Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.
Who: Neesha Meminger, the wonderful, lovely, incredibly intelligent author of contemporary, soul-searching YA that manages to be funny and fully-engrossing, while dealing with the important issues of perception and identity.
Recent Work: Neesha is the author of Shine, Coconut Moon and Jazz In Love (books Ana has read and LOVED). We are VERY excited for her upcoming book, Into the Wise Dark.
Please give a warm welcome to Neesha, folks!
Happy Smugglivus! (Or, My Real-Life Time-Travel Experience)
by Neesha Meminger
As some of you know, my upcoming novel is about time-travel, so lately I’ve been focused very much on the movement (or not) of time. In fact, recently I had a most unusual experience in the middle of the night which, if I share with you you will not believe. But I will share it with you fine Smugglivus folk, anyway, because it is relevant here…
I was asleep. A loud sound woke me up about two hours after I’d fallen asleep. I know the timing because every night before bed, I set the alarm on my cell phone. I am incredibly neurotic about being late, but only because I was late to almost everything in my younger life, and hated it. So, every night before turning the lights out, I check and re-check my alarm to make sure it is on. This particular night, I did the same, and when I was rudely awakened, the first thing I did was to look at the time on my cell phone.
The sounds that woke me were loud. I sat straight up in bed and looked around, wide-eyed. The light in the hall was on – it’s a bright light – and I assumed it was Hubster, home from work. He gets in late most nights because his shooting schedule usually requires nighttime scenes—such is the film biz in New York. I was annoyed that he was being so loud with what sounded like was the dishwasher, and thought he might wake the kiddies up. But I figured he would stop soon, once he’d put the dishes away, or fixed the dishwasher, or finished whatever loud maintenance he was doing.
I knew it was the dishwasher because the door to ours is a little off. It makes a distinct scraping sound whenever it is opened or closed. I heard Hubster open and close the dishwasher exactly three times, then bang around with what sounded like cupboards and perhaps other such items in the kitchen. The sounds were very clear and, I assure you, I was wide awake.
The next morning, I asked him about the loud ordeal and he said he never once opened the dishwasher. “Did you bang anything else around last night, then? Because you were pretty darn loud.”
“Nope. Not a thing. I came home, dropped my bag, and passed out on the sofa, I was so tired.”
I asked, again, if perhaps he’d made himself a snack (no), or went rummaging for some lost item (headshake), or if he’d dropped some camera equipment upon entering (no way). We went on like this for a few minutes more, with me asking, in a variety of ways, whether he was absolutely SURE he didn’t make any noise the night before, and him stressing, emphatically and in no uncertain terms, that he did NOT and why didn’t I believe him?
So, here’s the thing. The night BEFORE the night I thought I heard Hubster bang around with the dishwasher, *I* was banging around with the dishwasher. There was a pool of water sitting in the bottom of it and I was trying to figure out how to unclog the darn thing. That’s why I thought Hubster was looking at it the night after – perhaps taking it apart and fixing it. I had opened and closed the dishwasher three times and taken some pots and pans out (and placed them loudly on the floor in frustration) that night.
The only logical conclusion here is that I traveled back to the night that *I* was doing all that banging. Somehow, in the time between going to bed and being awoken, I went back to the night I opened the dishwasher three times and banged around in the kitchen. Why? I have no idea – who knows why these things happen? But, honestly, what else could it be? I don’t believe it was my late mother-in-law coming back to check on my dishes. And if it was a spirit from times past, I don’t think they had dishwashers back then, so why would they be interested in that rather than, say, my laptop? So that leaves the only possible explanation left: I time-traveled.
I don’t know how I feel about, quite frankly. I wish I’d known that was what was happening, then I could have walked around and enjoyed it. I wish I’d come out and seen my day-earlier self from afar. Imagine that! How many people get to come face to face with themselves – their ACTUAL selves – in a lifetime? And I had the opportunity, but went back to sleep, instead.
So that is my real life, honest-to-goodness (wasted) time-travel experience. I swear it happened.
But we are here and now and it is Smugglivus! So, ahead are my favorite reads/movies/shows from 2011. I swear they happened, as well!
I have to go with movies first as I’ve had very little time this past year to dig into a delectable book and lose myself in it for a while. I’m hoping for more opportunities in 2012…
1) In Time
I quite liked this movie. Despite the fact that almost all of the women in it wear those teetering stilettos that I absolutely abhor, and ran in them (“Your spine!” I kept yelling at the screen, “You’re f*cking up your spine! And your toes!”), I still loved the class concepts that were explored here. I’m not at all surprised the movie didn’t get the buzz it should have, because the outlaw protagonists got away with changing the system in the end – something none of us are encouraged to try at home, or without supervision.
I’ve seen this one a zillion times before, and watched it again this year. I loved it all over again, for different reasons. This is a Bollywood film with English subtitles and it is breathtaking. The story is an old Rajasthani folk tale about a ghost who falls in love with a newly-married woman and takes on the form of her husband to be with her. Things get complicated when the woman’s husband returns and finds that his wife has become pregnant with his child in his absence (!). I can watch this movie over and over and love it every single time.
3. The Waters and the Wild
This is one of my very favorite books by Francesca Lia Block. The author weaves the diversity of her characters seamlessly into the work and, in such a brief tale, manages to lay such painful beauty and poetics onto each page. Simply gorgeous.
4. And lastly, but not leastly, Person of Interest:
This may only be of interest to U.S. readers, but then maybe not. Person of Interest is a U.S. television show, but I do not have cable and so have not watched it on TV. I have hulu-ed it, and found it elseplace on the internets. And I am savagely hooked.
The idea that the government had someone build a machine to spy on people’s every move after 9/11, in an effort to thwart the plans of terrorists, is very intriguing. Particularly given everything that has happened in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
The show, while still portraying the white heterosexual male savior (two, in this case), still challenges some existing notions of acceptable. The protagonists are older than the usual lead characters we see on the mainstage – including the women, which is a nice change of pace. Also, there is Taraji Henson, who, I think, is stunningly beautiful, and a fearless, kickass single mom, to boot (partner has conveniently died, so the show clearly still has a ways to go). I love that Henson’s character is hard as nails, but not without compassion and warmth.
I think this might be one of the best post 9/11 depictions I’ve seen on mainstream American television (though, admittedly, as stated above, I do not watch a lot of mainstream American television). The show doesn’t shy away from issues such as corruption on Wall St., in banks and in upper levels of politics, as well some of the less publicized angles on the ‘War on Terror.’
So that was 2011. Here’s what I want to see/read in 2012:
2) Books I’m looking forward to reading in 2012 (that were not necessarily published in 2012) include: Nairobi Heat, by Mukoma wa Ngugi; Cut Away, by Catherine Kirkwood, N.K. Jemisin’s new duology; Ship of Souls, by Zetta Elliott; and several indie books slated for release soon – I’ll have more about those on my blog. It’s going to be an exciting year!
The author is generously offering an ARC of her 2012 release Into the Wise Dark to one commenter. To enter, just leave a comment here. The contest is open everybody and will run till December 31 11:59PM (PST). Good luck!