Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alice, I Think

I read Alice, I Think and Why Angels Fly: Humor in YA Fiction by Janet Kleinberg and Lynn Cockett. I think it will be easier if I go into my comments about the article and gradually flow into my reflections about the novel.
The article came into something interesting about when you don’t find certain things funny. "“She was one of a dozen girls he would have liked to know better . . . know bed-der . . . much bed-der . . .” (Mazer 5). Cristina specifically said, “I know the author put that in there to make me laugh, but it didn’t.”"
I understand why the participant didn't think it was funny. I think as a young adult (and still as an adult) you don't want to be seen as a sexual object, and the reality is that our mothers/teachers/caregivers will always tell you that boys only want one thing. You would probably hope that the sentiment isn't true, and it isn't particularly funny to reinforce that idea, especially if you are meant to identify with the character being pictured like that. I haven't read that book, but I can think of Alice, I Think, when Aubrey comes over and she (and her mother and father too) worries that he will take her "into the womanhood tent." And it turns out that Aubrey isn't that kind of guy. Or rather, he can't shut up long enough to think about it. 
Can humour be a genre? I want to say yes, knowing that many people will disagree with me. I know that you can have humour in any genre, in any book. What about a book that is overwhelming humorous, and was written for the humour, and nothing else? If the humour in Alice, I Think was removed to leave just the bear plot, I don't think it would be even vaguely interesting. I can't decide what kind of humour I felt with Alice, I Think, though. Was it superiority, because I find her narcissism and her "I'm a mature intellectual now because I read The Fellowship of the Ring. I am on page 2" and her ego and her fashion sense to be absolutely hilarious? I hope it's not because I think I'm superior. I think I was supposed to find her home life with a hippie mother and father funny, along with the fact that she is home schooled, but I didn't really. I know that is a result of my own personal experience-I know a handful of home schooled kinds and they are fine socially and intellectually. So I don't find those facts to be humorous by itself. I find Alice funny because of her narcissism. She is a cultural critic, has a..."unique" sense of fashion, and at one point is convinced that everyone is stealing from the bookstore. Is she a sociopath like some people say? No. Dexter is a sociopath, if you need a comparison. Sure, the book isn't realistic in some aspects, but it was funny, and I think it was meant for the humour. The mother got into a fight with Linda, and yes, it was weird, but it could happen. I don't think the mother is "crazy" for fighting back. If you came out to three kids terrorizing your daughter in your car (which happened to me when I was younger) and if you, as her mother, tried to stop them, and the psycho one hit you first, and you want to lie on the ground and take it, be my guest. I'll be crazy. But I won't be wearing a muumuu or tie-dye scarfs.   

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