IT’S A DOUBLE POST!! YAY!!
Last week was a pretty stellar week (in terms of reading) for me – 4 books in 1 week!
Hideous Love – Stephanie Hemphill
“From Stephanie Hemphill, author of the Printz Honor winner Your Own, Sylvia and the acclaimed novel Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, comes the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, most famous for the classic Frankenstein.
An all-consuming love affair with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a family torn apart by scandal, a young author on the brink of greatness: Hideous Love is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature, a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.
This luminous verse novel reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.”
First of all, the fact that it was written in free verse was mind-blowing. Hemphill managed to tell the story in short choppy sentences that still held an enormous amount of detail.
Also, I had been under the impression that Mary Shelley had written Frankenstein in one night (which depressed me for like a week because how can you compete with something like that), but it turns out it took her months to work it out and write it and then get it published (anonymously, at first). Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Mary Shelley’s life before reading this, but it seems to be historically accurate (based on the amount of sources and recommended readings at the back of the book). Fun AND educational! It totally made me want to re-read Frankenstein which I read a few years ago and hated because it didn’t meet my expectations at all. But now, knowing the kind of life Mary Shelley led (plus having a deeper appreciation for classic literature compared to first year), maybe I’ll appreciate it more?
I have to say, though, I wanted to punch Percy Shelley in the face (I realize he’s long gone and is more famous than I’ll ever be, but still!) because Mary was completely devoted to him and he was – for lack of a better word – a skirt-chaser. I haven’t really read any Shelley poetry though, so maybe his words make up for his questionable actions? Probably.
Hideous Love took me just over a day to read (I read the first 200 pages in an hour and a half), and I moved on to my 4th book of the week:
Hard Core Logo – Michael Turner
This was the cover of the copy I read (which my brother-in-law lent me), but Amazon shows the latest version.
“Hard Core Logo is an epistolary novel that portrays a punk rock band reunited for one last shot at glory.
Adapting a scrapbook approach, consisting of monologues, conversations, letters, interviews, photographs, and related paraphernalia (including posters, invoices and contracts), Hard Core Logo tells the story of Joe Dick, an unrepentant, true-blue punk rocker, whose no-holds-barred approach to music was severely undermined by the breakup of his band, Hard Core Logo, done in by changing times and fortunes. However, when he and the band are asked by a longtime fan to reunited for an environmental benefit, his passions are once again stirred, and he convinces his bandmates to turn the one-time reunion into an actual tour.
The book provides a fascinating, warts-and-all glimpse into the life and times of a rock band, and the dichotomy between the grim realities of life on the road, and the rock’n’roll spirit that inspired them in the first place.”
While Hideous Love was all about the free verse, Hard Core Logo was told in – as the Amazon summary puts in – “a scrapbook approach”. Once again, you got the full story with tons of details, but it wasn’t written in the traditional way. I’ve always loved the epistolary form (I think the first time I tried to write a novel, it was in diary form. I was 12, so it probably wasn’t very good and I gave up somewhere around chapter 3).
For someone who is as obsessed with music as I am, it’s always fascinating to read anything from a musician’s point of view. And I felt like this was a good way to read about a band’s reunion – it’s written in such a way you almost feel like you’re witnessing the whole thing for yourself instead of just reading about it. I compared it to my attitude surrounding Fall Out Boy’s “reunion” last February – I devoured every single article I could find. Though, of course, since Hard Core Logo takes place in the early 90’s (it was written in 1993), the band had to wait until they were actually on tour before they could really see how people were taking the news.
I think that’s part of what makes it so interesting, to read it 20 years later and juxtapose how HCL fans reacted compared to how – for example – FOB fans reacted. Pretty much the same way, I think, except HCL fans couldn’t take to the Internet for a collective freakout.
Plus, the inter-band tension was marvelously well-done – you could see where it was taking them but at the same time, you kinda hoped they’d keep it together enough, for the fans’ sakes.
Apparently a movie was made, but I feel like there’s some irony to that, since Hard Core Logo was all “we’re punk rock, screw the mainstream media!”. Like, I understand they don’t actually exist, but still…it seems ironic.