Stephanie Meyer, Twilight

Why yes, yes, I actually have read Stephanie Meyer's blockbuster Twilight. What's your point, and what surprises you about this? I even enjoyed it -- does that surprise you?

I'd been pondering whether to include it in a graduate course on West Coast literature, though it's a tough thing to consider wisely without having read the novel, and after watching the DVD on the mammoth 13" screen of my laptop. Well, now I've read it, and while I'm no closer to a decision, a few things do come to mind as I continue the standard (ie, interminable) academic pondering.

First, Stephanie Meyer has a good feel for suspense, in the ways that teenagers feel their lives deeply and painfully from one moment to the next: angst has rarely felt so important as it does here. (Is Twilight this generation's Catcher in the Rye? Discuss.)

Second, Stephanie Meyer isn't bashful about riding a horse until the legs fall off. If it's worth once drawing our attention to the narrator Bella's skipping heartbeat in the presence of vampire Edward, it's worth drawing our attention there a dozen times. (For any hockey fans reading, it's like the way stories about athletic commitment tend to include snide -- but brief -- references to Kyle Wellwood's tum.)

Third, the narrative really does depend in fascinating ways on the specific landscape and meteorology of the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State. Meyer's not entirely accurate about the weather, but she's plugged into local (or at least regional) views of Olympic weather, and that's a big deal to me. Place matters.

Fourth, well, suspense and angst work pretty well for teenage literature. Did I mention that already? (Is Twilight this generation's Little House on the Prairie? Discuss.)

And kudos, by the way, for whoever the heck turned this 500-page novel into a screenplay and movie, because the changes flat-out worked on screen, and the book was respected in the transition. For good or ill, the movie was faithful to the book.

And now I'm off to recover my faithfulness to small presses....


richard said…
In retrospect, I see that I didn't remark that the book offers nothing but suspense and angst. It does those two things really well -- though not much else.

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