If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Monday, November 22, 2004

So, I received an early Christmas present yesterday. That's right, I hold in my hands a shiny, silver Nintendo DS. So far, all I've played is Mario 64, and it's really a lot of fun. I also purchased Feel the Magic, which looks totally weird, which is to say it's right up my alley. More on this fascinating development after I've had some more time with the toy.

Moving on, I should note that I have a strong hate/hate relationship with Wal-Mart. I hate the store with an undying passion, as I prefer the glory of Target instead. The problem is, a Wal-Mart superstore is directly across the street and oh so convenient, while the Super Target is a good 15 minute drive. Oftentimes, I will in fact go out of my way just because I can't stand the overcrowded, overstuffed lanes full of garbage and lack of anything I might actually want or need, but it's not always that easy. Well, now that Salon has published an interview with Liza Featherstone about her book Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart, I might just have found the thing to motivate me to never visit the store again. I'll be purchasing the book itself on my next Amazon order.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Having now finished Peter and the Starcatchers, I can definitely say it is a terrific children's book. That said, I would definitely make sure that any kids who read the book are familiar with the story of Peter Pan first. The story can stand alone, but it's much more meaningful with the knowledge of things to come in the back of one's mind.

My small complaint with the book is that it rushed the ending somewhat. It felt a little bit like there were a couple of loose ends that Barry and Pearson forgot to tie up so they quickly invented something to explain them away. Even so, the writing is so engaging that the reader is constantly kept immersed in the events unfolding on the page. It's 451 pages long, but it's still a quick read.

Since Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice was announced as the National Book Award winner in the non-fiction category yesterday, I decided to focus on it first rather than Life on the Outside. Thus far, it's a sobering true story about civil rights (or the lack thereof) in the 1920s. Sadly, I find myself reflecting on the fact that I'm not really sure things have changed so much. Our society just finds it acceptable to show contempt for different segments of the population these days.

And finally, via the Bookslut blog, Knopf will give a select number of readers the opportunity to read and review certain books before they hit stores. To get involved, visit this link.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

And now...here are the official winners of the National Book Award for 2004:

Fiction: The News from Paraguay, by Lily Tuck

Non-fiction: Arc of Justice, by Kevin Boyle

Poetry: Door in the Mountain, by Jean Valentine

Young people's literature: Godless, Pete Hautman

Thus far, the only one of these I've read is Godless, and it is indeed a strong entry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

As a sidenote, I mentioned the controversy with the National Book Award finalists in the fiction category in my previous blog. Here's a story that explains it in more detail. Sounds like a lot of petty sniping and sour grapes to me. For my part, I appreciate the opportunity to be introduced to new authors, and if this is a venue to do so, hooray.

As you have probably noticed, Book vs. Movie returned last week with a look at The Polar Express. Next up will be Friday Night Lights, a book that has been dear to me for a number of years. If you love football, the movie is certainly for you, and the book is even more so.

Also, while I realize I mentioned an impending examination of The Motorcycle Diaries, I'd like to withdraw that one. I've both read Che Guevara's book and seen the film; however, I have been unenthusiastic about reading the Alberto Granado memoirs that also contributed to the film. I'll just note here that the movie is definitely preferable, but I only grudgingly give the film a positive review. It's very slow and is really only saved by strong performances from Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo De la Serna. Of course, if the movie is slow, the book is nothing short of sleep-inducing. I can't recommend it at all unless you have a keen interest in Latin American geography and the development of Che Guevara himself. I tend to think that a few of the biographies available about the man are probably more worthwhile, though.

Other Book vs. Movie columns in the near future will include Enduring Love (based on a novel by Ian McEwan), the two Bridget Jones films, Sideways (from Rex Pickett's debut novel) and unfortunately, Christmas With the Kranks.

I've been trying to spend time reading more than just movie-based books, as I mentioned before, and as a result I've gotten through a second National Book Award finalist. After reading Pete Hautman's Godless, which I mentioned before, I moved on to a fiction finalist - Kate Walbert's Our Kind: A Novel in Stories. It's a somewhat grim book, in my eyes, as it examines empty-nester women who are nearing their golden years. The desperation and unhappiness of the characters is fairly depressing, but the characters themselves and the storytelling skills of the author are above reproach. Next up on the National Book Award list is a non-fiction entry - Jennifer Gonnerman's Life on the Outside. Or that's the one I plan to look at right now. I might change my mind when the actual winners are announced tonight. The depressing thought is that I still have 13 more books to go (I'm skipping the poetry category - there's just too many other books on my list).

I'm actually in the middle of a non-movie, non-National Book Award book as I have about 70 more pages in the children's book Peter and the Starcatchers. A collaborative effort from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, it's an imagining of what happened *before* the events of Peter Pan took place. We meet Captain Hook, Peter, and even the crocodile. A highly recommended good read.

T-minus five days until the Nintendo DS. I even have vacation that day.



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