When Lois Duncan passed away in 2016, fans and critics alike fondly remembered her as the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer, the first great psychological thriller for teens. Duncan’s story took a tried-and-true plot and retooled it for younger readers, focusing on a quartet of teens who commit and conceal a crime, only to be stalked by an anonymous avenger. While the plot was pure potboiler, Duncan’s characterizations were remarkably realistic, convincingly depicting the confusion, uncertainty, and rashness of the teenage mind under extreme duress.
Yae Utsumi’s Until Your Bones Rot explores similar terrain. His teen protagonists — Shintaro, Akira, Haruko, Ryu, and Tsubaki — are bound by a gruesome crime they committed when they were eleven years old. Utsumi doesn’t immediately reveal what, exactly, they did, though he plants tantalizing clues throughout volume one: a fleeting glimpse of a nighttime ritual, a nightmarish vision of a bloodied face. The plot is set in motion by an anonymous phone call threatening to expose the group unless they accede to the caller’s demands. Though the five initially work together to protect their secret, fault lines soon develop within the group, particularly between Akira — the group’s alpha male — and Shintaro, the odd man out.
Though Utsumi briskly establishes the parameter of his story, Until Your Bones Rot struggles to find its tonal footing. Some passages feel like they’ve been ripped from Love Hina, with bikini-clad girls fawning over the nebbishy Shintaro; other passages read more like MPD Psycho, with characters doing disgusting things to dead bodies; and still other passages play out like a Very Special Episode of The OC in which one character silently copes with an abusive boyfriend. None of these scenes feel like they belong to the same story; about the only common thread that binds them is Utsumi’s fanservice, which gratuitously eroticizes a scene of sexual assault.
It’s a pity that the first volume is so uneven, as Utsumi makes a game attempt to create believable characters. Tsubaki and Shintaro, in particular, behave like real teenagers whose emotional and sexual attraction to one another is so overwhelming that they don’t know how to have a normal conversation or behave like friends; their one-on-one interactions suggest that both were deeply scarred by their participation in the murder, but lack the words — or the maturity — to say how it effected them, instead turning to each other for physical comfort. That’s a level of psychological nuance that Lois Duncan herself might have appreciated, even if Utsumi takes a few narrative shortcuts to establish the dynamic between Tsubaki and Shintaro.
And that, in a nutshell, is what makes Until Your Bones Rot so frustrating: Utsumi clearly understands the teenage mind, but can’t decide if he’s writing a finely observed psychological thriller or a junior-league Saw. The push-pull of these two different storytelling modes robs the most gory scenes of their horror and the most dramatic scenes of their poignancy, yielding a muddled stew of viscera, tears, and boobs. Someone should make him read I Know What You Did Last Summer for a few pointers on how to walk the line between Grand Guignol and Afterschool Special.
UNTIL YOUR BONES ROT, VOL. 1 • STORY AND ART BY YAE UTSUMI • TRANSLATION BY URSULA KU • KODANSHA COMICS • RATED 16+ (SEX, PARTIAL NUDITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE)
Adrian S. Thieret found this sign inside his brand new apartment complex in Shanghai a few days ago:
xǐyī fáng zhèngzài zhuāngshì zhōng -ing…… 洗衣房正在装饰中ing……
("the laundry room is being decorated")
jìngqǐng qídài 敬请期待
("coming soon", lit., "respectfully please wait expectantly")
The excess of markers of the present progressive / continuous aspect in the first line is almost mind-boggling.
In Mandarin, you can indicate the present continuous with zài 在, zhèng 正, or zhèngzài 正在 before the verb. The zhōng 中 ("in [process / midst of]") after the verb is optional. The final particle ne 呢 can also be used to show that the action of the verb is ongoing. In certain situations (e.g., doing one thing while something else is being done), you can also tack on the suffix -zhe 着.
The sentence in the first line of the sign already has three indications of the present continuous, and other resources for emphasizing progressive action in Chinese are available, yet the person(s) who wrote this sign chose to add the English verbal ending "-ing" as well.
Melvin Lee comments on the fondness for the English verb ending -ing in current Chinese:
This usage is actually not uncommon among the young generation in China/Taiwan now. My friends and I tend to use qídàiing 期待ing when we want to say "looking forward to it," particularly in emails or text messages. In this picture, it is interesting because 正在…中 has already served the function of Verb-ing. Therefore, the "ing" here looks a little bit redundant. Still, this kind of mixture of Chinese and English has become so common now, which is surely very interesting.
A few relevant posts:
- "Mandarin borrow-ing English grammatical forms" (Pinyin News [1/4/08])
- "A new way of 寫ing Mandarin" (1/13/08)
- "Once more on the present continuative ending -ing in Chinese" (3/21/14)
- "Past, present, and future" (12/4/14)
- "English '-ing' ending in Korean" (3/27/14)
[Thanks to Maiheng Dietrich and Yixue Yang]
We’ve selected With This Curse by Amanda DeWees for our October read for the SBTB book club. Our official selection post has some more information on the book, including Elyse’s thoughts on why it’s a great Gothic pick for the month of October.
Our chat will occur on Wednesday, October 25 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm EDT. That afternoon, we’ll post the chat link on the site and it will go live around 8:00pm. Sarah will lead a discussion of the book for around an hour, and then author Amanda DeWees will pop in for a Q&A!
We hope to see you there!
The transcript for Podcast 269. One More Reader Rec Request, A Book Squee, A DNF Warning, and Listener Email has been posted!
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
I have been using OpenID in order to comment on LJ communities as I don't want to have an LJ account for obvious reasons.
I used to be able to log in just fine and post comments and create posts etc. But I recently got a new computer and went to log in and comment and it told me I needed to validate my email address. So I clicked through to a link and then clicked the link that was in the email that LiveJournal sent to my email address.
When I click this link in the validation email, it takes me to a page titled:
"Please, verify that you are human"
When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
Then there's a continue button to click on. I click the page and it looks like it's doing something, but it takes me back to the same page again and I remain unverified and now unable to comment or post on any communities.
Any ideas as to how I can get LJ to actually verify the email address for my OpenID account? Thanks!
In Need (FFVII, Reeve & Rufus, Turks, Bonus!Yuffie, T)
Reeve, Rufus, and the specter of the city behind them.
AO3 | DW
against the years (Naruto, Shino/Naruto, M)
Years pass, and Naruto can only love Shino more.
AO3 | DW
we all get there eventually (Free!, Sousuke & Haru, G)
Sousuke is rescued when he gets lost on the way to Makoto's birthday party. Tokyo isn't as scary in pairs.
AO3 | DW
Labor of Love (Free!, Makoto, Haru, Rin, Sousuke, G)
Five people who tried to teach Makoto to cook. (Or: Makoto has always been better at taking care of other people than himself.)
AO3 | DW
without subject (Free!, Sousuke, G)
In junior high, Sousuke has to make a self-portrait during art class. He hates it about as much as you'd expect.
AO3 | DW
a touch of memory (FFXV, Monica & Prompto, T)
When the Prince feels Monica up, it’s really just the start of her problems.
Or: Monica switches bodies with that Argentum kid the Prince likes so much and takes the opportunity to gather plenty of intel.
AO3 | DW
The City (FFXV, ensemble, M)
The City across ten years of Scourge. The taint doesn't come from without, but from within.
AO3 | DW
Due (FFXV, Noctis, G)
The Astrals and the Crystal find Noctis worthy. It begs the question.
AO3 | DW
Ghost, (FFXV, Cor/Iris, M *no underage*)
M. E. 762. Cor and Iris's first time isn't exactly what dreams are made of.
AO3 | DW
Unwanted Girl deals with serious topics and yet manages to be a sweet, satisfying romance. It’s quite a balancing act in terms of tone.
The hero of Unwanted Girl is Nick Dorsey, the writer of a series of bestselling spy novels of the James Bond type. Nick is also a recovering meth addict. When the book starts, he’s been meth-free for eighteen months, although he still drinks alcohol in moderation (N.B.: most recovery programs do not recommend continuing to drink alcohol after quitting other drugs, although it appears that some people are able to do it). Nick goes to Narcotics Anonymous, has been healing his relationships with family, and is struggling with writer’s block. He lives in New York City.
Nick likes to order sandwiches from a deli that delivers. The same woman always delivers his sandwiches. Eventually she introduces herself and invites herself in. Her name is Shyla, and she is from a small village in India. Shyla is studying education with plans to return to India to be a teacher. Shyla asks Nick to help her write a book of her own and as they work on it they fall in love.
Shyla promises Nick that her book has a happy ending. Nick finds this hard to believe, since her story is about the practice of female gendercide as well as spousal abuse and rape (obviously, HUGE trigger warnings for rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, and sexism). As they work together on her book, they also watch movies and she reads both his spy thrillers and his much more personal first novel. This leads to talk about culture, the meaning and purpose of fiction, and gender and race representation.
Shyla’s story forms a book within the book. It’s about a baby in rural India who is abandoned by her biological parents due to her gender and adopted by a woman who has recently lost her only child. This woman, Nalini, names the baby Asha and raises her with the support of a local nun and teacher named Sarah. Sarah insists on Asha continuing her education well into adulthood. However, Asha is frustrated when she marries an abusive man whose mother is also abusive to Asha. Asha wonders the point of all this education is if she never gets to use it.
Even though the book Shyla is writing is full of trauma, and Nick is dealing with the consequences of his addiction, Shyla and Nick are very playful together. Their playfulness lightens the tone, rounds out their characters, and is just generally a kick to read. It also establishes that despite Nick’s original assumption about Shyla, she is comfortable and confident in her sexuality and not opposed to pre-marital sex. Nick makes many assumptions about Shyla and it’s satisfying to see her overthrow them one after another.
Shyla is an interesting character and I would have enjoyed learning more about the family and friends she works with and lives with in New York. She has a strong sense of self that I admired, and she also has the ability to be flexible in her understanding of the world around her without losing the core sense of who she is. For example, she explains that earlier in her life she would have been shocked at the idea that two women could be in a committed relationship and raise a child, but after living for some time in New York she accepts the idea that there are many configurations of family (Nick’s sister and sister-in-law have an adopted daughter). She has a wicked sense of humor that endeared her to me entirely. On the other hand, towards the end of the book she makes a couple of comments that drove me up the wall, including one about women needing to be ladylike. If she had made that comment at the beginning of the book instead of near the end I doubt I would have stuck with it.
Nick is a more bland character. He’s used to telling people what to do. His inability to comprehend things like the racism in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom frustrated me. I felt that he tended to infantilize Shyla, assuming that she would be naïve and shy when actually she’s seen much more of the world than he has. Their relationship levels out eventually.
This book is basically a billionaire romance, with Shyla as a Cinderella who finds a rich prince. Nick isn’t a billionaire, but he is very wealthy, and he loves and is generous with beautiful things and good food. Meanwhile, Shyla is hardworking and, while not desperately impoverished, limited in her financial resources. The cross-cultural and feminist elements deepen the story and there’s a bit of thriller intrigue at the end involving a twist that frankly I did not entirely buy. There is a happy ending to both Asha’s story and Shyla’s story but readers should be warned that Asha goes through absolute (graphically described) hell before she gets to the happy ending that Shyla promises. The writing can be a bit stilted and the characters aren’t equally balanced, but the sensitive handling of difficult material and the balance of tragedy and humor bring the book up to a B+.
This is something of an all-in-one episode. Ready?
We begin with one last recommendation request for Amanda and me, and then we squee! Amanda and I both read a book we loved, and want to tell all of you about it. We go on at length, too, so be ready. It’s got magic and mystery and a terrific heroine.
But because I know so many of you immediately grab the next book when you begin a new series, I wanted to include a little information about book 2, which I DNFd after a scene that really irritated me.
THEN, I have an email from an anonymous listener who wanted to share some information based on episode 257, where we discussed BDSM and chronic pain. This is some fascinating stuff, so stay tuned for that.Listen to the podcast →
Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
Our anonymous listener mentioned shibari rope bondage techniques, and you can learn more online.
The episode our anonymous listener was responding to was episode 257: Bitches Assemble: Our Favorite Recommendations and the Expectations of Tentacles.
Thanks to our sponsors:
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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.
Thanks for listening!
This Episode's Music
Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater.
This episode is brought to you by Organization Academy.
Organization Academy the home of my online courses on using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. I did a series on SBTB about how I use Google Calendar to automate and manage every aspect of my day, including home, family, business, other business, freelance writing, podcasting, meal planning, and more.
Over the past year, I have developed a step by step instructional program outlining the method I use for meal planning, and I am about to launch my first online course, Menu Planning Mastery. It’s all about saving time, energy, and money by harnessing the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning.
If you feel overwhelmed sometimes by the question “What’s for dinner?” when you don’t know the answer, this course is for you. This method can save you time and reduce stress.
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Advertisement recently spotted by Guy Freeman in the Central, Hong Kong MTR (subway) station:
It's a mixture of Chinese and English, of simplified and traditional characters. In this post, I will focus on the calligraphically written slogan on the right side of the poster:
Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ, let's zhīfùbǎo
This slogan is not easy to translate. Consequently, before attempting to do so, I will explain some of the more elusive aspects of these two clauses / lines.
First of all, the zhī 支 inside single Chinese quotation marks in the first clause has more than two dozen different meanings, including "support, sustain, raise, bear, put up, prop up, draw money, pay, pay money, disburse, check / cheque, defray, protrude, put off, put somebody off, send away, branch, stick, offshoot, twelve earthly branches, a surname, division, subdivision, auxiliary verb, measure word for troops". For the moment, I'll refrain from attempting to translate it in the present context.
In the second clause, zhī 支 is part of the disyllabic word zhīfù 支付 ("pay [money]; defray"), which, in turn, is part of the trademark Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay", China's clone of PayPal). Being the name of a company, Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay") is a noun. However, since it here follows "let's" to form a first person plural command, it is acting as a verb: "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝" ("let's Alipay").
When we realize that the first clause is a literary allusion, it gets even trickier. The first clause is perfectly homophonous with and echoes the first line of this couplet by the Tang poet, Wang Bo 王勃 (650-676):
hǎinèi cún zhījǐ, tiānyá ruò bǐlín
"When you have a close friend in the world, the far ends of heaven are like next door."
Thus 'zhī'jǐ「支」己 (lit., "pay self") is a pun for zhījǐ 知己 ("bosom / close / intimate friend; confidant[e]; soulmate", lit., "know-self").
I would translate the whole couplet this way:
"You have a bosom friend (pay pal) everywhere, let's Alipay"
Guy notes that the ad "is from Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba, a very large Internet company from China. This shows the occasional outbursts from Chinese officials about defeating English to be useless at best."
Last question: why did they use the English word "let's" instead of the equivalent Mandarin, "ràng wǒmen 让我们" or "ràng wǒmen yīqǐ 让我们一起"? But that's three or five syllables instead of one, so it sounds clumsy and clunky instead of neat and crisp the way an ad should be.
If they wanted to avoid the English "let's" and use only Chinese, they could have written something like this:
yīqǐ Zhīfùbǎo 一起支付宝 ("together Alipay")
To tell the truth, in terms of rhythm, idiomaticity, and catchiness, that actually sounds better than "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ('let's Alipay')" when paired with "Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ 海内存「支」己" ("You have a bosom friend [pay pal] everywhere").
Bottom line: they wanted to sound international, since Alipay has global aspirations.
There have been many earlier posts on multiscriptalism and multilingualism involving numerous languages and scripts. Here are some that specifically feature Chinese:
- "Zhao C: a Man Who Lost His Name" (2/27/09)
- "A New Morpheme in Mandarin" (4/26/11)
- "Creeping Romanization in Chinese" (8/30/12)
- "Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia" (9/25/13)
- "Biscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese" (8/17/14)
- "Biscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese, part 2" (10/15/14)
- "Digraphia and intentional miswriting" (3/12/15)
- "A trilingual, biscriptal note (with emoji)" (2/5/17)
- "Biscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese, part 3" (4/25/17)
This is not an exhaustive list.
[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng, Yixue Yang, and Jinyi Cai]
In the comments to "Easy versus exact" (10/14/17), a discussion of the term "Hànzi 汉子" emerged as a subtheme. Since it quickly grew too large and complex to fit comfortably within the framework of the o.p., I decided to write this new post focusing on "Hàn 汉 / 漢" and some of the many collocations into which it enters.
To situate Language Log readers with some basic terms they likely already know, we may begin with Hànyǔ 汉语 ("Sinitic", lit., "Han language"), Hànyǔ Pīnyīn 汉语拼音 ("Sinitic spelling"), and Hànzì 汉字 ("Sinograph, Sinogram", i.e., "Chinese character"). All of these terms incorporate, as their initial element, the morpheme "Hàn 汉 / 漢". Where does it come from, and what does it mean?
"Hàn 汉 / 漢" is the name of a river that has its source in the mountains of the southwest part of the province of Shaanxi. It is the longest tributary of the Yangtze River, which it joins at the great city of Wuhan. The fact that Han is a river name is reflected in the water semantophore on the left side of the character that is used to write it.
The name of the river was adopted by Liu Bang (256-195 BC), the founding emperor, as the designation for his dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) — more specifically, the dynasty was named after Liu Bang's fiefdom Hànzhōng 汉中 / 漢中 (lit. "middle of the Han River"). After the Qin (221-206 BC), from which the name "China" most likely derives, the Han was the second imperial dynasty in Chinese history. Because the fame of the Han Dynasty resounded far and near, it came to be applied to the main ethnic group of China, as well as the language they spoke and the characters used to write it. Note that there could have been no Han ethnicity or nation before the Han Dynasty.
After the Han Dynasty fell, many of the dynasties that ruled in the northern part of the former empire during the following centuries were non-Sinitic peoples (proto-Mongols, proto-Turks, etc.) who actually looked down upon their Han subjects. During that period, in their mouths, "Hàn 汉 / 漢" became a derogatory term, especially in collocations such as Hàn'er 汉儿 and Hànzi 汉子, which we might think of as meaning something like "Han boy / fellow / guy". Such terms derived from "Hànrén 汉人 (漢人)" ("Han people"), which generally became a respectable designation again after the collapse of the northern dynasties. It is remarkable, however, that during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when the Mongols ruled over China, non-Sinitic peoples such as the Khitans, Koreans, and Jurchens were referred to as "Hànrén 汉人 (漢人)" ("Han people").
Here are some terms in Mandarin that are based on the Han ethnonym but refer to different types of people in various ways:
hànzi 汉子 39,300,000 ghits
1. man; fellow
3. Historically, as mentioned above, during the Northern Dynasties (386-577), hànzi 汉子 was a derogatory reference for Sinitic persons used by non-Sinitic peoples (who were rulers in the north at that time).
nánzǐhàn 男子汉 ("a real man") 11,600,000 ghits
nǚ hànzi 女汉子 ("tough girl") 7,180,000 ghits
dà nánzǐhàn 大男子汉 ("a big guy; macho man") 53,100 ghits
Comments by native speaker informants:
I know all these terms and I agree with all your translations. However, I also think that nǚ hànzi 女汉子could mean "tomboy" (girls who can do things that men can do). I once saw a translation of nǚ hànzi 女汉子as wo-man. I think that’s interesting too.
I think the term nǚ hànzi 女汉子 emerged only in the last few years in the Chinese-speaking world. So it is a bit difficult for someone like me who has been living outside for the last forty years to accurately tell its exact meaning. If it applies to young women only, then "tomboy" may not be too far off.
"What does the Chinese word '女漢子' mean?" (Quara)
"Renewal of the race / nation" (6/24/17)
Joshua A. Fogel, "New Thoughts on an Old Controversy: Shina as a Toponym for China", Sino-Platonic Papers, 229 (August, 2012), 1-25 (free pdf)
Victor H. Mair, "The Classification of Sinitic Languages: What Is 'Chinese'?, in Breaking Down the Barriers: interdisciplinary studies in Chinese linguistics and beyond (Festschrift for Alain Peyraube), pp. 735-754 (free pdf), esp. pp. 739-741.
[Thanks to Yixue Yang, Jinyi Cai, Sanping Chen, and Jing Wen]
I'll be looking for solutions, but in the meantime, you can always find everything on the website at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/
SEAN: Honestly, thanks to Kodansha’s digital push, there are not even any medium weeks anymore. Every week is huge. Forever! Good news for manga fans, bad news for budgets.
ASH: So true!
SEAN: Dark Horse has the 3rd Hatsune Miku:Rin-chan Now!, theoretically: the title’s been bumped 3 weeks in a row.
ASH: That’s not nearly as timely as the title might suggest.
SEAN: J-Novel Club has a great deal out next week. We get the third volume of If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord, which remains heartwarming and family-oriented… FOR NOW. (ominous thunder)
The polarizing light novel In Another World With My Smartphone just finished a polarizing anime just in time for Vol. 5. I’m hoping it stays laid-back and ridiculous.
And we’re almost done with My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World with the penultimate book, Vol. 6.
As you can guess, there’s a lot of Kodansha. Princess Resurrection has its 19th volume, on the Del Rey rescue front.
On the print front, we see a 3rd Aho-Girl, a 7th Heroic Legend of Arslan, a 3rd Land of the Lustrous (now with an anime), a 2nd Love & Lies, and a 2nd Toppu GP, for all your motocross needs.
MICHELLE: In real life, I’ve no interest in motocross, but Kate’s review convinced me I would probably enjoy Toppu GP. I’ll check it out soon, hopefully.
ANNA: It does sound interesting!
ASH: I need to catch up on so many of these!
SEAN: The print “debut” is Fairy Tail S, which collects some of the special “omake” chapters that have been released over the course of the series. Expect a lot of fanservice, meaning both nudity *and* ‘shout outs to fans”.
On the digital front, first off, Cosplay Animal 2 apparently came out already, though is not at all major online places. Next week, we have the 5th Altair: A Record of Battles, the 2nd Grand Blue Dreaming, the 4th Kounodori: Dr. Stork, the 5th Real Girl,, the 2nd Shojo Fight!, and the 4th Tsuredure Children.
MICHELLE: Yay for more Shojo Fight! Not that I’ve been able to read the first one yet…
ANNA: So behind, I bought the first couple volumes of Altair but haven’t read it yet. Maybe too much digital????
SEAN: There will also be a horror manga being debuted by Kodansha, but we don’t know what it is yet. Be prepared!
ASH: Always prepared for more horror manga.
SEAN: One Peace has everyone’s favorite girl and bear manga, Kuma Miko. This is the 6th volume.
Seven Seas has a plethora of titles as well. There’s a 2nd Alice & Zoroku, the third volume of Hatsune Miku spinoff Bad End Night, the 6th Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (always #1 on lists of “where is the light novel this was adapted from?), and a 4th Please Tell Me, Galko-chan!. That’s… quite a variety of genres there.
Their debut is Yokai Rental Shop (Yokai Nii-san), whose description makes it sound like xxxHOLIC with a gender-reversed Yuko. It runs in Square Enix’s GFantasy, and I think is that rare Seven Seas title that Michelle and Melinda will want to check out.
MICHELLE: Interesting! I had been curious about the creator’s other licensed series, Nightmare Inspector, but never read any of it.
ASH: I’m very excited for this one; I really liked Nightmare Inspector!
MELINDA: Oooooooh, honestly I’ll check out anything from GFantasy. Okay, Seven Seas, you have intrigued me!
SEAN: The title that interests me the most this week is from Vertical Comics, who are debuting a manga series written by NISIOISIN. Imperfect Girl (Shoujo Fujuubun). Like a lot of Nisio titles, it has a supernatural bent, a twisted female lead, and lots of talking. The artist will also be familiar to North American readers for the series Sankarea. This series ran for 3 volumes in Young Magazine, so should be nice and compact.
ANNA: I’m cautiously intrigued.
ASH: I’m also rather curious about this one.
SEAN: Lastly, Viz has some digital-only titles as well, with the 3rd élDLIVE and the 2nd The Emperor and I.
Any of this interest you? Or are you saving up for MANGAGEDDON the week after next?
Human research subjects are all over popular media. Lab rats, guinea pigs, and even the obscure “Pharmer’s daughter” (From The Facility, 2012) all refer to people who participate in biomedical research as test subjects—often ingesting experimental drugs to test their toxicity or therapeutic effectiveness.
The clinical trial industry has decried the representations of human subjects in the media for being fantastical and overly dramatic. The concern is that portraying human subjects in a negative light hurts their ability to recruit participants, test experimental products, and profit from approved drugs.
But how are human research subjects actually portrayed?
In two new publications, my co-author Jill Fisher and I look at how human subjects are represented in popular entertainment media. We analyzed 65 television shows and films like Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Grey’s Anatomy, The Facility and The Amazing Spiderman.
We find that human research subjects are predominately white men from lower socio-economic backgrounds. When women are represented, they are more likely to be shown being coerced into research (rather than enrolling for therapeutic or financial reasons).
2 Broke Girls is actually an outlier in this regard. In this show, Max and Caroline were not coerced but financially motivated to participate in clinical trials—or as Max likes to call it: “getting paid $500 to roll the side effect dice and hope it lands on hallucinations! [audience laughter]”
Indeed, films and shows did use fantastical and dramatic representations of side effects—from discussions of men growing breasts, limb regrowth, and fits of rage and violence—and death and injury were common. Most of these medical studies failed—and failed in spectacularly horrific or comedic ways.
While negative, this portrayal is not necessarily wrong or bad:
Importantly, negative outcomes of fictional medical research are not the same as negative depictions of science… There are real risks to research participants who enroll in medical studies as well as high rates of scientific failure (Fisher and Cottingham 2017:575–76).
While industry representatives may dislike portrayals for their inaccuracies, the fact that many clinical trials do fail and have serious potential to harm subjects cannot be absolved by painting subjects as “medical heroes” as some have tried (Peddicord 2012).
What do human subjects think of these portrayals?
We took the study further by looking at how human research subjects themselves use film and television to understand clinical trials. Surprisingly, the discussion of dramatic side effects were common among their responses. As one participant noted:
Like I never heard of this [clinical trials], and ‘They do what?!’ You know, you gonna grow an extra eye, you gonna grow, you-you know, you hear all these things, you know. – Rob
And yet, after they had participated in a clinical trial and saw that the more common side effects listed in the informed consent documents included dizziness, headaches, nausea, and fatigue, they became less concerned about the risks of clinical trials. Rather than scaring these participants away, representations in the media seemed to make the mundane and ordinary list of potential side effects (even cardiac issues!) appear even more acceptable.
We frame media portrayals and participant perspectives on the risks of clinical trials as collective and individual efforts to manage the anxieties surrounding the risks of experimental biomedical research. As a society, we have come to accept the fact that experimental research requires risking human welfare and comfort, but remain ambivalent about the idea that science is inherently good and linked to social progress.
Collectively, we manage this ambivalence by dehumanizing research subjects or indulging in tales of science gone wrong. At the individual level, research participants use media portrayals of “lab rats” and “guinea pigs” to manage the fears and anxieties of the research they undergo. No one has grown a third arm, had their penis shrink, or turned blue in a Phase I clinical trial, so it must not be too harmful…right?
Read More Here:
Cottingham, Marci D. and Jill A. Fisher. Forthcoming. “From Fantasy to Reality: Managing Biomedical Risk Emotions in and through Fictional Media.” Health, Risk & Society 1–17.
Fisher, Jill A. and Marci D. Cottingham. 2017. “This Isn’t Going to End Well: Fictional Representations of Medical Research in Television and Film.” Public Understanding of Science 26(5):564–78.
Peddicord, Doug. 2012. “Television’s Assault on Medical Research.” Huffington Post.
Marci Cottingham is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the sociology of emotion, social inequalities, healthcare, and biomedical risk. More on her research (including the two papers discussed here) can be found on her website.
An Untamed State
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is $1.99! This is a highly recommended piece of contemporary fiction. It’s harrowing and emotional as it chronicles a woman’s kidnapping, rescue, and recovery. This is Gay’s debut novel and there are definitely some trigger warnings for this book. For those who have read it, what did you think?
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed Stateestablishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
A Rogue to Avoid
A Rogue to Avoid by Bianca Blythe is 99c at Amazon! This is a historical romance where a misunderstanding leads to marriage. Talk about awkward. Readers really seemed to enjoy the interaction between the hero and heroine. However, others found some things to be a bit unbelievable or inconsistent. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the second book in a series and the first one is also on sale!
A Scottish scoundrel…
Gerard Highgate, Marquess of Rockport and the ton’s most aloof rake, knows better than to wed an Englishwoman, especially one as prickly as Lady Cordelia. But when his mother dies and he finds himself saddled with her debts, he needs a wife and he needs one fast.
An exacting Englishwoman…
Lady Cordelia knows that hastiness in husband hunting leads to mistakes. But when she visits an aristocrat to warn that his life might be in danger, he misinterprets her suggestion to flee to Scotland.
An unexpected elopement…
Most elopements are born of love, not misunderstanding. Cordelia and Gerard have already broken that rule, but perhaps they can still make their marriage one of love.
This book is on sale at:
Stud by Jamie K. Schmidt is 99c! This sounds like a pretty fun contemporary and I already have it on my Kindle. Some readers found the writing a bit choppy at times, while others really loved the heroine’s strong personality. This is also a standalone romance.
Large. Hot. With a pump of sexual tension.
When the barista next door teams up with a slick ad executive in this sweet standalone novel from USA Today bestselling author Jamie K. Schmidt, they both get a taste of unexpected love.
Terri Cooke wishes she could give Mick Wentworth a piece of her mind. The infuriating stud muffin walks into her coffee shop every morning expecting his regular order at 8:57 on the dot, without ever acknowledging Terri’s presence—except for staring at her cleavage. And yet she can’t deny that Mick Wentworth has an animal magnetism that’s stronger and richer than any espresso . . . which explains why Terri says yes when he suddenly, inexplicably asks her out.
After the morning coffee run, Mick’s day is all downhill from there. His family’s marketing firm is dysfunctional in more ways than one, so to save the business, Mick desperately needs to impress their newest client. When he learns that Terri’s a fan of their trendy product, he tries to get inside her head. It doesn’t hurt that she’s the barista he’s been lusting after for the past five months. But as things heat up with Terri, Mick finds that a little steam is just the jolt he needs to turn his whole life around.
One Bite Per Night
One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann is 99c! This is a historical paranormal romance with a vampire hero who takes the heroine on as his ward. Readers seemed divided on the main characters. Many liked the hero, but found the heroine to be rather exhausting at times.
He wanted her off his hands…
Vincent Tremayne, the reclusive “Devil Earl,” has been manipulated into taking rambunctious Lydia Price as his ward. As Lord Vampire of Cornwall, Vincent has better things to do than bring out an unruly debutante.
Now he’ll do anything to hold on forever
American-born Lydia Price doesn’t care for the stuffy strictures of the ton, and is unimpressed with her foppish suitors. She dreams of studying with the talented but scandalous British portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence. But just when it seems her dreams will come true, Lydia is plunged into Vincent’s dark world and finds herself caught between the life she’s known and a future she never could have imagined.