02 September 2011

Art of Fiction

I was already excited for the new Wayne Johnston book  A World Elsewhere. Like, really excited. Then I found out that the author Edith Wharton is a (I think, small) character in the book and I had a bibliogasm. How awesome that my favourite female author would be a character in a novel by one of my favourite male authors. (I haven’t reviewed my favourite male author ratings lately, but I think I’ll put that off until after the next Wright comes out). 

At the moment I’m reading two things. The first is Under the Dome by Stephen King. I read King initially as a kid because my mom liked him so much and his books were (and still are) all over the house. In hindsight, I was probably way too young to be reading those books, but my mom was never one to censor us. In recent years, Mom & I have given up on King. We’re of the opinion that he hasn’t written anything very good since getting hit by that van. It may just be a coincidence, but regardless, we generally like his work pre-van, but post-van has been less than exciting, e.g., the snot monster in Dreamcatcher? I mean, that’s hardly at the artistic level of a giant spider masquerading as a psycho clown, is it?

So, when Under the Dome started to get good reviews from trusted sources, and people were saying it was the best since The Stand (which is his best book, I think) we had to read it. Mom read it first and said it was great with the caveat that the ending is pat. I’m 900+ pages into it (90% done) and while it’s good, it hasn’t struck me as being comparable to The Stand. We’ll it’s comparable in that there are things in The Dome that remind me of things in the Stand, certain character archetype and the like. I’m most disappointed by the fact that the calm-voice-of-reason character in The Dome seems to be Stu Redmond, the calm-voice-of-reason character from The Stand. In my head, I see Gary Sinise (who played Stu in the TV movie of The Stand). And there are other analogous characters, but I don’t think anyone reading this really cares (if you do – let me know!). But in terms of greatness, I would still recommend The Stand over The Dome. Anyway, you can decide for yourself soon enough, I just read they’re making it into a mini series. (They’re also remaking The Stand into an actual movie, which will suck, because there’s just no way to distill that book down into 2 hours. Maybe if they did it as a trilogy or something. That would be awesome). 

However, The Dome is a very interesting study of a town’s rapid descent into chaos. Basically, a town is cut off from the world when a giant, impenetrable dome descends and traps them inside. The power-hungry local politician and his henchmen quickly take over. So far, it reminds me a lot of Lord of the Flies, which I mentioned to mom in an email and she replied “I not only thought of Lord of the Flies, but the Republican Bush administration. All that gathering up of the goodies for themselves under the pretext that they knew best and it was the right thing to do for everyone. I just now thought of Animal Farm in that connection too! Maybe the defining sign of a civilization in decline is, first of all, the rampant unchecked greed of the elite and, second, the acquiescence of the population in their taking everything.”

The second of the things I’m reading at the moment, on the side, is the Buffy Season 8 comics. After Buffy ended, Joss Whedon et al. wrote a Season 8 in comic book form. I’ve never been a big comics person, but I was curious about these and my BFF just happened to have them all so I borrowed them and am almost done volume 7 of 8. And – wow. I’m impressed. It’s very true to Buffy –but also very different from the show. At times it’s genuinely hilarious and there are lots of in jokes. One of the great things about the format is that they can bring back beloved characters at will – like Oz (Willow: “you always know just what to say when you bother to talk”). The over-arching big bad of this “season” ended up being simultaneously a let down and also kind of great. Also, some of the stuff in the comics would never have made it to TV, unless Buffy aired on HBO. Joss Whedon has a dirty mind. Next I’m going to read the Angel comics. I hope they found a way to bring back Wesley. 

Speaking of vampires, I think this season of True Blood is the best since the first season. As long as you ignore all the stuff with Sam, but I do that every season anyway. I know PaleOz really liked last season because of all the vampire rights issues and such. I apparently don’t need that much social commentary with my soft core vampire porn, because I find this season far more interesting.   

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