You might think that when you leave the country for an extended period of time things might change while you are away. I used to feel that way, actually: a little worried that while I was gone exploring someplace new, I'd miss something really good, really major back at home. It turns out, however, that generally speaking, nothing really changes in the world. Oh, sure, my sister might cut her hair, and I might see pictures from some absolutely raging awesome party and dude, you SO should have been there! Occasionally there are constellational shifts in the particular solar system I inhabit: once, an aunt of mine passed away while I was gone, another time a friend got married, and a family pet had to be put down. In each instance, I mourned or rejoiced as each situation dictated, but I did not find the landscape of my life significantly altered.
In the grand scheme of things, when I come back home the world seems to be much as I left it, in a global sense. For example, in 2002 when I left for a job in Chile, Jen, Brad, and Angelina were on the cover of People Magazine. Fifteen months later when I landed in Dallas on my way home, guess who was still on the cover (though by that point the threesome had been reduced to two: Jen and Brangelina).
Only two times have I ever returned home to find some sort of seismic shift in the world around me. In February of 2003 when I returned from Chile I stopped briefly at home, and then headed up to New York City to see some friends and family up there. It hadn't hit Durham, North Carolina in any significant numbers yet, but in the Big Apple everywhere I went I saw people plugged into these little white boxes a little larger a cigarette box. They were all identical, and instead of pushing buttons I just saw people running their thumbs in circles over the top. What on earth were they doing, polishing it? Finally I tapped a stranger on the shoulder while riding the subway, and asked him what in the world that little thing was. He looked at me like I might be speaking an ancient dialect of English, so I repeated the question. "Hark, ye fine and bonny lad. Whither goest thou with yon white box, and what be its function?"
"Um, dude, it's an iPod," he said, and opened up to mine eyes the glorious mysteries of Apple.
This time I've hardly been gone long enough for anything major to have happened, and yet I find myself mystified by a new literary phenomenon. What on earth is this Twilight series, and where in the world did it come from? When I left for Nicaragua in August, I had never even heard mention of the name of the first book, yet I come home to find a complete series of 5 or 6 books? How is this possible? And furthermore, why is the world so divided between Twilighters and Twilight-haters? My brother The Fairy King got the first two books for Christmas, and was eager to read them, but Crasey stole them from him and spent the rest of the day THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WHOLE DARN DAY with her nose buried somewhere in the middle of its hundreds of pages. The next day she went out and bought the entire series. I went with her to the bookstor, and let me tell you, that Twilight series is MANIA. The books are stacked dozens deep on the table at Barnes and Noble, and they're flying off the shelves, dancing down the aisle, flitting by the register, and walzing out the door. At Target I heard two girls arguing over who would get the last remaining book 3, and another girl on her phone was asking a friend if she should pick up books 4 and 5 for her, since she'd found them at last.
This is what I know, and let me confess right up front that I'm not predisposed to want to read them. Not that I have anything against entertainment literature (good god, you should see my personal collection of ridiculous romance novels), but I'm not particularly fascinated by vampires, especially ones that sparkle, as I've been told these ones do. Nor do I have a binding interest in gorgeous young men who fall passionately in love and then try very hard not to have premarital sex. I find the idea just stretches credulity too far. Crasey has sworn that they are just the bees knees, the be all and end all of fantastic, and a million kinds of wonderful. Beyond her able use of hyperbole, however, she has thus far failed to impress upon me what exactly it is that makes these books so wonderful.
So, any takers? Can anybody explain where these books came from, and why I ought (or ought not) to read them?