Yeah, you'll learn his morning bathroom habits, his tendency to fall asleep to TiVo'd episodes of The Simpsons or Law & Order, and pretty much anyYeah, you'll learn his morning bathroom habits, his tendency to fall asleep to TiVo'd episodes of The Simpsons or Law & Order, and pretty much any time he runs off to have relations with the wife . . . but that's the kind of thing that makes Kevin Smith so . . . well, Kevin Smith. Smith has always been about brutal honesty, but he's also one of the funniest, most interesting cats around. And in that regard, My Boring Ass Life never disappoints. It's also far from boring, even when Smith gives you every detail of what he ate or purchased on a given day. You'll learn how movies get made, financed, cast and promoted -- including movies that Smith makes, like Clerks 2, as well as those he only acts in, like Catch and Release. You'll shake your head as you watch Smith eat gobs of food then berate himself for being overweight (eventually clocking in at 319 pounds). And in one of the most dramatic parts of the book, you'll cringe then cheer as Smith tries (then fails then finally succeeds) at getting Jason Mewes to kick the drug habit. Through it all, Smith deals with fans, friends, critics, producers, hair dressers, and his fellow nerds with his usual self-deprecating anarchic brand of humor. If you're a fan, I don't need to convince you to read this. If you're not a fan . . . well, it's not exactly Sam Pepys, but it's still full of the kinds of mundane yet compelling bits of minutiae that make for fun reading. ...more
A solid biography of a sad, often pathetic, literary life. I was only peripherally familiar with some of Poe's story and, like many readers, had beenA solid biography of a sad, often pathetic, literary life. I was only peripherally familiar with some of Poe's story and, like many readers, had been suckered by some of the stories that had been maliciously spread as fact over the last 200 years (i.e. Poe's expulsion from West Point, his drug use) -- most of which, as it turns out, were completely false and part of a concerted effort by a rival to slur his reputation.
Silverman cuts through the gauze of slanderous or puffed biographies, missing or burned letters, and lost newspaper articles and reviews to paint a warts-and-all portrait of Poe, who comes across as a sort of pathetic, unappreciated scoundrel of a genius. Poe feuded with magazine editors, challenged rivals to fist fights, wrote sock puppet reviews of his own work, accused fellow writers of plagiarism (even as he liberally borrowed from others himself), wooed multiple women at once -- and yet, his fiction and poetry are so clearly brilliant that you can't help loving the poet, even as you wish he would pull himself together. You may not come away from Silverman's book liking Poe as a person, but you'll definitely appreciate his commitment to his craft.
My only real complaint lies with Silverman's over-reading of Poe's work in search of what he is convinced are deep-seated mom and dad issues. Any time Poe creates a character whose name has two Ls and an A in it, Silverman is convinced Poe is taking a slap at his foster fother, John ALLan. To Silverman, every dying woman represents Poe's mother, and any remotely heroic character calls up Poe's brother, William Henry Leonard Poe. It can get to be a bit much, and by the time Silverman starts in on his analysis of the 1847 "Ulalume," you may find yourself groaning and thumbing for the end of the chapter.
Still, Silverman's biography brings much-needed clear-eyed scholarship to Poe's story, making Poe the most memorable character in his own rocky life story. Highly recommended....more
Richard Ellman won the Pulitzer for his work on Oscar Wilde, and with good reason: it's not only the definitive look at the Irish poet, playwright, crRichard Ellman won the Pulitzer for his work on Oscar Wilde, and with good reason: it's not only the definitive look at the Irish poet, playwright, critic, and martyr, but it's also a ripping good read. Wilde was a movie star in a time before movies, a tabloid staple, and a constant bestseller, and Ellmann makes him -- and his work -- come alive.
Following Wilde's rise to literary and theatrical fame, a series of colossally bad decisions lead to his imprisonment and disgrace -- another ending we know is coming and want desperately for our subject to avoid. In Ellmann's capable hands -- especially as he traces the poet's final frustrating years -- Wilde emerges not so much a victim of Victorian morals but rather of his own ego and genius. And we're more than ready to forgive him for it.
(Reprinted from my website at brianjayjones.blogspot.com)...more