Monday, August 26, 2013

Reactions to "Butterfly Kisses"

I was curious about how the class generally felt about the book as a whole. After having met Dr. Thomas today, we know that, for example, he tried to portray Mari as "dumb", but I personally didn't get that from the text. What surprised me the most was the graphic sexual content of the story, and I felt it didn't need to be in the story as much as it was. Another aspect of the text itself is that it felt a little disconnected, as if we had to "fill in" some of the sentences ourselves. What do you guys think (either about my take on the book, or your personal view?) Overall, I felt the book was really good to read, and I enjoyed it!


  1. I got that Mari was dumb when it comes to people and relationships pretty quickly as I read the book, but the fact the Dr. T kept repeating 'dumb' kind of made me think of different kinds of dumb. I wouldn't call her dumb. I would just call her immature or inexperienced emotionally. I think I already said this somewhere else, but I didn't like the graphic sexual content. I think he had it in there for the same reason he had the violence, possibly because it was part of the genre and it appeals to people's darker sides. (It didn't appeal to me, and to others, but maybe it would to some?)

    Certain aspects of the book I enjoyed reading. I liked the setting, and also the authenticity of the setting, which not every book manages to pull off. I did enjoy the characters. Uncle Joe was my favorite because I thought he was interesting and complex. I just couldn't bring myself to hate him even when he was a jerk. Dr. T said he was a lot of fun to write, and I saw that as I read.

    I'd love to hear what everyone else thought. We were probably nicer about the book around Dr. T, right? I'm not saying anyone lied, but I certainly didn't bring up the stuff I didn't like. (I think if I'd had more energy today I might have mentioned some of it, actually.)

    It was interesting hearing your point of view by the way, Jaime. I wondered what it would be like to read the book as a Mexican.

  2. While reading the book, I also didn't realize that Mari was actually intended to be dumb, and as a result her character annoyed me for most of the book. The sexual content seemed a bit forced and unnecessary to me, but it seemed like maybe Dr. T was just trying to incorporate what's common in other action/adventure books. The violence didn't bother me at all, but then again I'm pretty desensitized to it from the books I've read already. (I usually gravitate towards the horror and/or action-adventure genres.)

    Someone brought up the question of the effect of being bilingual when reading the book, which I thought was really interesting. I do know some Spanish, and understood most of the Spanish in the book, but I've had zero exposure to Spanish slang, so I didn't quite understand what a "naco" was until the discussion. However, I thought that Dr. T did really well in nudging the reader to understand what a "fresa" is without flat-out defining it.

  3. Anna, you're absolutely right; I like the authenticity of the location, and it's clear that Joe was Dr. T's favorite character as a writer because I think Joe had the most interesting quirks. I liked Joe, and at first I liked Tigria, too. The use of Spanish did lend itself to authenticity for me, and he did a great job of incorporating his anthropological research into the setting and plot and characters.

    The sexual scenes seemed to come out of nowhere (especially when the readers aren't accustomed to being in Mari's body with her, if that makes sense), and I sort of felt like they should have had more thematic significance. I understand sort of what he wanted to accomplish, in theory. But I figure if you're going to go for sex, go big or go home. Make the readers salivate with the characters; instead, I ended up feeling like I was spying uncomfortably on a friend, you know?

    Someone mentioned using a female's voice in the discussion, and I think that was a good point to bring up. I felt like the sex of the narrator was pretty gender-neutral. The language never seemed to veer too far masculine or feminine. I think traditionally "feminine" language would include lots of emotive words or hedging constructions (not always though!), and "masculine" language might go in the opposite direction I suppose. But I like being able to read a book without worrying about the gender of the author.

    1. This certainly doesn't count as blog post, but Katherine, your comment on that feeling of "spying" on them was spot on for me, I laughed louder than I care to admit!

    2. I agree with Jaime here, Katherine. 'Spying uncomfortably on a friend' captures the feeling exactly.

  4. Yeah when he said that Mari was supposed to be dumb I was surprised. I didn't think she was dumb either I just thought she was a foreigner in a new country and not familiar with the customs or slang and especially new to intimacy and relationships in general.

    For the sex scenes I could just be spit balling here, but maybe they were supposed to be abrupt and awkward, because she has had sex before and maybe it didn't phase her or wasn't as important as the kisses that Miguel gave her. I think the scenes seemed to focus more on the intimacy parts. Maybe she has had sex before without the intimacy so she is used to it, but what she wants is the intimacy and that was what Dr. Thomas focused on. Possibly, this is all conjecture.


  5. I also was really surprised when he mentioned that Mari was dumb. I thought she was really smart actually and thought out. How could you be a professional assassin and be dumb? She came off to me as merely naïve in some senses. For example in terms of relationships she didn't know how to trust a person that she wouldn't have to carry a gun around them. The world isn't a safe place in her mind and she is mentally unstable in that sense. As Dr. Thomas said she is a deeply flawed person and that is what makes the story interesting. I completely agree her inability to properly trust another being was her crutch as well as her strength. But she never came off to me as a dumb being. Maybe Dr. Thomas didn't mean dumb as an overall sense? I'm not quite sure.

    As for my favorite character I would have to say Megan. Even though she didn't have as much character development as the other characters she was quaint and interesting. And one of my favorite scenes was the one of her death. When she almost shot Mari. Dr. Thomas did a really good job of capturing the last feelings of Megan and that was the only part of the book I found myself close to tears.

    As for the book overall it was a great read. I would have liked to have a little more leisure in reading it just because personally I like to read books at my own pace rather than having a deadline. But even though I was rushed I finished on time. Barely, but on time. :D


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