Best of 2010: Lit Podcasts

Hey folks,
The Beat Goes On.

2010 Best Literary Podcast: Books You Should Read

At the beginning of the year this felt like the podcast that had been left to die. It's happened often enough in my history with podcasts that I barely took notice. To be honest Books You Should Read had never really shown it's full potential as a podcast. In the beginning there wasn't a regular host and it was reliant on listener provided content. Without a really strong execution and push from the Simply Syndicated crew this podcast fell silent quickly.

Enter Kennedy Gordon. Gordon, who was a relative novice to podcasting in the beginning, took the reigns of this show. Although he was a bit stilted in the beginning (oh and the sound! yikes!) I was won over by his anti-snobbery stance and wide variety of commentary. He clearly enjoys reading books of all kinds and enjoys sharing them with the listeners. It's become a new favorite for me amongst the often snooty world of literary commentary.

However as much as I enjoy listening to Kennedy, what put this podcast over the top are the episodes involving the "Leeds" book club. These episodes feature four friends who live in the town of Leeds in the UK, two men & two women, who pick a genre then each discuss a book in that genre. Their wonderful free-wheeling discussion will have you choking with laughter and writing down recommendations. These episodes are truly a treat and are few and far between. I highly suggest the recent episode featuring their discussion of "chick lit." You'll thank me.

More, More, More. Book Slave.


Best of 2010: Television Lit Adaptation

Hey folks,
Marching on.

Best Television Lit Adaptation: Sherlock

My television watching has gone way down this year as I become less interested in "appointment" television. However there were a few high quality options in this category that made this choice difficult. But those who read here regularly won't be surprised that this great offering from the BBC was an easy selection. I've raved about it already here, so I won't go on too long. Just to say that these three television films were not nearly enough. Cumberbatch is a fantastic modern-day Sherlock Holmes. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Holmes in this context. He is well-paired with Martin Freeman as Watson. Each actor presents a contrasting energy to their scenes together which makes them a great duo. None of this should work, but it does. Do yourself a favor and see it before it comes back in Fall 2011.

Also Worthy: The Walking Dead, Emma (2010)

More to Come. Yes Indeed, Book Slave.


Best of 2010: Movie Lit Adaptation

Hey guys,
Time to Reflect and choose what was worthy of remembrance from the previous year. Here we go.

Best Movie Literary Adaptation: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series

It could of gone so wrong. This is why the Swedish film adaptations of the Millenial trilogy books, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played With Fire and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest , should be considered small miracles. The Swedes got it right. All the way down the line in my opinion. These movies were engaging, kick-ass, and perfectly cast. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed these films as each one hit my cinema in quick secession.

The filmmakers, first Niel Oplev and later Daniel Alfredson, do not shirk away from the violence that is necessary to understand the stark message of these books. Larsson sought to expose what he felt was a misogny that lies underneath a seemingly sedate Swedish society. Their is a refreshing lack of stylization or downplaying of the violence that is perpetuated on the protagonist. However there are also throw away moments of casual misogny between male characters that also point to Larsson's intentions. This key understanding of the source material allows the writers to shape a fast-paced action film that can discard hefty prose for highly charged visuals. It is unique entertaining filmmaking without the trappings of commercial studio meddling.

However the glue that makes this movie work is the fantastic performance from actress Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Such a difficult, insular, character would be a challenge for even the most talented of actresses, but this complete unknown nails it. Her performance is dynamic and spell-binding. Rapace shows us the intelligence (and sometimes scary) emotions behind the punk snarl. The closed off facade is barely breached by journalist Mikael Bloomquist, also well played by Michael Nyvquist, but she still has a long way to go. And she also convincingly kicks ass.

Thankfully these films are available long before the now filming American version. I highly recommend checking them out. Good luck David Fincher, you've got some mighty shoes to fill.

Also Recommend: True Grit, Never Let Me Go, The Social Network, Winter's Bone, Tamara Drewe

More to Come I assure you, Book Slave.


Holiday Ramblings

Well I hope that you all had a fine Christmas yesterday. That you were all able to spend time with your families, and consider what matters most: gross commercialism. Nah I'm just kidding. Actually this holiday weekend I listened to two wonderful versions of one of my favorite holiday writings-O'Henry's Gift of the Magi. Nothing like a little literary irony to stoke those heart fires. Here's a link where you can hear a reading which charmed me. I also enjoy Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas In Wales, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Joyce's "The Dead". To me these are must-reads. Why would you settle for less? (One might add Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" but that story gives me the creeps. I'm still scarred by the television movie version that featured Capote as narrator. His voice still haunts me.)

I can thank my mom for a wonderful nerdy gift. My brother and I were gifted framed original movie posters from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Wonderful since my brother and I are huge Indiana Jones fans.

Another highlight was watching my luddite brother trying to figure out his new Ipad. Regardless of his avoidance of technology in general, he was very pleased. My mom and I had to explain that he'll have to sign up for an Itunes account to get the full use out of the tablet. He was still hesitant. My brother and I are strangely dissimiliar in some matters and completely alike in others. On one side he's not a big reader and plays video games. He loves Hulu and Youtube. He refuses to get a library card. Yet he loves history as I do, and shares a love of nerdy science fiction like Star Trek. Full of contradictions that kid.

This year the literary haul was thankfully light. I think folks are getting the notion that more books is not what I need. I've got plenty, I assure you. Many folks are psyched to utilize their new Nooks and Kindles this year, but again, I'll stick to the physical thing. Although I hope that you all get enjoy your digital devices nonetheless.

All and all I had a wonderful holiday, I hope that you all did as well. Book Slave.


A Little Puppini...

Hello All,
A merry christmas to you, Constant Reader. Here's a treat for you all. Enjoy.

Happy Holidays. Book Slave.


Things I Learned this Year 2010, Lit-style

So it's that reflexive time of year as we gallop from Christmas to New Years. Warning: Self-indulgent navel gazing ahead.
Here's a few things I feel as if I've learned:
-Oh I wish I could read that Mark Twain Autobiography. However if the book is more than 400 pages, then I won't read it.
-Finding a great book club or reading group is awesome. There's a gaping hole left behind when they are gone. I miss my book club. *sigh*
-I love io9, AV Club, and Neil Gaiman's blog.
-1b1t was a wonderful experiment. It showcased the "best" of what the internet can be used for.
-Great Literary adaptations are possible without being completely purist. For example: The Walking Dead, Girl With A Dragon Tattoo series, BBC adaptation of Emma (2010).
-Pairing Unlikely Directors & Writers with the right material can lead to wonderful results. For example Mark Romanek/Alex Garland and Never Let Me Go, Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network, Steven Moffat and Sherlock.
-Endings are difficult.
-Facebook is a key social media tool. It's not something to be afraid of.
-I'm still not interested in Digital Comics.
-Even having an internet interview will give you 15 minutes of fame. Even when you're a geek.
-Librarians shouldn't need databases to do reader's advisory. It's not that hard to keep a list of books to reccommend in your head. Or dare I say it: Just Read Books.
-I await the day when Ipads/tablets will revolutionize library work. I dream of a day when there are no more reference desks.
-Thank you JMS, Danny Way, and Andy Diggle. I was successfully able to drop Superman, Wolverine, and Daredevil thanks to you.
-Joe Kelly should write Amazing Spider-Man. All the time.
-I can cut down on my library reading pile. It feels good to do so.
-Twitter is a wonderful thing if only so that you can follow Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Steve Martin.
-There are still too many books.

I'm sure there's more. However I have Christmas to do. So have a great holiday! Book Slave.


I Don't LIKE Vampires, But I Liked This: American Vampire vol. 1

Here's some thoughts on a book that I finally finished.

I Don't LIKE Vampires, But I Liked This: American Vampire vol. 1

Ever since it started coming out last year I've heard good things. American Vampire was not on my personal must-read list when I first saw it solicited. I had never heard of Scott Snyder. And just the idea of another vampire series made my throat fill with bile. The rise of the "sensitive" vampire has been a tough pill to swallow for me as a reader. This is not the kind of vampire that I want to read. While I will concede that vampires can be sexual, they should not be romanticized. Vampires are vicious violent parasites who prey on the vulnerabilities of those who are weaker than they are. This is the original template designed by Bram Stoker in the 19th century. There was no romance, or existential angst involved.

So whose to blame for this shift? It's the commercial economic power of the teenage girl. Teenage girls will buy into anything that plays on their own romantic notions. Having been a teenage girl myself, I can verify this as true. Shrewdly this vulnerability has been cultivated into a commercially viable source of income for a dying publishing industry. I don't blame them at all for getting what they can out of it. However this is not the kind of "vampire" that I am interested in reading about. Maybe it's my age, some jaded cynicism, what have you.

So when it came to American Vampire, I cast it aside. But then I started to hear that this series was good. It was cool. And it was different. Well I picked up the hardcover when I got the chance and found out that this series fulfills the hype. It delivers on the kind of vampire template that I want to read. How delightful! And surprising!

American Vampire is an original series that is set in LA in 1925. The main protagonist is a hard working girl named Pearl, who can barely make ends meet. She ends up trapped by a horrible group of European vampires, which leads to battle between "old school" vs. "new school." Pearl ends up being helped by a charming, slick, white trash vampire named Skinner Sweet. Sweet is the subject of an enjoyable backup story which is written by Stephen King.

I was delighted by the mix of terror and western that Snyder and King bring to the vampire genre. It feels fresh and new and unique. The western genre naturally lends itself to a harsh realism that fits my preference of the violent vampire. These writers have created a darwinist world with the violence to back it up. Praise is also due to brazilian artist Rafael Albuquerque with his bright reds, and monstrous depiction of these frightening supernatural beings. Vampires in this world are not "beautiful" and they don't sparkle. Thank God.

American Vampire is well worth checking out. I urge those who may have been turned off at first to check this book out.


Reading List 12/21/2010-12/28/2010

Hello Constant Reader,
Here's the last Reading List post of the year. I just want to say thank you for those who have been sticking out during these lean times. Between computer and time issues it's been tough to keep up a regular posting schedule. However as we head to the end of 2010 there'll be those normal reflective posts that the end of the year seems to demand. So thanks for sticking around, I hope these scribblings bring a modicum of connection between us. And also I like to ramble about books. S0 there's that.

Reading List 12/21/2010-12/28/2010
The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel- Felt like reading something epic. And it is my favorite story of all time.
The Final Solution

Entertainment Weekly

Oh it's a lot. Fables #100, Amazing Spider-Man Big Time, Fantastic Four, Walking Dead. All the heavy hitters.

Looking forward to catching up on some reading now that my time has freed up a bit.

Have a great week! Book Slave.