Paper Grenades

Tear apart the pages

This Side of Paradise, Russell Brand and Writing

I know! It’s been FAR too long since my last post! Unfortunately I’ve been tied down with work, and I’ve spent the last month trying to read “This Side of Paradise” by F.S. Fitzgerald. Let me tell you now, every time someone has asked me what I’m reading I’ve had to say “This Side of Paradise, by the author of The Great Gatsby.” It’s shocking how many people can recognise and hype up a book, and not even recognise the author!

So..what do I think of this book? I love it. I reached the end last night, and after an hour of school discussing politics and Russell Brand’s controversial views, which lead to a heated debate, the ending of This Side of Paradise fit right in. Personally, I’m one of those society hating people that can easily find the flaws in our culture, systems and the thought processes in the general human race. That sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is I think…

Towards the end of the book, I felt almost as if Fitzgerald himself was speeding up, spiralling as Amory Blaine was. It’s as if so much is happening and all these conclusions are being drawn all at once and suddenly Amory is waking up. This brings me to Russell Brand. I won’t quote exactly, but I can recall him saying that we shouldn’t vote, we shouldn’t participate in this illusion of change when nothing is happening. He says in an interview with Paxman, “Aren’t you tired?” and how we should all “wake up” and I feel as if, towards the end of the novel, Amory was waking up and seeing how things actually are. It was quite crazy in my head in all honesty, with all these ideas spiralling around in my head so late in the night. One part of me is actually quite disappointed that I had to finish such a truly brilliant book so late in the night when the letters on the page were starting to get blurry.

I cannot stress enough how brilliant this book was. I think I ended up highlighting half of the book because of the amount of insightful quotes I was able to draw from it. My personal favourite, though it certainly can’t be taken to be the best, is when a character says “Success has completely conventionalised you.” I felt it just fit brilliantly with this society that tries to fit everyone into categories. I think it also reflects pretty poorly on society if the same flaws being written about 60 years ago can still be related to now. We need a change! I’m still quite influenced by Russell Brand, and so I have to say, a revolution sounds wonderful.

Also this week was Review Day in school, where 2 days are spent without lessons and there are activities and appointments with form tutors to set a number of targets. It’s a reflective process. I’m quite horrified and disappointed with myself, because one of latest targets is to “read more books to improve my writing skills.” Though the other 2 girls that sat with me disagreed and told me it was quite a ridiculous target, and told me I was the best at English anyway, I feel I don’t quite deserve that reputation. Recently, I haven’t found the time to read, nor the time to write. And as a result, I feel everything is deteriorating. The fact that it took me almost a month to read one novel alone is proof enough of this.

I start reading Divergent today, as it’s been recommended to me so many times, I’ve decided to take it up. Amongst all my other work, I’m hoping to find some time to write as well. I’m sorry my posts haven’t been so frequent, but I’m hoping I’ll have more to say when I do post!

Let me know what you think of this post, your opinions on Russell Brand’s ideas, and if you’ve read the book! I’m counting on everyone having read The Great Gatsby, I feel it’s one of those books you just HAVE to read, but it’s important to read more of Fitzgerald’s books. Opinions, opinions, opinions, I’d love to hear anything you have to say 🙂

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Opinions and Author Influences

First off, my apologies, I know I said I’d update every Friday, every second Friday, but I’ve been dreadful with that, I know. Unfortunately, I underestimated how busy my life could be. While I’ve been away, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (big surprise there!) and I’ve been talking to people who are conflicted, struggling with their opinions and thoughts and it’s all been quite though provoking. Today I’d like to talk about this one girl in particular. Before I say anything else, she is not an angst ridden teenager. She’s intelligent, with her head screwed on right, but just struggling to place her views into context with the rest of her life. This girl reads a lot of classics, controversial books and philosophy books, she’s gaining an understanding. This girl listened to Nirvana, not for their music, but so she could find out about Kurt Cobain, and then she started watching interviews, listening to what he had to say and why he said it, and she’s decided they share the same views. This girl writes for hours and hours when she goes home because she has so many thoughts on so many things. She’s a popular girl that everyone talks to but she has a hatred for society and people making idle conversation. She says she’s a hypocrite for hating these things but living like she does, and she doesn’t know how to make her life fit her opinions I suppose.

Why am I telling you all this on a blog supposedly to do with literature? For starters, she’s interesting, perceptive, I wanted to tell you about her. But that isn’t just it. One thing that impresses me about this girl, who shall remain unnamed, is how much she reads, and writes and looks things up. I think it’s something that is very important. You know, I was planning on making a post about how writers may be taking away our creativity and actually influencing us so much that we aren’t making our own opinions, but after talking to this girl a lot today, I think this can be a good thing. Sure, being well rounded, in the sense of reading about a variety of different points of views, is important. But I think it’s also important to develop your own understanding of yourself and your own opinions through the way that it’s reflected through other people’s writing. Note what I just said. When you read a book, it is someone else’s writing, someone else’s point of view, someone else’s opinion.

Has anyone else noticed how authors are almost turning into celebrities. No, not almost, they are. Take John Green, we from the younger generation love him and his books. J.K. Rowling. Stephen Chbosky. Veronica Roth. Sarah Dessen. People are aware of the authors of their favourite books, and they read about them as much as they read their books. Of course this is good to some extent, but is it making us idealise these writers? Isn’t it making them a little bit harder to be in common with?

At the end of the day, writers are people. They write books about things in their heads, publish them, and then we read them and sometimes decide we agree with their heads. All very well and good. But continuously doing so isn’t right I think. You don’t take on everything a person tells you in a conversation and apply it to yourself. The same applies here. Writers may present what they’re saying more effectively, more romantically, making it all seem ever so poetic. But regardless, it is their view. Take it into consideration, you might agree with all of it, but don’t stop there. It’s important to read, but read a lot, read a wide category. And then form your own opinions, don’t just take theirs.

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

The Odd Land of Me

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Hi guys! How has your week been going? Mine has been great, although sleepy and boring. I am so happy to announce that I was awarded the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, thank you soooo much This Is Me For All Its Worth! These are the rules:

  1. Display the Award on your Blog.
  2. Announce your win with a post and thank the Blogger who awarded you.
  3. Present 15 deserving Bloggers with the Award.
  4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
  5. Write seven interesting things about you.

Here are the wonderful bloggers I would like to award:

  1. The Duck and the Owl
  2. Eat Read and Glam
  3. What Comes Next
  4. Beauty In Beta
  5. Travel With Intent 
  6. Prior House
  7. Fox and Rook 
  8. Apartment Wife
  9. Top Knots and Polkadots
  10. A Blast of Random
  11. Oscar Potterhead
  12. Silver Linings Project
  13. Fat Ballerina 
  14. Pearls and Lace
  15. Word Crusher 

Yeah!! Now moving…

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Are We All Trapped In Paper Towns?

Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came after, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

Paper Towns is by far one of my most favourite books, and the funny thing about this is that every time I read it, I was spotting everything that was wrong with Quentin Jacobsen. It might seem a little odd to dislike the main character of your favourite book, but with Paper Towns, that was the point. John Green wrote this book after, and I quote, “seeing people idealise (and thereby dehumanise) the people they were romantically interested in.” Whilst researching for this blog post, I looked up a lot of other people’s opinions on Paper Towns, and about half of the people writing after reading Paper Towns seemed to miss the point. I heard a lot of how great Margo was, and how much she inspired people. It’s great that fictional characters can do that, but did these people really miss how this perception of Margo was just Quentin?

That quote up top, the one about mysteries, is one that I read a lot. I see it people’s blogs and it seems like a universally liked quote, but personally, I think it highlights Q’s issues with idealisation. Why do we assume that a person is a mystery just because we don’t understand them? A mystery is something that is difficult to understand or define, yes, but why is this such a big deal? I would feel pretty insulted if someone understood every aspect of me and felt they could define me. We’re all mysteries, constantly changing, with layers to us that no one person will know all about. Margo might be a mystery, but that makes her no different to anyone else.

It isn’t just Q’s misunderstanding about understanding people that is an issue, there are other breadcrumbs through the books that I feel just really reflect how many people perceive other people, regardless of whether it’s their romantic interest or not. One thing that Q says that really had me seething (well not quite but the effect is quite nice) was “Margo herself was – at least part of the time – very unMargo.”  Now tell me, why is Margo unlike herself only when she doesn’t fit Q’s perception of her? Is he saying that Margo is only the person that he perceives, and anything else, anything that he did not know is not her? Why is she only Margo when she is something that other people understand? The whole assumption that we will understand people, that we can predict what they’re going to do and who they are is ridiculous. Unless Q has walked around in Margo’s skin, as Harper Lee would say, he has no right to say she is behaving unlike herself.

Though, whilst I know ripping into Quentin like this probably doesn’t seem all too fair, he does start to redeem himself later on in the book. He says at one point that he “needed to discover what Margo was like when she wasn’t being Margo.”  There are things wrong with this, and I could start explaining how wrong this misled teenage boy is, but I’m going to go for the positive instead. At this point, Q has not yet come to the realisation that he doesn’t know Margo at all, he knows this idealised girl that isn’t real, but this quote shows how  he’s starting to realise that there were parts of Margo that weren’t in the image of Margo he knew. It’s important.

I think one of the most interesting and perceptive things that Q says is, “as if the idea of kissing Cassie Hiney felt better than actually kissing her ever could.” Now, he may be describing his very drunk best friend, but it is so very relevant. He doesn’t pick up on it, it’s one of those sentences that is there for the reader more than the characters in the story. That sentence is a representation of how the idea of someone is more than them, that we build up ideas in our heads and they get better and better and the reality of it is so simple.

My blog title, is a question I’m slightly concerned by. Are we all trapped in paper towns? I read a lot of reviews and a lot of opinions about this book, I listen to a lot of people generally, and I’m concerned that there are a lot of people like Q. I know I used to assume things about people to fill in the gaps, not crazy wild things, just the gaps in their personalities. But after a year or so of my best friend telling me to stop assuming things, I stopped. I never assume anything. And a boy that I’m quite close to is a lot like Q in some aspects, in that he likes this idea of a girl he doesn’t know, and it’s interesting because the idea he has is the opposite of who she is. He has snapshots, a few conversations, seeing her from a distance, and he has filled in the gaps and made himself the ideal person, but I am someone that knows this person, and knows how wrong he is.

So tell me, all you paper girls and paper boys, do you live in paper towns? Are you living in a world made of illusions and ideas that are far away from reality? Is it something you do on purpose, or like Quentin Jacobsen, have you simply not yet opened your eyes? It’s painful to think Margo thought she was the paper girl, because everyone perceived her differently to who she was, when she was the only real one there. Paper Towns is an eye opener, and it’s definitely a book I’d recommend, that’s why I made sure to include no spoilers. We live in a paper world, and we’re trapped in hopes and aspirations and ideas, and we’re all floating away on clouds sometimes, tell me if you’re someone with your feet on the ground.

Curiosity killed the cat, but let’s risk it

Well it probably seems like I’ve popped up out of nowhere sounding like I know exactly what I’m doing. Well, let’s get this straight: I do know exactly what I’m doing, I’ve blogged before, and this is my latest blog. So to begin with, I’m going to tell you what you’re letting yourselves in for.

This is not a window into my life – I don’t like nosy people. Nor is it a method of ranting, or anything personal at all really. This is about everything going on in the literary world, and my take on it. You’ll find that I’m a cynical analyst who is aiming to make you rethink at least a little about your favourite books.

One thing you should know: I’m not going to abandon you, nor will my uploads be infrequent or inconsistent. My next post will be next Friday, and no, I won’t tell you what it’s on – there is a limit to how much you can risk you know.

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