Lost in Translation

I’m a clunkhead.

I don’t mean that in terms of, “I’m a complete and utter idiot”…I mean it in terms of “I’m too damn literal for my own good.”

This afternoon, I signed on for a “blogathon” about two movies of the author’s choice (the results of which you may see on here before the opening day—September 12). And then I looked at some of the reviews/discussions on the site running the blogathon. Like so many other times, I think, “Wow…I must be too damn literal…I can’t get the symbolism of anything unless someone else mentions it first.”

You would think that, having been through Advanced Placement English in high school, I would be an old pro at things like symbolism, motifs, Román a clefs¹, bildungsromans and other fancy-ass literary terms.

That would be a no.

See, when I was in high school, the prerequisite for AP English (besides decent grades and departmental approval) was World Literature, British Literature or Advanced Composition—and it really only should’ve been the latter. The first time I ran into a question about red herrings in AP English, I said, “What’s that? (Besides maybe food?)” We didn’t discuss anything like that in World Lit, so I was in over my head. Symbolism, yeah…my classes have discussed that sort of thing for years, but I’m the sort of person who hears student A say something about symbolism in a book, cottons on and then raises her hand to possibly contribute something else.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, “Don’t expect anything magical when it comes to comparing/contrasting movies for the Juxtaposition Blogathon, because you’ll surely be disappointed.” (And if you haven’t already figured out that I’m going to compare two James Remar movies, you might be extremely disappointed, anyway!)

Seriously, I can’t even figure out the symbolism in my own novels. I have every intention of waiting until Breathless is published, then sitting down and reading a long analysis by some literary blogger and then saying, “Yes, that’s what I meant” or “No, I didn’t mean that at all”. (Unless it’s something covered in one of my annotations…then I might be one step ahead of this literary blogger, after all.)

“Is there symbolism in killing KC?” (One might ask). What, you mean other than he rubs me the wrong way and killing off his character fulfils some sort of perverse pleasure on my part? It’s not that I actually want him dead, you can be certain of that. After all, if he’d died a long time ago, we wouldn’t have had Agent Lundy’s dry wit or Wyatt begging Leonard to take Penny back. KC may rub me the wrong way on occasion, but he’s so much fun when he’s not being himself!

Or maybe you’ll expect there to be symbolism in the fact that Haniya is raped twice over the course of the novel—that it’s symbolic of my masochistic desperation to be controlled by two mysterious men or one sexy woman in uniform. Yeah…I’m not answering the first part. As for the second, it was originally supposed to be a second male-on-female rape, but I decided that was too traditional, almost cliché…so I decided to turn the tables and make it female-on-female instead. (Is that still symbolism? Was it ever really symbolic of anything in the first place?)


Okay, I’m starting to feel like I’m running around in circles. So this is where I stop.

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¹ RaCs are when you take real events and/or people and change things around a bit so it becomes fiction. “Bildungsroman” has been replaced by the far more popular term “coming of age novel”. (And I can’t disagree…who the hell wants a term with the word “dung” in it used in describing their novel?!)

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