The Poet Vigilante
Plus, she's got really great dreads. And, knowing how I usually feel about dreads, that should tell you how much I dug her character. Really, though, it's the behind the scenes action that made for excellent entertainment. And I learned about frankenbiting! I need to play Candyland with them immediately.
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As Ethan put it:. I hit it off immediately with this book, thanks to its engaging personality and insanely nerdy interests. If you're dying to read this book which is the proper reaction , leave a comment with your favorite poet for a chance to win a signed copy! I received my review copy from Random House Children's Books. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review dammit! The Poets of Selwyn Academy is available now. Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. Your life will be meaningless if you haven't read these superstars of literature.
Best Buds Cover Story: Wannabe Hipster Given its subversive contents, I'd like to think that this cover is pretending to try to be cool rather than actually trying to be cool. Class, that's what we call wishful thinking. Oh yeah, and there's a gerbil named Baconnaise. Most importantly, he's hilarious: Fern, I have an answer. I'm not going to get into a good art college. To give you a glimpse of their awesomeness, here's their potential responses to freeing Ethan from a locker long story: Honorable mention goes to Baconnaise, the coolest gerbil in literary history.
In other words, I meant what I said about kicking his shins. Coupled with the reality TV show within the novel framing people certain ways, our narrator Ethan offers his own framing in the form of what is pretty much a disclaimer: This is the scene where he admits his motives: Mystic by Alyson Noel. Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson. Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia. Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall. Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook. Death Sworn by Leah Cypress.
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Marjorie Jenkins May 24th, Friend. Currently Reading Ashleigh's bookshelf: It's just about what happened last year. It's about reality TV, a desperate crush on a I've reread this four times since January that reread total is only beaten out by I'll Meet You There and, due to the battle, haven't gotten the chance to really flesh out some thoughts yet. It's about reality TV, a desperate crush on a ballerina, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise.
But mostly it's about my friends. Our vigilante poets have sneakily distributed their work; in that way schools have, nothing remains secret for long; the vice principal gets on the loudspeaker and announces that all copies will be confiscated and that no students are allowed to read the work.
Here's what I thought at that moment on read 1: And then this becomes a deliberate, subversive moment in a book full of them, where everything that looks familiar is turned slightly on its head, and none more so than Ethan's beliefs about the people surrounding him. This is one of the many reasons this book holds up so well: The first read gives you a hilarious teen voice and a really entertaining story. Discussions of the intersection of art and life!
Every detail is integrated so brilliantly: Which is exciting to read about. And smart, and funny, and authentic. But on the second read, I started to think about not just the story, but how it's told. This is a book that examines the responsibility of media and the extent to which behavior is influenced by the media we consume - the extent to which life imitates art, and art imitates life - and the way we tell stories. It specifically highlights the way reality TV tells stories. And it underlines its point by telling its story, by creating its reality, in a way that distinctly contrasts the storytelling of reality TV.
This contrast is established right from the beginning, when Ethan says he's not sure where to start because life isn't a TV show with clearly delineated start and end points. But there's so much more that's less overt. Ethan finds out, for example, that the show's producers pull together separate pieces to create a storyline; they play recorded dialogue over unrelated footage; they allow manipulated storylines to air if they think those storylines are more compelling.
It's called frankenbiting, and it becomes a key part of Ethan's denial of the show's portrayal of Maura. Or any characters aside from Ethan, the narrator. Well, they're all great.
More on them later. And yet Ethan frankenbites in his narration, too. The key difference is that it's inadvertent, because he's not omniscient - and he is forced to face his mistakes. Reality TV might be able to establish and follow through on storylines, but life forces people to challenge the narratives they've set up for themselves.
And Ethan is forced to confront the reality of people's complexity. Luke points this concept out, very early on. But it takes Ethan the course of the book to understand it: To create a storyline. Which is exactly what you're doing. You're holding like three pieces of a big jigsaw, and you think you know what the whole picture looks like. They're not completely separated from the events they enact, in that the events aren't wholly left to the reader to unpack. The characters think about them, too, and they think about their analyses - of English class, and of life.
It's yet another degree of involvement. Beyond the specificity of frankenbiting though it's really fun to read the book and deconstruct it like that , I'd argue that the entire story - realism! Reality TV, the book points out, isn't built to handle actual reality: Luke's bombshell, Baconnaise, that the show might not be able to exist in a bubble and ignore the less-talented kid in the corner. For Art's Sake has to tie together unrelated information to create a compelling narrative when there's a much more compelling story playing out in the same space.
To say that differently: In fact, they deliberately disregarded him by crowning Luke the sole creator of the Contracantos and ignoring the team that created it - not just in terms of physical creation, but that the work never would've existed had Luke not been able to bounce off of his friends. But Ethan's story is such a worthwhile one.
There's a discussion to be had on what people look for in their entertainment, and why the show thinks their manufactured storylines will lead to maximum viewer interest, sure. I don't think the book is saying people shouldn't watch reality TV. I think it argues against its being termed reality. Because reality - and messiness, and zaniness, and moments of boredom and loneliness and betrayal - are front and center in this novel.
And they're not contrived or pieced together, but rather the ebbs and flows of everyday life. There's an interesting distinction drawn between reality TV and "higher" art like Ezra Pound. It's almost tangential because the book doesn't consider the reality show to be art at all; like Jackson points out, it's a social drama about the artists and not about their art or reality at all. Ethan defends Pound's work as art imitating life and points out how impenetrable he finds most of it. Difficult, but with pieces that are accessible and beautiful, like life. The novel makes a strong case for denseness and length and getting it all down, even if you need three different beginnings and endings, as opposed to staging and frankenbiting and the self-consciousness that comes when you need to consider your audience before you can tell a story.
The book isn't all argument, though. The reason it's so effective is because the argument underlies a fabulously entertaining story. A little more about the entertainment: Beginning every chapter with an excerpt is a great way both to actually demonstrate what the characters are working on and to foreshadow what's coming next.
Ethan's obsessions with grammar - I'm running out of synonyms for "great. The way tricolon is used at every possible juncture and with every possible list is both self-aware and demonstrative of the power of threes - which the story shows instead of simply discussing in the abstract. There's a lot of showing, not just telling, in this work. BradLee's English classes and the discussions of Pound's work. It's rare when writers integrate other works into their own books well.
This is successful because it's learning filtered through Ethan, and so every powerful moment - "I mean beauty, not slither You don't argue about an April wind, you feel bucked up when you meet it" - is magnified because it's speaking to you through someone else. Because it's meaningful to someone else. It seems these three items have a lot in common, which probably surprises no one.
I will always love smart, interesting approaches to integrating art and literature into life. And I love that this book does that in terms of its critique of reality TV and in terms of the literature discussed in class. I said earlier that I'd talk about the characters, but this has gotten really, really long. So I'll just say that Maura and her single-mindedness are very compelling; Ethan's friends are so well-rounded, there's paragraphs to write on each - on not just what Ethan says about them but on what they say about each other, and how they interrelate; and Ethan himself, who is this book's heart, with his by turns sarcastic and vulnerable and unlikeable voice, his triplet sisters, his gerbil friend, and his place in the untalented caste.
I think the book can be read yet another way because it's discussing art as a commercial art form itself. But I don't want to read it that way. Yes, books need to sell. Art needs to sell, too.
Everyone needs to eat. If Hattemer hadn't written this book, I wouldn't have gotten this opportunity to think about art and commercialization in the first place. I don't want to discount a thoughtful examination of art because it's presented using a medium powerful enough to reach me.
View all 11 comments. Sep 11, Ashleigh rated it really liked it. You will learn about punctuation marks. You will use poetry to examine your feelings AND to fight against the man. You will like it. Feb 18, Melissa McShane rated it really liked it Shelves: Selwyn Academy is a school for artists of all kinds: Hattemer weaves quotes from his Cantos into the story at just the right moments to make them part of the underlying structure.
Ethan, the first-person narrator, has a really great, strong voice, and his three friends come across as unique individuals. At the end, he acts and his friends act as if it was all just a big stupid mistake, that Luke had just gotten briefly greedy. But the disparity between his character at the beginning and what he turns into in the middle is so huge it really has to be fundamental; that greedy person is who he has to be inside.
Pitting the four friends against the reality show, with its warping of the ideals of art, makes for a good story, but this book also comes across as an indictment of reality television separate from the concerns of the characters. I liked Ethan despite his occasional gormlessness. View all 5 comments. Jun 21, Jennifer DuBose rated it really liked it. I know this is marketed as YA lit, but I think this book is truly for anyone who is interested in reading, literature, or education.
The plot and characters were so lovable, and as an English teacher, I appreciated all the many literature and poetry references. This is all around an entertaining and smart read, and I didn't want it to end. Mar 03, Susan rated it it was amazing. I bet this is the only YA novel ever to leave the reader with an urge to read Ezra Pound. Nov 11, Leslie Manning rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book by Kate Hattemer turned out to be a delight, not only because it is written with smart kids in mind and yes, there are a LOT of smart young people out there , but because it is different.
The plot is unique, the students' personalities are not cookie cutter, and neither are their relationships with one another. Even with all these great things going for it, thematic value is the book's best asset, offering a glimpse into the poetic, emotional, and comedically dark minds of certain hig This book by Kate Hattemer turned out to be a delight, not only because it is written with smart kids in mind and yes, there are a LOT of smart young people out there , but because it is different.
Even with all these great things going for it, thematic value is the book's best asset, offering a glimpse into the poetic, emotional, and comedically dark minds of certain high schoolers. Ezra Pound, a handful of unusual teachers, a gerbil, and a television reality show all play important roles in a story that reminds the reader that no matter how dramatic high school is, the cogs that make up the machine are real people with deep feelings and a human craving to band together to do what's right A perfect book for your smarter high school students.
Oct 20, Kim rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of the best books I've read all year.
- The Vigilante by John Steinbeck.
- The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy?
- The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy — Kate Hattemer;
Can't wait till April when it's published so that I can shove it in the hands of lots of students. Selwyn Academy is a high school specializing in the arts. Ethan Andrezejczak is an unassuming self-described member of the Untalented caste okay at music, okay at drawing, but not nearly on the same level artistically as Maura the dancer and Brandon the opera singer and Broadway-bound Miki F-R.
Life is fairly predictable for Ethan and his friends until th One of the best books I've read all year. Life is fairly predictable for Ethan and his friends until the beginning of their junior year. Most of the students are thrilled, but Ethan, Luke, Jackson, and Elizabeth quickly realize that having TV crews around and pitting students against each other is going to detract from what has been a pretty decent education.
The administration stonewalls their criticism, so the four take their protests to the student body subversively. The narrative is sharp and witty and thought-provoking you'll learn a lot about Ezra Pound, not to mention revisionary mythopoesis, zeugma, anaphora, interrobangs, and my favorite new acronym WiTSOOTT. The characters are fully developed, the ups and downs of the various friendships are honestly portrayed, and the whole thing just shines.
Review essentially same as above with a few small modifications Jul 19, Lisa Shafer rated it it was amazing Shelves: More and more often lately, YA books are being written for adults who want sexy, romantic teen characters -- and very recently, the trend has been that one of these characters must have a terminal disease. Vigilante Poets is a tremendously refreshing change. My favorite thing about this book is how very realistic the main characters are. The male narrator, Ethan, is not sexy, suave, or sophisticated; he's idealistic, clueless about girls, and loyal.
Yes, the book is a bit heavy on Ezra Pound's poetry for most teenage readers, but it is not necessary to "get" Pound in order to understand the book. Does anyone actually "get" Ezra Pound anyway? That question has been debated for decades. Thus, if you want steamy teen romance, this is not your book.
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If you are an adult who has gotten used to reading YA wherein the "kids" act like adults, this is not your book. But if you want to read a funny, realistic book about hilarious and idealistic teenagers who see themselves as fighting injustice, this is your book. And, if you want a book wherein