Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
March 7, 2018
Adaptation dilemma and detective stories?
Category: Books … TV, Film, & DVDs

So I finished rereading Anonymous Rex yesterday and just received Anonymous Rex on dvd in the mail today... but -- despite the film's sharing its title with the first book in the series -- apparently the film is based on the prequel, Casual Rex! And while I've already ordered that book, it's slated to arrive Friday at the earliest and I'd wanted to watch the movie tonight... but I want to read the book before seeing the film. ARGH.

Also, random thing I realized: when it comes to fluff reading (ie, books that aren't established classics or at least lean towards a literary/pretentious style), I think detective stories are my favorites. I'd never recommend Anonymous Rex over Brave New World or 1984 or Frankenstein or Great Mischief (by Josephine Pinckney; it's probably my favorite book you've never heard of), but it's a really fun read despite (or because of) its ridiculous premise. I kinda want to review Anonymous Rex at greater length; it's got some choice quotes I'd love to share -- and I realize that I almost always feel that way about detective narratives. They're delightful.

-posted by Wes | 6:04 pm | Comments (0)
February 26, 2018
William Sleator and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad character
Category: Books

So in the last two weeks I've read three books by William Sleator: The Beasties (1997), The Boxes (1998), and Marco's Millions (2001). (That I read three books in that time isn't impressive -- Sleator wrote young adult science fiction, so the books go by fairly quickly.) I bought The Boxes and Marco's Millions years ago when I worked at a book store; Sleator's books had neat cover art (The Boxes features an alien crab thing on its cover; I'm a sucker for alien crab things) and, as frequent residents of our clearance shelves, the titles were cheap to boot. Apparently I was more interested in the covers and the price, since I'm just now getting around to reading the books themselves.

Of those three books, I imagine The Beasties will prove to be the most memorable to me -- I'm sure I'll write more about it some other time, and I'm sure I'll puzzle over the events of the climax for years to come. For this entry, however, I'm going to talk about two-book series that comprises The Boxes and Marco's Millions. Specifically, while there are a lot of neat things worth discussing in the books (frex, Marco's Millions features a naked singularity, which affects gravity and the passage of time for characters as they approach it), I'm going to talk about one particular character. The character isn't fascinating in the least, but I did find it fascinating how inexplicably unsympathetically this character is portrayed. Spoilers follow. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:22 pm | Comments (0)
February 2, 2018
Preliminary thoughts re: Ramsey Campbell’s The Kind Folk
Category: Books

Are any of you familiar with Ramsey Campbell? Apparently he "is perhaps the world's most-honored author of horror fiction" and "has won more awards than any other living author of horror or dark fantasy." (The Wikipedia article features even higher praise; in speaking of him, author S. T. Joshi apparently wrote, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood." Wow.) I'm reading his 2012 novel The Kind Folk for a horror book club I joined late last year.

It's... bad. Like, really bad. The writing isn't just amateurish or unpolished; it's not even simplistic in the way many children's books are written -- it's more like the writing a child (say, a fifth grader) would produce after a couple of revisions. So far (and admittedly I'm only four chapters in) the story is incredibly weak, too. Campbell is in the habit of writing very short chapters (generally 3-5 pages), which I assume is intended to keep the reader engaged -- it's easy to keep saying, "Oh, I'll just read the next chapter," when the chapters are so brief -- but each chapter could literally be summarized in a single sentence without losing anything essential or valuable because the writing is wholly lacking in sophistication and depth. It's so empty that I can barely focus on it; somewhere in the middle of the second page I had to flip to various other parts of the book to see if the writing ever improves. It doesn't. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:54 am | Comments (0)
January 25, 2018
Thoughts on Let the Right One In (Swedish and American films + comparisons to novel)
Category: Books … TV, Film, & DVDs

Having finished reading John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel Let the Right One In (and the short story sequel, "Let the Old Dreams Die"), last night I watched the Swedish and American film versions back to back. And... it was an interesting experience. I first saw the American film nearly a year after I saw the Swedish one, so it wasn't entirely fresh in my mind -- but from what I recalled the American movie seemed like a superfluous remake of the original, made only for people who for whatever reason can't abide subtitles or dubs. And while it does seem that the American movie is more an adaptation of the Swedish film than of the original novel, my previous opinion of the film isn't *quite* right. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 7:51 pm | Comments (0)
May 20, 2017
Currently Reading: Asura Girl
Category: Books

So this week I started reading Asura Girl by Otaro Maijo, which I think I acquired during one of a friend's book purges. I don't recall what initially moved me to take the title home, but one of the things that persuaded me to read it now was my curiosity concerning prose translated from Japanese. Shusaku Endo's Silence ranks among the most satisfying and thought-provoking books I've ever read, but I haven't read any Japanese novels besides that.

About halfway into Asura Girl -- and having looked up some additional information about the book online -- I'm finding myself wondering about other details, like the fact that the book is written in first person and the protagonist is a 17-year-old girl, yet the author was a 30-year-old man when the book was released. The book also won the Mishima Yukio Prize for that year, which seems surprising because it's not all that good (at least so far, and admitting that whatever elegance the original prose possessed was perhaps lost in translation) and Yukio Mishima is kind of a big deal in Japanese literature. But the depiction of Japanese teenage culture is intriguing because of how alien it seems (to me; it might not seem that strange to others), and what story there is is interesting enough (though so far the novel has largely consisted of the teen female protagonist's musings, hence my curiosity regarding the reality of the author's age and sex), so I'm sufficiently motivated to keep reading.

-posted by Wes | 8:41 pm | Comments (0)
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