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"the universe wants to be noticed"

In the past several weeks I've been reading a bunch:
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente
Under Wildwood, Colin Meloy
Stormbreaker & Point Blank, the first two Alex Rider books, by Anthony Horowitz
Sway (the first ibook i ever tried...better than i'd hoped), Amber Mcree Turner
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Research, yeah, but sometimes I find the books I select mirror some internal process, and this past year has been bombarded by rites of passage. Losing things and finding more.

My grandfather died, and I lost the first person I've ever missed. And later, Carter died without my knowing he was sick, and so I missed the passing of someone I loved but had already lost. I fell in love with Fuzzykins McGrath...finding the one I've always missed, and hope I'll never lose. I made a world with some of the most talented people I've ever had the honor to meet, and then somewhere along the way I lost track of most of them. It's been a rollercoaster, so the books of going into the dark unders and insides help me keep that bright end-of-tunnel light in mind. It makes me realize that happiness is like the superficial sweetness of sugar, and fulfillment more like the layered, vibrant, murky flavors of honey - there is more to be had in depth.

Each of the books has made an impression.

Valente's second act was impressive if only for the glaring fact that she's a prolific and imaginative young writer (and I better get cracking if I wanna be published before death). Also, I love September, who does not flinch at uncertainty or call for mommy. I will be reading the story of Queen Mallow.

I was happy to be surprised by Under Wildwood, also a sequel, also a second act in the underworld (obvs). But this one, rather than resolving smoothly--fairytale-ish--at the end, barely spits us out on the eve of an ever-worsening disaster. There are many victories, but the war is still on. More like a Reloaded, where you leave feeling the tension of uncertainty. Suddenly, we recognize ourselves as denizens of that same part-real, part-imagined life that seems to lead us, only to leave us befuddled in the midst of things we're not really sure we can handle. Wtf, life?! Mr. Meloy, I anxiously await your next authorly escapade.

I'm gathering profiles for my next adventure into the phallic realm. (what?! no, I'm not talking about porn!) And as a young Bond with an almost-man complex, Alex Rider is about as phallocentric as it gets - the author actually refers to plane and car make and model numbers, like we know wtf he's talking about! And though the all-knowing marketers will be flabbergasted, I have to say I love a good gun-filled romp. Maybe these books aren't brilliant or inspired, but they are impeccably paced and riveting: I've finished both in under 36 hours (life, be damned)! And Alex rides a bike everywhere in kinda guy!

Sway... I cried through most of this book, even though it's actually hilarious. It was just so touching, so charming, so...innocent and accepting. What is it about the american south that--like Africa or India--escapes the philosophical sterility of modernity and globalization? There is another (much better) book called Swamplandia! that I love and have still not read the last 30-50 pages of, which better illustrates the synthesis of conventional reality, mundane existence, and human cruelty with a (spiritual?) whimsical worldview. The metaphors have a literal weight. The unlikely is possible. I guess there was this in Huck Finn, or Their Eyes Were Watching God. Does this have a name?

And this brings me to The Fault In Our Stars. I need to think about it, I guess. What I can say is: read it. What I can't say is whether or not it's deep and meaningful, or whether--because it's about cancer--it's just a book about cancer. Just two teens in love. But then, I guess regardless of the circumstances, one third of all stories are written about two teens in love (the other two thirds go to Heroes of all sorts). Anyway, it's John Green that says, "I think the universe wants to be noticed." And I agree.

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