Portland has been basking in media attention in recent days, and we're going to get another moment in the (proverbial) sun in December with the release of Twilight. The film based on the first book in Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular vampire saga was filmed in Oregon. It's a backhanded advertisement, since Twilight requires a setting as rainy and sunless as possible; according to Meyer's mythology, the sun doesn't hurt vampires, but it does make them sparkle. (Meyer's website states that the books are based on a dream she had, in which "two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire.")
The final book in the series is being released this week to much fanfare, so last weekend I made a half-hearted attempt to understand the Twilight phenomenon by reading the first book in Meyer's four-book saga.
Now, I'm no fan of the knee-jerk intellectual elitism that keeps people my age from reading "young adult" books—the line between adult and young adult fiction is increasingly arbitrary, and a lot of good books are criminally overlooked as a result of the combination of laziness and snobbery that goes into producing the phrase, "I don't really read kids' books."
That said, when it comes to Twilight, I don't understand the crossover appeal: Twilight is about a young girl, Bella, who falls in love with a vampire. He's sexy in that hilarious vampire-cliché way, but their physical relationship is confounded by the fact that if Bella does more than press her closed mouth against his preternaturally cold lips—if she arouses his passions too much—he might lose control and accidentally drink her blood.
This may be of a piece with the Harry Potter-promotes-Satanism backlash, but it's hard not to feel dismayed by such a retrograde depiction of sexuality. (I'll just reread the Bible if I'm looking to internalize the ol' "woman as dangerous temptress" trope.) But the saga's popularity is undeniable, and on Friday Powell's is throwing a midnight release party for the final book in the series, Breaking Dawn. Expect trivia, DJs, and sparkly children dressed up like vampires.