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Showing posts from July, 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

I love David Mitchell, the British author (as opposed to David Mitchell, the British comedian) of Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten, Number 9 Dream, Black Swan Green and now this, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob deZoet.

Like Iain Banks/Iain M. Banks, Mitchell seems to write one "normal" or linear narrative in between the time and mind bending ones (someone is attempting to film Cloud Atlas. I think this is a very, very bad idea). That said, this is a good book, but not his best, which is rather like saying that The Magnificent Ambersons isn't Citizen Kane.

This is, to a certain extent (which looking back over my blog is a phrase I use too much), a historical romance set at the very end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th on an artificial trading island off the coast of Nagasaki. Mitchell lived in Japan for many years and is very familiar with the culture.

It is both a love story and a historical story--describing pretty factually as far as I have researched a true incid…

Extra! Extra! Loann Agrees With Sarah Palin (sort of)

Oh, how it pains me to say this, but I don't hate the word refudiate or Palin for creating it. And, she is right, Shakespeare added a plethora of new words and phrases to the English language, or at least solidified them from the spoken of the time to what we know and accept today. Any language is a moving, growing thing. A river that is different from second to second and possibly no more so than English which has become the closest thing to a global language (for no particularly good reason other than Imperialism and the British navy). Sometime ago now, I read The Story of English and wrote a little about it--meant to write more and somehow didn't. To a certain extent, Shakespeare defined English. James Joyce gleefully broke it.

So what makes them geniuses and Palin an idiot? Well, there is the fact that their writing is lyric and lasting. That they make sense (even Joyce if you are as learned as he--which I'm not) while Palin is famously incoherent in other ways. She is …

In For a Penny, in for a Pound--Twilight the Movie

I wasn't going to do it. Oh, how I wasn't going to do it. And I didn't. Not really. I only watched part, and even then I was working on other things. Not focusing. But those are really meaculpas.

I watched part of Twilight last night. It was not quite as bad as I expected. I suppose, if your expectation is 0, then a 1 is an improvement. Kristin Stewart was not quite as annoying as I expected. Robert Pattinson slightly more romantic. Which is to damn with faint praise. It's not a very well put together movie. How is it that this woman directed Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown?

Only two things actually interested me enough to pay attention. One, the fact that when Bella and Edward are in the woods and she says Vampire all mysterious and sexy like, the camera cuts away to the tops of the trees and then breaks and comes back to them lying on their backs. That used to be cinema convention for a sex scene, but, as we all know, Bella and Edward don't have sex …

Writing....?

Some mornings I wake up and think, "I want to write a story, start that novel, try something on the page." But rather than walk right in to my laptop which I named "Writer" for inspiration, I have to get ready for work, or if home alone and free, like today, there is the dog to be walked, both animals to be fed and medicated. After my own breakfast, perhaps, and, oh, there is a load of laundry to be started. And I should...

If I am so unhappy and underemployed in my current job, then I SHOULD spend every spare moment actively searching for work. Right? But I didn't do it even when happily employed (although sometimes I think that I have never been happily employed--either I liked the work and not the people or liked the people and not the work, and have never until this job liked the money--but that is a topic I've beaten before.)

And I write essays/blog posts. They are so easy for me--they're half written in my head before I even sit down at the keyboard…

Thoughts on Twilight by Stephenie Meyers

Ok, so I read the damn thing in one night--yeah, I'm weird like that.

It is a page turner, I'll give you that. And yet, when I turned the last page, even with the "preview" of the next novel, I had absolutely no interest in what happened next, because the tension in Twilight (and I presume the sequels) is not whether or not Bella will die, but whether she and Edward will ever consummate their love. And that is the secret of its mad success.

Beyond everything it is a Romance novel that happens to be with young adults some of whom are vampires. If straight (read male) porn is all about seeing the climax, then romance (read female) is all about NOT having the climax. The long, slow building with the end only in the reader's imagination.

I have read that Meyers is inspired by Austen, and while Austen was able to weave a great deal about human nature and even politics and mores of her time into her books, which Meyers absolutely is not, the books are, at the heart, roman…