Kyi May Kaung: Berlin, 2005

In October 2005, self and a bunch of other Southeast Asian writers were flown to Berlin to give a reading at the House of World Culture as part of a conference called “Sending Signals.”  Musicians, writers, film-makers, and visual artists from Burma, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines were gathered in a hotel at the edge of the Tiergarten.  That was also where self met the writers Linh Dinh and Rattawut Lapcharoensap, and where she met a poet from Burma, Kyi May Kaung.

All these years later, self still keeps in touch with Kyi.

Self once saw an Escalade in the Costco parking lot with the license plate “Myanmar.”  She couldn’t believe it and rushed home to call Kyi.

Her somewhat acerbic response:  “If the license plate was Myanmar then I am 100% sure the car belonged to a member of the ruling party.  They’re the only ones who refer to Burma as Myanmar.”

That was a moment.

In December last year, self asked Kyi if it would be OK to post some of her poetry in this blog.  Kyi sent over six poems.  Self doesn’t know why it took her three whole months to get one of Kyi’s poems posted but here, at last, is one:

Travel warning for Burma — some places may be closed.  Ethnic cleansing going on — in 1962 they called it “cleaning the Augean stables.”

Actually, that wasn’t poetry.  That came from one of Kyi’s tweets.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

The Multi-Tasker: Resuming DIVERGENT

Very exciting doings in self’s life:  yesterday, she had just dropped off her car at the mechanic (It failed the smog test, boo) and was finally sitting down to dinner when she heard — or rather, felt — this awful hard thing pop out of her mouth.  She looked in dismay at her hand:  she was holding a tooth.  A tooth!  A tooth!  A tooth!  And she hasn’t even finished paying for two implants she had done a year ago!

She called the dentist and the dentist said, Can you come over right now?  And self said:  I can’t.  My car’s in the shop.

Make no mistake, the part of her mouth that once held the wayward tooth hurts.  Throbs.  Self wonders if she can survive the weekend.  She decides to douse herself with vodka.  No, brandy!  Good thing she just came from Costco and bought a huge bottle of brandy for $13.99!  That was very forward-thinking, self!

Dr. Oz is on TV. Which makes self feel twinges of guilt for not trying harder to look for her high-cholesterol medication.  She thought she packed it in the bag for Seattle, but when she arrived at her destination, it wasn’t anywhere. Then she got so distracted, she never bothered ordering a refill, so it’s about two weeks since she’s taken anything. And yesterday, when she saw her doctor, she told him she was going to be in Ireland in May, and he said she should have her cholesterol checked before she leaves, and then self remembered that if she doesn’t resume her medication, her cholesterol will be high.  So she told the doctor she’d get back on the medication, and stay on it, and then — after a month, say — she’d have the blood test.  And he just looked at her and self could practically read his mind:  I am so tired of this woman.

Anyhoo, Dr. Oz is on TV, and self was perusing the Clarkesworld Magazine website because, as dear blog readers well know, science fiction is her new “thing.”

Oh, there have been scattered forays here and there:  her ZYZZYVA story, “Extinction,” and her New Orleans Review story, “Thing.”  Her “Isa” story on Eunoia Review.  But lately, she’s been having sustained bouts of science fiction writing, and she loves it.  Loves it, loves it, loves it.  In her stories, her characters can be green or blue, scaly or moss-covered, six-eyed or blobb-y.  They don’t need to be attractive in the human sense.  In fact, they’re mostly physically repellent.  What does this mean.

SPOILER ALERT!

She’s also reading Divergent (at a snail’s pace).  There was some nail-biting tension in Chapter 5, because Beatrice slashed her hand and let the blood drip over — not glass, not earth, not water — is there anything else?  Self, you dolt!  You’d better go back over the chapter and read from the beginning!

Beatrice’s blood falls on coals.

Coals.

Which means she has chosen –  self draws a blank.

She has to read into Chapter Six to learn that “coals” represent Dauntless.

Just before it is her turn to choose, Beatrice goes over her decision to remain in her parents’ faction, Abnegation (which means she will have to help her parents clean up after everyone else has left the room, how exciting):  “I can see it now . . .  I watch myself grow into a woman in Abnegation robes . . .  volunteering on the weekends, the peace of routine, the quiet nights spent in front of the fireplace, the certainty that I will be safe, and if not good enough, better than I am now.”

Self was just beginning to think how someone in Abnegation would be an extremely boring character to stick with for a 500-page novel when, of course!  She chooses something else.

It’s just like the moment when Katniss decides to shoot an arrow straight up into the force field dome, instead of into Finnick’s gorgeous face!  Totally unexpected and –  AARRGH!

Anyhoo, our plucky Beatrice chooses the Dauntless faction, and pretty soon we learn that she is so much shorter than everyone else in Dauntless because she can’t see past their shoulders.  Good thing the factions don’t have a height requirement.

But perhaps that’s precisely Veronica Roth’s point:  Short people can be dauntless, too!  Height, after all, is not a requirement for bravery!  Yay!  There’s still hope for self, who The Man opined is two inches shorter now than she was when he first met her, in grad school (She did ask her doctor about this, BTW, and it only seemed to exacerbate his exasperation.  Basically, his response was:  “Do your care?” Self’s response:  “Only if it means I’m getting hunchbacked!” At which the doctor just shook his head.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

AWP Registration: The Overwhelming-ness of Everything

AWP conference registration began today, at 12 noon: Very long lines, but the one for registrants whose last names began with the letters V – Z was by far the shortest.  Thank goodness for self’s last name!

She decided to strike up a conversation with the young woman standing directly behind self.  She’s an MFA student at Southern Oregon University. She’s also the assistant editor for the student-run literary magazine, Severine (currently taking submissions in all genres)

Anyhoo, the line moved pretty quickly.  The young woman who took self’s registration and handed her the official name tag was flustered and kept apologizing for making self spell each letter of her last name.  Her name tag said, Volunteer.  Self hastened to reassure her.  As she handed over self’s badge she said:  “Hang on to this.  It’s $50 for a replacement.” (!!!)

Then self went to have some lunch (Mediterranean lentil soup).  And while she was sitting there, poring over the panels, she couldn’t help eavesdropping on two young women who took the seats next to her.  What caught her interest was how organized they were being about it all, and the fact that one of them wanted to check out specifically science fiction and fantasy panels.  She turned her head, and lo and behold, she recognized one of the young women as the one she’d just been conversing with in the registration line!

The editor and assistant editor, respectively, of SEVERINE, Southern Oregon University's literary magazine:  Linz Moore and Mallory Young

The editor and assistant editor, respectively, of SEVERINE, Southern Oregon University’s literary magazine: Linz Moore and Mallory Young

Their table at the Book Fair is Troglodyte Press.

And, because the two young women were so photogenic, I decided to take another picture:

The Editor and Assistant Editor of New Literary Magazine SEVERINE, currently open for submissions!

The Editor and Assistant Editor of New Literary Magazine SEVERINE, currently open for submissions!

Self thought dear blog readers might like to know that the Moroccan lentil soup was excellent, and self polished off the whole thing in a jiffy:

Lunch:  Moroccan Lentil Soup, from an eatery inside the Convention Center

Lunch: Moroccan Lentil Soup, from an eatery inside the Convention Center

(A woman who works for Crab Creek Review just introduced herself.  Self loves the random-ness of all these conversations!  Crab Creek Review, self learned, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  And yes, it is ALSO currently open for submissions.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

How the Hunger Games Fan Fiction Replicates Self’s Advice . . .

Still in son’s house, the house he and Jennie rent. Every night, we gather in front of the TV to watch the figure skating. Self makes horrible, taunting remarks — about the lace top of one of the male Russian skaters, about Putin sitting grim-faced rink-side, about how the medal counts are broken down by country (“Isn’t the whole point to stop thinking of individual countries, isn’t the point WORLD PEACE?” self whines)

When everyone else has gone to their room, self begins searching for Hunger Games fan fiction. She always finds good ones. The one she began reading earlier is called Good Again. It is 32 chapters. Whoever wrote it, he/she is good.

What makes self burst out laughing is a line from Chapter 7.  Katniss is still suffering from PTSD, it’s been less than a year since she returned to District 12.  She calls Dr. Aurelius, the doctor in the Capitol, and he tells her she needs to go back to hunting.  Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

“Would you be avoiding hunting?” he asked.

I was absolutely avoiding hunting.  I went sometimes, when Peeta asked for squirrel.  It used to calm me, but now it just reminds me of . . .

“Gale,” I said quietly.  “It reminds me of Gale.”

“I see,” the doctor paused.  “Gale was your hunting partner, as I recall.  Do you love hunting?”

“I do.  Not just hunting.  Being in the woods, walking, climbing trees.”  I was becoming nostalgic.

“Would you say it was a major part of your identity before the reaping?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Katniss, I will now assign you a bit of homework.  I want you to go hunting.  Be sure to take a notebook with you.”

Dear blog readers, self is teaching an on-line creative writing class.  And since Day 1 of the class, she has been repeating, over and over:  “Bring a notebook with you wherever you go.  Writing is like a muscle.  It gets better with use.” (Katniss, if you were one of self’s creative writing students this quarter, you wouldn’t have to be told of the value of bringing a notebook with you wherever you go)

To have her words echoed by Doctor Aurelius in Hunger Games fanfiction is beyond priceless.

Self has learned that there’s a new character in the Mockingjay movies:  Antonius.  Why oh why did this new character have to have a name that sounds so much like Aurelius?  Only now, while typing this, does self realize it is perfect:  Antonius, a possible Capitol torturer, is responsible for breaking people.  If this is correct, he’d be a perfect foil to Dr. Aurelius, whose specialty is healing Katniss’s and Peeta’s devastated psyches.  (As usual, self has spoken too soon:  Tonight she reads on Hypable that Antonius is likely “a doctor from District 13.” The mystery deepens. All she can say is, Knepper does a great broody face)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Southern Vivid

In a few days, self is hopping on a plane and heading south to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins.  It’s been an age, almost a year, since she’s been down there.

Which is a pity because self hugely enjoys the southern part of her home state.  Movie nut that she is, how could she not?

The southern part of California is like the northern part, only everything is bigger and the weather is always warmer.   South means huge palmettos, gardens as lush and colorful as a Rousseau painting, Vroman’s, and The Huntington Botanic Gardens.  It means Claremont and driving and malls that feel shiny and new and women with great tans and poodles.

It means cavernous movie theaters where you get to pick a seat based on a seating chart (Just like in the movie theaters in that mall in Magalang, Pampanga!)

Anyhoo, travel energizes self.  Always.

And, son and Jennie are there.  Which means self will not be alone, as she usually is during her hectic peregrinations.

Now, she will have dinners to share and people to talk to.  She will discover new restaurants (though the milk shakes down south are humongous.  Those could keep you going two full days, at least)

And you know what else is down south?  Her Villanueva relatives from Bacolod –  woot hoot!  For some reason, they all settled down there.  All except for niece Ri Na, who’s in Sacramento (Must visit her soon!)

Yesterday, self received both good news and bad news.

The good was that she got an e-mail from the editors of the Crab Orchard Review that her short story “Crackers” had been accepted for their special issue on writing from The West and Beyond, which is planned for publication in September this year.

Right after that, she got two contest results, and naturally she did not win or even place.

Back to the good.

Ever since self got that e-mail from Crab Orchard Review, she’s been checking her “in” box almost every two hours, just to make sure she didn’t dream the whole thing.  Because, folks, she’s been sending her stories to this particular magazine for decades.  She sometimes panics and thinks:  It’s a mistake!  They didn’t mean to put self’s name on the acceptance letter!  Someone will apologize and say, That letter wasn’t meant for you!  It was meant for someone else!

Anyhoo, self still hasn’t gotten the retraction, so she still feels pretty great.

Deciding which books to bring along is harder than the decision about what to wear.  First of all, BLGF is 1000-plus pages and is, moreover, hardcover, so if self decides to bring it she will have to check in her luggage.  Must. Discuss. With. Jennie.

Self happened to glance at her text messages just a minute ago, and there’s another message from Jennie to dress “business casual” for an event she’s taking self to.  Oooh, fun!  Self asks Jennie whether that means a suit, or can she just wear a skirt and sweater?  Does she need to bring along pumps?

Self had almost decided to leave BLGF behind, in favor of some less prodigious paperback, when she gets yet another Jennie Text:  Bring your books!

YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Ouch! Poor Head! And Other of Self’s Friday Foolishness

It is Friday night.  Spent it at home, as usual.  Reading.

There was a bit more excitement today than usual, since self kept at least one of her appointments (for acupuncture) and felt the delicious pain of needles in the webbed skin between her fingers.  She keeps telling the acupuncturist that she has insomnia, but the acupuncturist looks increasingly skeptical. And self can’t bring herself to say outright that shortly after the treatment begins, she just wants to maybe pass out from sheer relaxation. Starts snoring. Almost rolls over, even with needles sticking out of her shoulders and hands.

After that, it was — oh woe is me!  Does she or does she not stick to her Beginning Yoga class?

Last week was fine, but the people taking the class were definitely not beginners.  The instructor came over to talk to self, and self told her, “I don’t even know what legs are.  Seriously.”  The instructor asked self if she had ever taken yoga before, and self said, “Yes.  When my son was about five. And I haven’t had any regular exercise since then.  Unless you count gardening.” The instructor was very encouraging, but self kept protesting that she was really, really hopeless — “What? Me? Don’t be fooled by externals. I’m a wilting flower.” Just the thought of taking another class was giving her hives, practically.  So she walked into the yoga place and told the woman there that she’d do a make-up class on Saturday.  And the woman handed self a schedule of classes, and the woman said she’d recommend the Vinyasa Flow class.  Hmmm, self thought.  Vinyasa Flow sounds infinitely better than Beginning Yoga.  She told the woman yes, she’d try Vinyasa Flow.  And as soon as The Man came home and self was assured she had a listener (albeit unwilling), she tried saying Vinyasa Flow. And kept repeating it, all through the evening.  Vinyasa Flow.  Vinyasa Flow.  And was so satisfied with her pronunciation and everything.  Felt like an expert.  Vinyasa Flow.

Then she unfortunately stumbled into Crouching Tiger to order take-out, and even though there was no one else there, they told her it would be 20 minutes before her order was ready.  And Pickled, the women’s clothing boutique, is right next to Crouching Tiger.

Self picked out a couple of things from the Sale racks.  Another customer was getting extreme attention.  Self glanced at her.  Blonde.  Jeans.  Nothing great.  Cool.

Self tried on tops.  Hoooly Cow!  Looks like it wasn’t such a good idea to flake out on Yoga Class!  The muffin belly was clearly in evidence.  Honestly, it’s been almost six months since self entered a fitting room, six months, it turns out, of complete and total denial.

But — too late now!  Armed with a feeling of rebellion, self emerged and told the woman what she would really love to try on were jeans.  Quick as a wink, the woman returned with two pairs of skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans?  How could anyone look at self and think she would look good in skinny jeans?

Besides, isn’t self a tad old to be wearing skinny jeans?

Nevertheless, self was bold.  She tried on the first pair.  Ooooh, these jeans were stretchy.  Looked at herself in the mirror.  For some reason, she looked less fat.  Or was that just a result of her writerly imagination, always ready to put a positive spin on the narrative script?  This is why self should stick to speculative fiction.

Anyhoo, the skinny jeans were soooo slimming.  She felt — no, actually looked like Rod Stewart in his heyday.  Or mebbe like Jagger.  This was the era of the late 70s. Maybe early 80s.

Wearing skinny jeans almost made self feel like prancing.  Actually, prancing.

It is really, really hard to be serious when one is wearing skinny jeans.  Self, straight to disco!  Karaoke bar, hello!

And maybe that’s what self really needs:  something to take her away from the Pain!  Pain as in — after endlessly reading and re-reading The Hunger Games books (instead of plowing ahead with Divergent, which she first cracked open two weeks ago), self has decided that the best is still the first.  It’s the best because Peeta is so wonderful.  In Catching Fire, the second book, the Peeta of Book 1 is replaced by an infinitely less interesting Passive Aggressive Peeta.  And Katniss is so Not-Herself.  She’s not making any hard decisions, or even any decisions, just dithering around, feeling mostly empty and unfulfilled.

It needed a kidnapping by the Capitol to make possible yet another Peeta Transformation.  This 3rd Peeta is an improvement over the second Peeta, but still in no way close to the First Peeta, the one who got stuck with Katniss in a cave, and instead of dying became — ascendant!  Like the Phoenix!  If only he’d stayed that way instead of becoming the Wounded Bird of book 2!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Juxtaposition 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

January, 2012.  Self was in Bir, a village in Himachal Pradesh. She looked up Dharamsala. Hired a car and driver to take her up there.

The driver was a Tibetan who only spoke a smattering of English.

Self had no idea where she would stay when she got to Dharamsala. But she had looked up a few possibilities on Tripadvisor the night before. That was how she found the Snow Crest Inn.

The air was thin. Self was short of breath. It was freezing cold.

The mountains were massive. Self had no idea. Absolutely no idea.

What does this have to do with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge?

Everything. Because when you live surrounded by such majesty, how can one avoid thinking of the spirit?

The Snow Crest Inn was managed by two brothers, who traded off accompanying her to town every day (Self stayed in Dharamsala five nights).  One day, upon returning from town, one of the brothers asked the one who had accompanied self:  “You went to the market?  What did she buy?” And the other brother replied:  “Just some old stuff.”

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA!

View from self's room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from self’s room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

And here’s a picture that self took some years ago. She’s thinking of her Dear Departed Sister, Paz. Who died of pneumonia in 1991, in New York City.

She was a vice president in Citibank. Why has it taken self so long to think about subscribing to Granta again? Why?

By chance, the book just above the issues of Granta is one of her favorites: Maryse Condé’s The Children of Segu (Segu is the fictitious name Condé gave to her native Mali).  The book next to Granta is The May Fourth Movement:  Intellectual Revolution in Modern China, by Chow Tse-Tung, a required text in one of her Chinese history classes at Stanford.

Personal Bookshelf:  In the 1980s, self's Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self's favorite writers:  Maryse Condé.

Personal Bookshelf: In the 1980s, self’s Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self’s favorite writers: Maryse Condé.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 5.4: Still Great

Can it really be five years since self had her first electrifying glimpse of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens?  Self never missed an episode of Season 1 and Season 2. She watched most of Season 3 (The end of Neil McDonough’s character: classic) and Season 4 (She thought there’d be something between the preacher’s sister and Tim Gutterson.  Self is such an incurable romantic!).

No way was she missing Season 5.  Especially not since they announced this was the penultimate season. Noooo!

Self has a Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland Forever

Edinburgh, June 2012

Edinburgh, June 2012

Self is musing about how lucky she was to visit Scotland in June 2012.  She had received a fellowship to the Writers’ Retreat at Hawthornden, about 45 minutes by public bus from Edinburgh.  She loved every inch of Edinburgh.  Every inch.  (She also loved Hawthornden).

She wrote like the Dickens.  She asked the program manager how many years she’d have to wait before re-applying.  He said, five years.  Five years !!!!  NOOOOO !!!

Self’s first time to brave the city was in the company of another writer, the poet Joan McGavin.  Joan had grown up in Scotland but now teaches in a university in England.  She was one of five other writers doing their residencies in Hawthornden that June.  One day, Joan invited self to accompany her to the University of Edinburgh, there was something she needed to check out of the library there.  So self, who never turns down an invitation to go anywhere, happily went along.

Right outside the library was this piece of art work (pictured above).  And only a short walk away was a plaque on the wall of a narrow house, saying that this was the house where Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus, lived while a medical student at the University of Edinburgh.  Right away, self felt a shiver.  That shiver she only feels when she is approaching something really stupendous (Around the corner, some workmen were having heated discussion, liberally laced with “F—!”)

On that same walk with Joan, self walked past The Elephant House, the place where J. K. Rowling hung out while writing the first Harry Potter book.  In the comfort room of the Elephant House, there’s graffiti about Hermione.  Never mind what they say.  Use your imagination!  If self were Hermione, she’d be conflicted.

Anyhoo, self is thinking about Scotland again because in the 9 November issue of The Economist (Self still woefully behind in her reading, boo) there is a long article about whether or not Scotland should declare its independence from the United Kingdom.  Having spent all of one month in Scotland, self thinks she understands the impulse.  In the small library in Bonnyrigg, the closest town to Hawthornden, there was a section called The Scottish Bookshelf.  And there she saw the books of Ian Rankin, J. K. Rowling, Irvine Welsh, even J. M. Barrie.

The one author self thought should have been there but wasn’t was Morag Joss, the mystery writer.  When self mentioned to Joan that Ms. Joss was one of her favorite mystery writers, Joan said, very casually, “She teaches at my college.”

HEART PALPITATIONS!

Self has three favorite mystery writers, and they are:  1)  Morag Joss  2)  Ruth Rendell  3) Karin Fossum.  Fossum is Norwegian, Rendell is English, and Joss is Scottish.

Self remembers so clearly a sentence from Joss’s book, Half-Broken Things:  “People are so hard to kill.” (Yes, especially if one is an amateur, like the two people in the story.  In an extended scene, two people try SO HARD to kill a third, but even though the target is very old, the whole exercise becomes convoluted and appalling)

An Economist article called “A Unionist Pin-up” dissects the legacy of William Wallace, he who defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn and who, many centuries later, had the good fortune to be portrayed by Mel Gibson (in “Braveheart”), back when Gibson was not yet crazy.

They’re opening a museum to Wallace this year, “in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle.”  It will be in Stirling (Alas, self never got to see Stirling Castle, Wallace’s seat).  The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath states:  “As long as only one hundred of us remain alive we will never on any conditions be brought under English rule.”

Stirring words!  According to The Economist, “polls consistently show that about 30 – 40% of Scots will vote to leave” when the vote takes place, September 2014.

The five other writers and self who spent June 2012 in Hawthornden forged lasting bonds.  We sometimes refer to ourselves as the Quidditch Team.  When self goes to Tyrone Guthrie, in a couple of months, she fervently hopes the Team can reunite in London.

Oh, self also should mention that one of the Quidditch Team used to date Michael Palin, of Monty Python.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Of Brienne of Tarth, Katniss Everdeen, and Other Favorite Heroines

Today, self watched “Frozen.”  What. A. Great. Movie. Self loved it so much, she almost wanted to sit through a second screening.  It was about sisters, one of whom has to shoulder the burdens of becoming Queen, while the other one gets to be brave and feisty and stubborn and wrong and lead a more interesting life. Well, both sisters are wrong, at various points.  But self identified with the older sister, the one who feels her lot in life is to live in sorrowful isolation.  Self cried, harder even than she did in Catching Fire.  As she walked out of the theater, self heard a couple of older teen-aged girls raving about the music:  “Wasn’t that song by Demi Lovato?”

Last night, she decided to get caught up on another of her favorite heroines, Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth in HBO’s Game of Thrones.  In an interview in October, Gwendoline said that her part in GOT was done.  Self got such a shock on hearing that, because it can only mean one thing:  Brienne gets killed in Season 4.  Noooooo!!!

And, this little morsel:  self read somewhere that Jennifer Lawrence got hurt while filming a scene in Mockingjay — apparently the mishap involved choking.  OK, now, what scene could that have been?  Could that be the one with hijacked Peeta after his rescue from the Capitol?  Because doesn’t he put his two hands on Katniss’s neck and — self, STOP RIGHT THERE!

And now, to the ostensible reason for this post:

Lev Grossman of Time Magazine conducted a five-part interview with Suzanne Collins and Francis Lawrence on The Hunger Games.  The final part was published 22 November 2013.  Here’s an excerpt:

Lev Grossman:  When I read people writing about The Hunger Games, there seems to be a split between people who read it as an allegory of the emotional experience of being an adolescent, and there are people who read it more literally as an exploration of the moral issues surrounding war and political oppression.  Is it both?  Are you comfortable with both?

Suzanne Collins:  I have read so many interpretations.  There’s a whole Christian allegory.  There’s you know, I’ve seen people talk about it like Plato’s cave, which is really fun.  I’ve seen an indictment of big government.  I’ve seen, you know, the 99 percent kind of thing.  I think people bring a lot of themselves to the book.  When Hunger Games first came out, I could tell people were having very different experiences.  It’s a war story.  It’s a romance.  Other people are like, it’s an action-adventure story.

You know, for me it was always first and foremost a war story, but whatever brings you into the story is fine with me.  And then, of course, if a person interprets it as an adolescent experience or a Christian allegory, you can’t tell them they didn’t.  That was their genuine response to it, and they’re going to have it, and that’s fine.  You can’t both write and then sit on the other side and interpret it for people.

I can tell you that for me it was a war story.  But it also has so many ethical issues because you’re dealing with war, and there’s all these other ethical issues surrounding with, you know, there’s violence, there’s war, there’s hunger, there’s the propaganda, there’s the environment’s been destroyed, there’s a ruthless government, misuse of power and all these other elements that come into play with it, and people may respond to ones that are most important to them, and you know other people come for the love story.  That’s fine.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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