Kristen and Rob: Please Stay Together!!!

This is kind of an embarrassing question to ask, but is anyone else a little heartbroken over the Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson debacle of this week? Seriously, if I read one more article about him moving out, or them not speaking then I am breaking out the sweat pants and ice-cream and putting the television permanently on Lifetime. Although don’t worry, I won’t be making any tearful youtube videos, like this one. (You won’t be sorry for clicking on the link, it is hilarious).

If Twilight taught me anything about myself, it was that I am a person who loves hype. I don’t understand people who didn’t read Harry Potter because “everyone else was doing it.” Apologies to all anti-peer pressure commercials, but if everyone else is doing it, then it probably is fun.

The Bella/Edward obsession is no exception. It might not be well written, and it is kind of creepy – but it compelled me to keep reading. And Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of that relationship kept me going to the movies. People can nay-say all they want, but there is something in the writing and the performance that resonates with people, otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular. But another thing that made it fun was the hype. The fact that millions of other people were also reading and watching and talking about it; that what you were reading was on the front page of every magazine in the grocery store checkout aisle.

That’s what made the Kristen and Rob relationship a fan’s dream. Edward and Bella were eternally in the checkout aisle, but with better clothes, funnier jokes and equally good hair. First they wouldn’t confirm they were in a relationship, then Rob joked to Oprah that they were having a baby and the next thing you knew they were living together.

Somehow, the hype surround Kristen cheating, and Rob moving out hasn’t been as fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the characteristic drama (her public apology) and the real time updates (thank you – but it makes me really sad to think these hollywood soul mates might not make it through. And that makes me feel very very silly.

If you haven’t been following the scandal as closely as me (i.e. you aren’t a crazy person) here is the timeline:

  • Wednesday morning: posts that sources have confirmed Kristen had an affair with her Snow White director. The web explodes with disbelief. See this (since updated) article telling us to take a breath, because it may not have happened.
  • By lunchtime, with uncharacteristic speed, Kristen issues a public apology to Rob, calling him “the person I love and respect the most.”
  • Within an hour Rupert Sanders, the 41-year-old director, issues a public apology to his wife and two kids.
  • That night, Rob leaves the home he shares with Kristen carrying a suitcase.
  • Everyone and their mother takes to the internet to speculate, mourn and criticize the situation.
  • Today reports that Kristen and Rob are not speaking to each other.
  • Alison writes confessional blog post instead of writing in her diary, slightly exaggerating in order to satirize her true pain. Then feels bad she’s more concerned with the 20 something celebrities instead of the married couple. Then feels concerned that she is referring to herself in 3rd person.

Do you think you have to be crazy to be a great writer?

I’d like to answer no, but there is some evidence to the contrary. I think to argue that all authors, or all good/great authors, have been crazy would be a huge misstatement. However, it does seem like a larger proportion of “the greats” have suffered from some form of mental illness.

Going to Smith College, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf come to mind. Their struggles with clinical depression are well documented by biographers and within their work, and their suicides are well known.  This initially made me wonder if the craziness (for lack of a more sensitive term) stemmed from gender – perhaps from the lack of a room of one’s own. Then I remembered the similar ending of the hyper masculine Hemingway, and brushed that though aside.

Addiction, another form of mental illness in my mind, plagues man authors. Think of the Beats or the Romantic poets. Stephen King is a professed recovering coke addict – and even Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde while on cocaine. Hunter S. Thompson said, “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs, or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

Many think Kafka had serious personality disorders, and others have diagnosed him with anorexia nervosa. Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, George Eliot, and Tennessee Williams are all thought to have suffered from clinical depression. Drinking out of an old scull was one of the sanest things English poet Byron ever did. Seriously read Young Romantics if you doubt me – he used to stage actual batters between his servants and when his boarding school instated a no dog rule, he brought a bear into the dormitories as a pet. And Edgar Allen Poe … enough said.

If you accept the hypotheses, the question becomes are crazies better writers or does writing drive people crazy? Or maybe both.

I think most of my writing teachers have supported both statements. Almost all repeat that writing is not a happy profession, that it will wreck you. And although there is lots of angst about recognition, and publishing, and money – I tended to think they meant the actual act of devoting the majority of your time to writing was the miserable part. To be fair they all wrote about pretty miserable topics, but they might have been caught up in the “write what you know” quandary.

A poetry professor told me I either needed to start using illegal drugs or have an affair with an older man before my poetry would get better. After a weekend trip to Amsterdam that semester, I quickly discounted his advice. I think I’ve done my best writing while feeling very mentally sound and comfortable, but I still obviously haven’t gotten rid of the connection between great writing and insanity.

To be fair, I kind of think everyone, or at least everyone I know well, is at least a little bit insane. Again, that might say more about me then them?

Also interesting, is judgments people make on each other, when it comes to their favorite authors. I was part amused part horrified by this Huffington Post Books slideshow on favorite books that make you undateable. Seriously, what is wrong with liking the Great Gatsby?

What do you think –

  • Are crazy people better writers?
  • Can you think of some authors to negate my gross simplification?
  • And most importantly, are there books that would make someone undateable?

Gilt: A Tudor Lover’s Guilty Pleasure

I’ve read a lot of books that take place in King HenryVIII’s court, and almost none of them have been about Catherine Howard. There is a reason for this. Young adult books focus on the Henry’s children. Romances and historical fiction tend to focus on his adult relationships: his marriages and mistresses. No one knows what to do with the king’s child bride, Catherine Howard. Their obviously sexual relationship seems too adult for young readers and to creepy to be titillating. For these reasons I was surprised when Katherine Longshore embraced this under written queen in her YA novel “Gilt”.

Howard’s plain best friend Kitty Tylney (was everyone in the court named Catherine or Katherine?) narrates this story. From their scandalous behavior in the home of Howard’s aunt to playing adults in the King’s courtKitty is perpetually in her friend’s shadow. Kitty is instantly set up as a sympathetic character, but her vacillation between friendly devotion and jealous disapproval get old quickly. No one likes a goodie goodie.

Where Longshore succeeds, or at least achieves the unthinkable, is that she populates the novel with several amorous encounters even more creepy than that of the smelly old king and tween Catherine Howard.Culpepper, a character from history I have always imagined as genial, stands out as particularly sadistic and controlling.

The book wasn’t bad. It was a pretty good Tudor novel.However, it seemed to prove the reason this story isn’t often portrayed. Howard is not a relatable character. Kitty is too righteous to be interesting. With a known ending (divorced, beheaded, she died, divorced, beheaded, survived) there is a high amount of unpleasantness accompanied by little to no tension.

If you are a diehard Tudor fan, go ahead and try it. Otherwise you can probably give this one a miss.

***I am out-of-town, in Boston for a bridal shower, but will add some links when I get back. Hope everyone is having a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Marry, Date or Dump: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore

Today we travel deep into the hundred acre woods. If you think it is strange to picture dating a personified stuffed animal, I don’t blame you …. but we probably can’t be friends. List which character you would marry, date and dump in the comments section – feel free to throw in opinions on other characters from the books.