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If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Book 30: Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella PLUS Vacation

After an extended and very needed vacation, I'm finally back in the swing of things and ready to blog like crazy. My week in Myrtle Beach included lots of sun and sand, along with an Anthony Michael Hall sighting. Also, believe me when I tell you to watch out for Matt Esquivel of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Braves Class A affiliate.

While lounging on the beach and beside the pool, I was able to read a bit, and the first book I finished was W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe. I'll speak more about the book in an upcoming column as I compare it to the movie it inspired, Field of Dreams. I'll save the other two books for other blog entries.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for movies this year, I did manage to see a few in the past week or so. Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith was fun for what it was - an effects-laden B-movie with bad dialogue and occasionally nonsensical plot. Once I decided to go with that notion, I was able to laugh (out loud) at the bad stuff (*cough* FrankenVader screaming Noooooooo! *cough*) and go glazed at the shiny.

This weekend was reserved for The Longest Yard and Madagascar, both of which were disappointing in their own ways. The Longest Yard was enjoyable enough, but there were some really poor decisions made. I won't spoil the film by revealing them; however, I imagine that most people could probably pick them out.

As for Madagascar, it was cute and fluffy like its animated stars, but completely without substance or significance. I'll totally forget it within the week, probably (except the penguins, which I loved). I'll hurry to get a Drawn That Way completed before that happens. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to getting my animation kicks when Howl's Moving Castle is released this summer.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Book 29 - The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Industry, by Legs McNeil, Jennifer Osborne and Peter Pavia

This massive book is comprised of interviews, news clippings and book excerpts from people who have been involved in the rise of pornography from its earliest days as simple nudie cutie films. Those innocent days are long gone, of course, and the battle as to whether pornography should be considered legal protected free speech continues to rage in certain circles. From interviews with Linda Lovelace and Chuck Traynor on the development of the seminal porn flick Deep Throat to frank discussions with Marilyn Chambers, the early days when the industry emerged as a force to be reckoned with are probably the most fascinating. The book also covers the mob connection to the industry as well as drugs and HIV. Importantly, the book never particularly takes one viewpoint more seriously than the other. Linda Lovelace is allowed to rail against the people who she says forced her to do things, but there are plenty of people who offer counter-points to what she claims. Probably my favorite and most insightful subjects of interviews are Tim Connelly (former porn star and current Editor-in-Chief of AVN) and Fred Lincoln (also a former porn star). Other subject matter that is covered in the book includes the John Holmes Wonderland saga, Savannah's tragedy, and even Tricia Devereaux's tale (which has a happy ending that I appreciate). If you're at all interested in seeing how the industry evolved from back room, underground stuff to the mainstream, this book provides ample background.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Alien Planet

I'm in the midst of appreciating my brand new iBook and finishing the latest book from my massive To Be Read Pile, but I thought I would point out an intriguing-looking television program that will be airing this weekend. Alien Planet will air on The Discovery Channel Saturday at 8 p.m. It's based on recent scientific research and takes viewers on a virtual mission of the future, where they'll see what the future might look like with regards to life outside our own solar system. If you look at some of the creatures that scientists have imagined, it looks like a pretty fascinating show.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Odds and ends

This is a really terrific analysis about the difference to publishers (and writers) between hardcover books and paperbacks. It's a fascinating read if you're interested in news about publishing and media.

Yikes. Kirkus Reviews has a rather scathing review of John Irving's upcoming Until I Find You.

This is a terrific project. I'm fascinated by translations. And one of the publishers is located right in the town where I grew up and went to college.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Book 28: The Bad Boy's Wife, by Karen Shepard

This book about a woman who marries the "bad boy" of the title goes a lot deeper than it might appear on the surface. To describe it as a book about a woman who has been wronged by a man would be accurate, but where a typical "chick lit" novel would show the woman's neuroses in a silly way and ultimately find her discovering some deep inner truth, The Bad Boy's Wife gives the reader all sides of the story. In the beginning, we primarily come to know Hannah and see her shattered appearance as the husband she loved marries another woman and has a child with her. Then, we see things from the viewpoint of Mattie, Hannah's daughter, and Cole, her ex. In the end, nothing is as simple as it would seem - Hannah's contributions to the disintegration of her own marriage are heavy and disconcerting. It's a book about real people and while perhaps only the daughter is truly likeable, the slice-of-life character study it offers is genuine.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Book 27 - Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, by Joan Silber

After completing this book, I have now read all of the finalists for the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction. I rather regret having assigned myself the task of reading every single contender for a book award other than the poetry nominees. While the non-fiction has been terrific and the young adult novels have been solid, I only really liked one of the previous fiction nominees much – Florida, by Christine Schutt. Thankfully, Ideas of Heaven was also an engaging read, though probably not something I would normally pick up on my own.

The book is comprised of six different short stories, with each one connected to the previous one in some fashion. With some of them, the link is through the slimmest of threads. One story briefly mentions American missionaries in China; the next tale is about a missionary family in China. Essentially, the book is a series of ruminations on the ways love, life, sex and religion both diverge and come together.

Ideas of Heaven is extremely well researched and feels accurate even when the characters are in turn-of-the-20th-century China. In the story Gaspara Stampa, the 16th century poet narrates her own tempestuous love affairs that led to the writing of some of her key works.

This narrative structure and theme works quite well right up until the end, where the author allowed things to get just a bit too precious for my tastes. There’s too much attempt at making sure loose ends are tied that really didn’t need to be. Still, in all, the book is a terrific read and one I wholeheartedly recommend.


 
     


 
 

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