Friday, November 25, 2011

The Ballad of Reading Milton

I read this story at the bar of old college haunt, drinking my coffee black and making brilliant and acerbic notes on the side of the page. If you squinted hard enough, ignoring the bright glare of the sun on the window outside and the packed cafe inside, you would have sworn I was living inside that Edward Hopper painting. At least that's how I choose to write - I mean, remember - it.

For those not up-to-date on the Indie Elite crowd - last year, someone from University of Texas at Austin, where the now famous writer/director (and bff of the Wilson twins) Wes Anderson once studied (see: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore,  The Darjeeling Limited and this Amex Commercial), found a short story he wrote in undergrad that was published in the school's literary magazine in 1989.  The Ballad of Reading Milton.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I listened to the first installment of the Trilogy that Swept the Nation as an audio-book. As hyped, the late Stieg Larrson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was intriguing, well-written and in this case: well-read. 

However, not until l I borrowed a paper copy to complete this review did I realize I had heard an abridged version - that paragraphs and whole sections of text were missing!  At first I was outraged, and concerned that the questions I had planned to pose here would be irrelevant had I read the original version. But then I started to think about the editing process and wonder; If without those sections of text, I still enjoyed the story and reached a basic understanding of the plot and characters as intended and became inclined to seek out the second book in the series - than why NOT leave those words out? In fact, why include them in the original in the first place?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Visit From The Goon Squad

When I finally get around to writing my own Great American Novel, I want it to be just like Jennifer Egan's newest, A Visit from the Goon Squad. It reads exactly the way I've always wanted my bedside table books to, with each chapter easily standing alone as its own short story (no need to re-read the last few pages from the night before to "catch up") and yet each chapter is also inherently necessary to the narrative as a whole. A brilliant writing technique eloquently executed.

For those who dislike a non-linear storyline (like in the movie Momento) you may have difficulty at first when one chapter told from the perspective of a mid-aged man in New York proceeds a story where he is now relegated to a bit player in the memory of a thirteen year old girl in California, a story in which he too is only thirteen. Egan does a great job easing the reader through each transition. While not a single character takes center stage more than once in the book, I assure you, this is a cohesive novel, not a compilation of vaguely connected anecdotes.