Friday, February 27, 2009

Life of Pi

I read BOOKCLUB CLASSICS today and found a reference to an interesting article - Life of Pi: Why "unfilmable" books can make the best movies.

Is there anyone out there who hasn't read LIFE OF PI? For those who haven't it's the story of 16-year-old Pi Patel, the son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry, India. His father decides to move the family and some of the animals to Canada. Pi is set adrift in the Pacific after a shipwreck with a Bengal tiger, a zebra, a spotted hyena and an orangutan. It's a harrowing adventure as the tiger kills the other animals and Pi must use all his wits to stay alive. When their raft reaches the coast the tiger runs off and the authorities don't believe his story. Finally Pi tells them another more conventional version. Which is the truth? The reader must decide. What do I believe? - I think Pi created an adventure, one that he truly believes, one that allowed him to survive the terror, boredom, hunger and all the other emotions that go along with a journey that is physically and mentally agonizing.
Can this complex novel be made into a good movie? I have my doubts, but I did enjoy
Big Fish

It's another story where you must distinguish between a man's fish tales and reality.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead

I'm reading SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead for the Barnes and Noble book club. It's a semi-autobiographical coming of age story about the black community in Sag Harbor in 1985.

First let me say that I love the book. I read a little this morning then started surfing around and happened on a video of Colson on YouTube. He's walking around Sag Harbor and talking about his book and he makes you feel like you're right there with him.

Several others in the book club have said they're waiting for a plot to emerge. Well as Colson himself says, this is "a slice of life, we were nerds, nothing much happens." I hope he was being facetious. He's a master of the metaphor; he paints vivid pictures of time and place like nobody else. His writing makes me green with envy. I can't wait to get further into the book and discussion.

Watch the video yourself.
Colson Whitehead on YouTube

Friday, February 20, 2009

John Updike's Rules on Reviewing Books

Remembering John Hoyer Updike - March 18, 1932 to January 27, 2009

I've been reading a lot of posts about John Updike who died of lung cancer last month. Although I've read a lot of his work there was much I didn't know about the man including the fact that he was born in Pennsylvania and his first novel was THE POORHOUSE FAIR published in 1959.

He's probably best known for his Rabbit novels including RABBIT, RUN and RABBIT REDUX, as well as THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK.

I enjoyed his book reviews in The New Yorker; the first one was published in 1961, so I looked on their site and found an interesting piece I hadn't seen before.

John Updike's Rules on Reviewing Books from PICKED-UP PIECES, 1975.

"My rules, shaped intaglio-fashion by youthful traumas at the receiving end of critical opinion, were and are:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give enough direct quotation—at least one extended passage—of the book's prose so the review's reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy précis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending.…

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author's oeuvre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never...try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end."

Read more at:
The New Yorker

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Turn up the Heat in your Writing

Nicole North has an upcoming workshop in March. I've taken three of her workshops and they've been really helpful. So if you write romance and are thinking about taking a class here's the info:

Yosemite Romance Writers PresentsWorkshop: Turn up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and Sensuality in Your Manuscript
Presenter: Nicole NorthDate: March 2 - 27, 2009

Description: Editors want to buy spicy-hot romance stories now more than ever before. How do you do it? In this class we will discuss all aspects of sexual tension and sensuality and how they relate to the developing romance in your story. You'll learn tips for successfully building sexual tension over the course of the hero and heroine's relationship from first glance, through climax, to happily ever after. Several examples will be used to illustrate different nuances of hot romantic chemistry and how to employ them in your own story. Learn how to avoid clichés and use sexiness in fresh new ways. Strengthening sexual tension will take your story from ho-hum to so hot and delicious your reader can't put it down. We'll do exercises for hands-on learning. (Please be aware this course contains explicit and frank discussions of sexuality.)**

About the presenter: Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009; Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29; and Kilted Lover, Red Sage. She has finaled in over a dozen writing competitions and won several awards. She admits sexual tension and delicious love scenes are her favorite elements of romance and sprinkles them liberally through her stories. What others have said about her works: "This author handles sexual tension very well. Her characters are completely drawn to each other..." and "Wow! Talk about sexual chemistry. This story has it in spades. You're a natural in the romantic chemistry department." She has a BA degree in psychology. Please visit her website to learn more and read past student testimonials:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back at the Beach

So far it's been a horrible winter. One cold after another led to a bout with pleurisy. For those not familiar with it here is the definition from Wikipedia.

"Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura,[1] the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Pleurisy has a variety of infectious and non-infectious causes. Pleurisy can cause extremely painful respiration (also called pleuritic chest pain) and other signs and symptoms ..."

That's putting it mildly. Every breath was agony and a cough was something to be feared and avoided at all costs. Try not to get pleurisy, it's hell.

But all is well now and I'm back at Camp Swampy South. I've replaced my cityscape with my beach view. And it is glorious here. With sun and temperatures in the fifties what more can you ask for. I have lots of writing to catch up on and many books to review.

I've signed up for Barnes and Noble's First Look book club. Last month we read A FORTUNATE AGE by Joanna Smith Rakoff. I was less than impressed. My review will be published by Ezine shortly. You'll see it in my Ezine widget on the right and on my Twitter alerts.

This month we're reading SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead. I'm about to start it now and will tell you all about it.