Jun. 27th, 2012

levity: (that free will thing was a bugger)
Three drive-by fic recs:

1. The Only John Wayne Left in This Town

By his tenth birthday, Clint's hands are more callous than finger. He's the best shot anyone has ever seen, and the best banjo player in the state. Two roads diverge on an Iowa highway overpass, and Clint, being a stubborn little fuck, takes both.

The one that manages to do Americana without glossing over anything and that is a love letter to country music.

2. A Partial Dictionary of the 21st Century

He actually kind of liked Star Spangled Man, back when he was doing recruitment performances, but of course it was always a little embarrassing too. He's sort of grateful nobody's dug that one up and tried to do some kind of mix with it, because sometimes when DJs see him at a club they'll do a riff on the Star Spangled Banner (though in Steve's humble opinion nobody will ever top Jimi Hendrix's cover).

At any rate, this one night he's out at a bar where a woman is doing an unplugged set, just her and a guitar, which should be kind of hokey but she's really good. For her last song she says, "My grandfather had this song on a record, and he used to play it for me as a kid," and then she opens with something that sounds awfully familiar.

Steve stares at her, because that's the song. Who's strong and brave, here to save the American Way?

But it's slow, and sad, and not all the lyrics are the same -- because the song was about him but more about this mythical hero who would do it all, and --

She's left out the line. The song was always just a lot of questions about who will fight for America or save America or give his all in battle, but in the original, there was an answer: The Star Spangled Man.

And she's left the answer out. So it's not an anthem to raise money for a war or get enlistment numbers up. It's a cry out for help. Who'll rise and fall, give their all for America?

(She's left out a lot of other stuff too, about the goose-stepping goons and the Krauts and all that guff, which is just as well.)

The one that is, in contrast, not Americana at all. Steve Rogers was never my favorite, but this fic gets both the earnest sincerity of the kid from Brooklyn who hated bullies and the stiff-upper-lip sort of handwringing confusion of the super soldier out of time, shake and serve.

3. never give all the heart

"Don't you think they've got a point, though?" Dustin asks. His voice is carefully casual but when Mark glances up at him his expression is nothing but. "Don't you think you're getting a bit… overwhelmed?"

Mark blinks. "Excuse me?"

"You're running yourself ragged, Mark, me and Chris both think so-"

"It's Chris and I," says Mark.


"It's 'Chris and I both think so', not me and Chris," Mark tells him. "And thank you, but I think I've got this under control." 

Dustin doesn't pursue the matter, but out of the corner of his eye Mark can see Dustin still looking at him long after Mark has turned back to his code. On some level Dustin has a point, but it's not something that Mark can let himself concede. It boils down to one thing – to Yinsen in his last moments, face preternaturally peaceful, reaching for Mark and saying, don't waste your life. And Eduardo, Eduardo saying, I didn't sleep, Mark, perpetually under fire from all sides without a modicum of the respect that Mark and Iron Man have enjoyed.

There are stakes here that Mark himself is only beginning to realise the magnitude of. And his response – his only possible response – must be to press on. 

The one that is my favorite sort of fic, plotty and smart and with a pitch-perfect Mark Zuckerberg voice and quietly heartbreaking in all the right places.


Things I have: an addiction to writing, and absolutely zero imagination. This is my curse.


Things I really wish someone would write, or, to be more accurate, things I wish someone had written as of yesterday:

- the Captain America version of The Kids Aren't All Right, the fake journalism fic that pastiches 1940s radio news reports and press releases and Star-Spangled Man touring ads and editorials. The one that looks at what it means to make Steve Rogers a symbol of- okay, the US, but also of the military-industrial complex that runs the US that runs wars, and of whatever it is that induces the idea that war can be anything better than justified. The shining ideas of heroism in contrast to, well, war, and the whole thing where in the end superhero stories (and war stories) are about values and ideas of power that are no longer valid.

- the Prometheus fic that makes it clear that it's a Lovecraft story wrapped up in visually stunning sci-fi trappings, where your creators of life are cosmic horrors that, if you tried to understand them, you'd go mad, and the fact that sometimes they look just like you and me makes no difference. Or it can be about Vickers and David, two different versions of the perfectly engineered child, because some performances steal movies, okay.

- Albert de Morcerf and Beauchamp and Franz d'Epinay, Paris society's new blood, young and bright and good enough to play the game, but nowhere near insightful enough to know what it means, or what it can do. Eugenie Danglars and her glittering fuck-you to the world, Valentine de Villefort who grew up trusting no one, knowing that all everyone saw in her were her name and her fortune and who found herself falling for the first man who cared for neither, Maximilien Morrel the out-and-out military man who entered the service in the first place to keep away from the power-brokering, to have a career where things were straightforward and honor meant something, but then again, what did he know of the French military when he entered. Haydee who went after revenge just as viciously as the benefactor she found herself tied to (and isn't that its own tangle of thorns), but who had to be the beautiful Greek slave girl to do it. And at the heart of it all the roiling mess that is barely post-Napoleonic France, the tension and the thrum of the idea of revolution.


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