Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
“Pinion” by Jay Clark (sequel to “Escapement”) was released March 30. I picked up both novels at the same time and read them back to back. If you have not read Escapement, I suggest you do the same. Although Pinion has a completely different feel, a lot would be lost without the first half of the story.
“Pinion” picks up immediately where “Escapement” left off. Clark continues his system of dedicating a few paragraphs/pages to each character’s situation and viewpoint. It’s an effective method for maintaining the many threads of the storyline. There’s a lot of details & action to keep up with but I never felt bogged down. There was no time to get bored with a plot line before switching to simultaneous events. This was particularly enjoyable when he switched between two characters in the same place. It was fun to see how differently they experienced and reacted to the exact same elements.
The novel was chock full of battles, intrigue and magic but to label it as simply an adventure story would be a disservice. Clark also tenderly weaves love through the pages. And make no mistake, the love stories are just that – purely love. There is no romance, flowers or frills. It is pure emotion and dedication grown from shared circumstances and respect that bond these characters. And just for good measure, Clark tosses in spiritual implications as well, not so subtly touching on the characteristic s and purpose of a soul as well as human’s ability to play at being gods.
This was a multilevel book that had me contemplating it several days after I closed the cover. Taken at surface value, it’s a great escapade. Dig deeper and it will stick with you much longer.
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
There is a culture surrounding traditional books that I enjoy being a part of. It’s exciting to hold a used book in my hands and consider its journey through other readers before reaching me. I enjoy selling used books or passing them on to friends, knowing I’m participating in a community that keeps a story alive. Bookshelves can be an intimate glance into someone’s life. It is comforting to pick up a beloved novel on a rainy day to pass the time. The scent of pages in a library or used bookstore immediately relaxes me and encourages me to slow down, to take a break from my hectic life, and just browse. There is a tactile experience that I enjoy with books as much as the reading itself. So it is with mild discomfort that I watch the growing trend of reading devices and e-publishing.
Danny Bloom interviewed Dr. Anne Mangen, a reading specialist at the National Centre for Reading Research and Education at Stavanger University in Norway. She published a paper regarding the differences between reading on paper and reading on screen. Now I haven’t read her article. And I’m not at all interested in getting into the physiological specifics of the process of reading – at least not right now. But within the comments on this topic, one in particular caught my eye:
“Reading on an e-ink device may *be* ‘reading on a screen’; but it doesn’t *feel* like it. Why else would I have kept reaching with my left hand to the upper-right corner of my device to try to turn the page, when it was new? I’ve also heard reports of people reaching for their bookmarks when they were knocking off for the night.”
That’s fine but I think I would MISS the feel of paper, the sound of pages turning, the weight of a book. Call me old fashioned but a friend handing me a novel they enjoyed means more than someone saying “Hey, download this file.”
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a techno-phobe. And I can certainly see the occasional advantage to an e-reader. We’re traveling in June but are limiting our luggage to carry on bags. I’m already trying to plan what I absolutely have to pack in order to make room for books. A single small device instead of several larger books would make a big difference. But that’s the only situation that I can possibly imagine more convenience over traditional books. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t consider it a nuisance to carry a book with me (for example) to the doctor’s office. E-readers DO have the benefit of instant gratification. And while I DO tend to be rather impatient, even that isn’t enough to sway me. When I think of a future without traditional books I imagine what John Spartan (Demolition Man) must have felt like when waking up in the futuristic LA. It’s so…sterile. Impersonal. A special element in missing.
What do YOU think?
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Recently a friend mentioned she had rented the movie “Coraline”. It barely registered on my radar when it released in 2009 but her summation of “it’s creepy” piqued my interest… in the book. The next time I found myself at the library, I checked the computer to see if they had a copy. (Side note: Computers are definitely more efficient but it saddens me a little that my son’s generation will never know the “joy” of working with a card file.) They did have a copy, checked in even. But it was in the…teen section. The section positioned directly across from the public computers. I found the book easily enough but as I exited the aisle, my knees got weak. My hands were clammy, my face flushed. I watched people glance up as I passed, certain that they were judging me and my “teen reading” selection through narrow, suspicious eyes. A spotlight followed my steps, illuminating “NOT FOR SOMEONE ELSE” engraved across my forehead. I checked out as quickly as my shaky hands would let me and hurried out, feeling (ironically) like a teenager escaping with an illicit adult book.
I recognized the ridiculousness of my reaction almost as soon as I got in the car. Obviously I’m well beyond the target demographic of the teen section but I’m in good company. Adults aren’t dismissing a book just because it’s labeled as “young adult”. I entered Harry Potter’s world through a friend’s child’s copy of “Sorcerer Stone” but discussed later books with my peers. Twilight mania was fueled more by adult women talking than marketing. Young adult literature is the one bright spot for a publishing industry hit hard by the recession but adults are driving that trend. Why is that? My guess – it’s unabashedly FUN. It gives adults a chance to set aside their world weariness and relax into often fantastical worlds. And there’s usually no concern if your kid picks it up (or any concern taking them to subsequent movies.)
I personally have enjoyed several books that fall into the teen category. Most recently I finished a trilogy by N.D. Wilson (“100 Cupboards”, “Dandelion Fire”, and “The Chestnut King”) that was thoroughly satisfying. And that trilogy was recommended to me by a friend who’s currently pursuing her Masters…in English Lit. Talk about good company. Next time, I will emerge from the teen section with my head held high.
What do you think of this trend? Have you indulged in any young adult novels?
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
We take for granted that many “must reads” are translations – Tolstoy and Homer, even the “Beowulf” we read today is translated from the original Old English. However we are guilty of not reading modern translated books. At least I am. It’s not a deliberate omission on my part. I’ve just never considered the many options. However, after reading about the various works vying for the University of Rochester’s Best Translated Book Award, I think it’s time to expand my horizons! Consider these descriptions:
“The Pulitzer is all well and good, but does it have a Russian surrealist writing about a commie Eiffel Tower that runs away and commits suicide? Or how about an asshole B actor on a Brazilian soap opera who gets his kicks by giving graphic interviews to innocent female journalists? Does it perhaps have a metafictional novel told in the form of an interview about said novel? Or even a comic, quasi-philosophical romp about an Argentine high-rise apartment building that’s under construction and infested with ghosts?”
I admit, I’m intrigued. Have you read any translated books? Would you consider putting any of these on your To Be Read list?
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
MTV is reporting producer Jon Landau has stated that James Cameron is working on a prequel to “Avatar”. That in itself doesn’t surprise me. “Avatar” is the highest grossing film of all time and is certainly not Cameron’s first mega success. Why WOULDN’T he write a prequel?
It’s going to be a…novel. Landau quickly emphasizes that Cameron does not want to write a novelization of a movie. No, they’re talking about an epic story to be conveyed via the written word.
I certainly wish Mr. Cameron all the best in his foray into this new realm. I believe he has the vision (and the resources) to pull off this newest project. And I definitely intend to read it!
But what about you? Do you think James Cameron can make the jump from screenwriter to novelist? Will this novel catch your attention?