literature


They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

I have been asked by several people for my reaction to Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize for Literature.  Part of that is because I have written about the Nobel Prize before.  Part of that is because I am a fan of Bob Dylan.  Part of that is because I write a lot about literature and know even more because I’ve read my way through all the great books lists and have made my own lists.  Part of it is just because I’m really opinionated (“the most opinionated of my children” my mother says on days when she forgets that this description also fits three of my four siblings). (more…)

bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette

  • Author:  Maria Semple
  • Published:  2012
  • Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
  • Pages:  326
  • First Lines:  “The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, ‘What’s important is for you to understand it’s not your fault.’”
  • Last Lines:  “Say yes.  And know I’m always, Mom.”
  • Film:  none
  • First Read:  Spring 2014

Old fashioned letter writing might be disappearing but the epistolary novel is still surviving.  In fact, the two novels over the last few years that I have enjoyed more than almost any other have both been epistolary novels.  (One of them, Dear Committee Members, is even still keeping letters alive, though not the kind of letters you necessarily want to read.)  Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t a complete epistolary novel – our valiant teenager, Bee, provides us with linking narratives that help explain some of the things.  But that’s necessary in this case, because she helps us sort through some of the e-mails, memos, faxes and vital documents that make up one of the funniest books of the last decade. (more…)

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what's all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN's cabin) Curtain.

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what’s all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN’s cabin) Curtain.

My Top 10:

  1. Mister Roberts
  2. East of Eden
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Picnic
  5. Bad Day at Black Rock
  6. The Man with the Golden Arm
  7. The Heart of the Matter
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
  10. Ugetsu

Note:  This year has one of the longest lists of this era, with several more mentioned down towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

JLA_200Justice League of America #200

  • Writer:  Gerry Conway
  • Artists:  listed below
  • Published:  March, 1982
  • Publisher:  DC Comics
  • Pages:  72
  • First Line:  “They came from space, seven glowing meteors containing seven alien claimants for another world’s throne.”
  • Last Line:  “Snapping?  Cripes, now he’s got me doing it!”
  • First Read:  Early 1984?

My comic collecting began a bit haphazardly.  There were a number of random comics that my brothers had from when we lived in New York that had somehow ended up in my room.  My brothers both collected comics, and I would read what they had so I didn’t yet feel the need to buy any myself (and all my money in the early 80’s was going towards either Star Wars figures or baseball cards).  The first comic I remember buying was All-Star Squadron #31 at a drugstore on the day after Christmas in 1983.  But my older brother Kelly was collecting both Avengers and Justice League of America, the two major team books of the comics world and I started to gravitate towards them.  I liked the idea of books that combined so many characters.  Unlike Fantastic Four (which my brother John would collect) and X-Men (which all three of us would eventually collect), books in which the teams consisted of characters who didn’t have their own comics (yes, it’s true, there was a time when Wolverine appeared only in X-Men), Avengers and JLA were like getting several comics for the price of one because they each had so many characters who each had their own books.  While Kelly would collect a lot of books moving forward, I immediately began looking back into the past.  I became interested in what came before.  I wanted the whole story.  I had never heard of something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder back then. (more…)

The wonderful opening narration of Sabrina has no corresponding scene in the original play.

The wonderful opening narration of Sabrina has no corresponding scene in the original play.

My Top 10:

  1. Sabrina
  2. Forbidden Games
  3. Hobson’s Choice
  4. The Country Girl
  5. A Star is Born
  6. Rear Window
  7. The Caine Mutiny
  8. Gate of Hell
  9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  10. Beat the Devil

Note:  After the list topped out at seven last year, it’s back to a full 10 this year (with a few left over down at the bottom).
Note:  On the Waterfront would possibly today be considered adapted.  But I already decided to keep it in Original, if for no other reason then I’m not going to be able to track down the newspaper articles that inspired the film, making its inclusion here rather pointless, since I’ve already reviewed it.
Note:  This is the first year where full records exist at oscars.org.  That means from this year on, there might be a list at the very bottom of adaptations I haven’t seen.  These will be things I choose based on the original source, not by the quality of the film.  I have tried to find any film with a major literary work as a source (or by a major author). (more…)

"The crowd milled indignantly in the small Dayroom, everybody talking excitedly. Stark posted himself huskily in the doorway with Pete and the Chief flanking him. Warden gulped off the rest of the coffee and set the cop on the magazine rack and pushed his way down to the other end and climbed up on the pingpong table." (p 731)

“The crowd milled indignantly in the small Dayroom, everybody talking excitedly. Stark posted himself huskily in the doorway with Pete and the Chief flanking him. Warden gulped off the rest of the coffee and set the cop on the magazine rack and pushed his way down to the other end and climbed up on the pingpong table.” (p 731)

My Top 7:

  1. From Here to Eternity
  2. Stalag 17
  3. The Big Heat
  4. The Moon is Blue
  5. The Actress
  6. Peter Pan
  7. Hondo

Note:  After a few years with more than 10 screenplays on my list, I can’t do more than seven in this year.
Note:  This is the earliest year where significant records exist at oscars.org (there are a few for 1952 and even this year is incomplete in strange waves).  One of the great things about oscars.org is that it lists original sources (you can actually look up everything in a particular year with a source author) and it makes it much easier to distinguish between original and adapted scripts. (more…)

STANLEY [with heaven-splitting violence]: STELL-LAHHHHH!

STANLEY [with heaven-splitting violence]: STELL-LAHHHHH!  (p 60)

My Top 10:

  1. A Streetcar Named Desire
  2. Detective Story
  3. A Place in the Sun
  4. The African Queen
  5. Strangers on a Train
  6. Oliver Twist
  7. La Ronde
  8. Death of a Salesman
  9. He Ran All the Way
  10. Alice in Wonderland

(more…)

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