Dear FYA readers,
Hi! It's your friend Erin here, who probably owes you five or ten dollars and forgot your birthday last week, but this week she made you cupcakes, and also bought you a drink, so you grudgingly forgive her as you lick chocolate buttercream icing off your fingertips.
GUESS WHAT TIME IT IS?
If you guessed that it's time for talking about incest, well, DING DING DING! Give yourself a prize!! (a virtual one, please. Our budget here at FYA is strictly directed towards advanced cocktails research.)
That's right, folks! It's time to start our review of that seminal
Young Adult classic - Flowers in the Attic.
I know. I CAN FEEL YOUR EXCITEMENT FROM HERE.
A little background on FITA, as I call it (not to be confused with that organization where people run around shirtless kicking a ball back and forth for no reason at all that I can see):
When I was eight, I went rooting through a grocery sack of used paperbacks that someone had given my mom. Most of it was stuff that I'd end up reading eventually, but one book stood out from the rest. It looked mysterious, with a tortured, trapped figure on the front and a brief description on the back that promised intrigue and horror. This seemed right up my already-slightly-deranged, little-kid alley.
At eight, I didn't really know much about characterization or plot or prose. If I had, I would have put the book down after the first terrible chapter. But what I did know was that it was super-fun to try to get away with doing things my parents didn't want me to do, and since at the time I was grounded from reading (the only punishment that ever worked for me as a child), it seemed only right and just that I hide that book away under my bed and take it out at night and read it under the covers.
A whole new world was opened to me with that book; a world that seemed so totally implausible as to be considered endlessly fascinating. And when it got to the incest! Well, hot damn! Here was something I knew my parents didn't want me reading! So, of course, I wanted to read it all the more. And from there, my obsession grew - I wanted to read every seedy, trashy word that V.C. Andrews had ever written, and I think I continued to read her books for about six more years, until I of course finally realized that there was way more prurient stuff out there with which to offend my parents' sensibilities. Like The Boy Who Could Fly (inside joke for my mom, if she's reading).
Recently, I decided to reread Flowers in the Attic to see if it was still as awesomely trashy as I remembered it to be. And, well . . . it's not. It's actually just pretty bad. I mean, really, incredibly, "fifteen weeks on the NYT bestseller list, SERIOUSLY?"-type bad.
Flowers in the Attic clocks in at exactly 411 pages, and I can tell you right now that nothing happens on 395 of them. For a book which is a bit of a pop-culture phenomenon, I find this strange. Surely the incest and the whippings and the tarring and, well, the incest deserve whole chapters extolling their virtues, but the actually scandalous/mildly interesting parts are glossed over fairly quickly.
Actually, the VERY GREATEST "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" part of this ENTIRE BOOK is the dedication page. Now, I don't know how many of you guys have read Flowers in the Attic. Perhaps, like me, you loved it as a child. Perhaps you've never heard of it before, and you are going to come along on this journey with your mind open and prepared to be blown. If so, let me sum up, very quickly, what this book is about: Four kids have the perfect life. Then their dad dies and their mom takes them to live with her in her parents' grand estate. Cool, right? Except, not really, because her parents disowned her, due to a small, tiny little fall-out when she maybe happened to, uh, marry her half-brother/half-uncle. Whoops! Man! Parents are so uptight, am I right? Anyway, so to win back her father's
millions love, the mom locks her four kids in the attic. For years. And there are a whole host of other terrible things that she does, which I won't talk about now, in order not to spoil you for the Machiavellian brilliance that is Corrine Dollanganger. BUT! So! Evil, evil, buttfucking evil lady, right??
THIS IS THE DEDICATION FOR THE BOOK:
This book is dedicated to my mother.
WHAT?! V.C. Andrews, you are HARD CORE COLD, lady! I mean, when I want to get back at my mom for perceived slights, I date people with facial piercings. NOT WRITE A BOOK ABOUT PSYCHOTIC MOTHERS WHO IMPRISON AND KILL THEIR INBRED CHILDREN.
Ahem. Anyway. It really doesn't get crazier than that.
Alas, I shall do my duty to
my country this blog and review this book chapter by chapter. Because I am me, and this is FYA, of course I have structured a drinking game to play during these reviews! Check it:
The Flowers In the Attic (Dollanganger Series) Drinking Game
Take one drink when:
• Someone mentions how rich Corrine's parents are.
• Cathy says "golly-lolly."
• Christopher is a pompous jerkface.
• Christopher talks about being a doctor.
• Cathy dances, talks about dancing, thinks about dancing, or shows completely inappropriate levels of dance ability considering she's had no formal training and she's suffered from malnutrition for years and anyway, her body is all wrong for ballet so how the hell does she end up being a prima ballerina for a company in New York, GOD!
• Cory or Carrie complain.
• The words "creamy," "mansion," "flowers," or "grandmother" are mentioned.
• Corrine holds any of her children's hands to her bosom.
• Grandmother lays down a rule.
• Corrine evades the truth.
• The kids eat a powdered donut.
• Cathy and Chris make Carrie and Cory do something they don't want to do.
• You want to punch Cathy in the face. Just a little bit, not enough to do any damage, or anything.
Take a shot when:
• Anyone walks in on anyone else in a state of undress.
• Chris, Cathy, Cory or Carrie sneak out of their room.
• Chris, Cathy, Cory or Carrie are punished.
• The Dollangangers' Hitler Youth Army looks are mentioned (i.e. blond hair, ice-blue eyes, tall, pale, thin).
FYA DISCLAIMER 1: Not responsible for alcohol poisoning.
FYA DISCLAIMER 2: For our underage readers, please substitute alcohol with sparkling cider or OJ. (P.S. Sparkling cider is deliciouso, so also share some with me!)
And now, the start of our review! I've structured these slightly differently than the SVH reviews. These reviews include!
Number of drinks/chugs/shots taken: Science!
Chapter Summary: (written from Cathy's perspective)
The Creepy Award Goes To: Obvs this will be a difficult choice.
Notes from the Margin: (in which I type up the notes I have written in the margin, like a true YA and/or that creep Robbie from Dirty Dancing.)
Let's get started, home fries!!!
What's past is prologue - Billy S.
Number of Drinks Taken: 2
Number of Drinks Chugged: 1
Number of Shots: 0
Chapter Summary: Good golly-lolly! This is a book about incest and mean parents!! It's totally true, y'all! My mom is a mean lady! I'm going to tell my story under a fake name and hope someone publishes it! My story is really long, though, cause it involves being locked in an attic for years, having two siblings die, being raped by my other sibling, becoming the teenaged girlfriend to a middle-aged doctor who adopted me, being a prima ballerina, having my toes broken by my abusive husband, having two sons, seducing my stepfather, whipping an old lady, setting fire to a mansion, having my mother try to poison my son's mind, setting fire to her house, growing up to marry my brother, having my kids hate each other, having one son steal the other son's wife, having one son paralyzed, and then more fire. But for this book, let's just focus on the first part! Hooray!!
The Creepy Award Goes To: V.C. Andrews, obviously!! Er, I'm sorry. To "Cathy."
Notes from the Margin:
And as I begin to copy from the old memorandum journals that I kept for so long, a title comes as if inspired. Open the Window and Stand in the Sunshine.
That title is not inspired. That title is shit.
Certainly God in his infinite mercy will see that some understanding publisher will put my words in a book, and help grind the knife that I hope to wield.
Understanding Publisher should have demanded rewrites.
Daddy happy shiny five dollar now? - D. Sedaris
Number of Drinks Taken: 20
Number of Drinks Chugged: 8
Number of Shots: 15
Chapter Summary: Daddy travels every week because he is a super-special PR person for a computer company! Every Friday he comes home with presents for me!! First I have to kiss him and shower him with affection, though, cause Daddy's sort of needy. Then my mom, who spends all of Friday getting her hairs did, makes out with Daddy in front of my stupid older brother Chris and I. It's not gross at all! I want to be just like Mommy so I can make out with a handsome man like Daddy too!
And now Mommy's pregnant! She's having twins! Great, now my creepy daddy isn't going to want me anymore! But he makes me feel better by buying me something shiny! And then the stupid babies come and they smell but then I like them because I am a Female and so I must love babies.
And then the babies grow up a little and we have a birthday party for our wonderful Daddy! Only he's tardy to the party! Whoops! Turns out he died in a tragic car accident on his 36th birthday! And now mommy is all depressed and I have to heat up casseroles and it's so boring and then the debt collectors come and mommy explains how we're living the American dream by financing our upper-middle-class lifestyle with credit. And she can't pay the bills cause she's not Destiny's Child and also because she doesn't have any training/doesn't want a job. Cause she's a lady, duh! Ladies aren't supposed to work!
So Mommy tells us that we're going to live with her super-rich mom and dad in a mansion in Virginia! Wow! That's going to be awesome! Hey, I wonder why she's never, ever mentioned her parents before and why they've never once visited us or sent us a letter! Oh well, I'm sure it'll be fine!
The Creepy Award Goes To: Daddy Dollanganger! I guess it's only right that everyone in this fictional family is creepy, even the dead ones, but boy, let me tell you: Daddy Dollanganger is CREE.PEE. I mean, one would expect some mild creepiness from a guy who married his half-sister/half-niece (spoiler!), but I think Garland Christopher Foxworth, Jr (aka Chris Dollanganger, Sr) really goes above and beyond the standard acceptable levels of mouth-breathing and staring at you while you sleep.
In what ways is he creepy, you ask? (I heard you asking in your head.) Well. First of all, I mistrust someone who works in PR for a computer company in the 50s. What is he doing for them? To whom is he publicly relating? The only people who used computers in the 50s were MIT nerds and spies, and neither group gets out much in public. He travels Monday through Friday, sometimes even overseas, which makes him not only mysteriously employed but also an object of my envy. And every Friday he comes home seeking to buy his family's affections with material goods he can ill-afford and demanding to be kissed and cuddled like a hero coming back from war. Check it:
"Do you love me?-For I most certainly love you; did you miss me?-Are you glad I'm home?-Did you think about me when I was gone? Every night? Did you toss and turn and wish I were beside you, holding you close? For if you didn't, Corrine, I might want to die."
Um, I am sorry, but that? Is creepy. Creepy, passive-aggressive, needy, daddytouchedme behavior that grosses me right the heck out. Coupled with his demand for displays of affection from his daughter when she hurts his feelings and his overwhelmingly Aryan features (the entire family is like a poster for Hitler's Youth Army, which is unsurprising, given that they all share the exact same DNA.), this is a man to run away from! Not marry and cling to!
Notes from the Margin:
"It's freezing outside, Momma! . . . I wouldn't live down south where it never snows, for anything!"
Good!! We don't want you!!
"Go away!" I yelled I already hate your babies!"
I ALREADY HATE YOUR BABIES TOO!
I thought I would hate them both, especially the loud-mouthed one named Carrie . . .
Oh. You will. We all will.
" . . . but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car, or truck, and this kept him from completing his correct defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life. But, as it was, your husband's much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Caddilac spun over . . . and then . . . it caught on fire."
JESUS. Worst. Delivery. Ever.
Yet I hated it every time someone asked how he died, and what a pity someone so young should die, when so many who were useless and unfit, lived on and on, and were a burden to society.
Okay, Glenn Beck!
She paced, her long shapely legs appearing through the front opening of her filmy black negligee . . . our mother spun around and the black chiffon of her negligee flared like a dancer's skirt, revealing her beautiful legs from feet to hips.
"I can't even type. I can embroider beautiful needlepoint and crewelwork stitches, but that kind of thing doesn't earn any money."
It does on Etsy!
That's it for this week, folks! Check in next Friday for a continuation of our saga!