in a recent new york times op ed, famous literary critic stanley fish writes about the hunger games trilogy "But the technical skills Collins displays are only a part of the explanation of the novels’ power. The other part is the thematic obsession hinted at by the title: just what is it that the characters, and by extension the readers, hunger for? On the literal level the answer is obvious. Kept at a near-starvation level by their rulers, the inhabitants of the nation of Panem (bread) hunger for food, and one of Katniss’s virtues is that as an expert archer she can provide it.
Food, however, is a metaphor in the trilogy for another kind of sustenance, the sustenance provided by an inner conviction of one’s own worth and integrity….
One of the tributes names that as the goal he desires more than survival. Peeta Mellark, in love with Katniss since the moment he laid eyes on her (the moment when he gave her bread), says to her, 'I want to die as myself … I don’t want them to change me in there.'”
i think fish gives a good analysis of one reason the novels are so popular with young people. adolescence is a time to search for identity. i doubt if anyone, during adolescence or later, can find one perfect role model who will serve as a life time goal. none of us can; at different times, we all struggle with self-identity.
but i plan to wait until i finish (or decide not to) the trilogy to give a fuller account.
meanwhile, i have finished reading j. m. gregson's (i think newest) lambert and hook mystery, die happy. for those of you not in the know, chief superintendent john lambert and ds (detective sergeant) bert hook are partners in anti-crime. they work out of the police station in oldford, england. 07 they are not. of course, they are policeman and this is a police procedural. they are not spies who are heroes of a spy novel. they are middle aged, attractive (in a middle aged way!), extremely knowledgeable about their chosen field, and highly intelligent. lambert has a neat sense of humor, as does his wife.
the person killed (die happy is a murder mystery as well as a police procedural) is angry with all people on his arts committee. each member represents a different branch of the arts, and he, mr. preston, feels aesthetically and intellectually above them all. part of the fun of the novel is found in his most strident remarks against the woman who writes crime fiction. "He (Preston) doesn't feel detective fiction should be part of a literary festival." and "He simply doesn't consider crime novels to be what he calls 'real literature.'" and much more.
this novel is really a fun read with one unnecessary inclusion. why in the world (james michael) gregson has to use the old trope of the murderer being caught because he/she knows a fact that hasn't been released by the police and only the murderer could know, i have no idea. there were other clues that pointed to the bad guy.
i counted all of the lambert and hook mysteries and think i totaled 24. it's somewhere around there, which means if you like this one, and i think you will, you have someplace to go for more.
the book is published by severn house, is 218 pages and the u.s. price is $28.95.