English 245: Modern Fiction

a collaborative exploration of pervasive tropes, themes, and concepts in contemporary fiction


Charlotte :P

Nerd, Student, coffee addict, Art credit: redfrombloodclan on Deviantart

Self Created Cool-Girl Standards

Hi all,

Amy’s cool girl rant was one of the many pieces that made me think Flynn was using Amy as this awesome tool to make (exaggerated) observations about the contemporary dating scene and what modern relationships look like.  However, it wasn’t the most interesting piece to me at all.  In class it seemed like the general stance was. “Yep.  We see what she did there, we came, we understood, we conquered, moving on–”

But then just a 1/2 hour ago I was suddenly faced with the cool-girl standard, in my own (usually rather uninteresting) dating life.  Forgive the over share, but my partner wants an open relationship.  And I had this sudden surge of guilt and panic when I realized; that I didn’t want one, not at all.

I felt guilty because I have done so much reading and defending of polyamorous relationships and lifestyles and here I was, face to face with it, and I couldn’t be comfortable with it.  I haven’t had the need to say no to my partner about anything yet, we get along fine.  It’s still a pretty new relationship, so I guess we both still have our good masks on, at least if Flynn were writing our story.  All of  a sudden I was trapped between being the cool girl, whose open minded and (usually) well informed –and being honest about what I was comfortable with and wanted out of a relationship.

There’s such a tangible feeling of needing to say yes, of needing to be the cool girl.  And there is such a guilty aftertaste after you say no, put your foot down and let your mask slide off to reveal yourself as a flawed human with insecurities and needs.  After finishing the whole novel, I considered the ending tones of dread and settling down with a monster because you know how that monster is a monster to be Flynn’s biggest parting message.  However, in retrospect of suddenly understanding what Amy was on about, I give new props and authority to how that character called society out on that phenomena.

It’s not that there aren’t girls who are totally happy being in an open relationship, it’s not that there aren’t girls who love drinking beer and football and eating chips and dip, it’s not that there aren’t girls who enjoy spending their time and energy on having a picture perfect physique –the “cool girl theory” is that there is not a girl who is capable of putting their partner’s needs and desires above everything else, be the perfect girlfriend, and still be comfortable and satisfied.  Humans aren’t engineered that way, you can find people who come close matching everything that you want, but no healthy relationship is going to have someone who is COMPLETELY perfect –or cool.


If You’re Nerd Enough…

Hi all,

So this is a hefty hunk of reading that I don’t expect most people to be interested in.  I’m using it as a scholarly source for my creative project and I think it might be helpful/cool for anyone else dealing with Dystopia as a genre, or any specific dystopian novels.  It’s geared towards selling the idea that the increase in young adult novels about dystopia is reflective of teen interest in contemporary political/world issues –just from a comfortable distance.

It talks a lot about Millennials and political apathy in general, and then also about tying Dystopian popularity specifically to 9/11 or at least the social climate triggered by 9/11.  It also offers a counter argument, about how it’s really just the authors who lived through the Cold War, etc etc etc…

Basically, it’s interesting and is trying to answer the question I want to ask with my project.  It also reminded of our abridged history of literature and how Nell brought up 9/11 triggering a new type of novel.  It works really hard at drawing connections between contemporary literary trends and contemporary social events, which is really what this class is about, right?

Enjoy or utilize if you’re nerd enough, otherwise carry on having social lives and free time.

A Brief History of Saunder’s Philosophical History:

Did some digging, was surprised/interested by what I found.  Just thought I’d put it out there for anyone else who’s interested.

-Went to Colorado School of Mines, mineral engineering = money

-Went there to be a part of oil business


-Got degree in geophysics

-Went to Sumatra (Big Western Indonesian Island)


-Saw lot of rich Oklahoma people doing drugs

-And more people hanging out at “transvestite clubs” –described as electric.

-Considered himself Objectivist (Ayn Rand) in his 20s

-Saunders actually voted for Reagan first time


-He considered Reagan the Objectivist Candidate

-Then saw (poverty stricken) people suffering,

-This made Objectivism not add up, plus Rand wrote “bad prose” AND

-He considered Objectivism too close to Neoconservatism and became repulsed.

-Neoconservatism = “disenchantment with democratic domestic and foreign policy”

-Adherents for Neoconservatism became politically famous from 70s-2000s

-Peaked during Bush administration (gross)

-“Neocons” played major role promoting/planning 2003 invasion of Iraq

-Now Saunders is a student of Nyingma Buddhism (oldest version of Tibetan)


(re above: cannot decide if beauty of art outweighs scariness of eyes)

– Progressed from almost being a Neocon oil guy (AKA jerk in a suit) to chill Buddhist writer?

– All this = Cool story bro Saunders




+An online Encyclopedia Britannica because I didn’t know what “Neocon” was at all.

Featured post

Thinking Outloud

So, after reading 10th of December and digesting it for a bit, and then reading over other blog posts, I started thinking about how much Saunders loves utilizing the imaginations of young characters.  He just can’t stop himself.  Throw in those little tangents about baby deer fantasies, saving the girl from “Nethers” fantasies, those little games you play in your head like Kyle’s “What If Right Now?” –even song lyrics that bounce around your brain when appropriate.

That, and Saunder’s apparent fascination with death (read the article about his plane incident in Nell’s Saunder’s post) at first seemed very contradictory.  From his writing, he seems to enjoy representing and exploring the imaginative zeal of youth, as well as all the messed up things in the world that have to do with death, and suicide, and what happens when you leave your body after 5 minutes of Darkenfloxx.  However, he doesn’t limit his very intimate narration stand points, of being in a character’s head to just the teens.  I wonder if by having these contrasting thought patterns and views of the world, and different sorts of fantasy (fighting monsters, vs giving daughter nice birthday with a french waiter) what he is trying to “get at” and explore, is the evolution of one kind of brain to the other?

What changes, what is lost, what stays the same, how similar goals and wants mature in more mature people.  I know he is a parent, so he already spends a lot of time figuring out how to relate his adult mind (which thinks about the possibilities of pancreatic cancer) to his child’s.  I think parenting in general is such a common theme in his stories because it’s something he’s dealing with and thinking about in his daily life. They say write what you know, but it seems to me is Saunder’s is writing what he WANTS to know, and using “honest” and “realistic” characters and emotions to get himself to the point of knowing.  The characters are a vehicle to get at the lessons he’s trying to understand himself and possibly teach his readers.  (Is that far out/deep enough for you, Nell?)

Victory Lap: Repression = Rescue?

Hello everybody,

So I know in class we all kinda seemed to agree that in Victory Lap, Kyle was an over-controlled but good kid who knew the right thing to do and Alison was a bit of an airhead.  By that I mean she lived in a world in her head where things like this happened:


She’s a very passive and innocent character, while Kyle runs around like a lunatic hero.

However, I was thinking about Kyle and how he reacted the way he did and the emotional process we “see” him going through to get there.  The process here being that his logically thinking brain shut down and his feet flew him to Alison’s rescue.  We see his parents’ rules and voices being presented as things that are internally hindering him from “making the right call” or whatever you want to call it.  But what if it was that complete and utter repression of all his emotions and anger (thanks mom and dad), that led to such a proactive and violent outburst from him?

He wasn’t thinking or using his brain when he ran out to save Alison.  It was just a complete emotional and physical reaction, it was him snapping.  He almost snapped a little too far, as we’re led to believe by the fact that it was only Alison screaming at him that kept him from killing.  I wonder if his parents had been more relaxed he wouldn’t have responded like that at all, maybe he would have just called 911 and written down the license plate of the car.  What do you guys think?  This is supposed to be less of a “what if” question and more of a, “maybe this thing that kinda seemed like it was stopping him was actually what made him do it in the first place” kind of question.  Kyle’s Repression = Alison’s Rescue?

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