Monday, 21 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Ch 5-10: I'm in too deep

I AM HAVING SO MANY FEELINGS. THIS POST WILL LIKELY BE INCOHERENT. 

But first, administrative business: this post is part of the How to Build a Girl readalong, hosted by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!), made possible by HarperCollins, and necessitating the pre-ordering of the featured book. Do iiiiit. Do it. Spoilers will be marked, reactions will be GIFed, and feelings will be shouted.

Also, sorry I didn't make it around to your posts last week, fellow readalongers! Please know that I adore you and will do better this week. Non-readalongers, you should definitely check out the other folks participating. They're the actual bee's meow.

Chapters 5 though 10 carried on in the grand Moran tradition of sneaking bits that touch the ageless core of you in amidst bits that make you violently snort/laugh. This bit
"Musicals are strictly for the homosexuals and womenfolk," Kenny says drily, in a way that's so post-post-postironic it actually stops being communication, and simply becomes confusing and unhelpful. (p 100)
is part of the latter and pulled a choked, garbled, vaguely laugh-related sound out of me that I think may have frightened my husband.

This bit
I am eating this noise like mouthfuls of freezing, glittering fog. I am filling with it. I am using it as energy. Because what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and the information in books as maps and coordinates, to tell you where you're going. (p 91/92 in the ebook)
is part of the former. This bit I would have printed out and taped to my own collaged, teenage-bedroom walls. I needed this bit; I needed Joanna, when I was her age. And I'm so sad I didn't have her and so happy she's in the world now. I made endless mixed tapes as a teenager and latched pretty hard onto High Fidelity (which I love on an elemental level to this day). But how much more wonderful would it have been to have relatable, fucking female character to cling to? Johanna's experience of music appreciation being a male-only game is something a lot of us have felt, but having her out there, ready to be loved by teenage (and, obviously, adult) girls from this day on makes things seem a little better.

Can I just: "I am eating this noise like mouthfuls of freezing, glittering fog." God dammit, Johanna. Johanna.

I feel you, is what I'm saying.

Bury me with that quote. I'm getting that quote tattooed on my neck. 

Johanna is cool and uncool in equally unbearable measures, perfectly illustrated in the pen name she's chosen: Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde's infamous, tragic, lesbian niece. Johanna is so damn enthusiastic in her name choice, enjoys it in a way that we've been taught is uncool. (That flavour of uncool 


is yet another aspect of her character I think all the readalongers in this bar can relate to.) I just want to cradle her to my bosom, is all. 

Also, at this point in the story *spoilers, I guess, to the end of the post* she's starting to see real success as a music journalist. Unfortunately, we're less than half way through the book.

Predictions for the horrible badness that's sure to come: 
  • Conflict with her dad using her to push his band.
  • Some manner of horrific misogyny from the media she's trying to be a part of.
  • Scary sex stuff (who even knows it's just she's so little and I worry about her. See above re: bosom.)
  • The next band she sees covers the Scooby Doo theme song.

32 comments:

  1. Oh no, I didn't even think about the possibility of a Scooby Doo cover *hides in hands*

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    1. Poor Dolly! At least she'd have some manner of ridiculous hat to hide behind.

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    2. IDK, if she sticks with the tragic top hat she might be screwed. Those things offer little cover.

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    3. Maybe she can hurl it at someone, causing a diversion so that she can escape into the night.

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    4. Even BETTER if she adopts a cape.

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  2. I AM FEELING YOUR FEELS! Except I think it would be hysterical if the next band she sees covers the Scooby Doo theme. :)

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  3. YOU WIN FOR THE JOHANNA GIF I DIDN'T EVEN THINK OF IT OMG

    "I needed Joanna, when I was her age. And I'm so sad I didn't have her and so happy she's in the world now."

    Yes. Yes yes yes. I keep thinking this. But now future girls will and that is so excellent and we can give them this book as a GIFT of knowledge.

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    1. Yes to giving the gift of knowledge. This book makes me wish I knew more teenage girls, which is a new feeling.

      I maybe started singing to the book.

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  4. There's definitely going to be a problem with Dadda. I can't even imagine the level of humiliation he's capable of causing her.

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    1. I am SO WORRIED about Dadda and the trouble he has the potential to cause. So worried.

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    2. Because she's so vulnerable where he's concerned--flawed as he is, he's her Dadda, and she loves him.

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  5. Clearly we're all a bit on tenterhooks waiting for something to implode in Johanna's new-found life. Gah, Dadda is gonna cause all kinds of woe, I'm just sure of it, and I'm also fairly sure that Johanna will still love him like crazy and not hate him, totally unlike the way I would have treated my own parents if they had treated me that way. I relate to Johanna a LOT, but she often makes me reflect on what a little shit I must have been as a younger teenager. I got better by 16, though.

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    1. I think you're right that she wouldn't hate him. But think of the horrible sadness that'll come with being disappointed in someone you love so much. Argh, nervous.

      Aw, baby Emily being a hellion. 16 is EARLY to pull yourself out of such a thing -- good job, lady.

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    2. Oh yeah...I was just getting going at 16. You were positively advanced, Emily.

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  6. I still need that bit about eating music and being a rocket. That is still me. I underlined it and drew a big heart next to it in the margin. That happened more and more frequently as the book went on, actually. I wanted to highlight EVERYTHING and maybe write some things on my wall in marker pen. :)

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    1. Yesssssss! I believe Reading Rambo likened Tumblr to a digital version of teenage collage walls - I might have to start using mine for more than stalking.

      That you drew a big heart next to that quote makes me unreasonably happy. THAT QUOTE.

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    2. That's the worst thing about ebooks, I can highlight it but if I can't draw a heart or exclamation mark what is the point?

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    3. Saaaaaaaame, Australian me. I've taken to just writing down quotes on scrap pieces of paper that will inevitably be lost.

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  7. SWEENEY TODD GIF FOR THE WIN.

    I love how much Johanna reminds me of being a teenager. I'm not sure I would have appreciated her back when I was a teenager, because I think part of it is being able to look back with a clearer eye and see exactly what the hell I was going through. But man, I was that same teenager in so many ways...

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    1. Oh, yeah - excellent point. Impossible to tell how we'd actually react to her. Certainly loving the crap out of her, now.

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  8. I'm fully expecting that her dad will do something heinous like demand that she write a glowing review of his work or else he will kick her out of the house. And sadly, I don't think her mom would do a damn thing to help her.

    I'm also expecting that the horrific misogyny is going to come in the form of her boss at the magazine asking her to sit on his lap. Because that happens in How to Be a Woman and so far Johanna and Caitlin Moran are basically life twins.

    Poor Johanna :(

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    1. UGH I hadn't thought about how her mom wouldn't help her in such a situation, and you're completely right and now I'm even more worried and upset. Also, AGH, NO! That lap-sitting thing sound sooooooo uncomfortable. I bet you're right about that, too. THANKS, RAYNA.

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    2. YOU'RE WELCOME, KAYLEIGH.

      (late comment, I know... I am doing the rounds of last week's posts for the comment sections, before diving into this week's. I know, I'm confused, too.)

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  9. I'm so concerned about sex-things as they concern Johanna. SHE IS A BABY. Don't do the sex with just anyone, Johanna!

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    1. I KNOW. Protect Johanna at all costs, for she is dear and darling.

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  10. I'm worried for her too! I'm mostly worried about her dropping out of school, but perhaps can given that this is semi-autobiographical, she might be successful? We'll see how it goes!

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    1. That startled me, too. Yeah, I've no idea if that's going to come back to bite her or if it won't matter at all.

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  11. OMG SWEENEY TODD GIF SO PERFECT! I love it :)

    I think we're all going to have to see that neck tattoo- do it do it do it!

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    1. I'll get the quote tattooed on one side and lyrics to Pirelli's Miracle Elixir on the other. "Are we standing near and open trench?" Transcendent.

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  12. My brother is 10 years younger than me and when I was home last week I was looking through his shelves thinking *I* didn't have this many books catered to teens. How come I didn't get The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson and Divergent. Whether or not they're any good is a whole different matter, but I had Harry Potter, the Saddle club, BSC, and Sweet Valley High. Or adult books. So I am partly glad that teens today are finally getting books written for teens about teen issue, but at the same time I want to stamp my foot and be like IT'S NOT FAIR.

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    1. THE SADDLE CLUB. Sorry, you hit me with a nostalgia bat, there.

      This is exactly the feeling: happy for today's teens while being super jealous. Although, I don't envy them their having to navigate social media as a kid. People suck enough in person, know what I mean?

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