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Mar. 16th, 2013

deeply_horrible: don't panic!

My dears: those of you who saw my call for new [ profile] deeply_horrible mods, please don't be concerned about the future of the comm. Everything is in hand and there'll be an announcement made soon that I think you'll all find quite exciting.


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Mar. 15th, 2013


This fic. My friends, this fic is a revelation.

Really I want to say FOR LOVE OF GOD, GO READ THIS NOW, but that wouldn't do it justice. And I want to do it justice, because it is the story that jarred me out of fic apathy, that made me sit up straight and realise, in a kind of shock moment, the revolutionary potential that can be set free by rewritings and explorations of ›canon‹. That sounds very abstract. Really that's just me, not the fic; or rather, it's what the fic does without ever having to say.

Some of you may remember [personal profile] o_mayari from her spectacular alternative universe take on the Golden Trio, The Eleventh Birthdays (my rec is here). Or Romance of the Age (the original [ profile] deeply_horrible post with comments is here), with its breezy, savage, gloriously unfettered deconstruction of the brightness and glam and simultaneous monstrousness of the first war generation.

The Comfortable Wound is related to Romance of the Age, although they don't belong to the exact same universe. (You absolutely do not have to know RotA in order to read TCW.) Many of the same families and institutions -- the Blacks, the Malfoys, the Potters, the Weasleys, the Ministry -- play a starring role.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead )


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vanishing act

Oh my dears.

This is the first time I've logged into DW/LJ since my last post in January, and I'm sad to say that it isn't very likely that I'll be logging on much more often this year. It's the year of Big Academic Hurdles (qualifying exams, language exams, dissertation proposal, teaching etc.), and my mind isn't alert enough, or rather able to separate itself enough from uni, to be active in conversation here.

This is not to say that I'm leaving fandom. On the contrary! I will always be a reader (mostly around four am, admittedly, but it is nonetheless an incurable habit, so do send links!), and I am also very happy to beta or act as a sounding board. And I am around on tumblr under this name (caecelia). Admittedly I tend to overuse the platform for circulating images and quotes relevant to my academic work (it's been a surprisingly effective method for exam prep). Let me know if you're over there so I can add you!

And also I'll probably be dropping in to leave the occasional rec (in fact, I am just about to leave one).

If any of you is interested in the stewardship of [community profile] deeply_horrible, please, please let me know.

I miss you! If you'd be interested in corresponding outside of this framework, I am admittedly a very haphazard correspondent and sometimes disappear for long intervals when under stress, but if you don't mind that, I would very much love to correspond.

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Jan. 19th, 2013

Beta request

My lovelies, I must ask you a favour on the behalf of a very dear friend. [personal profile] o_mayari, the author of the indescribably brilliant Romance of the Age, has written an equally, if not even more extraordinary story that she is preparing to post soon. She is looking for a beta reader. If you enjoyed the company of MP and Snidget and Regulus, of Blacks and Potters in general, if you enjoyed her biting wit and visionary take on the Potterverse, then you will love this new story. I had the privilege of reading an early draft some time ago, and it left me a changed person. I will never see the Potterverse in the same light again. Yes, this story is that incredible.

If you're interested, please drop one of us a line.

On another note, I've received a few e-mails from people wondering why I haven't yet filled in the names of creators and their betas over at [ profile] deeply_horrible, and so thought I'd best post my answer publically. No, I haven't forgotten, but with exams this week and next I've simply not had the time to take care of these details. I promise to do so, and take care of remaining [ profile] deeply_horrible business, by the end of the month. Thanks for your patience!

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Jan. 13th, 2013

deeply_horrible reveals

The complete masterlist for [ profile] deeply_horrible's fest to Bring Back the Bastard can be found here: @ LJ|DW.

If you like Severus but are wary of approaching the fest because of its theme, know that the majority of the entries do not fall in the dark or horror category (although we do have some lovely exemplars of that as well). So if you're curious about any one of the entries and would like to know more before diving in, please don't hesitate to ask.

Thank you to everyone for the immense patience and support you've shown during this admittedly rather shaky first mod run! *blows kisses to you all*

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Dec. 12th, 2012

If one cannot sleep, why not rec

There are many reasons to be interested in Loki, reasons that deserve a true essay. I cannot seem to find rest precisely when I seek it. There will be no essay today.

One of the reasons I am interested in Loki has less to do with his character than the circumstances that constitute his character. In Thor, Loki wonders why Odin rescued him, but a runt-baby-of-the-enemy-king-left-to-die, what purpose he could have served, he being considered a monster both on his own world (as a runt) and on Odin's (as a Frost Giant) alike. When Loki hears the answer, he then fears that he will end up no better than as ›another stolen relic‹. In the film, he then sets plots in motion that could be perhaps interpreted as an attempt to escape that fate at all costs.

The idea of Loki as a stolen relic, as a living prize-prince-monster-sorcerer kept in a collection of dead weapon-objects stolen and stored for the ostensible purposes of enlightenment and law, probably fascinates me more than it should. (I should probably explain that one of my favourite novellas is Tynianov's Voskovoj persony (Wax Effigy), unfortunately not yet translated into English, but available in German as Die Wachsperson and in French as Une majesté en cire, in which a six-fingered ›monster‹ sold to Peter the Great's natural history museum by his own brother manages to escape from the Kunstkammer and St. Petersburg, moving from the periphery to center of the story.) For a few weeks now I have searched for fic about Loki sharing a similar obsession with this concept, with the logic of preservation and sovereignty and memory and scientific order, and although Thor fandom is quite literary, until recently I searched in vain.

Not so anymore. [ profile] circa1220bce's magic, lost and found (Thor/Loki, WiP!) not only plays with my simple idea, it goes well beyond it. I do not wish to spoil too much, but this is a story that plays beautifully with the concept of the natural wonder/›monster‹, the singularity, the creature whose solitude, based on appearance, on difference from the ›norm‹, is not so unlike that of a king. It plays with our prejudices and scientific order and then goes beyond, showing how such imprisonment can create of the innocent the very monsters it claims to display.

This is a deeply Oedipal story, not only in its focus on the monster (Oedipus was club-footed) and the king, and on their fall through too much knowledge (Odin sacrificed his eye for it; what Loki would do for knowledge is probably too terrifying a thought) and through the implicit incest (Thor and Loki may not be brothers, but we readers know of a world in which they were raised so), but also in how it shows that attempting to escape a murderous destiny can ultimately end up sealing it. The story is not complete but I don't particularly care, for the arc I am particularly interested in is complete. I don't see this ending happily, rather in the excess of a final, desperate act of true free will, but no matter. Whatever this becomes, even if it were to remain as it is, it is currently so wonderful -- so full of trickery and transgression and thought -- that I am overwhelmed just by writing glancingly about it.

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Sep. 22nd, 2012

out of the country

Headed to a conference in England (Oxford) where I have been warned that internet access is quite limited. Please bear with me until Thursday if you have any questions about [community profile] deeply_horrible/[ profile] deeply_horrible. Thank you in advance for your understanding!

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Aug. 25th, 2012

Rec: The Eleventh Birthdays

My friends, something absolutely magical has just happened.

I have long been begging [personal profile] o_mayari to post some of her work. Finally, finally she has.

[personal profile] o_mayari possesses an astonishing narrative voice. One can hear the influence of Dickens -- a conscious, deliberate choice -- but above all one is left ravished by her wit and daring and the sheer intelligence of her storytelling. This is an author with a gift for creating complete fictional worlds, worlds like complex webs which however do not break under the weight of their intricacy. Far from it: these are whole worlds, worlds carefully ordered and thought out down to the smallest, finest detail. They are worlds blazingly, startlingly real. This is extraordinary because the world she portrays in the story here is a world out of joint, a dystopia if you will. It is also extraordinary because her narrative voice is a critical, distancing voice, a voice very conscious of its own fictionality. But it is precisely this difference between the narrative and the horrors of which it speaks that makes this thought-provoking fiction of the highest order, fiction which not only narrows in on the problematic kernel of the Potterworld as such, but also of the reality we ourselves inhabit.

The Eleventh Birthdays (gen, mentions Lily/James) is part of a much longer, as-yet unfinished work, but it stands well on its own. The ostensible focus is the trio: Hermione, Ron, Harry. And Dudley.

Cut for story spoilers )

I have been writing this in stages between visiting no-fees and writing to realtors. Hopefully it makes sense. You shouldn't be wasting your time reading this anyway. Go read the The Eleventh Birthdays.

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Aug. 22nd, 2012

Enormous recs post

This should have gone up days ago, but although I kept hacking at it I was too sluggish to finish. Now it is finished, but I cannot promise that it makes any sense.

1. I have been rereading some of the darker Snarry classics, where hatred and addiction and obsession and madness run together in a manner so dangerously volatile that either Snape or Harry ruins or even kills the other in the end: [ profile] nothingbutfic's by the light of lesser stars, [personal profile] loupgarou's Dangling Conversation, [ profile] debchan's What He Wants, [ profile] atrata's Nine Adulteries. I love each of these stories to death, even though they are supremely painful and even though they are entirely AU now that canon has closed. As I suspect many of you know them as well, I shall refrain from boring you with detailled reviews of each. But if you don't know them, and you are interested in portrayals of Snape as a deeply horrible man (with a conscience or in self-denial), and of Harry as war and trauma and Horcruxes might have twisted him, then you may enjoy giving them a try. (Please heed all warnings.)

1.1. Not convinced? As Nine Adulteries is particularly fresh in my mind (the order above is my reading order), let me offer you a little teaser. Believe me when I say that every word here, from the title which should be taken very literally to the shocking closing passage, is significant. As a result, you will probably be like me and need to read this more than once.

Snape's characterisation could not be more brilliant to my mind. This is Snape as I want to write him, as a (Faustian) scientist, as a (mad) experimenter fighting for self-control and objectivity and at once wildly succeeding and failing in that quest, whose very work with dark potions and of course the magic of the mind is the consequential product of both complete objectification and uncontrolled, wild passion. His laboratory is a fantastical biology lab gone out of control, filled with hybrid products, products at once natural and artificial that were once alive and now are bottled in preserving solutions to make them easily accessible for study. It is a most gruesome and extraordinary setting that he has created as his own stage. The glimpses we are granted into his mind are equally frightening, equally fascinating. The story is told from his very skewed perspective (and oh, the self-denial, the self-interest, the self-hatred). At the same time, the structure adheres to the logic of his own classification system for certain potions. In this way, the hybridity of his lab, the split in his mind, the dichotomy between cool precision and overwhelming feeling is preserved in the very form of the tale itself ... and I shan't say any more for fear of giving the game completely away.

2. [personal profile] delphi's entire [community profile] kink_bingo card (links to tag). I can do that, right?

2.1. Here are a few titles to get you started: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Filch/Millicent) features deliciously awful Filch, tantilising glimpses into the Slytherin girls dormitory, and a wonderfully sensible-in-a-Slytherin-way Millicent. Then there's Poison (Snape/Dumbledore), a chilling foreshadowing of the Astronomy Tower -- powerplay in bed. In a very few perceptive words, [personal profile] delphi reveals both characters' strengths and weaknesses. I cried for them. Finally, Wicked Game (Horace + Argus + Severus), where Filch is horribly, wonderfully depraved, Severus is forced into making a wretched self-discovery, and Horace hides boredom and a nasty, manipulative streak beneath mild manners and a common sense approach.

3. Speaking of the wonderful [personal profile] delphi, she recently recced [ profile] kellychambliss's extraordinary Right nor Wrong (unrequited Filch/Snape and Umbridge/Snape; Snape/McGonagall) on [ profile] crack_broom here. I thought I had read this story before, but it turns out I had misremembered, and oh what a pleasure it was to discover it for a first time! This story deserves a very long review (one I still owe the author) because it is a masterpiece on several levels. There's the matter of Filch's pitch-perfect inner voice, for one, and one of the most convicing Filch backstories I've encountered, for another. Furthermore, there's the brilliant deconstruction of Filch's name to provide the structure for the story's main kink, voyeurism. For reasons of space, I've chosen to focus on only the latter element here.

Argus Panoptes Filch. I have no idea if this is the middle name JKR gave him, but if it isn't then it should be. For of course Filch doesn't merely harken back to the mythological creature with a hundred eyes, to mythological conceptions of policing. His penal institute is also fairly modern. In other words, the striking feature of modern caretaking, of modern policing, is the panoptical gaze. And Filch has it -- can see anywhere and everywhere. Why? How? The key, it seems, is desire. Aesthetics. The love of looking, not just the machine act. With this his desire we gaze at the quintessential object of desire (our own desire): Snape of course, Snape in places we should not be able to see him, Snape the Legilmens, the spy, the master of seeing who does not realise he is being seen. No wonder Filch desires to see him. Is it a wonder we, who can only look, who as readers are destined to be voyeurs, desire to see him? And so it is not only Filch we come to understand in this story but also (ourselves) Snape:

Severus were a man what made people feel things - - strong things, dark things, needy things. The Headmistress weren't the first person to want him. To want to understand him or save him or join in his righteous darkness. To want to share the power of him. To have him want them.

Oh yes. I think I have gone on too long, but hopefully you see what I mean. This is absolute genius.

4. [personal profile] dueltastic wrote Though I do not wish to wish these things (McGonagall/Snape, McGonagall/Scrimgeour) speaks directly to questions I have been surrounding myself with of late: questions of choice and conscience and what Snape meant when he said in DH that the only people he'd seen die of late were those he could not save. Well, this is one of those instances where he cannot save a prisoner, where he decides he cannot save him. For the prisoner is none other than Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic. He is tied to Snape through McGonagall: both men loved her, and still love her, ultimately even willing her their posessions after death, finding anchor in her once they have vanished from this earth. And so throughout the interrogation, the torture, Snape appears controlled and yet is anything but, plagued by thoughts and perhaps even fantasies of McGonagall and Scrimgeour together. There is torture and death, and as he tears apart Scrimgeour's face so do the ribbons of their connection through McGonagall seem to intertwine in broken strands. And of course one can argue with Snape that he must keep cover, that putting Scrimgeour in Bellatrix' hands would be worse, that the best he can do for this man in suffering is to end his life quickly. To give him a mercy death. But that is horrible. One wants to scream at Snape to find another solution, even as one is made aware that he has an audience, that he himself is in danger. One wonders whether it was his own decision to run the interrogation or whether he has been directly ordered to do it, and what that means for his position, his conscience. There are no easy answers to the questions this fic raises, and that is part of its brilliance.

5. Finally, a recent article from the New York Times: The Art of the Sequel, which does not speak to fanworks directly but nonetheless gets at something essential about them.

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Aug. 20th, 2012

Take the Snape Showcase 2013 Poll!

[personal profile] iulia_linnea is running an poll to gauge interest in a 2013 round of [ profile] snapecase. This is one of my favourite fests of all time, one that has produced some of the most memorable fanworks in my experience (see the master lists from 2011 and 2012), and it would be a terrible shame if it were not to run this year for lack of interest. As someone who participated in the fest last year, I can say from personal experience that the format challenged me to think about Snape's character in ways I had not anticipated, that I have grown personally as a result of this fest.

Click on the banner below to be taken to the profile page, which contains the fest rules and schedule:

Snape Showcase
[info]snapecase: Celebrating Severus Snape throughout his ages!

Again, you can take the interest poll here.

(My apologies for being brief: I had meant to write a much longer post today, and am terribly behind on responding to comments, but I overdid things this weekend and am barely capable of thought at present.)

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Aug. 10th, 2012

"Wind" at AO3

In a week's time, I will be deleting as the wind behaves from my AO3 account for possible reworking. EA is on indefinite hiatus for now; if I find myself further unable to write the next chapter then I will take it down (with a week's prior notice) as well. Thank you for your understanding.

"Wind" will remain online, but I may tinker at it in secret.

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Aug. 9th, 2012

Rec: Two glorious verbal duels

Fandom is such a rich place; I rarely go a day without finding some new treasure to cherish. As a result, I now have several recs posts in the works. Here is the first:

[personal profile] dueltastic wrote two incisive, extraordinary pieces that, each in their own way, are masterpieces of dialogue and characterisation. Both proceed from premises that at first glance might appear a bit strange, for some of you possibly even squicky. Do not fret, do not run, or you shall miss out on something quite astonishing.

We Change The Nature of Things is one of my new favourite stories of all time, right up there with In Infinite Remorse of Soul, In Memory of Sigmund Freud, Mutability, Sadness of Eros, The Lost World, Faithless Ganymede etc. It features a threesome between Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape. Stop! Don't run. This is the most intelligently rendered threesome you might ever come across. Characterisation is the heart and soul of the piece, a piece told through the perceptive, if always somewhat skewed perspective of Albus Dumbledore as he skips back and forth in time to reflect on his childhood, on Minerva McGonagall's growing up, on Severus Snape becoming a powerful wizard, on their meaningfulness to each other all the way up to his death. This is an allegorical piece as much as it is a realistic one. You will come away from it with an understanding of these characters and their situation that stuns and shocks and makes you reel with staggering insight.

Circumstances of a Small and Accidental Nature is an epic tale spanning some twenty-five years of a relationship between Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall. I shall avoid mentioning the genre/premise to keep you on your toes while reading, but to quote [profile] kellychambliss: "This would never happen. But if it did happen, it would happen exactly like this." This story is much lighter in tone than the piece above, but no less of a pleasure to read. In fact, it is probably the wittiest text I have read in years. One simply cannot stop reading it; stopping would cause physical pain. Snape and McGonagall are engaged in the most merry and scornful and deadpan battle of wits you could ever imagine, and as the stakes are upped so are the terms of the verbal battle. One begins to sit on the edge of one's seat. The supporting cast is also fabulously rendered: look out for clueless but well-meaning Harry and a clever Narcissa (for whom I have an improbable soft spot). My favourite aspect of the story is probably this, however: despite covering a span of twenty-five years, neither Snape nor McGonagall change radically in this story. They remain believably themselves throughout, brisk, professional, sarcastic, cutting, glib, cool, ever unwilling to admit defeat, ever up for a new challenge. If you're looking for some entertaining summer reading, then you have found it here.

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Jul. 30th, 2012

And we're off!

Prompting has opened at [community profile] deeply_horrible|[ profile] deeply_horrible! I have been jittery since yesterday with anticipation, and cannot tell you how delighted I am by the prompts that have already appeared on both sites.

For those of you reading from IJ, [info]deeply_horrible contains links to the prompting posts, but will not host a prompting post of its own.

Also, [ profile] bvizen has created a blood-chillingly wonderful new banner, which you can see here. Do go tell her what you think. ♥

And now, off to read more of [community profile] hp_friendship and then -- yikes! -- formulate prompts of my own ...!

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Jul. 29th, 2012

dashing in to say ...

... with apologies if you are seeing this twice ...

Prompting for Bring Back the Bastard opens tomorrow! Anyone is welcome to leave as many or as few prompts as he or she wishes. All pairings (with bastard!Snape) and ratings will be accepted. Even if you don't think you'll have time to create an entry, please do feel free to stop by and leave prompts.

Bring Back the Bastard!
Prompting runs at [info]deeply_horrible from July 30th to August 5th!
Rules & Schedule | FAQ | Banners

The prompting post, with exact rules and a header, will be up as soon as circumstances permit, which means by tomorrow at 11 am EST at very latest.

Hope to see you there! ♥

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Jul. 26th, 2012

fic recs from hp_friendship et al.

I am not remotely caught up with [ profile] hp_friendship, but every story I have had the pleasure to read has been immensely satisfying, aesthetically and emotionally and because each story expands canon in unexpected yet entirely plausible ways, making me think and dream. I wish I had even an ounce of the verbal talent that these authors share. Below you will find some of my favourites so far (many of which I have not yet had a chance to comment upon):

- Anonymous wrote Mad Dogs and Scotsmen (Alastor Moody, Emmeline Vance)

I have a fairly good guess who this author is -- a genius and master at capturing the diction and habits and sheer fucking insanity that define Alastor Moody, in any case. This Moody is so real, and so infuriating, that I found myself lifting heavy objects to throw at him. But the real show-stopper here is Emmeline Vance, whose believably fraying patience, quick instincts and sharp tongue make her more than equal to dealing with a man as difficult and paranoid and suffering as Moody. Their friendship is beautifully reflected in several ways: through the metaphor of Emmeline's poorly-maintained house, through their more-often-than-not frustrated dialogue and through Emmeline's own clever self-reflections, which to this reader hit the nail right on the head:

Excerpt )


- Anonymous wrote The Secret of Black Hall (Arabella Figg, Argus Filch et al).

The author, who came up with the idea to place these two -- wonderfully perceptive, capable and in their own way, truly magical -- Squibs at the centre of a period piece, is a genius. This story, a colourful and unforgettable adventure, seamlessly plays into canon while expanding on it believably and memorably. I am particularly fond of sensible young Arabella, a character about whom I quite honestly had never spared a thought for at all, whose cleverness and calm in the face of a crisis are a testament to Dumbledore's later trust in her as a caretaker for Harry.

Excerpt )

- Anonymous wrote Five People Who Insisted on Being Friends with Severus Snape ... (Severus Snape et al.)

I wasn't sure what to expect when I clicked on this story, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the brief glimpses it provides into Severus' (rather damaged) life. In particular, I enjoyed the portrayal of his friendship with Minerva -- such fun! I was smiling by the end of this quiet, well-written little story.

Excerpt )

- Anonymous wrote The Road to Roundabout (Dudley, Harry, Draco, Millicent, et al)

I believe this author also wrote the extraordinary And It Could Be Me, And It Could Be Thee, recced earlier in this journal. Now I will state up-front that I had some difficulty understanding many of the references (primarily made by Dudley and his countrymen), the intricacy of the details that make the prose here shine, but I will also say that once I realised that Harry and Draco were in my shoes, I settled in and truly began to enjoy this masterfully written story about Dudley having finally come into his own, about a Dudley settled and interesting, whose friendship with Harry feels real, whose bond with Harry runs deep, beyond words. These two boys grew up together, really, and it was like being struck in the face to be reminded of this, of all the potential for friendship -- and networking -- that lies between them. There are many lovely details here, details that connect one with Petunia's world of Gardening Competitions etc. and yet somehow never make this world seem ordinary, but rather even more magical. The mystery which drives much of the plot is also rather wittily done.

Excerpt )

- I should also like to reiterate my love for Cocktail Time, which I recced earlier and still love to bits.

- And, as though this post were not long enough already, I have one last rec. As it is not the sort of story I would ordinarily rec, let alone read, I feel I should preface it with a bit of explanation. Namely: I am not fond of Snily.

But this was worth it. )

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Jul. 23rd, 2012

fic rec: dragonwatch (snarry)

Jay Tryfanstone ([ profile] tryfanstone) has crafted an unforgettable and atmospheric new tale, Dragonwatch (Snarry; R), which functions both as an allegory and an amazingly realistic montage. Set at the wild, stormy origin of a sea-dragon nest (the metaphor of Snape as dragon comes to mind, and the setting fits him to a T), the story convincingly, beautifully and thrillingly (there is some excellent action) tells, amongst other things, of the discovery of peace and understanding after the war, of the discovery of what it means to look on to something from a distance or to live it in reality. Severus and Harry are middle-aged and given such breath and flesh, such reality as to astonish this reader, and their diction! the language! the detail! is just perfect, utterly memorable. This is a story to savour unrushed with a cup of tea, and you needn't like Snarry to be drawn in by the author's verbal magic or self-reflective play (there is a character with selective amnesia and a narrative, too, with selective amensia! for example). A must-read!

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Jul. 17th, 2012

deeply_horrible news

Hello, my dears! Those of you following [community profile] deeply_horrible/[ profile] deeply_horrible probably have just seen a huge flurry of posts appear on your flist. Apologies for any inconvenience!

Some exciting news:

[community profile] deeply_horrible/[ profile] deeply_horrible is now taking bastard!Snape recs! You can read the rules and comment with recs for fic, art, meta or multimedia here. Anyone can comment with a rec as long as he or she is logged in: you do not have to be a community member.

It is now also possible for members to create discussion posts of their own, to which anyone can respond. The rules for creating discussions are to be found here. Please don't feel shy -- if you have a thought, anything you'd like to discuss relating to Snape, it would be a pleasure to hear it.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts about the comm, about the BBB challenge or anything really, I would be delighted and deeply grateful, no matter how critical.

With that, I shall leave you in peace. I am flying abroad tomorrow evening and won't be back until Sunday, although I shall do my very best to keep track of things.

If you are getting tired of all these posts about [community profile] deeply_horrible/[ profile] deeply_horrible, please do not hesitate to comment here or send me a PM: I can create a filter.

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Jul. 14th, 2012

happy bastille day! and some recs

Happy Bastille Day! We are making Julia Child's coq au vin (classic but mercifully uncomplicated) and shall watch a French film and perhaps even open a bottle of champagne in celebration. And I shall study French.

There is so much to celebrate today. [personal profile] perverse_idyll, I will especially be toasting you! Tetley, Kelly and TRS, a heartfelt toast to you as well in beloved Berlin!

At present I am exceptionally behind on my fest reading thanks to a number of circumstances. Over the past few days, I have only read three stories. All three are breathtaking, gorgeous and full of surprises, but only two are publicly available at present, so I shall leave one of those recs for later.

And It Could Be Me, And It Could Be Thee (Griselda Marchbanks, Augusta Longbottom, Neville, Harry, Dudley, Minerva, Pomona Sprout, et al) defies my paultry abilities of description to summarise. It is dense with historical and political and domestic and literary and surprising, satisfying canon-enriching details, but not in the way of a dull encyclopedia; no this narrative lives through its historical and political situatedness, through the specificity of its context which fills the language with the brilliance of unexpected colour and the form, the immediacy of intaken breath. And rhythm and poise, -- the language alone is STUNNING. There is such intelligence in the writing, such wit, and it not only serves as the perfect complement to the two formidable women at the narrative's heart, but lends them reality as neither mere genial plot nor mere bright reflexivity could. I could go on and on about the language: how it is no mere vehicle, but also no mere self-absorbed game -- only I fear repeating myself stupidly. There are lessons here that struck me hard; together with Harry and Neville and Dudley I sat once again before a venerable great-grandmother and absorbed and learned and -- cried. Now I am not even making sense. This story deserves a far more eloquent response; you will not regret taking the time to read it.

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[ profile] sarkysue's Yet Here You Stand (A Snarry Novella) is the kind of Snarry I physically crave and yet cannot write on my own, a mangled relationship defined by brokenness and stubbornness and uncontrollable anger and unstated, instinctual understanding and sheer need, where neither can sever himself from the other entirely, even if one hates the tie, even if one hates that one loves the other, even if one truly loves. The structure of this piece is particularly effective: it is composed of three non-linear parts (or four, if you like: there are two epilogues) which move forward, then backward in time, respectively, giving the reader very gradual insight into a relationship that, on the surface, seems everything but functional or good. Although initially somewhat disappointed by the structure, which seemed to move forward in time with relentless speed, barely stopping to provide insight into the scenes, I soon realised that anything but could be the case, that the author was in fact stretching the tension, slowing down the pace, and thus leading the reader to even more satisfying dénouement than I could have ever anticipated.

Snape is a proper bastard here, spine-tinglingly wonderful whenever on stage, and his interaction with Harry all the more satisfying and real for it always consisting or culminating in verbal or physical assault. [ profile] sarkysue has an enviable gift for sarcasm, for wounding and defensive dialogue; at the same time her Snape is one who has almost physical trouble speaking except by deflection, except to wound, which I found to be very satisfying. If fluff bothers you, if you like your Snape nasty and ugly and yet, in his own way, deeply capable of love and soulsearching, if you believe that both Harry and Snape cannot have escaped the war unscathed, untroubled, untouched, then I think you will find this a wonderful, wonderful read.

Excerpt )

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Jul. 9th, 2012

Quick rec: Cocktail Time

I just opened the doors to the feast that is [ profile] hp_friendship, and my God, what a feast! I have only had the chance to read -- devour, more like -- one story as of yet, but cannot wait to sink my teeth into the rest, so delicious do the summaries sound.

Before I do that, however (admittedly, not till tomorrow permits), I simply have to point you to Cocktail Time (Rita Skeeter, Gilderoy Lockhart; PG-13). It's fabulous, darling. So fabulous I haven't yet mustered the head to write a proper review. Let's just say it's not at all what I expected and all the more brilliant for the surprise. The story somehow -- magically -- combines that enviable Slytherin breeziness, that unruffled facade and total egoism and gorgeous flamboyance with hidden and self-consuming inner demons in an absolutely terrifying and believable way.

Don't waste your time watching me mangle the English language -- go read this extraordinary account of a rather unforgettable friendship.

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Feb. 19th, 2012

not quite so verdeckt

(verdeckt means something like undercover; it is my usual state of being.)

I have not been around much this week, except to fiddle behind the scenes with the BBB profile page. My apologies; getting into the rhythm of things with the new semester has not been easy or pleasant, and my mood of late has been too dark for company.

There is nonetheless much to celebrate. First, I would like to thank you, dear [personal profile] albalark, [personal profile] alisanne, [profile] kellychambliss, [personal profile] mblfree, [personal profile] pale_moonlite and [personal profile] perverse_idyll for the glistening crystalline hearts on LJ -- what a lovely, wonderful surprise! Much ♥ also to [personal profile] delphi for brightening (and hilarious) post-Valentine's words. I cannot express how much it means to me to know you all. My life has been brightened and enriched through the beauties you bring to it. I . . . am left speechless when trying to express what I feel for you.

Second, if you have not been following [ profile] dysfuncentine (which I admit, I have barely been able to do), it is full of gems. I will write a full recs post later, but for the meantime would like to at least direct those of you who like Petunia/Snape to The Survivor, a fabulous, really fabulous take on the pairing. Also, I am excited beyond words (despite not having yet had the time to read) Half-Term Saturday, which has this tantalising plot (thanks to none other than [personal profile] tetleythesecond, of course): 1950s AU, magical or not. Prim schoolmarm and upper-class mother get together in a constellation worthy of a lesbian pulp novel. Throw a taboo-less Quidditch or lacrosse player into the party or Lucius into the swimming pool for added drama. In short: give us the penetrating story of a scandalous affair, told with unblushing honesty!

Third, [personal profile] delphi has written Snape/McGonagall! I have not yet had the chance to comment with all of my undying love for this story, but had to let you know about it. If you have not yet had the chance, you simply must read In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

Fourth, [profile] kellychambliss wrote a stunning (no pun intended) and bittersweet drabble, Stunners (Hooch/McGonagall). It packs quite a punch, despite its length, and wonderfully develops the metaphor of flying.

Fifth, a request: So I hated season 2 of Downton Abbey, especially the last few episodes. Mary (whom I sort of liked and despised at the same time in season one because of her resemblance to a dear friend) and Matthew should have sunk with the Titanic, Isobel was turned into a repellant nuisance, Violet had nothing to do, Lavinia and Jane and Richard and Mrs Bates and etc. etc. were turned into the most boring and predictable plot devices I have ever seen, etc. etc. etc. Please, please direct me to some reasonable, well-written fic about the downstairs crowd (Hughes, O'Brien, Carson, and so on) if you know of anything to doctor the excruciating pain, so to speak.

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