While this blog may be primarily focused on movies, TV and videogames, we don’t want to leave the impression that we’re totally uncultured in literary matters here. We read books too, you know. (Well, some of us, anyway.) For this week’s Roundtable, let’s discuss what we’ve been reading lately.
I just finished Nora Ephron’s ‘Heartburn‘, which I had been wanting to read for a while in order to compare it to the Mike Nichols film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, which was based on Ephron’s own screenplay. It had some great lines, and a few bits that she later sprinkled throughout ‘When Harry Met Sally‘ and ‘Julie & Julia‘, but in the end, I’d only give it a 5/10.
The week before that, I read Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl‘, which I’d give an 8.5/10. I couldn’t put that book down. If Reese Witherspoon is indeed starring in the film version, it will be the perfect counterpoint to her Tracy Flick character. I lost a lot of sleep staying up to finish that book in about three days. I’m still not sold on the ending, though. I’m curious to hear what other people think (without spoiling anything).
The last book I read was ‘Under the Dome‘, which was kindly given to me by High-Def Digest reader Randall G. because he’s apparently really awesome and will mail books to you for free. I had mentioned that I loved Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′ (the book I read right before ‘Dome’), and Randall offered to send me ‘Dome’ free of charge. He’s a stand up guy.
Anyway, I really love the way that King writes, and I especially love his ideas and the scope that he brings to his books. ‘Dome’ is an audaciously big undertaking. One day, a giant invisible dome cuts off a tiny rural Maine town from the outside world. It only takes a few days before religious zealots and hicks with guns start trying to take over the town with fear. The baddie in it is a man called Big Jim Rennie, who as far as I’m concerned, could only be played by John Goodman if the book ever gets adapted for the screen.
Speaking of adapting this book, if it was to be done right, I think that it should be made as an HBO-type mini-series. That’s really the only way to fit in all the characters and the scope of the book. (Same thing goes with ’11/22/63′, but Jonathon Demme is already adapting that book into a screenplay. We’ll have to see how that goes). Now that I finished with ‘Dome’ a month or so ago, I’ve started George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ series. After watching the greatness that is ‘Game of Thrones’, I simply have to read the source material.
I just finished ‘Child of God‘ by Cormac McCarthy. For much of the time that I was reading it, I was thankful that the disturbing story of Lester Ballard, a perverse and isolated individual, was mercifully short. Cormac McCarthy, known recently for ‘The Road’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’, has a writing style that eschews most punctuation and italics usage, which takes some adjustment, especially with regard to dialogue. He’s a superb writer, though. Otherwise, I might not have gotten very far through the book. I picked ‘Child of God’ at random from the author’s other works. It wasn’t until after I read it that I saw it had been published in 1973, where stories like this in the vein of ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘American Psycho’ were somewhat groundbreaking. I really can’t recommend the book, but the writing is vivid and Lester’s corrosion as a human being is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
If you count comics, the last book I read was the fourth collection of Jeff Smith’s ‘RASL‘. This head-on collision of sci-fi and noir isn’t the easiest series on the planet to describe. It’s about an art thief who bounds back and forth between alternate realities to steal legendary paintings, but that barely scratches the surface. Sex, deception, murder, Nicolas Tesla, the truth about the Philadelphia Experiment, the Tunguska Event, alternate Bob Dylans, the death knell of every plane of existence: ‘RASL’ is a phenomenal series that indulges a dark side that had only been hinted at in Smith’s other work to date.
Okay, okay, if you want me to ramble on for a few sentences about a book-book, the last one I read would probably be Patton Oswalt’s ‘Zombie Spaceship Wasteland‘. At its core, this is a non-linear memoir about Oswalt’s childhood and his early years as a comedian. As anyone who’s caught one of Oswalt’s stand-up sets surely knows, he’s a brilliant storyteller, and that translates every bit as well to the printed page as you’d expect. He’s also not one to settle for convention. Along with the familiar approach of a comedian looking back on his earlier years, he’ll mix several pages of narration over a fake wine list, or summarize hack comedians with parodies of Janet Jackson and Billy Joel songs. Being Patton Oswalt and all, it kind of goes without saying that he drops references to everything from ‘D&D’ sourcebooks to movies as hopelessly obscure as ‘Chato’s Land’. Yeah, I loved it.
Back in April at the 2012 Calgary Expo I had a chance to meet Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. While I was there, I picked up a copy of his memoir, ‘Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of Your Dreams‘. It’s a smart, witty and incredibly personal look beneath the mask of one of the greatest cult icons of all-time. From his early theater career to the birth of the legendary bogeyman and beyond, this book is a must for any film fan. Just be sure not to doze off while reading it.
M. Enois Duarte
Right now, I’m in the middle of Nick Cave’s ‘The Death of Bunny Munro‘. I’ve been a fan of Cave’s music for as long as I can remember, starting with “The Birthday Party,” and thoroughly enjoyed his first novel, ‘And the Ass Saw the Angel’ when it first came out. Some will recognize Cave’s name as the screenwriter of movies like ‘The Proposition’ and the upcoming ‘Lawless’. For some reason, I just never got around to reading about ‘Bunny Munro’ and his libertine gallivanting about the town of Brighton with his son. It’s a great read and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
I’ve been doing a bunch of reading in conjunction with my David Lynch film marathon. I posted earlier this week about revisiting the ‘Twin Peaks’ tie-in novel, ‘The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer‘. I’ve also recently finished the ‘Lynch on Lynch‘ interview book, and Barry Gifford’s original ‘Wild at Heart‘ novella that Lynch’s 1990 film is based on. I’m currently in the middle of ‘The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper‘. I’ll try to write more about these later if I can find the time.
The thing I find interesting about ‘Wild at Heart’ specifically is that, between the movie’s final cut and the deleted scenes, it appears that Lynch literally filmed the entire book. It had been quite a long time since I’d read it last, and I’d previously had the impression that the movie was about 80% Lynch and only 20% Gifford, but it seems that Lynch made a real effort to put everything from the book into his movie, interspersed with his own original material. Yet the director poured so much of his own unique style onto the movie that even the scenes that come verbatim from Gifford feel like something Lynch must have written.
What have you read recently? Tell us in the Comments.