Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Coming out of the Closet, aka I am a Geek, Nerdy Girl Who loves Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell!

I've been on the Internet, blogging seriously for about four years now and well, it's time I just came out of the closet and admit that I am a basically a Geek, Nerdy girl who likes to read (who is very good at cooking and gardening and doesn't own a iPhone) and I am really, really sad that I can find no one to share my Geek love for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, not even my sister! It's tragic. It hurts.

I've always been a Geek girl, only I don't play games, unless they are board games, and I do love board games so very much. I am not sure when I realized I was a Geek with Nerdy instincts, because if you are truly a Geek with Nerdy instincts, you don't look for that kind of thing and I am long past forty years of age and I should have found all this out before I turned forty but didn't. Does that make sense? 

The problem is I am a Geek with Nerdy instincts who happens to like Shabby Chic and 19th Century Literature, and I read 19th century Literature and hate most TV unless it's news and politics, so naturally, I have no friends, which is okay since I like to spend most of my time alone reading books written by dead white guys (and planting flowers), while I think about whether God is real or not (I'm a practicing Catholic) and if Jonathan Strange would make a better boyfriend than Percy Shelley. So did I mention I have enormous love for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a great big tome of a book with footnotes and fairies?  

To add more Geek and Nerdy facts to this, I hang with the Pre-Raphaelites and I'm dating Percy Shelley. (Shelley and I go way back, like I've been geeking on Shelley since I was a young girl of twenty and that's, well ancient history to the girls and boys I am now writing books for, and I know a lot of trivia about Shelley, and that's an understatement) I always put "hanging with the Pre-Raphaelites and dating Percy Shelley" in my description on the Internet because if anyone really thought about what that meant, they would know I am making inside jokes, literary allusions, and musing at the weirdness of life. (It's like calling my husband Fred for twenty years when his name is John). As much as all these people were part of the bigger Romantic Movement, I don't think most of the Pre-Raphaelites would have really liked Shelley much (Morris would have), especially if they had been co-existing in the same time period, in the same city. I, on the other hand, would and do love Percy Bysshe Shelley and not because he hated neckties and wrote some of the most gorgeous self-pitying lyrics in the English language, but because he was really a Socialist and Feminist of what I call the First Ideal, and I belong to the First Ideal (no Nihlists allowed). 

When I read or evaluate literature, I keep Shelley in mind, so instead of finding Jane Eyre a romantic Gothic story with Madwomen in the Attic and brooding Byronic heroes (you find that in Strange and Norrell, too), I find it a horror novel on the evils of capitalism like China Mieville would, no not Melville, though I assume both Ms would like each other. But lest you think I am pretentious and too serious, on Saturdays, along with Pinterest, I look at pretty pictures that tell mythic stories. Oh dear, no one is going to understand how much I love art and that's why I am on the Internet at all, and redo my blog all the time. I just love narrative art. And some days I try to imagine a painting with The Raven King on his deathbed. Yes, the Raven King is a very important character in Strange and Norrell. But the point is, I love book illustrations and narrative art the way some fan girls like Loki or Star Trek.


As a fan girl, I am really torn between all the Pre-Raphaelites as the guys I'd like to just have fun dates with. I mean, just read about them. The only guys more exciting to me than Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ned Burne-Jones are Sir Richard Francis Burton and a whole slew of 19th century pseudo-archaeologists and explorers. Those guys were the true super heroes. They had no special powers and went out into the jungles all Mungo Park like and faced dangers that make Rick and his zombie killing pack on the Walking Dead look like babies in diapers. My heroes are people who defeated the Germans in muddy trenches then went on to write Lord of the Rings and Gormenghast, two very different books about the same subject. And now you know why I have no friends in Mississippi. Because I am not thinking of how cute Aragorn and Legalos are, but what they faced in their nightmares like Steerpike. In Strange and Norrell, bad things happen to good people, like Lady Pole and Arabella. You must read this book! It's one of the best books of all time. It's got pictures in it and footnotes and spans years and years and all these characters get messed up in a personal struggle between two magicians. It's mannered, delicate at times, daunting, and tragic. It's fun and whimsical and full of wit. It's all and everything and nothing.

I haven't mentioned love triangles, but no coming out rant would be complete without my geeking on love triangles. I think I'm supposed to hate love triangles of any sort because it's just not trendy to like them. It's not Geeky enough, it lacks Nerdy instincts, but life is filled with love triangles of all sorts, and some of my favorite books from the 19th century had wonderful love triangles in them.  So I guess that is my great weakness, my deep character flaw, a love of love triangles.

So there, I am out of the closet, clean, free and open, and you know more about me than you can suspect or maybe you know more about me than you wanted to know. Either way, when I ramble wildly, I feel pretty good. And guess what, the week after Easter, I am going to start reading and blogging all the glorious Geeky and Nerdy love on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell that I possess. I mean it. Literally. I want someone out there in the ether to come read with me or at least read about my experiences during April, May, June, and July because I will be spending four months of my life reading and talking about my obsession (while finishing one Big Novel and moving on to my Heart Book that is to be my next project.)

Some books are about good and evil, some stories are about saving the world. Some books are about love and death (I write a lot about the latter) But I think the best book are probably about the difference between madness and reason and how life just moves on and on. That is what Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is.