*The Pointless Writer*
has a life you're completely uninterested in. But it's okay because I can write. No abbreviations. No shoddy grammar (though I'm not immune to mistakes). Just quality writing on sometimes completely pointless topics.
UnPoints of Note
1. I write when fancy takes. Sometimes, fancy takes many months of leave.
Snapshots of Society: Train Rides
She sits, the perfect picture of this generation. Her eyebrows are furrowed slightly, her gaze cast upon a small rectangular screen I cannot see. What is so intriguing about this tiny oblong creature, whose back is red outlined in grey? A cherry red that lacks sufficient brightness to be named thus, the product of this generation with its artificial processes of colour and material creation. A matte red too bright to be named thus also, decorated with an insignia I never get to see clearly. A crest? White with a horse, shadowed by the angle at which she holds this precious pet, enabling her to admire with reverence its visage. Though why she worships it so I do not know since it only causes her to frown.
She fidgets every so often, tilting her head in various directions, far enough that it looks to put an uncomfortable strain on her neck and spine but not so far as to cause immediately noticeable discomfort when her attention is diverted from the well being of her body to the device. Her fingers wrap and unwrap around her device, sometimes possessively clutching it in two hands, sometimes only in one. Her right hand never leaves contact with the matte cherry red. The oblong acts as a mobile stage, pivoting forward and back as her fingers adjust themselves, breaking out of each plateau to dance their next step. Her index finger now wrapped gently about the grey edge, now elegantly outstretched with only the padding of her fingertip against the furry-coloured grey that is actually smooth rubber.
The persistent movement, small though it is, renders her hard to sketch as shadows dance across the entire portrait.
Two friends, so similar yet so different. Friends? Perhaps they aren't. Both attired in dark jeans and black tees. Perhaps they are merely acquaintances, travelling companions, moving to or from some event they are both involved in. Probably the former, as we travel toward the city centre. But I could be wrong.
No matter the event. Perhaps they are friends regardless. Similar taste in hair: two heads of rich dark copper brown hair, artificially coloured with man-made chemicals. A fashionable colour in some circles. Newly coloured, lacking the initial sprouting of black that betrays the hair colour we are born with and the time of our last colour job. Both clutch phones.
But so very different in their approaches to life. One ceases staring at his phone only to complain loudly and vulgarly (vulgar in manner though not in language) to the other. I do not bother listening to his complaints, which sound inconsequential, as so often happens when one is unpleasant about things. His upper lip twitches, revealing his teeth. There is something incredibly feral and coarse about such an action, small as it is. But rather than make him look predatory as it would a lion or defensive as it would a dog, it combines with other fine muscular movements on his face - a twitch of his upper cheek muscle changing the contour of his eye, the tugging down of his lower lip asymmetrically, the pulling of his jaw muscles - to form a smirk. A smirk that betrays overtones and undertones of his character and his view of the world. How people mistreat him and people are ridiculous and he is superior in his unstupidity.The other, friend or no, is silent. His eyes a little vacant. Bored. His chin is slenderer, the product of a gently sloping jaw, a contrast to the hard angles of the first's jaw made harder by their tense set. His lips neither upturned nor down-turned. He listens silently to the first's complaint, if he listens at all, offering no sympathy or disagreement. Almost a statue carved from flesh. No thoughts can be seen on his face at all. No character defining or revealing muscular twitches. His eyes are glazed as he continues watching his screen noncommittally. The mystery of this mid- to late-adolescent is solved when he closes his eyes and goes to sleep.
The first remains awake, turned away from the second as if in a sulk that he does not agree emphatically about whatever he has just complained about, typing angrily with an almost vicious pleasure into his phone.
A mother and her son. Perfect picture of attentiveness, for a split second anyway. The son's face turned up towards the mother, glowing where the sun gently flows, in shadow where his nose forms a natural screen from the light. Just enough light to make an angel, and just enough dark to make a secret. The mother's left arm up on the edge of the seat (where chair meets train window, clear and forever changing as the landscapes shift) and her other hand in her lap, her whole spine curved away from her child to bring her face closer to him - her hair falls, framing her face, blocking her face, as she whispers a secret love.
In actuality, she is trying to get him to repeat a certain word, but he is a spirited, lively child and spews a string of other words instead.
They lose each other's attention. The boy, having finished reciting his alphabet hastily with his mother's prompting, turns. Now his behind faces us, in a swift pivot only children are skilled at with their young bones and smallness in an adult-sized world. Torso straight up from his knees as he watches the quickly passing world outside, his calves forming an imperfect right angle with the rest of himself, tapering off into little feet that don't quite make it to hanging off his seat. His younger sister (or brother?) to his other side, seated docilely in a helper's lap, bores of her docility and reaches over to touch the soles of her brother's shoes, now upturned.
The mother, who seems inattentive as she stares at her mobile phone, eyebrows slightly furrowed, instantly reaches out with a hushed exclamation of higher middle range. High enough to express surprise and low enough not to disturb other passengers. She wraps her hand around her daughter's hand, wiping off dirt (ineffectively). The boy turns from his world gazing, "What?" Always eager for new action, new stories, new worlds. The situation is explained to him and his body completes its pivot, swiftly swinging his behind back onto the seat. He touches his sister affectionately, left hand gently prodding her at an indiscriminate spot whilst his right leg remains folded onto his seat, betraying his desire to pivot back and watch the outside world, contradicting his left leg, which hangs almost limply off his seat to facilitate his contact with his sister.The boy bores of his non-verbal sister and turns to get his mother's attention. As before, she seems inattentive, her eyes glued to a tiny screen, but the oblique angle her torso makes with her seat shows otherwise. Though she occupies herself with a digital barrage of information, her femininely crossed legs point her feet towards her children as comfortably as they can whilst her back seeks no comfort in the chair, instead facing another passenger, all so she can watch her children out of the corner of her eye. Her son's hand lands on her arm, but already his eyes are elsewhere! Such scarce attention is found in the young. She rebuffs him softly, gently. "Later"? I can't quite catch her words. He doesn't fuss, dropping his hand to her lap to maintain contact and allow his eyes to drift further. His lips are parted slightly, smooth and shiny puckers of pink-skinned flesh. A little cherub.
And he is a cherub indeed! As close to one as you will find in a real child. Attentive and yet dreamy, affectionate, well-behaved. A true angel for one gets to enjoy the spunk and willfulness of a young child - the way he doesn't sit in his seat the way he's supposed to - without being over-frustrated because he doesn't resist extravagantly - no screaming for attention. And perhaps this is simply because his mother provides sufficient attention, despite the picture of distraction the phone in her right hand provides. He knows she will listen to him when it is important, as we can infer from the quick response to the dirtying of her daughter's hand no matter the otherworld she gazes at.
Confessions of an ugly Stepsister
“So what books are you going to read now our holidays have come?”
None at all, I told my friend with a strange laugh I have never heard myself emit. Strangled, strangely incredulous, altogether unexpected. Perhaps it was a portent of its innate untruth for, barely a day later, I retracted my reply: having more time on my hands during the interim provided by job-hunting, I’d attempted to write a review of Iron Man 3 and discovered that all my non-music vocabulary had just about upped and died. Now, having finished the book, the English language centre in my brain is up and running again, and words flow with delicious ease, in much the same manner as wind blows and waterfalls... fall.I stumbled across Confessions of an ugly Stepsister by way of its author, Gregory Maguire, who happened to write Wicked, the book that inspired the identically named Broadway hit musical. A story inspired by Cinderella? Irresistible. Completely original and novel work is great, but, sometimes, a remake of an old tale is better. For one thing, it gives readers (and viewers, because this principle applies to movies as well) a guide of sorts. Everyone loves fairy tales. They are the food of the soul, the building blocks of childhood, the dream makers and character growers. Beast turns out to be a cursed prince, who metamorphosizes from arrogant to chivalrous in the course of the story, thanks to the witch, who could admittedly do with new methods of teaching; Cinderella spins a tale of hope and dreams in the midst of a dreary situation; and Thumbelina infuses strength and bravery in the little ones as they face the larger world.*
So I grabbed my paperback copy of Confessions of an ugly Stepsister from the nearest library, curious as to Maguire's take on a famous fairy tale. He didn't disappoint. From the start, the characters in the book are developed so independently that, when the novel started converging to the original tale, I was almost disappointed. Each character is so real and so ingeniously reinvented that I can scarcely believe he took any inspiration from the tale at all. The original tale is merely old skin, barely clinging to the story which has shed it in favour of a larger, more complex form. It in no way defines the novel, suggesting only a shadow that pales in comparison with the subtle colours and contours of the actual tale. All the main characters are there, redefined in name, character, and origin, along with many others. It is this closeness yet distance which makes the read so delicious.
The use of the present tense throughout the book sets a more realistic stage than I ever thought possible. I was sucked into the story on every browning page, privy to Iris' (the titled stepsister's) inmost thoughts and reflections--her fancies, her self doubt, her fears--and living them with her. No longer a spectator looking upon past secrets, but secrets that are here and now. Meanwhile, the skillful use of sentence fragments paints a picture in a way it seems whole sentences do not. I was forced to see, in my mind's eye, each detail as Iris saw it. And this makes the stage all the more real, for we do not think in sentences or structure what we see as we see it. We add the frame after catching the details in poor grammatical fragments.
Ever the optimist and always desiring my happy ending, I must confess the book did not leave the best taste in my mouth. I hoped for the realization of the dream, even after all the ugliness in these characters' lives. But Maguire is not Disney, and I am in a way thankful for that (for Disney does not deliver such compelling lives), and the book ends in his way, which I cannot complain about. The dream is incomplete, and what stands is not detailed as I had desired, but it's okay. Isn't that life?
*The writer refers to Disney versions.