A free copy was provided through Netgalley in exchange for review.
I think anyone who picks up this book is most likely going to be a rabid Seinfeld faA free copy was provided through Netgalley in exchange for review.
I think anyone who picks up this book is most likely going to be a rabid Seinfeld fan, and I'm no exception. We are in the midst of PeakTV -- a new heralded Golden Age of Television -- and there's a very persuasive argument to be made that it all started with a small show about nothing, that did in fact, change everything. Despite the avalanche of remarkable and groundbreaking TV that's hit our small screens since Seinfeld exited stage left in 1998, it still remains one of my favorite shows of all time. I've never stopped watching it in syndication, it continues to make me bust a gut laughing on a regular basis, and I've yet to encounter any situation in life that cannot be captured by applying a Seinfeld quote.
Seinfeldia is a fun book, and a totally immersive experience into the bizarre, unexpected and meteoric rise of a show that probably should have been cancelled after its first season. But after a rocky and uncertain start, the show got traction with fans and critics. As its influence spread, it was clear to see that Seinfeld was bleeding over and breaking through the Fourth Wall on a regular basis, blending fact with fiction in an original and inspired way not only becoming part of the zeitgeist and popular culture but seemingly birthing it out of thin air. The catchy phrases and neurotic dialogue uttered on the show were quickly absorbed by television audiences and recited in everyday life as if we had always been saying such things.
Or here's what I think -- we had always needed these words to describe both the inanity and absurdity of life, and it was Seinfeld who gave them to us.
The author takes a nice even-handed, well-researched approach describing the "making of" the show, offering a behind-the-scenes analysis of early working relationships, scripts and the jockeying for power and position between the actors, writers and directors. At the helm of course was Larry David -- perhaps the first instance where we really see the genius that can result when a showrunner is given complete creative control over his/her product. And David wielded that power like Thor's mighty hammer. The only other creative force welcomed into the inner sanctum was not surprisingly David's right hand man, Jerry Seinfeld. Together, these two gentlemen mind-fused into a comedic entity where the sum of their brilliance far exceeded their individual talents.
The book also has fun dipping into the "bizarro" aspects of the show -- how it carried the Midas touch for a lot of struggling actors who would go on to great careers after their stints on Seinfeld, no matter how brief or fleeting their appearance. Probably the most notable here is Bryan Cranston -- the inimitable Dr. Whatley -- a dentist who Jerry is certain converted to Judaism strictly for the jokes. Even regular people who never acted on the show got pulled into its gravitational belt for better and for worse.
The real people counterparts to the fictionalized versions of themselves on the show would reap financial rewards and a fame by proxy -- 1.Kenny Kramer's Reality Tour is still going strong in New York City; 2. Ali (“Al") Yeganeh is the real "Soup Nazi" and continues to sell his soup today (and curse Jerry Seinfeld for giving him an infamy and notoriety he never asked for or ever aspired to); 3. and Larry Thomas, the actor who played the "Soup Nazi", continues to appear at fan conventions and speaking engagements, and has even written a book! Rather than fight against it, the actor has made peace with a role he will never outlive and embraces the benefits with grace and humor.
The book also addresses the backlash against a show that had become so popular it attracted haters and critics who believed it to be insufferably smug and overrated. The author also talks about the controversial finale episode and how it disappointed many fans and critics (it's not my favorite episode by any means, but I found things to appreciate about the finale). Then there was the fate of the four leads post-Seinfeld and the various trajectories their careers took, the strangest and most disappointing being Michael Richards and his public breakdown of racist rage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has always been my biggest girl crush and I've been over the moon to watch her role as Vice-President Selina Meyer only get better over five seasons of her Emmy award winning VEEP. And for Jerry Seinfeld fans you can catch him now doing Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. I haven't seen this yet, but I do plan on checking it out at some point.
Not surprisingly, the brains and soul and passion behind Seinfeld, creator Larry David, has had the most enduring and critical success with his show Curb Your Enthusiasm (which ended in 2011 after eight seasons, but it's just been announced the show will return for a season nine).
To wrap things up (and leave on a high note, with hand), I'm gonna take a page from Dan who in his review listed his ten favorite Seinfeld episodes. For anyone who has ever watched and loved the show, you'll remember just how packed each episode became, routinely following four sub-plots for each of the four leads -- Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. David's singular purpose and desire was to strive to have every episode end with the four sub-plots intersect by the ending. And he almost always succeeded. In no particular order (it was too hard to pick just ten, let alone rank) here are some of my favorites.
"The Chicken Roaster": Jerry and Kramer switch apartments when the searing neon red light from the Kenny Rogers Roasters sign across the street starts disturbing Kramer's sleep. And who can forget Mr. Marbles.
"The Parking Garage": The gang gets trapped in an underground parking garage when none of them can remember where Kramer parked his car. Highlights: Elaine wanders helplessly holding a goldfish in a plastic bag of water waiting for it to perish. George and Jerry get arrested for urinating in public.
"The Chinese Restaurant": The penultimate episode of the second season which takes place entirely in a Chinese restaurant while the gang waits to be seated. It remains a fan and critical favorite of Seinfeld's groundbreaking approach to comedic storytelling -- an episode about "nothing".
"The Bubble Boy": The gang travels upstate to stay in Susan's father's cabin. Susan and George stop at the Bubble Boy's house to get directions and play a game of trivial pursuit. Moops!
"The Opera": The most memorable "Crazy Joe Davola" episode. Elaine and Jerry are trying to enjoy a night out at the opera when Davola turns up dressed as the clown from Pagliacci.
"The Contest": The gang bet each other to see who can hold out the longest from self-pleasuring themselves (the word masturbation is never used in the episode considered too "adult" for prime time television). Part of the fun is all the euphemisms used to avoid saying the actual word, and what eventually makes each character crack.
"The Puffy Shirt": Jerry unknowingly agrees to wear a puffy "pirate shirt" on the Today Show. George gets discovered as a hand model.
"The Marine Biologist": After faking and lying about various jobs and careers, George is finally called out and forced to become a marine biologist when confronted by a beached whale in distress. "The sea was angry that day my friends."
"The Fusilli Jerry": Kramer starts making figures of his favorite people out of pasta shapes that best suit their personality. Jerry is "silly" so his is made from Fusilli. Highlights: "the move" (David Puddy, my favorite recurring character, starts using Jerry's sex move on Elaine; Kramer becomes "the Assman"; and Frank Costanza ends up at the proctologist's office after impaling himself on the Fusilli Jerry. This is also the episode where we get Frank's move of "stopping short".
"The Face Painter": I love David Puddy and this (along with the "Jesus Fish" subplot from "The Burning" episode), is his best stuff. I still say "Gotta support the team" in my best Puddy impression.
"The Little Kicks": Two words: Elaine dances. Also, Jerry becomes a bootlegger and we meet Brody.
"The Merv Griffin Show": Kramer finds the set of the Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster and sets it up in his apartment. Highlights: Jerry is dating a woman with collectible toys from his childhood (that she won't let him play with); George runs over a squirrel and is pressured by the woman he's dating to save its life, which the vet informs him will be costly and require the use of "special, really tiny instruments."
"The Slicer": Kramer gets a deli slicer and starts slicing meat. Elaine and Kramer conspire to short circuit the power in her neighbor's apartment only to find out there's a cat trapped inside starving because its food dispenser no longer works. And that's just the tip of the iceberg -- there's so much hilarity stuffed into this episode that often gets overlooked.
"The Reverse Peephole", "The Frogger" and "The Bookstore": For anyone who ever challenges you that Seinfeldstayed on the air too long, or wasn't as funny once Larry David left, I give you these three episodes which contain some of the funniest sub-plots the show covered in its nine season run. Highlights from all three episodes:
-George's overstuffed wallet, and keeping the massage chair for himself -Jerry is forced to wear a fur coat -Puddy buys an obnoxious leather jacket with a giant 8 on the back, Elaine is mortified -George must enlist the help of Kramer's electrician "friends" to move Frogger game to safety -Elaine starts eating Peterman's $29,000 Royal wedding cake purchased in an auction -Jerry can't break up with a woman because he's too afraid of "The Lopper" serial killer -Newman and Kramer try to set up a rickshaw business -Jerry gets Uncle Leo arrested, not knowing about his previous "crime of passion" -Jerry finds out from his parents "it's not stealing if it's something you need" -George takes an expensive book into the Brentano's bathroom and is forced to buy it. He tries to return it and discovers it's been "flagged". (hide spoiler)]
I could keep going. Seriously, I feel like I'm just getting started. I haven't even mentioned "Moviefone", "shrinkage", "not that there's anything wrong with that", "Dolores", "George's desk naps", yada yada yada. It would have been a much shorter list identifying the odd sub-plot or moments that can no longer make me laugh. There are far fewer of those. After all these years and repeated viewings Seinfeld has more than stood the test of time. If anything, it's ageless, or like a fine whiskey, keeps getting better with age as it thrives (and finds new audiences) in syndication. And while some outstanding comedies have appeared in the years following its finale -- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Parks and Rec to name my two favorites -- they all owe a debt to Seinfeld and for a show that continues to make me laugh out loud, I owe it a debt too.
I've been so behind on my reviewing these days, but I had so much fun with this one I wanted to make sure I didn't let it fall through the dark cracksI've been so behind on my reviewing these days, but I had so much fun with this one I wanted to make sure I didn't let it fall through the dark cracks into the swirling abyss where my non-reviewed books go.
I'm a huge fan of Ansari. I think he's cute as a button and funny as goddamn hell. I watched him in Parks & Rec, his most recent Netflix original Master of None (which I highly recommend), and thoroughly enjoy his stand-up concerts. He's not at the same level as Louis CK or Patton Oswalt, but he's also a lot younger than these gentlemen who have been honing their dark and brilliant comedy for decades now.
Modern Romance is not your typical "comedian writes a book" fare. It's not a memoir, or a book filled with ruminations on the life of a comedian. It's a thinky piece, backed up by real sociological research, with pie charts and everything! Ansari's approach to breaking down the ins and outs of dating and hooking up and settling down in the 21st century is as intriguing and compelling as it is infectious and informative. I loved every minute of it. The layout is light and breezy, and super accessible without distilling and dumbing down the subject matter too much as to be insulting to its audience. Ansari wants to make you laugh, make no mistake, but he's also very earnest in his desire to tell you what he's learned.
And can I just say I find all of it utterly FASCINATING. I'm addicted to "meet cute" stories (even though I would never consider myself a romantic, and have an averse reaction to rom-com movies -- that make me break out in hives). But how people meet and when they decide "to put a ring on it" (or not) can always get my attention. I have to check myself from being perpetually nosy all of the time, getting the "deets" on all this stuff from my friends, both of the online and the in real life variety.
For me, this book is too short. With its laudable success my hope is that Ansari will be compelled to pen a follow-up, because if there's one thesis that comes chiming out loud and clear here, it's that the 21st century dating world is changing fast, at warp speed, impacting how we communicate with one another, form bonds and friendships, and take that scary running leap into "the big commitment". A lot of the current research being done is showing that the bonds we form online, platonic or otherwise, can no longer be dismissed so easily as superficial and suffering by comparison to those we forge "IRL" (in real life). I do believe most of us on this site would concur that social media has opened up a "brave new world" that's not just brighter and more vibrant, but has proven increasingly successful in bringing colorful people into our lives that we otherwise would not have known existed, friendships that we now rely upon and cherish.
And that "modern romance" is blooming out of those virtual connections should really be coming as no surprise to anyone.
Ansari does an excellent job of pointing out the pros and cons of modern romance in the 21st century in all its tech'd out, geeked out splendor. We now have more choice than ever before, all at our fingertips with the click of a button or the swipe of a screen, but that landslide of choices might also be paralyzing some of us into making any choice at all. Our standards and expectations for a lifelong partnership might have been raised to exceptionally high, unreasonable levels too. With all that choice at our fingertips, why would we settle for anything less than AMAZING? That perfect "soul mate" who is going to fulfill every single one of our needs every day for the rest of our days. Pfft, people you know this: that person does not exist.
But it's not all bad news. Technology has not ruined romance for us living in the 21st century. In fact, for many of us, especially women -- things have improved vastly. Not because of the tech component, but because women are no longer expected to settle down as early as possible. We can invest in our careers now, and date more and live life as a single, learning about ourselves and the things that are going to make us happy if we do decide to pair off.
There are many areas (due to space constraints) that this book by necessity leaves unaddressed or goes light on, and Ansari is very good about pointing those out at the beginning. One thing missing for me is a breakdown of dating from an extrovert versus introvert point of view. I think our current technology has been an absolute miracle and marvel to introverts who struggle to put themselves out there in the real world of bars and supermarkets and church basements, but are absolutely charming and brave and socially high functioning on the interwebs. It's been an essential transition for that half of the human population to discover their "tribe" and connect in meaningful ways to people it would have been extremely unlikely they would have ever met IRL.
(and it's here I'm going to put a plug in for Felicia Day's memoir You're Never Weird on the Internet who also describes this "social revolution" for introverts in a way that resonated with me completely).
So in case it isn't obvious by now, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it, young/old, guy/girl, married/single. While it's easy to despair of the human race, and we know there are too many assholes and unforgivable idiots and sneaky jerkfaces running around out there, human behaviour and why we do the shit we do is still endlessly fascinating, isn't it? I think so.
Firstly, Andy Weir (he of The Martian fame) has written a fundamental, universal truth in this short, short story of his. It goes like this:Heh heh.
Firstly, Andy Weir (he of The Martian fame) has written a fundamental, universal truth in this short, short story of his. It goes like this: "Tip for all you guys out there: If a woman is asleep, let her sleep."
Secondly, it made me giggle (and I felt a certain kinship to the main character Annie).
Hey look! It's Margaret Atwood does the Stepford Wives! Hilarity and perversity ensues! But with an underbelly of nastiness that will make you examine Hey look! It's Margaret Atwood does the Stepford Wives! Hilarity and perversity ensues! But with an underbelly of nastiness that will make you examine your darkest desires! Your commitment to your significant other(s)! Your notions of free will and (ugh!) what it means to be happy! Happy at last! Smile goddammit!!!
I had a lot of fun reading this one, probably because it's easy to tell while reading it Atwood had a lot of fun writing it. It's the best kind of satire, one that doesn't take itself too seriously, while still having something serious to say. But this is medicine that goes down smooth and delicious, with little burbles of laughter and giggles and snorts along the way. I'd become so used to Atwood as "the serious novelist", the "literary icon", the dabbler of the dark dystopias and sharp feminist critiques. And that Atwood is here, but it's like she got a little drunk and smoked a huge bong and wrote this one with her hair down and shoes off.
This book actually started as an ebook serial project back in 2012, with the first installment I'm Starved For You. I jumped on it back then because I thought it looked interesting and read the first three installments before it fell off my radar. I'm really glad Atwood decided to finish the project and release the entire thing as a full length novel.
There's probably some filler here -- Atwood might have gotten away with shaping this into a tighter leaner novella -- but I enjoyed the world-building aspects of Consilience and Positron (the Stepford, 1950s-themed too good to be true community and its accompanying experimental prison). The devil is in the details and what seems so delightfully absurd on the surface, reveals some heavy, sinister truths when that first layer of paint is scratched away.
Surrendering your freedom of choice for the greater good always seems like the right thing to do, but somehow such social experiments are always destined to go off the rails eventually. I love the nasty implications of such social experiments gone horribly wrong, or hijacked for other nasty purposes. Humans do weird things when they are rigidly controlled. It seems it's not in our nature to respond well to being mere mice in a maze. We'll always find ways to act out and act up. I am not an animal! I am an individual! What's more, getting rid of "the man" in this scenario also seems impossible. Somehow, someway, things must be monetized. Someone has to be shown the money. And lots of it.
Atwood has a lot to say here about human sexuality too, and the nature of love -- both of the romantic variety, and the more lustful. As others have mentioned in their reviews, this is at heart a cautionary tale -- a be careful what you wish for narrative. It shows us at our most selfish and self-indulgent, revealing our perpetual hunger for assurances we are in the right place, doing the right thing, sleeping with the right person. That we are happy. Self doubt is a bitch. But wherever we are right now, whatever we're doing, whoever we're doing it to, it's by choice. We've chosen it today. We might choose it again tomorrow. The nagging doubts might be a pain, but they're our doubts. Replacing personal, individual uncertainty with a cold manufactured certainty imposed from without should never become more appealing. ...more
What a lovable, enjoyable, adrenalized hoot this was! I still would have preferred to see all the action sequences (of which there were many -- many I What a lovable, enjoyable, adrenalized hoot this was! I still would have preferred to see all the action sequences (of which there were many -- many I tell you) play out on the big screen (sometimes the prose falls a little short of adequately capturing the epic scale and magnificence of the fighting, running, space racing, exploding drama) but overall, for a novelization of two notoriously preeminent comic/cinematic heroes this was a thrill.
Rocket Raccoon and Groot utterly ambushed me in last summer's Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy completely stealing my heart. I was not expecting to have such a reaction. I had never heard of them, had never read the comics and have been late wading into MCU waters. As I mentioned in another review, my geek sci-fi cred is almost nil, embarrassingly so. But I am committed to making up for past sins and lost time. With Marvel anyway. Doctor Who and Star Wars are gonna have to wait.
But back to my two favorite guys: Rocket and Groot (and by guys you know I mean a talking raccoon and a talking giant tree, right?). They are rogues, badasses, heroes, and sometimes, Guardians of the Galaxy. This is their story, though Gamora has a notable kick-assing role to play. She's a lot fiercer and meaner and scarier in these pages (win!) than the "softer side" we get in the movie. I love her.
But back to Rocket and Groot. By coincidence and accident they cross paths with a Rigellian Recorder (#127) who needs rescuing. It seems everyone in the Galaxy - Multiverse wants their version of hands on this guy. He has "recorded" some very vital information, data that could lead to absolute power over reality itself. I loved 127. In my limited comparison capabilities he reminded me of what little I know of C-3PO. He's SUPER smart containing a trillion Wikipedias, but he's an emotional being, with humor and even desires, developing a crush on Gamora herself and forging a lovely bond with his unlikely allies Rocket and Groot.
So much of this story follows the intrepid heroes (soon joined by Gamora) as they race from planet to planet, escaping the clutches of very many species of races from the Kree to the Nova Corps and Badoons not to mention from the Timely Inc megacorp itself (the ones who stand to gain ALL the power if they should successfully recover 127). Oh yeah, and there's a hired SpaceKnight mercenary in the mix too ready to capture and hand over 127 to Timely Inc.
But Rocket and Groot have decided that's not going to happen. Not on their watch. But it will test every bit of ingenuity and tactical skills that they have to avoid failure and/or a horrible death. It's thrilling, let me tell you, and a ridiculous amount of fun, but it's only made me long even more for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel (that for the record is still TWO YEARS away). ::sad face::
If it was even possible, I'm fangirling even harder for these two now more than ever. This story is a nice treat, a little gift to help ease the pain of the long wait ahead for the next movie. Abnett needs to write another one stat!!!
I’m having one of those rare days where I love people and all of the amazing wonder they’re capable of and if someone fucks that up for me I will sta
I’m having one of those rare days where I love people and all of the amazing wonder they’re capable of and if someone fucks that up for me I will stab them right in the face. ~Jenny Lawson
I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE. ~Jenny Lawson
I've shamelessly let Rocket Raccoon carry this review space since last year, and he garnered me 54 likes, so thanks Rocket! (I'm sure he would approve of my blatant exploitation even though he's the one being exploited).
But enough is enough. And really, I'm sure Rory isn't too furiously happy either about having some other fabulous raccoon steal his thunder. (And now Rocket is going to be pissed I've called him a raccoon. He doesn't like that).
Jenny Lawson -- aka The Bloggess -- is a wickedly delightful, exhausting, a bit scary, kaleidoscopic array of frantic energy meets overwhelming anxieties and various anxiety disorders and sometimes .... debilitating depression. This book is her true confession, no holds barred everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask look inside her precious crazy head -- Jenny wouldn't mind me using the word crazy either; because she's taking crazy back. She's taking it out of the dark broom closet where we store things we don't want to see or talk about and wearing the "crazy badge" with pride. And why shouldn't she? Jenny, along with countless others, are survivors -- of their pain, of their chemical imbalances, of their terror, and of their uncontrollable impulses.
Because not everyone survives. My sister didn't. Depression and mental illness is terrifying. It's the disease we never talk about and as family and friends of sufferers we feel helpless in the face of it, not knowing what to do or say, or how to help. Sometimes in our effort to help, we're actually making things even harder, setting up unreasonable expectations, getting angry as if the person is acting this way on purpose just to piss us off. I really, really wish my sister and I had had this book before it became too late for her. I'm not saying it would have changed the outcome, but I know it would have changed how I talked to her and how I tried to help her. I know it would have made her feel some solace, some comfort, that other people feel this crazy too, and that it's not something you just "get over." And it would have made her laugh, her big boisterous fuck you laugh.
In all her silliness and shenanigans and stunts aimed to make us laugh (and keep herself furiously happy), Jenny Lawson is doing something really important here. She's humanizing depression and mental illness, she's reaching out and making it relatable (rather than something shameful and embarrassing). It's brave, and hopefully with shows like You're The Worst and Jared Padalecki's Always Keep Fighting campaign tackling the same difficult subject matter - we've reached a beginning of an empathy and acceptance for mental illness that will become our new normal.
I can tell you that “Just cheer up” is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to “just walk it off.” Some people don’t understand that for a lot of us, mental illness is a severe chemical imbalance rather just having “a case of the Mondays.” Those same well-meaning people will tell me that I’m keeping myself from recovering because I really “just need to cheer up and smile.” That’s when I consider chopping off their arms and then blaming them for not picking up their severed arms so they can take them to the hospital to get reattached.
I love that the cover looks like a blissed out, meth-crazed Rocket Raccoon!
(Pardon my squeeing giffiness but it had to be done).
In our post-Google, post-Jobs, post-Bezos world, I would argue we need Dilbert more than ever.
A few of my favorites from this Dilbert's still got it.
In our post-Google, post-Jobs, post-Bezos world, I would argue we need Dilbert more than ever.
A few of my favorites from this latest collection:
---I thought you said it went better than expected. ---It did. I go into every human encounter expecting to be framed for a crime I didn't commit.
---I heard you got booted off the management fast track. ---I fell asleep during the small animal snuff film and failed the sociopath module. ---That seems harsh. ---I offered to punch a squirrel but they don't allow extra credit.
---How'd you get the black eye? ---I was pulling up my blanket in bed. My hand slipped and I punched myself in the face. ---Okay. Let's make some billion-dollar technology decisions
---Our A-B tests show that orange buttons get 13% more clicks than green. ---I have now officially lost all faith in human intelligence. ---Stick with the green. It looks better.*
Hot damn, what an utter hoot this book is. It's gravel and grit lit but with a lighter, sunnier touch, that bleeds zippy dialogue, colorful characters Hot damn, what an utter hoot this book is. It's gravel and grit lit but with a lighter, sunnier touch, that bleeds zippy dialogue, colorful characters and zany situations. It's a road trip buddy picture type deal that very nearly turns into a circus caravan. It's Breaking Bad meets Pineapple Express on the Mississippi Delta where "crackers" and "white trash" abound, as much fiscally as they are hygienically challenged.
Nick Reid is just your regular guy trying to get along as best he can as a repo man -- repossessing unpaid for goods. It can be a dangerous, sticky job coming to take from people what they already consider to be theirs. Nick finds this out the hard way when he comes to repo a plasma TV from Percy Dwayne Dubois (that's pronounced Dew-boys). Percy Dwayne gets the jump on Nick and smacks him upside the head with a fireplace shovel. It knocks Nick temporarily senseless, during which time Percy Dwayne flees the scene with his wife, baby, plasma TV and Nick's mint-condition 1969 Ranchero. The Ranchero is actually borrowed from Nick's elderly landlady who he's quite fond of so he feels honor bound to do everything in his power to get it back from the lowlife who drove off with it.
Thus kick-starts Nick's hunt and chase across the Delta to recover the '69 Ranchero. Joining him will be his best buddy Desmond -- extremely large, black, very fond of Sonic Coney Islands and averse to any place or situation that might have snakes or other biting stinging things.
"I don't go in attics. I don't go in basements. I don't go in bayous. I don't go in the woods."
Along the way, Nick and Desmond will pick up a cast of bayou misfits and miscreants in their bid to track down and steal back the Ranchero. There will be many mishaps and much mayhem along the way.
I laughed. A LOT. Fans of Frank Bill and Donald Ray Pollock looking for something less bloody and despairing, and more slapstick and outrageous need look no further than Nick Reid. There's two more books in this series so far, and I can't wait to see what Nick gets up to next.
I want to make sure that my three stars don't discourage any curious readers away from this genuinely sweet, fun read. Three stars means I liked it, a I want to make sure that my three stars don't discourage any curious readers away from this genuinely sweet, fun read. Three stars means I liked it, and I did very much.
The Rosie Project falls firmly into the Rom-Com genre, is very cinematic (and yes, fairly predictable in its execution), but despite its flirty familiar territory it's WELL WORTH giving over an afternoon of reading. Don Tillman is a delightful, unusual narrator -- though he did keep reminding me of Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets (a movie I love).
This is the book you reach for when you're craving something smart but uncomplicated, funny and compelling that delivers all the feels of a safe, happy ending. ...more
“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend." "I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not f
“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend." "I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends." "Me, too. I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“There are other people on the Internet. It's awesome. You get all the benefits of 'other people' without the body odor and the eye contact.”
At first glance, Fangirl positions itself to be a silly, fluffy piece about identical twin sisters and their freshman year at college, and how one sister in particular must navigate her way through this perilous and confusing time, all while trying to churn out chapter after chapter of fanfiction to her adoring online readers. And it is that book, sweetly refreshing, never taking itself too seriously, but it also manages to be so much more -- about mental illness, friendship, sisters, mothers, living as an introvert in an extrovert's world, and falling in love, safely and sensibly with someone who deserves it (no creepy pouty vampires here ladies and gentleman! and no love triangles! hooray!)
I really related to Cath and her introverted, super anxious in social situations ways. I got her Simon Snow obsession and her need to escape into that world rather than dealing with real life. A lot of times, that is why we're reading in the first place, isn't it? To escape? To fall down the rabbit hole and be somewhere else, be someone else?
The compulsion to create fanfiction is just taking it one step further, so in love are you with a particular world and characters, that you are willing to write your own stories about them just to keep the magic from ever ending, and keep the reality wolves away from your front door for just one more day.
I love what the author has to say about the act of writing, its highs and lows, obsessions and doubts, how telling the story can be as profoundly transformative an act as reading it. When you stop to think about it, the synergy between author and reader is a gobsmackingly powerful, beautiful thing. Neither can exist without the other.
I'm home today with a horrible cold and this was the perfect book to help me escape the realities of my bodily suffering. Fangirl is a complete rabbit hole, and down I went. I was going to use this review to confess to some of my own fangirl proclivities, but I think I'll save that for another time. ...more
This little Faustian ditty is a hoot and a half, let me tell you and should you think my three stars indicates a less than enthusiOCTOBER COUNTRY 2013
This little Faustian ditty is a hoot and a half, let me tell you and should you think my three stars indicates a less than enthusiastic recommendation, think again. I adore Frank Darabont because he is one of the few film directors out there who truly "gets" Stephen King's work (as an artist and as a fan). The proof is in Darabont's King adaptations onto the big screen with stunning cinematic results, including The Green Mile and my personal favourite -- The Shawshank Redemption.
There is a persistent rumor that Darabont is sitting on the film rights to King's Bachman novel The Long Walk, another favorite of mine which I like to re-read every couple of years. Just the thought of Darabont bringing this classic edge-of-your-seat dystopian nightmare to the big screen is enough to send me into a raving fangirl tizzy. So c'mon Darabont, get on that please before the zombies rise up and we're all more concerned with hoarding toilet paper.
But back to Walpuski's Typewriter. Darabont is a talented director, and an equally passionate screenwriter. He knows how to construct a story and give life to characters, but mostly in the visual sense. He is a man who thinks and experiences the world cinematically. Which is why you see his name on movie marquees, not on the New York Times bestsellers list.
But this fantastical tale laced with dark humor and outrageous outcomes showcases Darabont's admiration and respect for the craft of storytelling, in particular for the works of Stephen King and Anthony Boucher. In Walpuski's Typewriter Darabont is paying homage to these men, a short story that proves imitation is the highest form of flattery. King fans will chuckle. There's something here that feels so familiar and honest, in an adorable, tongue-in-cheek way. It's Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt, a delightfully gruesome story ripped from the pages of the 1950's EC horror comics.
It's appropriate I should be reviewing this on November 1st, as thousands of people all over the world sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo. The overwhelming urge to write a novel can make hungering desperadoes out of the most calm and sensible people. As all you NaNo participants venture forth this month to slay your literary dragon, ask yourself how far you would go to succeed in this madcap adventure, to bask in the glory of your triumph and drink from the sweet well of fame and notoriety?
My advice -- stick to pen and paper, and whatever you do, don't resurrect that old typewriter from your uncle's basement or grandma's attic. ...more
The First Rule of Fandom: tell no one about fandom
Well, authors Larsen and Zubernis just blew that rule right out of the water, using the CW Networ
The First Rule of Fandom: tell no one about fandom
Well, authors Larsen and Zubernis just blew that rule right out of the water, using the CW Network show Supernatural to drag Fandom (with a capital 'F') out of the dark, secret corners of the internet into the blinding sun of mainstream Judy Judgmental awareness. I appreciate their heartfelt efforts here to get to the bottom (heh, bottom) of the 'whys' and 'wherefores' of Fandom -- why people do it, who is doing it, and what exactly are they doing when they do it?
This isn't something that started with Supernatural's legions of fangirls -- goodness no. The clannish tribalism and subversive subculture of fanning has been around for a looong time (just ask the Kirk/Spock shippers), but Supernatural does present the perfect opportunity for two brave women to grab the tail of the beast once and for all and showcase the glorious wonders of Fandom -- the good, bad and yes, even ugly, realities (because there is definitely more than one, reality that is).
If it weren't for Supernatural, I probably would have lived the rest of my life utterly clueless that such a thing as Fandom existed. Because really, it takes an extra special push and shove to bring you into its realm. Not just any ole thing is going to open the Fandom door. You grow up, you love bands, you cheer for a sports team, you get movie star crushes, you won't miss an episode of your favorite TV show. That's all great. We all beat our chest when we love something. And that's getting close. But that's not Fandom.
Fandom is a whole other thing unto itself -- an addiction, a compulsion, a consuming force whereby the more you see of it, the more you love it, and the more you love it, the more of it you seek out, willing to look in places that had never once occurred to you before. When you get there, you find out you're not alone, and that brings its own comfort and validation, yet another heady combo to keep you coming back for more. Because really, the very essence of Fandom is community. This isn't something you do by yourself. It's about plugging in, and all the technicolor surround-sound that comes with it - the fanart, the fanfiction, the fanvids - the humor, the drama, the angst, oh so many feels.
So why the big secret? Why the rule of keeping your mouth shut and not talking about it? As the authors very quickly find out, it's the stigma and the embarrassment and sometimes even the shame for starters. The stereotypes are ruthless and unforgiving of the socially retarded Trekkie living in his mom's basement, or the squeeing fangirl -- intellectually challenged, perhaps mentally unbalanced, and overall just sad. Doesn't he/she have anything better to do?
So there's that for starters. One of the things the authors hoped to do with their book is to blow up that stereotype once and for all. To demystify and decloak the average fangirl/fanboy as the person sitting next to you on the bus, the person you work with, maybe even your own sister-in-law. It turns out Supernatural fangirls are moms and lawyers, doctors and librarians, and in the case of the authors themselves, college professors. Regular women with careers and families and responsibilities like everyone else.
But you'll probably never know it. Anonymity is par for the course in Fandom. No one uses their real name and most of the Fandom's reach and activity exists under the radar of 'Real Life'. Rarely do the two intersect and acknowledge each other probably because a lot of what's going on in Fandom is women stretching and redefining their libidos and what they find sexy. Shocking, I know.
The unchecked, full-on female exploration of just about every kink you can think of (and some you can't) is in a very tangible way a sexual revolution. Even the acknowledgement that women can and do objectify men is an impulse that sill leaves many women feeling guilty, that we should somehow rise above such baser instincts and needs. Pfft. Get over it already. It's okay. The world is not going to spin off its axis if you check out some guy's ass (especially if it belongs to Jensen Ackles).
Go on, take a look, I'm not going to judge you for it.
A delightful surprise upon reading this was discovering how aware most of the Supernatural crew is concerning all the internet shenanigans going on around them and how much of a sense of humor they have about it, even how much some of them relate to and understand the compulsion. Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer) offered up a lot of insight in his interview responses that spoke volumes of his sensitivity, curiosity and respect. Even Jensen Ackles -- the super-straight, seemingly good ol' boy from Texas -- concedes that the controversial slash pairing of himself with his co-star Jared Padalecki (otherwise known as J2) is "a hot fantasy". Series creator Eric Kripke has certainly milked Fandom for inside jokes and meta-material, even including references on the show to Wincest.
Despite its best intentions the book does tend to blather and meander in places, and gets a bit repetitive at times, but this in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment and deep appreciation. Did I find myself in some of these pages? Absolutely. Was I living vicariously through the authors many bumbling, costly adventures as they exhausted their bank accounts in order to be front and center at the big conferences? You bet. Did I cheer when they finally breached the inner sanctum and scored one-on-one interviews with co-stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles? Hells yeah. Was I green with envy? Sick with it.
This is a sweet, funny story with a triumphant happy ending despite many trials and doubts. Who doesn't love one of those every now and then? For the curious and uninitiated, it's also a small peek into Fandom life. A small peek. If you really want to know, you're just going to have to go look where it lives. Be careful though, you just might like what you find.
A free copy was provided through Netgalley for an honest review