Friday, October 24, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
"A lot of SF readers dismiss literary fiction as worthless: turgid, mazy, self-referential prose, annoying characters, stories that meander for hundreds of pages without really going anywhere, and a blinkered obsession with the world of today (or yesterday), with scarcely a thought spared for tomorrow. [...] Most such fiction still languishes among an insular audience of tediously clever hipsters and academics, ignored by the SF-reading masses." 
"This very question was addressed at a panel at the San Francisco Writer's Conference, and everyone had a different answer. Some people feel that commercial fiction emphasizes plot whereas literary fiction emphasizes characters. Others feel that literary fiction emphasizes unique prose whereas commercial fiction is more straightforward. Still others stick to the 'I know it when I see it' defense, and then of course there's the 'literary fiction is that which does not sell' definition. Complicating any delineation are genre busters like Cormac McCarthy and Elmore Leonard, who write genre fiction and have plot heavy books but are considered literary."
"Everything written in self-conscious, writerly prose, on the other hand, is now considered to be 'literary fiction'—not necessarily good literary fiction, mind you, but always worthier of respectful attention than even the best-written thriller or romance. It is these works that receive full-page critiques, often one in the Sunday book-review section and another in the same newspaper during the week. It is these works, and these works only, that make the annual short lists of award committees. The 'literary' writer need not be an intellectual one."
 Bransford, Nathan. "What Makes Literary Fiction Literary?" 26 February 2007. Nathan Bransford--Literary Agent. http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-makes-literary-fiction-literary.html
 Evans, Jon. "SF gems from the literary ghetto." 6 October, 2008. Tor.com. http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=6842
 McCrum, Robert. "The end of literary fiction." 5 August 2001. The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/aug/05/features.review1
 Myers, B.R. "A Reader's Manifesto." July/August 2001. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200107/myers
Here's the description from the website: "See how many of the 100 most common words in the English language you can guess in 5 minutes... This list was compiled using the Oxford English Corpus, used by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary [picturd left], which contains over 2 billion words of written English." http://quizicon.com/quiz?id=37
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
(I'll call the other participant He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named because,
like Lord Voldemort, ignorance is evil)
Me: ... but I think my favorite Shakespeare play is Hamlet.
Me: Yeah, I think so. I've read it ten times, and I know it's almost a cliche
nowadays, but I really love it. There's just so much there.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named: I thought the Mel Gibson version was pretty good.
There are two things to which I objected: 1) This person automatically associated one of the greatest literary minds in Western civilization to a cheesy Hollywood film adapation, and 2) The Mel Gibson version was the one he liked. Now, I understand that I'm prone to pomposity and talking about subjects in which other people have little-to-no interest, but I was still incredibly disturbed by the fact that this was all that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named knew about Shakespeare. Gah!
The issue as I see it is this: Hollywood has lost almost all of its creativity, instead pulling from popular books or graphic novels to reduce the risk of accidentally producing a flop. For example, take a look at the top ten grossing films of 2007:
1) Spider-Man 3--the third in a series based on a comic book.
2) Shrek the Third--a second shameless exploitation of the brand that is Shrek.
3) Transformers--a nostaligic look back on a television show that was popular in the 80s.
4) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End--proof that Johnny Depp is willing to whore himself for money. Did you hear they're going to do a fourth?
5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix--not only is it the fifth of a series, it's based on a best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling.
6) I Am Legend--based on a science fiction novel by Richard Matheson.
7) The Bourne Ultimatum--based on a series of books by Robert Ludlom.
8) National Treasure: Book of Secrets--like five of the previous seven movies, this was only made because the first one was so successful.
9) Alvin and the Chipmunks--not only was it a television show in the 80s, this is based on an animated singing group from the 50s. the sad part is that I'm not kidding.
10) 300--finally, this was based on a 1998 comic book series.
Wow. Just think of all the disaffected screenplay writers who now have no outlet for their creative juices. If you want to write a screenplay, you're better off writing a book or comic book that has a chance at maybe being wildly successful so that you can try to get on the team to turn it into a movie.
While some might rightly say that this is a stagnation of American cinema, I tend to think it's a good thing. How many times have you seen a movie that was so good that you tracked down the book on which it was based? In my opinion, it's actually encouraging literacy. The problem is when people either don't know it's an adaptation or when the adaptation is so different from the novel that the merits of the book are lost on the screen.
For example, the last film I saw in the theater was There Will Be Blood. (Yes, I know it came out at the beginning of the year--I'm poor and the cinema habit was the first to go.) I was so impressed by the film that I went and got the book on which it was based, Oil! by Upton Sinclair. As anyone who has seen the movie and read the book can tell you, they are completely different. The only thing that crossed the gap between the page and the screen was the names of the characters and their job descriptions. The book was a pro-labor book that extolled the working class and highlighted the evils of money, while the movie was essentially a character study of J. Arnold Ross. Both were excellent but they were completely different, and liking one does not necessarily mean that you will like the other.
Maybe this is how the screenplay writers are getting their revenge, then: if the American public isn't interested in original, culturally-relevant screenplays, then the writers will slip some in that they can claim are "based on the bestselling [insert medium here] by [insert author's name here]" but actually bear no resemblance to the original. Other examples that I can think of off the top of my head are Bridget Jones' Diary (the ending is in no way similar to the book), The Princess Bride, A Series of Unfortunate Events... the list could go on forever, though I should say that I much prefer the film version of The Princess Bride to the novel by S. Morgenstern. So shoot me.
Do any of you know of any? Do you think the books are always better than the movie, or are there other Princess Brides out there?
Monday, October 6, 2008
I decided to try out the free preview, and I had quite a bit of fun putting in the important information. You know, heroine's name: Lindsay With an A; hero's name: John Keats. The usual. I even got to pick the heroine's friend's name, so keep an eye out for Chatty Cathy's appearance in the scenes below.
Lindsay is persuaded to give online dating a try:
Lindsay viewed Cathy suspiciously, with a brown-eyed gaze as she grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and joined her friend in front of the computer.
“What are you up to?” she asked knowing Cathy all too well.
“It’s Discreet Dates dot com.”
Cathy turned, with a mischievous grin.
“No, Cathy! I told you, I’m done!”
“Okay, so don’t get mad yet,” she pleaded.
“No way, Cathy! Never again! Remember all that talk about trying too hard?”
“Well, I didn’t say don’t try at all! I’m worried about you. You haven’t been on a date in nearly a year-”
“Six months and I haven’t had time. Cathy, we have to get our new business off the ground,” Lindsay protested, running a hand through her brown hair.
Cathy ignored her friend’s interruption, not missing a beat, “Seriously, Lindsay, I’m thinking you're turning into a hermit and it's time to drag you out of your shell!”
“You’re exaggerating, as usual. Besides, the memory of Melroy bringing his mother on our
first date still haunts me.”
“I think Discreet Dates can help."
not so gentle reader: Why are men so infuriating?
Say No to TB: If you can tell me why women are so bewildering then maybe I can answer your question.
Lindsay gazed at the screen of her laptop as she sat at the head of her bed, still dressed in her robe, sipping coffee.
not so gentle reader: The age-old argument. I guess we’ll never figure it out.
Say No to TB: What fun would it be if we did? I mean if I knew the mystery of why the sight of a beautiful woman makes me weak and warm all over, or why her scent and the touch of her velvety skin on mine drives me wild with desire, maybe the magic would be lost.
Stirred by his words Lindsay inhaled deeply before responding.
not so gentle reader: Good point… but I still hate men sometimes.
Say No to TB: There’s a fine line between love and hate, not so gentle reader. You’ve just got to figure out how, and when, to cross it.
“Can I get your coffee?” John offered, his striking brown eyes locked onto hers as they both moved to the front of the line.
“No, really that’s okay. You’ve done enough. Thanks for helping things along. I would've been stuck in this line forever.”
“Nonsense,” he replied, and then spoke to the barista. “Large coffee, black please, and a...”
“I’ll have the same with a little cream,” she said, pushing an errant strand of brown hair from her forehead.
When the barista turned to prepare their drinks, John offered his hand to Lindsay. “John Keats.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Keats. I guess chivalry isn’t dead. I’m Lindsay With-An-A,” she replied taking his hand in hers and feeling her skin warm to his touch. Her brown eyes conveyed a spark from within and Lindsay felt her heart skip a beat at the sight of his smile.
“Um…I was just wondering,” he hesitated, “would you like to meet for coffee again here tomorrow? A little earlier and we could probably get a table.”
Lindsay smiled, pleasantly surprised by the invitation. In contrast to her usual cautionary nature, she decided to take a chance – there was just something about this man...
John slid in beside Lindsay in the back of the silver, stretch limousine and within moments they were locked in a passionate kiss. Briefly pulling away from him Lindsay reached to the door and hit the button raising the glass partition and then returned to run her fingers through his dark brown hair.
“Its been a long time, John,” she whispered seductively, as she pressed her parted lips against his. He felt the smooth wetness of the gloss from her lips reignite the stirring in his body that had been smoldering all night. His desire could not be contained and he reached up pulling her closer, feeling her silky smoothness. Not to be outdone, Lindsay removed his bow tie and began to quickly unfasten the buttons on his shirt as John lifted her dress, and pulled her over him, her legs straddling his lap.
“Lindsay,” John moaned raggedly, as she released the button securing his pants.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are "a little bit different." They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and proceed to start caring for it. They have little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today.
God forbid! It's a blemish on the publishing industry! Ready the Book Burning Mobile!
Come on, guys, can we at least pretend to be reasonable, rational adults? If anything, we should ban books that are advertised as nonfiction that turn out to be false, not books that are actually based on true, heartwarming stories. Jeez Louise. I'm going to buy that book for my nieces just for the hell of it, I think.
Anyway, here's the website for the ALA if you're interested. It lists Banned Books events that might be happening near you (there aren't any near me, unfortunately, but I figure it's kind of like Christmas: the real joy is in your heart), books that have been banned in the past, etc: