Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sparkly Vampire Lovers Anonymous

Hi. My name is Nicole, and I enjoyed reading Twilight.

(Crowd: Hi, Nicole.)

This is, um. This is my first time at a SVLA meeting. I never thought I'd end up here. No offense to all of you, I just...well, the books sounded so dumb and...cripes.

I got into this the same way a lot of you did, probably - curiosity. I wanted something new, y'know? And everyone I knew who'd read Twilight either trumpeted its praises or hated it with a burning passion. There was no middle ground. So I figured, what the hell, I'd give it a try - try and figure out what other people saw in it. The good and the bad. An experiment: find the middle ground.

And for the first couple hundred pages, I was doing all right. I was safe. I didn't love it or hate it, but I could see why people did. It was cute, and the tension between the characters worked, making it a good choice for brain parsley for me. On the other hand, Stephenie Meyer writes with the kind of florid prose you find in romance novels, combined with an indecisive teenage narrator, and the two don't fit quite right. She also seems to have bribed, sweet-talked, or scared away every editor that came in contact with the manuscript, because what should have been under 300 pages was somehow allowed to sprawl into 500. And Bella leaves a Mary Sue aftertaste in the mouth and her romance with Edward is transparent wish fulfillment and the vampires sparkle in direct sunlight and play thunderstorm baseball to hide the epic noises they make hitting the ball around and...and...

And somewhere along the line, I stopped caring about how silly it was. My disbelief got suspended like socks on a clothesline, ending the experiment. I read the second half of the book in one stretch, and for hours afterwards my head was in a haze of romantic language and glitter. I contemplated taking the bus down to Barnes & Noble and using my gift card to score the second book, and maybe the third. My roommate shook her head and clamped her lips shut. My dog even seemed ashamed of me - and I mean, I read him a chapter aloud, so maybe he has reason to be, but I was caught up in the book, okay?

I still understand it, though - why people hate this book so much. The writing style, the warped vampire mythos, the characterization...and honestly, I agree with them. Twilight isn't good for me - I know this. But while reading it, I can't believe that. I just want more.

Worse, I want to defend it to people. I want to tell them that, if you can get yourself to the point of complete suspension of disbelief, it's an engrossing story. I want to tell them how every little touch between Bella and Edward is totally the embodiment of passion, and how Edward being a century-old virgin makes sense when you think about it, because vampires have life-long mates and the woman who was meant to be his shacked up with Carlisle instead. Like, duh!

And the dramatic dialogue! "Bella, we're not having this discussion anymore. I refuse to damn you to an eternity of night and that's the end of it." I imagine Edward dropping plot-heavy life statements like this in a beleaguered, parent-on-a-road-trip voice, and that makes everything he says deeply entertaining. I love Edward. I love him enough that I think any claim I had to literary dignity or ability to recommend books to people has been put in jeopardy because of it. But he's...he's...he's just so awesome.

And Bella...well, I know people hate her, but I kind of like her. She's lame and clumsy, with an awkward sense of humor. And yeah, all the boys seem to love her for no reason, but I can forgive that, because...actually, I don't know why I forgave that. But the thing I thought would bother me most - the fact that this hot vampire boy decides she's suddenly his reason to keep un-living - has a really solid reason behind it. Whenever I hear someone talking about how Edward loving Bella is so unrealistic and Mary Sue-ish, I just want to wave my hands and butt in on the conversation and be like, guys!


You just don't understand. You're missing a crucial detail here.

Bella smells really good.

But I haven't waved my arms at anyone...yet. And I'm gonna try not to. I know that's just self-destructive behavior. I certainly won't recommend the book to anyone. I couldn't do that to my friends. Oh crap, my friends. They're gonna lose all respect for me when they find out about this.

At least I have you guys, right? You understand what I'm going through.

(Crowd: murmured affirmation)

And I'm...I'm gonna try. I'm gonna try to stay clean. Admit that I've got a problem, trust in a better author for guidance, all the steps. Thank you all so much for being here. For listening. Thank you, really, from the bottom of my heart.

So, uh, does anyone know where there's a Barnes & Noble around here?

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