The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is absolutely delightful, featuring a love triangle between a “sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a dot”, who was of course hanging out with “a wild and unkempt squiggle”. Accompany your reading with the short animated film on YouTube (and apparently also as a special feature in The Glass Bottom Boat DVD, of which we own 3 copies, so feel free to check that out).
The overall structure of the plot arc is quite predictable, but that’s not where the charm of this wonderful romance lies. Part of it, I’m sure, is just in the fact that it was written in the 60s, so some of the phrasing is a touch quaint reading it now, but I want to say that the charm of it is simply in the fact that this is a mathematical romance. It’s dedicated to Euclid! There are math puns & references everywhere (though some of them smarter than others), and the entire novel(la) is overall a delightful romp. And as some of you know, despite math not being anywhere near my forte, I have a love of it all the same. You don’t really learn anything about shapes or math in any way apart from how to creatively apply lines and shapes, but that’s why it’s a romance in lower mathematics, right?*
I’ve been waffling a bit about whether to write about this or not, because I guess it’s not exactly a leisurely topic, except… I actually do read about the lack of diversity in the publishing industry in my leisure time, and I’m wagering I’m not the only one, so yes, I do believe this is for your leisure!
(I’ll try my best to avoid throwing words like “hegemony” and “heteronormativity” around, in the interests of keeping this leisurely.)
Here’s a brief excerpt from a romance novel:
Michael was mint chocolate chip for her. She could try other flavors, but he’d always be her favorite.
(Helen Hoang, The Kiss Quotient)
Quick: what race/ethnicity is Michael? How about her?
Did you assume they were both white?* So Michael is Vietnamese and Swedish, and the female character is unspecified (I think – I’m going off a comment on Goodreads) with Asperger’s. And when it’s unspecified, we generally default to thinking of white (cis/able-bodied/straight) as the norm – the female character’s Asperger’s is defined in the novel. So let’s talk about whiteness in the romance fiction industry, below the cut.
“Unable to perceive the shape of You,
I find You all around me.
Your presence fills my eyes with Your love,
It humbles my heart,
For You are everywhere”
The Oscar winner for best picture, Monster storyteller Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie The Shape of Water (see trailer) is an otherworldly tale about the unlikely bond between Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) who is captured in a high security lab during the Cold War era.
I was not too familiar with del Toro and his work–I did not even know who he was when I caught a glimpse of him in person shooting this movie in Hamilton. But this beautiful, imaginative, and playful story really captured me. The color of this movie is mostly blue-greenish, and there are many elements of water throughout. This visual arrangement echoes with the theme of the movie very well, and I can almost smell the seaweed and feel the damp air. I saw the movie twice in theater and enjoyed it both times. I noticed many pleasant details the second time, which added more depth to the story and the experience. Another highlight, in my opinion, is the amazing performance the actors carried out, especially Sally Hawkins as a mute woman. There are not a lot of characters in this movie but each of them are well developed and has distinct qualities which makes this more even more efficient in storytelling. There were many little moments that made me feel deeply connected with the characters.
The concept of this movie might seem odd in some ways, but ultimately, it is a universal story about loneliness, friendship, heartbreaks and love. There is also a novel by del Toro of the same title, released earlier this month. In the book, the characters are developed further for those who would like to delve more deeply into the story.
More by del Toro: