evanovich

8. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer

9. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

10. Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

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Quote of the Day

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“Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Although many people automatically associate Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) with the statement “God is dead,” a line first published in Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, the great German philosopher was actually pretty optimistic about things, as evidenced by his love of music and the above quote, which comes from Twilight of the Idols (and, no, this wasn’t the prequel to the modern Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer).

Over his lifetime, Nietzsche wrote on pretty much every important subject in the world. And while a lot of people mistakenly think of him as an angry pessimist, I believe he was merely ahead of his time and interested not in turning a blind eye to reality, but to – as he described it – “Philosophizing with a hammer.”

Nietzsche sought to deconstruct our closely held beliefs and value systems, especially the corruption and flawed nature inherent in all human beings. What made him an optimist, however, was his faith that mankind could overcome these “defects.” In fact, in Nietzsche’s later years he “became increasingly preoccupied with the creative powers of the individual to overcome social, cultural, and moral contexts in pursuit of new values and aesthetic health.”

Interestingly, one of the most influential figures on Nietzsche’s writing was another titan of German philosophy, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). I say interesting because Schopenhauer also shared a profound love and respect for music, once stating, “The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

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Does Alcohol + Writing = Genius x Calamity ÷ The X Factor?

What do Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Hunter S. Thompson, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Chandler, and O. Henry all share in common?

They were all alcoholics at one time, many of them for life, some of whom actually died as a direct result of their affliction.

Frighteningly enough, the above list only represents some of the greatest names in English literature over the past 150 years. This raises another alarming question: Is a grossly unhealthy dependence on alcohol necessary to become a great and prolific writer? Should writers follow Hemingway’s advice when he once mused, “Write drunk; edit sober”? While a humorous, pithy, and catchy suggestion, was Papa onto something?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding NO!

Just ask Stephen King, who since quitting drugs and drinking has produced arguably his best work; David Mitchell, who’s an insanely responsible person and health nut; Murakami Haruki, who quit smoking and left his heavy whiskey-drinking days behind long ago at his former Tokyo bar and now takes solace in jogging, not the bottle. I’m pretty sure Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje are on the straight and narrow, too. Then there’s Isaac Asimov, Anne Rice, and Stephenie Meyer, each famous as a writer for different reasons, but all of whom are teetotalers (abstinent from alcohol).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been binge-watching Intervention Canada, an intense documentary that spends a few days following drug and/or alcohol addicts (and by “addict” I mean so far gone in most cases that it’s actually difficult to watch sometimes) before facilitating an intervention and offering treatment at many of Canada’s top treatment facilities. (Sidebar here: is it just me or are all the best rehab centres in Canada located in British Columbia?)

While watching an episode of IC a few days ago, I was struck by the courage one young woman summoned up when coming to grips with her demons, so I decided to write it down:

“I do not know what it is to be brave. And I do not know what the word bravery means to other people. What I do know is that strength is brought about by confidence. What I do know is that hardship fosters understanding. I believe kindness and thoughtfulness are the keys to ensuring a successful life. As I move forward, and embark on a new life, a life free of alcohol, free of pain, a life free of poison, I take to heart what the word bravery might actually mean.”

Scientists and philosophers have long tried to determine what exactly leads to genius. I think the only thing people can agree upon is that there is most definitely a biological factor; some people are simply blessed with a formidable brain. But it’s not all nature, I think. There is most certainly a nurture component – hard work, dedication, and a passion for a particular field of knowledge. At the same time, I feel equally confident saying that crutches like OxyCoton, meth, heroin, crack, whiskey, gin, beer, etc. (ad infinitum) will get a person nowhere, especially an artist like a writer, who already spends enough time alone and possibly dredging up memories and emotions that could sink even the strongest person if not handled with extreme cerebral care.

So if you’re interested in getting started on that story you know you have in you, or perhaps you’re brash enough to want to become a professional writer (ha ha ha ha ha…that’s just dumb and dumbly), do so with a cup of Joe or a mug of herbal tea, preferably in the hours before the sun rises, and you (and your liver) will be grateful for the decision in the years to come.

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