"Heralded in its day for its audacious envisioning of an American social landscape ravaged by dysfunctional sexuality
– featuring an aspiring single mother who impregnates herself upon a dying soldier’s genitalia; a transsexual [gasp!]; and a feminist society who protest violent rape by cutting their own tongues off – John Irving’s 1978 picaresque now reads like a hysterical (in both senses of the word) male vision of the burgeoning feminist movement. Not much is different in George Roy Hill’s 1982 movie version, except that the absurdist imagery no longer drifts along the cooing flow of Irving’s prose, but rattles and jerks from one set piece to another. What’s missing is a strong characterization of the title character, played by Robin Williams, who scrambles from scene to scene like a quarterback shaken out of his pocket, never finding a consistent behavioral core from which to regard the shenanigans. Glenn Close and John Lithgow deserved their Oscar nominations for breathing dimension and empathy to a couple of kooky types the film otherwise regards with mocking abjection. For its reactionary middle-of-the-road advocacy of American normalcy under the threatening spectre of liberal progress, it’s a worthy precursor to Forrest Gump
[TSPDT #577]. Of the films I’ve seen in the past two years for this project, this is the film for whose placement on the 1000 Greatest Films I have the most reservations." [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome
on Sep 7, 2014 -
Things That Don't Suck
, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome
on Aug 19, 2014 -
For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion. But despite the work of such dedicated cultists as Edmund Wilson and Matthew Josephson, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, Dawn Powell never became the popular writer that she ought to have been. In those days, with a bit of luck, a good writer eventually attracted voluntary readers and became popular. Today, of course, "popular" means bad writing that is widely read while good writing is that which is taught to involuntary readers. Powell failed on both counts. She needs no interpretation and in her lifetime she should have been as widely read as, say, Hemingway or the early Fitzgerald or the mid O'Hara or even the late, far too late, Katherine Anne Porter. But Powell was that unthinkable monster, a witty woman who felt no obligation to make a single, much less a final, down payment on Love or The Family; she saw life with a bright Petronian neutrality, and every host at life's feast was a potential Trimalchio to be sent up.
- Gore Vidal
posted by Trurl
on Nov 12, 2011 -
Gamers, have you ever looked in the sci-fi aisle of your bookstore and wondered how there could possibly be novels set in the worlds of "Gears of War" or "Doom,"
but nothing in the richly imagined distopia of Bioshock
? Have you fed your Art Deco obsession with Ryan-inspired fan fiction
, wishing for something more? Wish no longer: Bram Stoker Award winner, sci-fi novelist, punk rocker, Blue Oyster Cult lyricist, etc. John Shirley
has written the first official BioShock novel, "BioShock: Rapture
," which hit store shelves yesterday. An excerpt of the book, which is a prequel to the first game, is offered here from publisher Tor
. [more inside]
posted by jbickers
on Jul 20, 2011 -
"Meanwhile, down in Vaginaland, Mr Condom's beginning to feel a bit iffy. He's overheating. For some reason, the shagging seems to be twice as fast this evening, and he grimaces as he gets flung willy-nilly in and out of the pink tunnel. He starts getting friction burns, hanging onto Bobby's stiff penis for dear life, headbutting Georgie's cervix at 180 beats per minute. 'Help me!' he yells in the darkness, feeling himself melting."
This year's worst sex. [NSFW or post-turkey family reading] [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam
on Nov 25, 2009 -
Despite sagging paperback sales in the publishing industry, romance novels -- and particularly hen lit
-- fiction featuring older female heroines -- are thriving. In 2006, according to Romance Writers of America, 26.4% of all books sold were romances, generating $1.37 billion in sales.
In hen lit aka Matron literature
, heroines typically are over-40, widowed grandmothers whose romance yearnings are secondary to family, work, and hobbies.
posted by terranova
on Nov 21, 2008 -
Ladies, have you ever dreamt of being
whisked away kidnapped
by a dashing young Prince? Or being swept off your feet and losing your virginity to a dark and mysterious stranger
, who happens to be a Sheikh? Or how about being sold to an Arab aristocracy and living off the rest of your days in married bliss
. No? Then how about considering a Royal who is so down-to-earth
you won't meet anyone else quite like him? Much better than the alternative of marrying his polar
opposite, don't you think? Of course, you can always try
and keep it platonic if you wanted to. Welcome to the wonderful world of Sheikhs and Desert Love
, where all of your fantasies
can come true! (via)
posted by hadjiboy
on Mar 15, 2008 -
Looking for something to read this summer? Well, if you like crime fiction The Rap Sheet
has some recommendations for you.
posted by otio
on Jul 8, 2007 -
Booktribes is a new site
from the creators of writing site Abctales
where bibliophiles can compile lists of every book they've ever read. Replete with a simple, intuitive interface, compiling your life's reading list becomes strangely addictive, and for the whole of March, the best comment of the day on this as-yet underpopulated site wins a copy of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green
, with the best comment of the month winning the entire 21 volume Sceptre Collection. And if you're worried your reading list isn't up to scratch, don't panic - you can always cheat.
posted by RokkitNite
on Mar 3, 2007 -
Is It Fiction If It Says "Fiction" On The Cover? Jorge Luis Borges
brilliantly obscured fact and fiction presenting fiction as fact. Things seem to have swung round 180º and fact is now increasingly being sold as fiction. This certainly seems to be the case with Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved
. She's Paul Auster's
and... Well... now even critics
, like The New York Observer's Joe Hagan
have joined the fun, as Slate's Katie Roiphe duly noted
. Fact is now presented as fiction, without the traditional disguise of the roman à clef
. I think it's sad. In fact, it's an attempt on the life of imagination itself. Perhaps these authors who write memoirs masquerading as novels could be sued under the Trade Description Act? [With thanks to the always excellent Literary Salon weblog. Thanks to ColdChef for pointing it out to me.
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Apr 23, 2003 -
no not THAT Cervantes silly, THIS Cervantes
wrote the first half of Don Quixote
in 1605. The popularity of the world's first novel was so great that an impostor book was published
chronicling the continued misadventures of the Don Quixote and Sancho, so scandalously in fact that Cervantes himself had to write a second half
ten years later which ends (SPOILER) with the death of Alonso Quixano and the end of all further tales. Now it seems some 400 years later its happening to our young Harry Potter
posted by Pollomacho
on Nov 13, 2002 -
"That's it. I'm done. Done writing books."
After Stephen King publishes his next five new books, he's ending his career in publishing. Viewing his latest work as mere recycles of older novels that he has written, he's choosing to stop while he's at the top of his game rather than meet a grim end to his career. Are any fans of his work disappointed or do you feel satisfied with the body of work that he has created over his career?
posted by crog
on Jan 30, 2002 -
Monday is the last day to declare your intention to write a 50,000-word novel during National Novel Writing Month
(Nov. 1-30). "Dubious fiction writers from all nations are invited to participate," says organizer Chris Baty. So far, around 3,000 writers have pledged to bring 150 million new words into the world.
posted by rcade
on Oct 28, 2001 -
Color me surprised. My annoyance at Tom Clancy for the shoddy quality of Rainbow Six
is well known
. I had expected to give up on him entirely; I didn't even plan to buy the new one in hardcover without reading it first...
posted by baylink
on Aug 27, 2000 -