introspective adolescent books: guys vs. gals


This is about Hunger Games vs. Tolstoy. I am no expert here, but I've been reading Tolstoy's fictional memoir, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, about a wealthy young Russian. Then I watched the Hunger Games movie, which I enjoyed. My kids who have read the series told me I need to read it as well. But the wait times for the reserves at the library are very long now. Subsequently, I came across Wendy's post on the Hunger Games book series in which she spoke of the strongly feminine perspective in the series. After all this, one of the kid's reserves for the 2nd book in the series, Catching Fire, came in on reserve like the last ping pong ball for the Bingo win.
With all of this furrowing of my mind, full of all this literary compost, I plunged into Catching Fire and read it in a day. It moved along very quickly, except for the morasses of Katniss's inner dialog. For me, it was like walking through molasses. I didn't get it. I didn't care. It seemed stupid. It felt like I was reading Pride and Prejudice again, which I also hated. But thanks to Wendy, now I know what the problem is, my Y chromosome. I wanted to tell Katniss, "You're overthinking all this. None of your boyfriends care that much." I also was annoyed with the female romantic fantasy where the woman writing believes it realistic that a adolescent girl can sleep every night with a hormone-fueled guy, but he'll never bust a move on her (curse you Twilight).

I can only imagine, as I come to the end of Tolstoy's Youth, that a female reader would have the same frustrations I have with Collins. His writing is brilliant because his observations are so fine, on the microscopic level, not just on his surroundings but within his soul. But his inner dialog is more about his pride. He simply cannot get over how awesome he is. I guarantee you this is the average man's inner dialog, since I am an average man. One of my funniest memories from high school is being in the locker room with a guy who said aloud, after lifting, "I can't believe how well cut I am," referring to his muscular definition. Tolstoy's protagonist also makes the finest critiques on the external features of others around him, from their dress, to the shape of their hands, or the setting of their eyes. Katniss on the other hand is more concerned about how others are perceiving her. Tolstoy's protagonist is self-absorbed to the point of making me laugh out loud.

I have a suggestion to make to the American education system. If young men have to read 1800's chick lit, then they should be rewarded with 1800's dude lit. Tolstoy's three part work is not even as long as anything by the Austen girls.

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