How Cool Is This?

Starting on August 9th, the George Orwell Trust will post the author's diaries on the date each was written, 70 years ago, in a sequence starting in 1939 and ending in 1942. Given that he is one of my favorite English writers, I'm very excited about this news. Even though many entries are said to be of mundane, everyday topics, I'm very eager to get a glimpse into the mind of a man who had an uncanny ability to see and lay bare the human character.

From the Announcement:

From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell’s face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.

What impression of Orwell will emerge? From his domestic diaries (which start on 9th August), it may be a largely unknown Orwell, whose great curiosity is focused on plants, animals, woodwork, and – above all – how many eggs his chickens have laid. From his political diaries (from 7th September), it may be the Orwell whose political observations and critical thinking have enthralled and inspired generations since his death in 1950. Whether writing about the Spanish Civil War or sloe gin, geraniums or Germany, Orwell’s perceptive eye and rebellion against the ‘gramophone mind’ he so despised are obvious.

Looks to be very interesting.

30 July 2008

Sandman at 20

Via New York Magazine: the commemorative 20th anniversary Sandman poster, along with an excellent short interview with the Neil himself on how the hell he talked DC comics into ever letting him create the thing in the first place.

22 July 2008


MechaCon, Lafayette, LA's own convention celebrating all things anime, will be held August 1 - 3, 2008. A shame that I'll be out of town that weekend, but would be cool to check it out - hopefully I can make it next year. It's been around for a few years now, and seems to be gaining in popularity. A few of the guests scheduled for this year include voice artists and developers like Greg Ayres, Beau Billingslea, Steve Blum and John Chambers.

Stephenie Meyer

I'm currently reading The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer's trilogy (soon to be quartet) of novels about a teenage girl in love with a vampire. While the books are definitely aimed at a specific audience (see protagonist, above), Meyer is a good storyteller, and I am enjoying the read.

Found this article today via Enter the Octopus, which I found interesting. It's from the UK Guardian, and talks about how Meyer's Mormon faith informs her writing.

Review: The Dark Knight

This weekend, like 60% of the rest of America, the LOML and I went to see The Dark Knight at our local mega-superplex. Now, keep in mind that we are comic book/graphic novel fans. We have The Absolute Dark Knight on our shelves, sitting nicely and chatting with The Absolute Watchman, and three published-so-far Absolute Sandmans (and that's not all, folks). So we know this story in the way Comicon fans know these stories, and can be critical of them on more than one level.

In any case, to get to the point: I liked the movie very much, but I didn't LOVE it. I like the direction this new franchise is going in - darker, more interested in exploring the psychology behind someone who feels the need to dress up in a bat costume in order to do good things. There are some great themes at work here, and the movie explored them well, like the fact that there's really only a fine line that exists between the Joker and Batman, and how Harvey Dent/Two-Face embodies that line. I loved the visual, visceral feel of the movie, the sets, the costumes. I even liked the little FISA moment. And of course, I'll get to the BIG THING. Let me talk about the cons first, however.

It was just too much. Too many twists and turns, too many crimes and stunts. There were story lines that weren't fully wrapped up. The Joker, while claiming never to plan and waxing about his role as a simple anarchist, somehow managed to plot out amazingly intricate Evil Deeds, orchestrating the downfall of Gotham like a mad conductor in Hell. It was a lot to take in, sometimes, literally, more than I could keep up with. I think the film would have worked beautifully if it had been kept just a tad simpler, spending more time on the characters than on the too many chase & escape scenes.

Now, of course, the BIG THING. Heath Ledger, the performance and tragedy that has almost overshadowed the movie itself. Before I went, I was a fan. I loved him in Brokeback Mountain. Hell, I even remember a Knight's Tale. I have to admit, however, that I was skeptical here. I mean, of course everyone's going to praise him, the poor guy died tragically just a few months ago. No one's going to say HE SUCKED. But after having seen his performance, I can say with all honesty - Heath Ledger MAKES this film. He brought this campy, silly villain alive in a way that sent shivers down my spine every time he had a monologue. He was sick, twisted, believeable, and in a word, brilliant. As a fan I grieved a second time after leaving this movie. We've lost an incredible talent. Only now do I really appreciate that.

21 July 2008

Watch the Skies

Check out Tor Books' new site, which had been in "coming soon" status for a while. Highlights of the unveiling include some new fiction from John Scalzi and Charles Stross, as well as very cool artwork that can be used as wallpapers. (I'm sporting one now)

Craphound, Free Audio Download

Cory Doctorow's first published short story, Craphound, is now available as a free mp3 download. Check it out here.

13 July 2008

Interview with Chuck Palahniuk

Author of Fight Club and a proponent of Dangerous Writing - writing about the things that scare you, make you feel the most uncomfortable, as a means of dealing with them honestly. He doesn't kid around either. From the UK Independent:

Fans of his nine novels to date, from the cult hit Fight Club to his latest provocation, Snuff – the story of a porn queen named Cassie Wright who sets out to break the world record for serial fornication by having sex with 600 men in a row – will be aware of his love for forensic detail, usually biological. His story "Guts", about a man who loses part of his lower intestine in a masturbation incident, is so graphic that it has caused 73 people to faint at reading tours to date.

Check out the rest of the interview - sounds like a really interesting guy. I would love to go to one of his readings, maybe come away with a bacon car freshener or a blow-up sex doll. Some may call it gimmicky but hey, he stands out. Something to be said for that.

Review: The Heretic's Daughter, by Kathleen Kent

There are few books that keep me up at night. The Heretic’s Daughter, by first-time novelist Kathleen Kent, was one of them. With none of the insecurity sometimes displayed by new authors who are unsure how to carry a long narrative, Kent effortlessly weaves the tale of a woman, Martha Carrier, and the fate suffered by her family during the Salem Witch Trials in 17th century Massachusetts. Told from the perspective of Martha’s 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, the story is not about magic or spells, but is instead about one woman’s courageous stand against tyranny, suspicion, and superstition in a time when such beliefs were considered an integral part of everyday life.

I found that over the course of reading this book I didn’t want to finish it. Not because I lost interest, but because I had become so emotionally invested in these characters that I wanted to somehow stave off their fate, all the while telling myself that I was being ridiculous. In our modern world of happy endings and tidily concluded book and movie plots, the knowledge that my favorite character would indeed die at the end, for no reason other than ignorance and malice, was actually hard for me to confront.

The Heretic’s Daughter is also about family, about the importance of loyalty, and of the timeless struggle of children to understand their parents. It’s a point well-crafted by Kent, told through the story of Sarah’s evolving relationship with her mother as she grows older and comes to understand the reasons behind her stoic demeanor. Ashamed and angry of her at the beginning, Sarah comes to not only comprehend her mother’s actions, but to admire her, love her, and ultimately, carry her legacy with pride.

Kathleen Kent has written a fine novel, certainly an impressive debut. It was one of those rare times when one finds not only a good story, but good storytelling. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for her next effort.

12 July 2008

[No Title]

The hardest thing about writing for me is picking out a title for a piece. It's like pulling teeth. I agonize, choose, reject, choose again, reject, ad nauseum. Sometimes I leave it for days, hoping something inspiring comes my way. Most times I just pick the best of what I rejected. I'm not sure why this is, other than the fact that stories present themselves to me as ideas, feelings really, rather than concrete objects in my imagination. They don't really get worked out and sculpted until I've gotten my first impressions down on paper. After that it's a matter of refining. Finding a title for it means to condense all that emotion and investment down into a few words that are representative without being too revelatory. It's a pain.

Finished and sent off another story last night, but I'm starting to run out of markets. I have seven stories currently out, and many publications aren't accepting submissions at the moment. Therefore I think for the time being I am going to shift my attention back to the novel. She's been calling to me lately anyhow.

On a sad note, I lost my Pootus-cat over the weekend. My friend and companion for 15 years, he just up and left early Saturday morning. Due to his numerous health problems I can only surmise that he died somewhere near here, but I haven't been able to find him. I will miss him greatly - our conversations, his weird kitty idiosyncrasies, and his enduring love for tuna. Bye, Poot, old man. I love you, and I'll never forget you.

07 July 2008

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