McGinnis: Reasoning with vampires — blogger takes on ‘Twilight’Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”
— Stephenie Meyer, “Twilight.”
“About three things I am absolutely positive. First, ‘Twilight’ is a novel. Second, there is a group of people — and I don’t know what drugs those people are doing — who think this is a good novel. And third, ‘Twilight’ is unintelligently and irreparably full of awful writing.”
— Dana, “Reasoning with Vampires.”
The author of the blog “Reasoning with Vampires” prefers to be credited simply as Dana. She is not an English teacher, though one could be excused for thinking so, given her work on the site. For nearly a year, Dana has engaged in one of the most exhaustive and entertaining pieces of literary criticism ever seen: A page-by-page, almost line-by-line dissection of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga.
She analyzes everything in the books, from poor writing and grammatical errors — and there are plenty — to head-scratching character choices and storytelling elements. Her work is so meticulous, even those who have never touched the novels can gain an excellent sense of what they are like and why Dana is so offended by their content.
She learned of the phenomenon well into its run, Dana said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
“I first heard of ‘Twilight’ on NPR. I was a little behind, I think it was the summer that ‘Breaking Dawn’ came out, maybe 2007,” she said. “I got it for my boyfriend’s little sister for her birthday, because she really liked the books, but I didn’t actually know anything about them.”
She didn’t read them herself until the spring of 2010.
“My sister read them, and she just felt they were fantastic, and from what I heard about them, they just didn’t seem fantastic,” Dana said. “Hearing the way people talk about Edward and just how dreamy and wonderful he is, and he’s just kind of a tool,” Dana said with a laugh. “I don’t think it’s a really great model when your boyfriend starts by sneaking in your bedroom and watching you sleep.
“I had an opinion about that. When ‘Twilight’ would come up — I’m not really a quiet person when it comes to things that I dislike — so I had no qualms in saying that, but it did feel that it’s not completely appropriate to make a lot of those leaps without actually reading the books. Maybe stalking is really sweet, the way it’s framed. So I thought I should at least check.”
Not only was Dana troubled by the story and characters, but she also was struck by how poorly written the whole enterprise was. It was plagued with bad word choices, unnecessary punctuation, terrible structure — things a competent editor would notice and correct. Even then, however, Dana’s first inclination was not to share her observations with the world.
“I was going to just mark-up my copy of ‘Twilight’ and move on. But there’s not enough room in the margins for the things I had a problem with. And somehow the idea for the blog came about.”
She began blogging “Reasoning with Vampires” in August of 2010. Each book is discussed in sequence: As of this writing, the blog is currently halfway through “New Moon,” the second in the series. Multiple times daily, Dana updates the page with snippets of text from a “Twilight” novel — scanned directly from the page — with her criticisms attached. These can range from simple grammatical notes to grand disgust with how lead character Bella is portrayed. On the whole, Dana said she finds the latter far more disturbing.
“I think probably the characters themselves bother me more, because I think people read poorly written books all the time. I don’t think it’s necessarily disturbing, it’s just crappy,” Dana said. “I think I can handle ‘not good’ a little better.”
Despite her ravaging criticisms, Dana said she hasn’t received many negative comments from the biggest “Twilight” fans.
“I think I get one complaint to every 15 positive messages,” she said. “And actually, they’re not — most aren’t actual Twi-hards. I think most of the negative messages I get are ‘You’re being too nitpicky.’ Which I’m fine with, because my only thought is, ‘You don’t get what I’m doing’.”
The most gratifying moments are when someone learns something from her writing.
“Just recently, I got an email from somebody who had an English final that they think they did better on because they’re reading the blog, and that’s amazing. And while she was writing it she thought of her commas, and she thought, ‘What would Dana think of this comma?’” she said.
Read “Reasoning with Vampires” at reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com/.
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.