Come a Stranger (Voigt)

Sep. 24th, 2017 09:35 pm
cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
Come a Stranger is the most positive book in the Tillerman Cycle (which, in a series that takes on abandonment, death, failure, racism, and emotional abuse of a couple different kinds, is maybe not saying a whole lot, although the themes of all the books involve growth and compassion and optimism and healing so that I never really noticed until this read-through how relentless they are) — this is the book about a family that works from the very beginning, and with themes that involve an existing strength, and growth mediated by that strength (as opposed to, say, Dicey's Song and Solitary Blue, which are about fractured family that has to figure out how to work, and growth from what started as dysfunctionality).

This one, I think there are two major themes woven throughout the book. One is community: what does it mean to be part of a community? This is almost a background theme — if I were to tell you the major events that happened in the book, none of them would really shout out "Community!" And yet the strong, vibrant community Mina belongs to is so integral to this book that it wouldn't exist in the same way without it. The other books are about individuals; this one is about the individuals as part of a community where they all help one another, all lift one another up. There's no character like Miz Hunter in any of the other Tillerman books.

I mean, I've never read these books thematically before, and on this reading it jumped out to me that the first chapter is basically the thesis statement. In the first chapter we meet Miz Hunter, Kat, Kat's family, and the church where Mina sings in the choir. That's a lot of people that Mina is a part of — not just her family itself, though they're also a community unto themselves, but also friends, friends' families, a whole church community evoked — and a community that takes care of each other. The first chapter almost makes it explicit:

"People you don't know are strangers."
"Are you afraid of strangers?"
"There aren't any strangers I've noticed around here, are there?"
"No ma'am. My poppa, he doesn't let people stay strangers."

And —

Poppa's little church didn't have a fancy altar, just a heavy wooden table with a fresh cloth on iton which the ladies had embroidered words and pictures. A silver cross stood up on top of that. They didn't have proper choir stalls, nor pews, except for half a doen somebody had picked up at a flea market sale in Cambridge… What happened was, whenever they were having a drive, saving up money for something particular, like more pews so the whole room could be filled with them and not be part pews and mostly folding chairs, something always came up. There would always be some family that needed the help, or some one person in some kind of need. The deacons would empty the church pockets to help out. Like Miz Hunter, when the church took a mortgage on the little house she lived in and rented it to her for what she could afford. Nobody minded that, and nobody seemed to miss the fancy touches.


Which brings me to the other major theme of this book: love.

This book is a little bit the counterpoint of Solitary Blue, which was about finding a community one by one (and so is Dicey's Song, for that matter), and about the damage that love does, both knowingly and unknowingly, and how to get beyond that damage. This book is about the next step: the responsibilities to one another in a community; and the positive side of love, how love shows us the way to our truest selves; and how those things interact. Mina loves Tamer Shipp, and that love shows itself in no destructive way, but constructively, in the way she helps Tamer's wife, and in the way that she finds Samuel Tillerman for him as a gift — but the real, true gift is the interaction between Gram and Tamer — it's not about Shipp himself, really. I don't know, I don't think I am making a whole lot of sense here; I just feel really strongly about this, okay? :)

But there's a minor theme (though more explicit) too, a theme of race and racism — and it's so interesting and awesome what Voigt did here: Runner was all about what it looked like from Bullet's white, racist point of view, and that was a valuable discussion and viewpoint; well, here we see what it looks like from the other side. And I feel like Voigt just does it well — Mina thinking black everything is kind of lame, to the betrayal when Mina realizes how she's been set up as the token black at ballet camp (and, tangentially, she gets it so right how you can bounce around and then find the place where you belong — in my case also summer camp — and the relief and amazingness of it — and I didn't think about it until this time through, but just thinking about that memory being sullied by betrayal of some sort is just — my whole mind flinches from it), the swinging to considering racism in everything, including her of-course-I'm-not-racist-but-I-don't-like-uppity-blacks teacher and also Dicey's reaction to her which is clearly (from Dicey's perspective in Song) not race-related at all (that being said, when you look at it from Mina's point of view it looks pretty damning for Dicey for a while — I mean, what are you supposed to think when a person keeps ignoring your friendship overtures?). The conversations she has with Shipp and with her parents seem to get it right to me… the way her parents are just worried for her because it's hard to be a black woman. And I love the part where Shipp tells Mina that "colored" is a good word for what they are. ("They," in the end, meaning all humans.) Because, of course, it's the word Bullet used and Tamer rejected. And I side-eyed the part at ballet camp where Mina is cast as Tash, and then was surprised and pleased to find that (of course) Voigt was right there with us side-eyeing it too, with Kat calling it out explicitly.

I don't understand at all how Voigt is able to interweave all these themes among all the books and still find time to have things actually happen. I don't get it at all.

It's so interesting to me that the Tamer Shipp of this book is noticeably an older version of Tamer Shipp in Runner. That is to say, he's not at all identical, he's clearly been through a lot and learned a lot and matured a lot (and changed his mind about some things, like the word "colored"), but still you can see the Tamer-who-was in him.

More quotes. This one is on the community theme:


Charlie and Isadora started telling stories about old relatives of their parents who had gone into nursing homes, or retired to places where there were a lot of old people gathered together. Mina didn't say anything, because her one living set of grandparents lived with her mother's brother in Georgia, and the grandparents who had died when she was still a baby had lived just around the corner. She thought of Miz Hunter, but didn't mention her either.


I really like the treatment of Mina's friend Kat, though I wouldn't have appreciated it when I was a kid (good thing I didn't read these books until I was an adult) -- I like that she's presented as not liking Narnia, and that's OK!

"And trying to make me different too, make me read books and listen to your music. And they're boring and dumb — the Narnia books. It's just pretend, fairy-tale stuff, with magic, and if I don't like them, you look at me as if I'm stupid. I'm not stupid."


I could go on and on about this book, but I think I'm going to post it since it's already taken forever for me to get this far.

Oh, okay, one more thing: I have never liked what we're told about Tamer's sermon on Miss LaValle's suicide attempt -- it has always struck me as rather victim-blamey. But on the other hand we're seeing all this filtered through Mina's eyes, and she doesn't know about the suicide at the time; afterwards Mina's mom says she thinks the sermon was about helping Miss LaValle even though she isn't part of their church, and not gossiping about it, which is not at all what I got from Mina's POV, so it is very possible this is a case of incomplete-POV rather than being as victim-blamey as it seems.

No, two more things. This time around I kinda shipped Mina and Tamer's son Samuel, not right then of course, but sometime far in the future when they've both grown up — it seems like Samuel has inherited his father's propensity for thinking about things, and I could totally see Mina and Samuel, as grownups, understanding each other in the same way that Tamer and Mina do, but without the barriers to a romantic relationship. Speaking of fic ideas :) (Would that be weird? I feel like the way Voigt has structured it, it wouldn't be weird.)

Remix reveals

Sep. 24th, 2017 07:59 pm
el_staplador: A dragon carved in stone (fantasy)
[personal profile] el_staplador
I wrote this -

Down the Garden Path (and what Alice found there) (4517 words) by El Staplador
Chapters: 5/5
Fandom: Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
Additional Tags: Dreams and Nightmares, Dreams vs. Reality, Non-Linear Narrative, Board Games, Pastiche, Poetry, journeys, Nursery Rhymes, Werewolves
Summary:

Alice throws a six, and finds herself on the square of the hypotenuse. But she's been here before, and she'll be here again, and perhaps she's already here...



- which I feel is rather obviously mine, though not in a fandom I'd previously attempted.

(Why do I not have an Alice icon?)

(no subject)

Sep. 24th, 2017 10:09 am
tiamatschild: A painting of a woman leaning over a railing to set a candle in a lamp (Everyday Devotion)
[personal profile] tiamatschild
Good morning, good morning, the little birds say!

Feed me, feed me, the little birds say!

Jazz station, jazz station! the little birds say!

I'm having breakfast have breakfast with me! With me! The little birds say!

What can I say, she definitely keeps me on track.

Fifteen Characters Meme: the answers

Sep. 21st, 2017 11:41 am
el_staplador: Three-quarters crop of Victor from the opening credits sequence of Yuri!!! on Ice (victor)
[personal profile] el_staplador
The characters:

1. River Song (Doctor Who)
2. Eugénie Danglars (The Count of Monte Cristo)
3. Victor Nikiforov (Yuri!!! on Ice)
4. John Tracy (Thunderbirds)
5. Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)
6. Liz Shaw (Doctor Who)
7. Lady Penelope (Thunderbirds)
8. Petrova Fossil (Ballet Shoes)
9. Edmond Dantes|The Count of Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo)
10. Dorothea Callum (Swallows and Amazons etc)
11. Madame C-|Lady B- (The Comfortable Courtesan)
12. Dickson McCunn (Huntingtower etc)
13. Miss Marple
14. Rudolf Rassendyll (The Prisoner of Zenda)
15. The Dowager Duchess of Denver (Lord Peter Wimsey)


The answers )

So much of the so much

Sep. 18th, 2017 08:36 am
sine_nomine: (Default)
[personal profile] sine_nomine
There is lots going on. Mostly good. Some not so good. I watch the news on the hurricanes and marvel at The Weather Channel's ability to make weather "news". It would be interesting to research that shift, in fact.

And I worry about the people in harm's way - especially places like Barbuda which were nearly obliterated by Irma (and not "decimated", as I heard one person describe it; yes, common parlance has gotten "decimation" to mean "in large part" versus "one in every ten - be it tithe or killing of mutinous soldiers.... but it lacks the precision and clarity and honesty that "obliterated" does, to me).

And I worry about the people in my life who are wrestling with personal hurricanes, and those challenges.

And I struggle with a bunch of stuff myself, and try to figure out how to move forward, but move forward I must.

Onwards.

Fifteen Characters Meme

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:14 pm
el_staplador: Can-can dancer; caption 'Oppan can can style' (can can style)
[personal profile] el_staplador
Nicked from [personal profile] lost_spook:

1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.

2) Ask your f-list to post questions in the comments. For example: "One, nine, and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?", "Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?", "Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?"

3) After your f-list has stopped asking questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.
el_staplador: TARDIS (tardis)
[personal profile] el_staplador
Someone created Vastra and Jenny's wedding photo, remixing my My Beloved Snake, and Said Unto Me. It is absolutely delightful: period-typical in the best way!

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Flint-Vastra (The Carte de visite remix) (0 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Doctor Who (2005)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jenny Flint/Madame Vastra
Characters: Jenny Flint, Madame Vastra (Doctor Who)
Additional Tags: Fanart
Summary:

The wedding photo of the widow Vastra and her young new husband.



I have been watching Kids on the Slope on [personal profile] moetushie's recommendation, and am enjoying it very much thus far. I am a sucker for seaside + nostalgia + music. I have also been watching Izetta: the Last Witch, which ought to be right up my street (Ruritania + loyalty TO THE DEATH + femslashiness) but which for some reason isn't grabbing me in quite the same way.

On the subject of anime, I went to see the Anime Architecture: backgrounds of Japan exhibition (now finished, sorry) at the House of Illustration, and was mostly impressed the sheer detail of the artwork. I hadn't realised how small the backgrounds were in real life; they really repaid standing six inches away and marvelling.

Linkspam Has Food For Thought

Sep. 17th, 2017 09:03 am
jjhunter: Watercolor purple ruffled monster with mouthful of raw vegetables looks exceedingly self-pleased (veggie monster)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Helena Bottemiller Evich @ Politico: The great nutrient collapse
“Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”

Diana Kwon @ Scientific American: Are Some Psychiatric Disorders a pH Problem?
Multiple studies in the past few decades have found that when people with panic disorders are exposed to air with a higher-than-normal concentration of carbon dioxide—which can combine with water in the body to form carbonic acid—they are more likely to experience panic attacks than healthy individuals are.

Cathleen O'Grady @ Ars Technica: Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies
The climate benefits of solar and wind power were hefty, but the majority of the benefit came from air quality improvements.

Frank Viviano @ National Geographic: This Tiny Country Feeds the World
“Water isn’t the fundamental problem. It’s poor soil,” [van den Ende] says. “The absence of nutrients can be offset by cultivating plants that act in symbiosis with certain bacteria to produce their own fertilizer.”

Rosalind Bentley @ Southern Foodways Alliance > Gravy podcast: Hostesses of the Movement
[These women] opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the [Civil Rights] Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest and safe rooms for plotting attacks on Jim Crow.

family drama

Sep. 13th, 2017 04:22 pm
fox: my left eye.  "ceci n'est pas une fox." (Default)
[personal profile] fox
So: Twelve days ago my mother had a stroke.

She's doing okay now, but here's more about that. )

So my autumn has taken a big fucking left turn. How are you?

Election

Sep. 12th, 2017 08:28 pm
mummimamma: (Bergen)
[personal profile] mummimamma
So yesterday was election day for the parliament in Norway. For the last four years we've had a right-wing coalition - which I haven't been very happy with. I haven't been particularly happy with the political campaign either. The media has been trying to dig up dirt on the candidates, not focusing on politics.

Anyway, the result was more or less as I expected it to be, namely more of the same. I am a bit amazed at some of my friends who clearly thought the opposition would win, mainly based on what they saw on their facebook-feed. Have they learnt nothing about echo-chambers? My facebook-feed is full of people with wrong opposing views, and I rather like it to be like that (even when they are wrong and annoying, because I need to be reminded that my views aren't the only ones (even though they are, of course the right ones).

So I was up late last night, watching the results coming in. The highlight was when the results for Bergen, my hometown never came in, because the boxes with the ballots were stuck in a traffic jam on their way to counting central. Hilarious!

What I am a bit worried about is that the election turnout for my district is very low, only 2400 of about 8400. This is without those who voted in beforehand, which was a rather high number. But still.

I'm paying for staying up late last night today, since I've been in bed with a blinding migraine for most of the day.

(no subject)

Sep. 11th, 2017 04:38 pm
nestra: (Seth)
[personal profile] nestra
We were watching "The Grinder" on Netflix, and it's funny enough. Silly, but I am totally okay with silly these days. Rob Lowe is Rob Lowe-ing all over everything.

But now Timothy Olyphant has shown up as a villain. I am ON BOARD.

Customers of today

Sep. 11th, 2017 09:20 pm
almadsfeika: (Wooster thought)
[personal profile] almadsfeika
So I work in a shop, btw. Today there were two customer interactions that stick with me most. Oddly enough both involve parenting.

Scenario 1:
Young woman, prob my age is walking around the store with her little girl. Little girl asks for sweets. Her mum tells her how they are terribly disgusting, covered in flies and they must tell the shop staff about it because it's so awful. As they go around girl keeps asking for sweets and variations on this are told to her. In one, mum says she has been warned by shop staff about how very disgusting they are already.

I totally get: a) we have chocolate at home, b) you don't like chocolate, c) you're lactose intolerant, d) we can't afford it, e) we have no time/ money right now, f) it's bad for you... Seriously, concocting a big lie like that gets to me. Also I know from experience that a total ban of certain foods is really unhealthy for people and can lead to a really awful eating disorder. Plus it's just impractical and time wasting.

Scenario 2:
A woman and her little girl are at the self checkouts and I come over to approve something. Daughter: "look mum, those are the kind of nails I want to have!"
Mum: "ooh, yes, different colours! And look at her hair! That's so lovely!"

I actually get way more compliments from customers than I do from colleagues, so that wasn't what struck me although very nice. This mum is actually encouraging her daughter to lead her own thought process about how she wants to look. Not only that but alternative looks are OK, even desirable. Nowhere was it said or even implied that she was too young.
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