I was totally charmed by this book. I kept on reading more and more.while in the bath. I gave me the sense of a warm person who enjoys life on a root...moreI was totally charmed by this book. I kept on reading more and more.while in the bath. I gave me the sense of a warm person who enjoys life on a root level. Comforting.(less)
Oh the irony of writing a review for a book where the author spends a goodly amount of time venting his spleen at reviewers.
Some advice from a wanna-...moreOh the irony of writing a review for a book where the author spends a goodly amount of time venting his spleen at reviewers.
Some advice from a wanna-be artist to one who is obviously successful and beloved by many: don't read this Kevin, it is not for you! It's probably only marginally for the odd one or two other people who might read it. This is just me working my shit out, by bouncing my brain off what I mistakenly thought you wrote. This is as close as I'm getting to engaging with the real world. Give a brother a break, Kevin, let me at least have this.
Actually he does make some good points why this kind of constant criticism does make a difference for a film maker on his level. Mr. Bay of Transformers fame doesn't need to worry what Ebert or the critics of the New York Times think of his movie, it isn't going to effect his box office in the slightest but it will hurt a Kevin Smith film.
There is also the issue that to be an artist of whatever stripe, high-low, print-film, whatever, you have to push through a lot of negative bullshit - and that can be wearing. Of course Smith used a lot of the same media that slags his works (sometimes) to rise to fame when he was the underfunded scrappy newcomer. I wonder if a show-biz vet might just tell Smith to man up and realize that the bad buzz is just the flip side of the good buzz and both are a natural part of the business. I mean, Smith is still pissed that some people think Mallrats was a shitty movie. If you are that sensitive (and yeah, I loved Chasing Amy, but thought Mallrats was pretty amateur) you need to STOP reading your reviews. Take your stuff to people you respect and who will give you criticism to help you grown and nurture your talent - like Smith does, showing his new movie Red State to Quentin Tarantino. But those newspaper reviewers? It is not their job to sensitively parse your movies with a tender, gentle touch. It is not their job to help you make a better movie. It is their job to bluntly, entertainingly tell people if they think it is worth it to cough up the dough to see the movie. If I ask a friend I trust it will be, 'yeah it rocked' or 'fuck that movie sucked ass'. That's not something for the artist to hear, it's not something the artist needs to hear. The artist will realize soon enough when no one shows up - but that's the hard knocks in all the arts, and being ignored is a far worse fate. I can tell Kevin Smith is pretty successful, because he's succeeded in not being ignored.
Okay that was my rant-attack.
I also enjoyed his chapters on George Carlin and Bruce Willis (who truly seems to be the surly prick he plays so successfully on film). I found Smith's stance of ah-shucks-I'm-just-a-fat-lazy-slob-who-did-good the transparent armor that an obviously smart-talented-hard-working-but-insecure dude wears to protect himself. Yes, he did get in at the ground floor of the indie boom, but I very much doubt that Harvey Weinstein snatched him up out of some sort of altruism. Weinstein saw valuable talent and enriched himself by helping Smith to get even better.
Oh and I was slightly aghast at his last chapter on his hot wife (like having your parents tell you in detail about the great sex they're having) I flipped through that section at skimming speed.
I thought the section on the lessons he learned from John Hughes' movies was pretty telling. Though I thought the main lesson Smith may have learned from Hughes, or should have learned, was on how to walk away from the film business. Hughes retired from film-making fifteen years before dying from a heart-attack. But I've heard he used those fifteen years to spend time with his family and enjoy life. It sounds like Smith has lost the film-making urge and is planning to walk away himself. I've really enjoyed some of the movies the man has made, but if it isn't bringing him joy any more he should move on quickly. You never know how much time you'll have. For a book that styles itself as a pseudo-advice book that might be the most important lesson.(less)
I rate this book highly, even though there were sections that bored me (some of the back and forth with Tolkien) and other sections that irked me. Whe...moreI rate this book highly, even though there were sections that bored me (some of the back and forth with Tolkien) and other sections that irked me. When Miller engaged with Lewis' fantasy as someone who isn't particularly Christian, but still draws great power from the language and imagination of his books, the Magician's Book was an inspiring book - her exploration of the Chronicles of Narnia became my discovery. Other sections where Miller engages in that dry deconstruction of Lewis as a man and a Christian, the book falls down into the common tropes of English major essay cranking. These sections seem to be of one author, at one time and one place in history, looking down and condescending to another author at another time and place in history - it just doesn't feel that much of value is coming out of that. But when Miller lets go of the box ticking and just sinks down into the work - she really helps amplify and conjure the world that Lewis created.
The strongest comment on Lewis' work for me has to be the works that the chronicles have inspired, either negatively or positively. I picked up the Magician's Book after reading Lev Grossman's The Magicians. And Phillip Pullman is quoted quite a few times within the book. Both of their stories are highly original replies to Lewis. Miller's book was valuable to me as someone who is an atheist, yet still glories in the root metaphor, symbol and narrative of a work that formed my childhood. I going to re-read Lewis and this book has helped me on my way.(less)
A damn good book as long as you are not looking for some long boring argument about why god doesn't exist. If you want a good read, with some damn fun...moreA damn good book as long as you are not looking for some long boring argument about why god doesn't exist. If you want a good read, with some damn funny stories, one really heart breaking passage about Penn's family, and a cock in a hair-dryer, this will be right up your alley. Penn is a self-professed asshole. But his a really entertaining asshole.
Don't agree with everything he says, don't agree with 60% of what he says. And I'm an atheist. But if I did agree with everything it would be a fucking boring book. (Sorry, I've been hanging out in Penn's book and he swears a lot.) He actually got me to think in a couple of sections, which is an accomplishment.
I listened to Penn reading the book, which may have bumped the book up in my estimation. He swears really well and tells amazingly dirty stories. Not a book for the faint of heart.(less)
An annoying book about reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica that I was compelled to finish. Humour is subjective and I found Jacobs' nebbish, hy...moreAn annoying book about reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica that I was compelled to finish. Humour is subjective and I found Jacobs' nebbish, hypochondriac, regular Jewish guy persona to be pretty fake and forced (as well as pretty old, Woody Allen did it much better). (He's an Esquire editor, roomed with a Kennedy in college, goes on fab vacations, all while trying to portray himself as a bumbling oaf. If he had just fessed up to being an elitist with some intellectual pretensions I would have found the book way more enjoyable.) For human interest he shoe-horned in a rather pat telling of he and his wife trying to get pregnant. It is okay that Jacobs didn't really want to share his and his wife's private life, but it is painfully obvious he was being jokey to cover the real thing.
Yet I was compelled to finish the book. I loved how it was organized, going from Chapter A to Chapter XYZ. Jacobs comes up with interesting factoids. I wish he'd just relaxed and let himself appear a little more intellectually engaged.
If I'll take away anything from Jacobs' quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica, it is this: Ebbinghaus.
Vanishing Point by David Markson. Fiction that stretches the definition of fiction - composed of index card length bits, much of which are quotes or facts about writers and visual artists, the other part the slow deterioration of a mind. Compulsively readable in a very happy way. Markson gets the order and the juxtapositions right. Poetic collage. I keep picking this book up and re-reading it.(less)