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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins So many strong reviews already--what on earth could I say?


Let me meditate some.

*calendar pages flipping*

So...general review first: It's a compelling, well-defined story.

In some ways a little too well-defined. Phoebe does an excellent job (as does Adam L) referencing the antecedents to Collins' novel--I've read and seen so many stories about people hunting people that my initial take on Collins was a somewhat exasperated sigh. This is what's getting all the hype? (I admit to feeling this disappointment with things Potter--Harry always seemed so cobbled together from found parts.) And Hunger Games never broke stride from the moves and paces I expected, alas.

Yet--as Phoebe and Ceridwen note--the key here is that central voice. There is a lovely precision to the embodiment of Katniss Everdeen. This poor kid grapples with (sure) the day-to-day mechanics of staying alive and (okay, yeah) trying to dispatch other strivers. But I was fascinated by her careful attention to the mysteries of motive, and not just others'--her own, too. Katniss seems a dazzling protagonist because a relentless competence is coupled with a nuanced confusion. When MILD SPOILER Peeta declares his love during the televised pre-Game show, K is thrown for a loop, yet manages to pick up the theatrical cue, blushes, keeps up the performance. Throughout--even as she catches game or storyboards her own plans for the Game--Katniss is always teasing through the complexities of identity and performance. Inside the hunting-humans plot is an homage to great Austen heroines, Emma with a bow, coming to learn a lot about herself and people, even as she occasionally enters into mortal combat with them.

And the symbolics of the hunted-human reality-game-show plotline still resonate neatly, as the aforementioned reviews (and this very fine assessment by Elizabeth Bird) argue, are rather hard to repress. Whether you see an allegory of adolescent entry into society (and, c'mon, high school IS a life-and-death struggle watched by a vicious authoritarian system) or a not-so-subtle critique of social inequalities... Hunger Games resonates beyond the pleasures of its page-turning fight to the death.

But where I want to come in is with more attention to those pleasures. The photo above is from a wonderful, awful Australian exploitation flick originally called Turkey Shoot (and released as Escape 2000 on video here). More coming soon...