Preliminary Summer Reading List 2k13


My friend lent me this stack to get my summer reading going. I am VERY excited to undertake a series once more. The last time I did this, I read the Twilight Saga in middle school.

Anyway, in addition to these, here is what else constitutes my list:

-More David Foster Wallace. Undecided yet as to which particular works.

-Alexandre Dumas, La Reine Margot

-Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

-something, anything by Thomas Pynchon

-Gabriel García Márquez, either The General and his Labyrinth or One Hundred Years of Solitude (perhaps in Spanish?)

-and, if time allows, maybe Albert Camus, The Plague

I know, I know. I’m really cool.


Zombie Tryst

Ok, I admit that I’ve been looking for reasons to use the word tryst. I remembered it existed yesterday, or was it very early this morning? Either way. The time to use it has finally presented itself. Actually, it still sounds trite and maybe even nonsensical, but you know what? I’m going to use it anyway because it’s such a good word.
ANYWAY, I am before you today because I saw a movie.

I don’t really know how to begin my lil summary, so i’ll begin at the beginning– before it even began. I walked up to the lady at 1:30 pm with my eleven year old sister and stared blankly at the too eager girl waiting to sell me tickets. My sister and I had no idea what to watch. In fact, the only reason we were at the movies was because we were tired of walking around the mall. My first reaction when I saw the movie posters was “Ssssshhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiit. These movies suck.”

“Well, Warm Bodies starts in fifteen minutes. Might as well.” said a defeated Michelle. And so we walked into the theatre. I hoped, nay! I prayed to Jeebus that this wouldn’t be a movie about vampires, and my wish was granted.

It was about zombies. Well played, Jeebus. Well played.

The movie opens with Nicholas Hoult saying how he should really get in shape, eat healthier, fix his posture yada yada. I’d like to believe that his sentiments resonated very well with all the six people who were watching the movie. I sat there empathizing with this guy, thinking, “Man, this movie is going to be funny. I wonder what it’s about.” Lucky for me, about .2 seconds after that thought crossed my mind, the shot pans out to reveal that R (he doesn’t remember his name) is a zombie, or Corpse, as they are called in the movie, and he is surrounded by others of his kind meandering. It was at this moment that I sighed heavily and audibly expressed my disappointment at having randomly chosen and foolishly paid for this.

“Zombies, Jeebus? Really? You’re gonna do this to me? Fuck nahhh. I did NOT sign up to see this shit.”

Oh! But I did.

The movie continues, and R introduces his best friend Marcus (Markus? Markiss? Majrkwiz?). The grunting scene was perfect, actually. And you know what? I decided that maybe this movie wasn’t gonna be so bad after all. Any movie that can make me uncomfortable and make me laugh at my own discomfort and confusion is probably going to be full-o-fodder. So anyway, I thought they were totally gay for each other for a total of like three minutes, before they introduced the rest of the cast. Unfortunately for me, gay zombie romance was just a bit too edgy for Hollywood. It was however, a way cool post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet-esque rom-con about redemption, rebirth, and what it means to be human.

The first thing I didn’t notice while watching the movie was R’s red hoodie. In retrospect, it was so fitting, and no! I do not mean (solely) in the physical sense. I don’t think I need to tell you that the red was metaphor for R’s desire to live and love again. It contrasted brightly against the dull gray scheme of the rest of zombieworld. The texture of the hoodie was also important in that it was tattered and tainted, akin to R his spirit, his soul. His soul, that’s it.
The thing about being a zombie is that you have no soul. Throughout Warm Bodies, there are hints that there is possibly a cure for the infection that turned everyone into brain-eating monsters. Whenever someone remembers or feels deep emotion, his/her heart pumps. This gave me hope throughout the movie because I was shipping R and Julie so hard. Their relationship was a weird combination of grotesque and really hot.

Although heavily inarticulate, R displays his feelings to Julie through extremely awkward and adorakable advances. My black-hole of a heart was squee-ing the entire time because his whole gig was just so cute. (Am I unbearably tacky? Perhaps). The time they spent together was so great because Julie was able to see through the zombie thing and have a good time with this guy who was trying really hard to feel good again. The whole vinyl and dancing and poking fun at each other thing was really refreshing (especially for R who had been deprived of such life). Their nonverbal conversations reminded me that it really is the thoughts that count. Beyond superficial common interests, it’s really the chemistry and enthusiasm of two people that make a relationship work.

His narration was entirely essential to sympathize with that homeboy. (I mean..he couldn’t exactly TALK.) I can’t really remember the last time I felt like a zombie (although Monday mornings are a very likely simulator), but his light and casual profanity and humorous introspection established the fact that he was becoming more and more human. Recall the scene in which Julie decides to take off her clothes.

This was one of my favorite scenes for a variety of reasons. There is the obvious nudity, my profoundly profane hopes of seeing R follow suit (ha ha PUN), and his reaction to seeing Julie… which… I would again imagine resounded more -resonantly this time- with the other five people in the audience. “Oh shit…. OH SHIT.” I feel you, homeboy. I feel you. And Julie. Yeah, Julie. I feel you too, homegirl. She clearly wanted the D. She REALLY wanted it, in fact. Readership, in the minutely possible event that you are 1. still reading this 2. a guy, let me let you in on a lil secret. Sometimes… girls do things. Yes, we do things. Sometimes these things are seemingly casual and subtle, and they sometimes are a way of letting the other party know that “Hey! Hi! This is my body. You can look. Actually, you probably should. That’s why I’m doing this (i.e undressing with my back towards you, bending over, and crawling into a bed and complaining that I’m cold).” Yes, Julie. So yeah, you could say that I appreciated that scene.

Another one of my favorite scenes was when my obscene hopes were incarnated. I was blessed with the shower scene! (Thanks, J! You da man.) Honestly, how unfair would it have been to show only an almost-naked Julie and not an almost naked R? The answer is VERY.
The fact that M83’s Midnight City played in the background was a really cool bonus, too. I felt pretty pumped, pretty excited for whatever was to come from his make over. (…Alright, so I didn’t really cccccaaaarree. I was only concerned with seeing as much of R’s back as my eyes could possibly ogle. [Would this be an inappropriate time to admit that I have a ~thing~ for backs? Backs are really hot.])

As for the rest of Mis en Scène, I was a fan. It was no Scorcese or Tarantino or whatever, but I did enjoy it. The couple shots I remember not caring for were when the colors were obscenely yellow and pink (towards the end of the film, specifically when R and Julie were in the car with Julie’s dad). Hey, you know what I just realized? Literally, as I typed that last sentence? R(omeo) and Julie(t). Cool huh? I love writing. (I’m going to take two seconds to tell you what I think about the writing process: I must write to know, and not necessarily know to write. Anyway…….).

Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, I thought the parallels were pretty obvious. The Shakespearean couple is forbidden from being because of fundamental differences in status, and the 2013 version is prohibited because of fundamental differences in status also, though sure, last name and alive/undead are two KINDA different qualifiers. Ah, forbidden love. Makes my (nonexistent) heart melt.

Man, R was really trying. He was trying to love again and live again and prove to the normal people that he was an alright guy despite his physical inhibitions. That led me to believe that he was human. All along, actually. From the very start of the movie, he reflected upon and bemoaned his condition, proving that he could think… something zombies cannot. He contrasts with Julie’s dad… and actually the entire police force protecting the people. They blindly follow orders and shoot on the spot. That’s not human; that’s mechanical. Robotic. Not alive. Zombie-like. Maybe they were the real zombies. Maybe they weren’t the ones who ate the brains, but they were the ones who lost the ability to (want to) love (see: Julie’s dad, Dave Franco after plague spreads, all the soldiers, etc).

This begs the question…. Am I a zombie? The answer is a quiet maybe.

All hope, however, is not lost for love, because as long as there is a handy-dandy Christ figure, we can all live happily ever after and pander to my low, lovey-dovey feelings. For real doe. R was alive at one point. He “””””””died”””””””” for a while. The normal people (of whom he was once a part) want to kill him (essentially crucify him because he has betrayed [because he is undead] the laws of nature/God). And He comes alive again at the very end.

Let’s not forget the amazing fall-from-the-top-of-the-highest-window scene. This also tickled my romantic fancy. He fell with her in such a way that she would survive. And where did they fall, Jury? INTO WATER. W A T E R. H20. You know just as well as I do that water = baptism = rebirth. Glorious. And what happens when Julie pulls him up to the surface? Yes, he is shot (and yes I had a mild heart attack), but he also bleeds (and zombies don’t do that!). Thus he was born again into a new and better life as a new and better person.

God! That was a really fantastic scene.

And ah, the final scene. When the walls come tumblin’ down. The walls that segregated the Montagues and Capulets, People and Corpses. Who, we learn, are basically the same thing.

What a cool movie.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s the Movie as a Vehicle for Discrimination

I wrote this earlier in the year.


I am a hedonist. I believe in pursing whatever makes me happy. It is a selfish endeavor, I will concede, but it is exclusively my own because no one else wakes up every morning and thinks about ways to make my life better. It is part of my process of self-realization, and sure, I act outlandishly from time to time. Holly Golightly is not so different from me: we are “top bananas in the shock department” (Capote, 61), and we are free. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novel about fulfillment and freedom, assimilation and aberrations. The film adaptation of Capote’s story defiles the very essence of Holly and her cause: freedom. It panders to the audience, and offers them the happy ending and closure they yearn by marrying her to the narrator, or rather, “Paul,” who may or may not be gay. But Holly was never supposed to be incarcerated in a cage because she is a wandering spirit; therefore, Capote’s original and intended “conclusion” is best, though not because it provides closure (because it does not), but because it leaves the audience where Holly has grown, but remains careless enough to do what she does best: live; where she is not assimilated to the realm of commitment that our chauvinistic society so religiously extolls.

Holly was always a vagrant. The daughter of misfortune and unbridled resilience, she was left to fend for herself and her brother Fred. They incurred upon the Golightly family, a family of loving and nurturing people. At the young age of thirteen, Holly took on the role of Mom with the Golightly “churren,” and the role of wife with Doc Golightly, a man who loved her unconditionally. Seeing her parents die and taking on the role of an adult as hardly an adolescent herself, Holly is introduced to the cruelty of the world- reality, but this only serves to fortify her. Like blood that coagulates, Holly receives her life on a day by day basis, hurting and living, and creating new skin- more resilient with each passing person, with each passing sorrow. The moment Holly decides to leave the Golightlys is not entirely definitive, as her wanderlust developed gradually, “looking at pictures. Reading dreams” (Capote 69). When she did eventually leave, she hurt many people: Doc, her “churren,” and her adored companion Fred. She, however, left without regrets, as any good hedonist would.

The pursuit of happiness is the most personal goal we as humans can have. Many people view hedonism as separate from the pursuit of happiness, but the dichotomy is not so clear cut. Hedonism is the principle of seeking pleasure of any kind, whether spiritual or carnal, to make life worth living. Similarly, the pursuit of happiness follows the same idea, but it carries a more positive connotation because it does not use a risqué term. Regrettably, its very implication very often suggests following materialistic goals, even worse, these objectives are more accepted by society than say, the quest for self-fulfillment in the form of enjoyment, in the form of carnal pleasure. The hedonist, as professor of philosophy Roger Crisp states, attempts to “undermine the evidential weight of many of our natural beliefs about what is good for people.” Holly lives as a hedonist because her life revolves primarily around herself. She is at first regarded as an egoist with less depth than bath tub, but I would argue that she was more human than most of us. Leaving her family, particularly Fred could not have been the product of a cursory idea, as she was always looking after him, so it is clear that her departure was contemplated and important; she realized it was a path she had to take to live her life to the fullest, and I cannot judge her for wanting to exist.
Moving to New York was the capricious relocation of Capote’s bon viveur. Holly frees herself from the responsibility of family and attending to social duties, shows off her hedonistic qualities. New York, the home of dreams and dreamers, freedom and fulfillment, elation and expression makes of Holly a metropolitan goddess. She lives with a nameless cat and scant furniture, a testament to her belief that she does not belong to anyone, and that no one belongs to her. Her days are booked with dinners and parties with rich men of whom she takes advantage. A bad habit? Not really. She rules men with her charisma and her face, and they allow her to have her way and their money. She rules all of them with the slight exception of her neighbors: the narrator and Yunioshi. The narrator strikes the reader as an affable man, a typical man. He is preferred over the antagonistic Yunioshi who at every opportunity tries to sabotage Holly. Throughout the novel, Yunioshi is overtly against everything Holly stands for: freedom and pleasure, while the narrator gives off the sense that he admires her uninhibited character. In the movie, Yunioshi remains the same while the narrator is skewed into a manlier, more aggressive alpha- the first of many vile discrepancies in the list of offenses towards the book. At the end of the movie, he confronts Holly with an oppressive soliloquy in which he desperately -though indirectly- begs her to stay. She had plans to leave and to have many affairs with many rich men, her ultimate goal being to find a place where she belonged and perhaps even someone to whom to belong: an exciting endeavor I must say. But “Paul” would not let her go; “I won’t let you do this,” because “[he] loves [her], and [she] belongs to [him]” (Edwards, 1961). So Holly stays.

The male chauvinism seeps from the film onto the audience in this final scene. Holly, the enlightened, liberated, and winged soul, who in the book leaves behind all who loved her once again, is hitched with Paul. Paul, the more-than-likely gay character in the book- …she stays with him in the movie. Not only is this wrong in terms of sexual designation, but it is wrong in terms of fundamental principles. The movie flagrantly defiles the very essence of Holly Golighty, her very name. She no longer lives in an eternal state of holidays, days of merriment, nor does she lightly go everywhere she does. After the closing scene, we are to assume Holly and Paul marry. She is to live days of marriage not merriment, and to lightly go with a baby in her womb would be inconsistent with nature. America cannot accept a woman free of responsibility. Historically, women are only keepers of the house and bearers of children. A woman who is not, is an anomaly, or worse a hedonist, a lustful pleasure lover. Both options are never really an option. This is why Holly stays with Paul. The book ends inconclusively because Holly is unpredictable and because she can choose her fate. The book was written by homosexual man who dealt with social disapproval his entire life. He understood what it was like to be different, and he bestowed his vision onto Holly. The movie was created by a heterosexual man who saw in Capote’s book a woman and her lack of inhibition, so naturally he righted the wrong and made her committed to a man in the end… after she had seen how wrong she was about everything, including her life.


Sexism is everywhere. Women cannot make their own decisions and cannot live their lives without a man to which correspond, according to the movie. So as not to be regarded as a common whore who seeks only lascivious satisfaction with many men, women are supposed to commit to a single male, preferably in the form of marriage. Any man can say that he has had many sexual partners and have his life be generally accepted by society, but for a woman to concede the same feats would be sacrilegious. Whether the directors of the movie married Holly to be kind and preserve her image as America’s sweetheart or to act upon their misogynistic impulses, we may never know, but what we can confirm is that the movie was essentially a defamation to Holly and women all around the world.

Please refer to for more information on hedonism and Roger Crisp.