Sense and Sensibility

Yep, as summer draws to a close (I'm back to work next Monday, still have my entire home-office half painted, and a crisis of mold at Ben's studio threatens everything... and I'm going tubing with Danielle et al. today anyway at Kickapoo, take that life, HA) I'm re-reading S&S by Jane Austen. Dear (blog) readers, may I remind you that "sensibility" is not a version of "sensible," but actually means "sensitivity." I also rewatched the Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson (oh and Hugh Grant too) movie version the other night. Kate is, as always, brilliant, proving once again why she is far and away my very favorite actress. There will be no plot synopses here...

The character of Elinor, the older sister, is almost more likable as Emma T. in the move than as the smart-assed projection of the author in the book. Though you have to admire the various turns of phrase with which she dazzles her fellow conversationalists, Elinor's parts of the dialog read so much like the great retorts we all think of after the fact. Such is the license of fiction.

In both movie and book, this time through, what I notice is the yin/yang pull of Elinor and Marianne. I see in myself the hyper-responsible older sister as well as the twinkling, mischevious, spirited Marianne. Marianne is more fun, but Elinor keeps everyone in food and clothing. We all need both. It's too easy, in a world where success and achievement are celebrated, to bury our Marianne side in Elinor seriousness. On the other hand, if you're prone to being as quicksilver changing as I can be, then a little Elinor at, say, breakfast time, is a very good idea. They are the twin poles around which the story revolves.

Watching the movie this time (directed by Ang Lee), when Marianne (Kate W.) is first asked by Willoughby whether he may examine her ankle, she nods wide-eyed. That is my favorite expression in the whole film, and a classic Winslet look. You can see it 23 seconds into this silly youtube thingy: Most heartbreaking parts are when Marianne, who is so innocent and open, runs to Willoughby at the dance, unable to imagine that he might treat her coldly. And oh does he ever treat her coldly.

So that's how summer is ending this year, with Sense and Sensibility. I'll leave you with a quote about life's adventures, from an interview I heard on NPR's most emailed stories podcast. The author wrote Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave which may well be my next Kindle download (thanks to Laurel for a b-day amazon gift certificate!). Here's what author Peter Heller said:

“And every day, you have to totally commit to something that seems, kind of in your brain, seems insane, which is to throw yourself, you know, over the lip of something that looks, you know, like a wall, and you have to totally commit. You have to let go to a power that's greater than you. And I think, you know, those are really good things to practice, you know, if you want to live with someone else and have a good relationship."

Gotta love the surfer dudes.

Addicted to Her

by Janet Nichols Lynch follows the short-lived but intense relationship between Rafa and the girl he has long fantasized about, Monique. Wrestling and helping his family were his passions before his brief hook-up with Monique, but all those other things fall by the wayside as he pursues her. She's totally hot, but usually goes out with guys who, well, have better cars. And she lets Rafa know that, while he lets her know that she has his heart. It doesn't take a very astute reader to see that Rafa is projecting a whole lotta good things onto Monique's hot body while disregarding her strikingly selfish side. When Rafa's stepdad is deported back to El Salvador, he is pulled back into the reality of his mom's struggle to provide for him and two other kids. As he steps up to be "el hombre de la casa," Rafa is finally struck by how manipulative and shallow Monique really is: "I take one last look at Monique. Creamy brown thighs. Beautiful breasts riding high in the blazing yellow halter dress. Full pillow-soft red lips. I avoid her eyes. Inside those eyes lives a horrible person."

This is solidly in line with the heritage of the YA problem novel, but more honest about sex and sexual attraction. A few posts back I was being cranky that no books ever did, well, this, showing that sexual attraction can be just that, sexual attraction, without any deeper substance. This probably won't sell paperbacks, probably will remain a hit among Mexican-American teens and librarians, but it's an excellent book for showing Rafa's love-blinded perspective in a sympathetic light.