Screw the Rules, for We Are Pirates

Review of We Are Pirates, a novel by Daniel Handler.
Life is a mess of people and desires and the rules that bind us together. Sometimes those rules are written, sometimes they’re held true by the majority of us without having to say it out loud. Stealing, we say, is wrong. But life is about the exchange of goods. By nature, we steal what is stolen from us.

… Okay, trust me. That opening is way less pretentious than the one I was attempting before.

Set in modern San Francisco, the book tells the story of a moody fourteen-year-old Gwen Needle, who is fourteen, and unhappy with her life, her family, her world and the rules that govern it. It also tells the story of his father, Phil Needle, who is having a difficulty trying to feed his family and  doesn’t realise that he’s having a difficult trying to hide that fact. Gwen, in an attempt to escape from his unfair world, took off with her friends to become actual, legit, in-the-open-seas, pirates. In the meantime, Phil is trying his hardest to find some buried treasures of his business and by the time he realised what his daughter was up to, it was too late for him.

It’s a story about teenagers, both from the view of being teenagers (the world is larger than our home, the rules imposed, everything is unfair) and from the side of the adults (those kids don’t know what they have, the pressure of time and money and life and family, the inability to find the opportunity to express love). It’s a story about the search of happiness, amidst a world that keeps on going, even without us. It’s a story about being people, whose world can stops and boxes itself in, no matter how the world at large revolves.

In the much less wordy words written in the book itself, “it’s a human interest story, because humans are interested in it.”

The premise is strangely unfantastic, but, like the world itself, everything is fantastic through the way it’s told, through how you view it. And the book’s narration, like the pirates of old, tells this story without caring for established methods and styles and phrases. It rolls on with the force of its own momentum, carried by the wind it blows on itself. It takes you  from setting to setting without a pause, dropping actions and feelings and mixing them into a sort of word cocktail. It’s gleeful and full of mayhem and it’s best read without paying attention to detail, only taking in those details through some subliminal thought processing.

We Are Pirates is a strange strange strange novel. It doesn’t care for what story it’s trying to tell but it tells it anyway, sincerely and with grace. It’s often funny but does not care that it is funny, it’s often dark and but does not care that it has crossed some moral boundary. It’s something completely new and unexpected, like dropping actual arr!-ing pirates in modern San Francisco.

Let’s see. I guess a 4 or 3 stars out of 5 would be good, but it’s honestly not the sort of book you can put through some rating system. I like it, in a way, and would recommend it if you have the guts for it, if you’re ready for a ride.


Blog theme change

Wow. Uhh. The internet changes a lot, doesn’t it?

You can almost always tell when a website was last updated by the way it looks. Technology marches on, and how we use it keeps on changing. And, like fashion, so much like fashion, website design changes constantly, following the whims of its people and how they use the internet.

Not a year ago I can’t imagine browsing with my phone. It’s clunky and messy and the screen is always too small. 2015, and nearly everyone visit websites through their phone. And all those websites without a phone-friendly layout falls into obscurity.

My blog design has been okay for the most part, and I’m not changing it because it’s falling behind, just because I’m bored of seeing the old dull one. So I browse around and, man, WordPress theme database has seen an evolution through the ages hasn’t it? The standard three or two column version has fallen out of style. Now having a mobile version of the theme matters.

I’m still looking for the right theme, and though the one I’ve found is okay, I still think it’s not quite right. Either way, I’ve changed the blog theme. I used to make a blog post whenever I change, at least to keep track of which theme they are, but I lost track of the last one. So now I have no idea what theme I was using previously. It was kind of nice, too. Oh, well.

The blog has changed theme to Wilson.

Science Fiction ’till the day this paper is written

For the last two, three–I can’t even tell anymore– weeks, I’ve been reading and working and looking up and working on writing this academic paper for school. The teacher gives us full freedom to choose our topic, stressing (rather indirectly) that the topic doesn’t matter really. It’s really meant to teach us about proper formatting and putting words together to form a paragraph that won’t set off her grammar nazi alarm. Sure, I’m majoring in hard cold science, but I’ve never left my love for literature and popular media. So I decided to write a paper on science fiction.

Specific title: Science Fiction as a Prediction of the Future.

What that means is, apparently, as I soon discover, reading tons and tons of books, getting distracted over a zillion times as more and more science fiction authors’ names come up, and generally staring at an empty page and trying to figure out how to put down everything that I’ve read in coherent paragraphs that won’t set off the teacher’s alarm.

The paper’s finished now and managed to pass the minimum page count, which I did by stretching the narration as far as I could.

I’m really never sure what I’m writing there, or even if I know anything about what I’m writing at all. Because science fiction, apparently, dammit, isn’t just some literary genre. It’s a movement. It’s a whole system. It’s a thing people can spend their entire life studying. Science fiction is serious business.

I mean. The paper’s all done and finished and ready to print now, but I still don’t know how to explain everything I’ve learned the last few weeks in a single blog post. I don’t care about the paper anymore, it’s done. But it does feel like a bit of a shame that I can’t really put all those things down.

So, instead I’m just going to list the prominent names that I can pick off the top of my head.

  • Jules Verne
  • H.G. Wells
  • Hugo Gernsback
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Robert Heinlein
  • Arthur C. Clarke
  • Philip K. Dick
  • Leinster Murray
  • William Gibson
  • Star Trek. Star Trek. Star Trek. Star Trek.

Next up I think I’m going to write a quick review of the things I’ve read in the process of getting this paper written. You should see my reading backlog. It’s enormous.