Hoity Toity Brainscapades: Frankenstein edition

sad person under an tree at sunset handdrawn

I wrote yesterday about my first impressions of The Maze Runner and the concept of hoity toity brainscapades came up.

In addition to being fun to say, such brainscapades are one of the cornerstones of great literature, and they can become tiresome.

Frankenstein is a great example. It’s an engaging, primal sort of story about creation, arrogance, ambition, cruelty, and f*ing things up.

Basic plot (and SPOILERS for those who worry about such thing) is that Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster out of spare parts. The monster (contrary to popular culture) is very intelligent, articulate and perfectly aware of his monstrousness, and begs the doctor for a companion so he can hide away from the world without loneliness. Only at this point does the doctor get cold feet and run away from what he has done. The monster follows him and, in revenge, destroys everything he holds dear.

Much of the beauty of Frankenstein comes from brainscapades. The doctor first has to justify what he wants to do, then what he has done, and finally NOT doing what the monster asks of him. He goes back and forth making up ever more complex justifications while the world falls apart around him and innocents suffer for his arrogance.  The doctor is a highly intelligent man and None of his excuses are simple. Kudos to Mary Shelley for the beauty and complexity of his thoughts, as well as the underlying structure of the novel.

Yet when you strip the book of Frankenstein’s brainscapades, you are left with a violent and horrific story. Children are slaughtered. Innocents live in terror and then are killed through no fault of their own. And all this disaster comes from the arrogant choices of a blame-shifting jerk.

Hoity toity brainscapades mean that you never stare the horror full in the face but only catch it in fits and starts.

Awesome storytelling, no doubt, but not exactly straightforward.

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Maze Runner: first reactions

This is a darned good story. Sorry for the simplicity, but that’s my first reaction, heh. The author has a strong, character-based lead in, maintains an excellent tension, and doesn’t patronize his audience.

I really enjoy young adult literature (I think that when writing for younger audiences publishers/authors are less likely to get side tracked by hoity toity brainscapades and actually tell enjoyable stories from the get go) but it’s an easy trap to tell a simple, emotion-driven story that doesn’t pass muster if you think too hard.* The very beginning of Maze Runner started with a Thing that triggered my “lack of logic” alerts. Now that same Thing is a Major Plot Point in a really good way and I’m feeling very delighted. 

I’m only on Chapter Four-ish, so I’ll try to keep you updated as things progress. Spoilers will be under a cut when I can no longer speak super vaguely. 

(I’m listening to The Maze Runner on CD because of eye strain from work. Thank God for libraries. Also, I’m imagining Dylan O’Brian as Thomas because, while I have not seen the movies yet I loved him on Teen Wolf. I have consumed worse media for the sake of actors I enjoy [looking at you, Ghost Protocol])

*For the record, emotion driven stories that don’t make you think too hard are my comfort food and I love them a lot. 

Welcome! (again)

Books and a red box on a shelf

Welcome once again to ye old writing blog. Last I posted anything was better than year ago but I’m going to give it another shot and see if it sticks. 

(A writer should write things, shouldn’t she?)

What you’ll find here should be an eclectic mix of things (book reviews, movie reviews, writing commentary, random observations, a hefty dose of musing on the nature and practice of faith) but all roughly writing related. Then again, I personally believe that the nature of humanity is in large part defined by the stories we tell of ourselves, so that’s a fairly broad topic.

The super short summary of my recent life is that I was a creative writing major at a Most Excellent Institute, lived in Spain for a couple years after that, and then worked in Catholic  youth ministry for a bit. I currently write things for an Industry. Woot!