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04 October 2010 @ 12:36 am
Invitation to the Game  
I had the chance to reread Invitation to the Game this week. [personal profile] deborah put it in my hands many years ago and I loved it, and I loved it even more this time. Rereading is uniquely nourishing and rare in my life. I was going to say something about the heteronormativity and patness of the ending (ETA: I'm not ascribing patness to the whole ending, just the same aspect that has heteronormativity), but now I might have changed my mind where I'm bothered by the heteronormativity and the marriagenormativity but possibly not bothered by the patness after all, because maybe the context makes the patness different.

However, here's something I'd forgotten: "We had left school plump, pale, and more or less unmotivated. Now we were lean and keen" (83). A new arrival is twice called "pudgy" until he catches up (89, 94). Plump/pudgy is the Before stage, before meaning and import, before goals, before motivation, before connection with the book's climax. Lean is the After stage, when people have meaning and strength and fitness and hope and merit.

In this one specific way, it may as well be bloody Hatchet.

daughter of ETA: Invitation to the Game is rather a stunning book. If you haven't read it, do -- certainly don't skip it due to its Hatchet paradigm of fatness, which I suddenly think needs a name. Hatchet Paradigm of Fatness? Or something else?
 
 
 
sarahsbooks on October 4th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
But first I have to reread Hatchet... ;)
Rebecca Rabinowitz: Bea and Mr. Jonesdiceytillerman on October 4th, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
...but not on my count. Overall, I have never cared for Hatchet. Whereas Invitation to the Game is a book I truly love, even as I'm busy wishing that it didn't take part in the Hatchet Paradigm. (Whose name has been officially declared -- see below. :))
ex_gnomicut on October 4th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
We should keep it simple without too much explanation, like all of the others. Just the Hatchet Paradigm?

What's the Perilous Gard version? Is it still the Hatchet Paradigm? I feel like one of them is about "we've learned to work hard and not be lazy and we left technology behind", and the other is "we hit puberty and it made us pretty".
Rebecca Rabinowitz: House You Pass On the Waydiceytillerman on October 4th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
You're exactly right. The Hatchet Paradigm. Now it is so. (Because we are performative.)

The Perilous Gard version needs a different name. It's complex because it melds two things. Her old dress being "too tight under the arms" (250) is breast growth from puberty, which is exactly what you say, "we hit puberty and it made us pretty." But "the new slenderness of her waist" (250) is something else. Is it her waist merely appearing smaller because her breasts are bigger? But the line says "new slenderness." That sounds to me like her waist is literally smaller than before, which is not a puberty thing no matter how many Barbies imply it. If her waist is literally smaller, this is not just "we hit puberty and it made us pretty," it's also the classic thinness as manifestation and symbol of (and reward for) the wisdom and competance that protagonists reach at the end of their plot arc.
ex_writingh on October 7th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
Wow, I had completely forgotten that about Perilous Gard (it's been years). Ick!
Rebecca Rabinowitzdiceytillerman on October 7th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
It's very very brief.
ex_writingh on October 7th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Kinda makes it all the more pernicious in a way. I remember you describing the feeling of being sucker-punched by a book where you're going along and everything's fine and then there's just this one blatant moment of fat hate (or disableism? I have forgotten which it was in the book you were discussing or reviewing -- but anyway) out of nowhere. It's like that. People's waists don't get smaller when they go through puberty! "New slenderness" wtf. For that matter, I had forgotten that she was an "ugly duckling" type character that might have led to me expecting the "swan + thinness as character growth" moment at the end. (Or is she? Did I just make that up?? You don't have to answer -- when I have some free time I'm perfectly capable of going to find the book on my disorganized shelves and taking another look at it.)
Rebecca Rabinowitz: Orphea Prouddiceytillerman on October 10th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC)
I don't remember whether she's specifically the ugly duckling type or just more like the classic not-glamorous type. But yeah, the waist getting smaller is either fake mythical puberty or weight loss as an example of happy-endings-are-always-thinner. Which are kind of the same in this case; so actually I'm willing to call it, and I call it Both.
Underwear Ninja: ideachavvah on October 5th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
I have been trying for years to remember what the name of that book was. THANK YOU.
Rebecca Rabinowitz: Hotter Than a Hot Dogdiceytillerman on October 5th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
Oh yay! Happy coincidence!