Film and Writing (M.A)
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Book Review: "Licks of Love" by John Updike
John Updike is someone who initially I was on the fence about reading. I loved the Rabbit Series, but honestly, I could not see myself getting in to much else by him. He was really a passing subject between discussing people in the modern American literary tradition. Not overly interested, but not really shunning him out either. By my 20s, I had read a couple of books by him, here and there, none of them making a huge impact thought I enjoyed them and so, I return to reading John Updike. I return to reading and re-reading any novels that were not in that damn Rabbit Series. We all know that was good - but what about the others? Well, here is Licks of Love if you are interested. And why wouldn't you be if you've been reading your Updike novels? This book has tons of references to his earlier works in it.
Book Review: "Vinegar Girl" by Anne Tyler
As you all know, I've been binge reading Anne Tyler novels for quite some time now. I'm reading ones I have not read before and I am even going back to ones that I read some years back and re-reading them. I think I need to get more of a scope on her writing and what kind of writer she is before I start calling her the best of something to do with 20th and 21st century literature. I have so far read quite a few of her books and I still have yet to read her newest one, so nobody tell me what happens please and thank you. Vinegar Girl is one of those books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and to be honest, I'm surprised that I've pretty much read almost all of them. My favourite still is Howard Jacobson's Shylock is My Name. The book Vinegar Girl though, is based on The Taming of the Shrew. A more modern interpretation that probably is not as good as the famed Heath Ledger classic 10 Things I Hate About You - a film from 1999 based on the same play, but is probably somewhere in the ballpark. It has its faults, which are carefully outweighed against Anne Tyler's amazing writing skill.
Book Review: "Elektra" by Jennifer Saint
Jennifer Saint is a really great author who has written some pretty awesome stuff so far. Her book Ariadne was something that I absolutely adored reading because it told us all the story that I think that we were all waiting to hear - the one that told us exactly what happened to the famed Ariadne who had incredible powers, but in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, is side-lined in favour of the warrior who would take on a great beast of phenomenal strength. In this book, called Elektra - she tells a story that is of similar calibre. The three characters are extremely well-known: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra. The topic of discussion is the fickle, unlawful and often volatile world of men, gods, war and family. The entire story rests upon a curse that links all of these three women together in a chain of horrid events that will change the very face of the earth.
Book Review: "Postcards from the Edge" by Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher's name is often not synonymous with her contribution to literature but honestly, her writing is amazing. I have read her book The Princess Diarist and I have read a number of her other works. Her writing is not only excellent, but its filled with personality, passion and more than often, a certain tone that really lets you enjoy the book. It is not trying to be anything it is not and the book itself ends up becoming a widely read almost modern classic in the sense that it represents a certain age of Hollywood from the inside whilst retaining cultural value. Many of these 'tell-all' books are, as we know, pretty much full of shit - but Carrie Fisher maintains a brilliant, consistent, readable and often very witty writing style that grabs the reader from beginning to the very last page. This time, I read the book Postcards from the Edge which she later transfered into a screenplay that was made into a film starring Meryl Streep (which was also really entertaining).
Book Review: "The Amateur Marriage" by Anne Tyler
As you know, I'm going through a few binge-reads right now. First we had a big thing about Julian Barnes that came from my 16-year-old self knocking me on the head and telling me I could no longer ignore the 'B' modern fiction section of the library as that was where all his books were. I slowly worked through the ones I had not read yet (and re-read some of the ones I had!). Then I started on Louis de Bernieres, which when I had read Captain Corelli's Mandolin I was barely out of high school, and never picked him up again until now. Mainly because someone mentioned Birds Without Wings to me and I decided to get it read. Next came Amos Oz and that was because whilst at university, I remember him passing away and his last book was Judas, I found it insanely good but never really investigated anything else by him. Recently though, I think I've managed to read quite a bit of his works. Finally, there is Anne Tyler and she is probably one of the most wonderful writers out there today. Having read numerous novels by her, I think it is safe to say that modern literature has been in good hands and still is.
Book Review: "Clock Dance" by Anne Tyler
I think my love for Anne Tyler's novels is something that is obvious right now. I'm on another binge of her works and because this one only came out in the recent few years, I never actually got around the reading or hearing of it because it was not out the last time I was reading Anne Tyler. Her books Redhead by the Side of the Road, A Spool of Blue Thread, Searching for Caleb, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Back When We Were Grownups have all been pretty awesome. I am now on another book entitled Clock Dance in which Anne Tyler shows off her classic style for character development intertwined with a story that is both heartfelt and at times, devastatingly realistic. A master of the modern novel, Anne Tyler proves to be once again, one of the best writers of the age.
Book Review: "My Father's Tears and Other Stories" by John Updike
John Updike was one of the seminal writers of the American 20th Century and wrote some great novels - including the Rabbit series. For those of you who have not read the Rabbit series please proceed away from this review and go and read those first. Rabbit Run is probably my favourite because let's face it, the first is always the best. Throughout his career, he was referred to one of the writers of the 'Great American Novel' - which in turn, was also a book from the Rabbit series, though there are arguments about which one it actually is. I remember when John Updike passed away because it was two days after my 13th birthday and I was devastated. By then I had already read Rabbit Run and Rabbit Redux - but hadn't a clue that there were more of them. This book entitled My Father's Tears and Other Stories is something I have never even encountered in style by Updike, so I am very excited to cover it.
Book Review: "So Much Life Left Over" by Louis de Bernieres
I have absolutely no idea as to why I have started reading so much by Louis de Bernieres. I think you as well may have noticed the fact that I have recently read quite a few books by him including but not limited to Red Dog and Birds Without Wings. It has been years and years since I read what is considered to be Louis de Bernieres' magnum opus, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and it has been a long time since I actually appreciated his writing this way. The funny thing is really this though, throughout the course of the entire book (that I read whilst I was ill by the way - but I guess I'm feeling a bit better now) I always felt as if I were reading a book by Nevil Shute. Now, everyone knows how much I love Nevil Shute. I adore his books. This book felt more like Nevil Shute than it did like Louis de Bernieres. I like that a lot. So, let's take a look at So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernieres.
Book Review: "Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje is probably best known for his stellar emotional novel about the Italian Campaign of the Second World War - The English Patient. It was famously turned into a film in 1996 starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristen Scott Thomas and more. The film is acclaimed for winning many awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. With a run time of 162 minutes, the film wanted to get as close as it could to its source material and left room for a Seinfeld episode that felt almost the same length (I'm sorry, he's simply not funny). With Warlight we get to see even more of Michael Ondaatje's genius writing skills about the cusps of the Second World War.
Book Review: "The Sacrifice" by Joyce Carol Oates
I love Joyce Carol Oates and I think that her writing is fantastic, there is always so much atmosphere and story that you can really sink your teeth into. The sheer depth of her novels are amazing and grand, they are raw and often violent - but you still love them for telling incredible stories - no matter how controversial. With this one though, I'm going to have to take off one or two marks and you will see why later on. Her writing style most of the time though, is a conscious choice and in the vast majority of her books, this would seem perfectly fine. The same cannot be said for this one though. I don't think so at all.
Book Review: "No One Belongs Here More Than You" by Miranda July
I love prose that loses itself in its own sense of deeper meaning. Among the ages, we have so many different ones to choose from, and it goes from Oscar Wilde and before him all the way down to David Foster Wallace and after. Unfortunately, Miranda July falls absolutely nowhere within that and instead of being lost in its own sense of deeper meaning, the prose comes off as repetitive and bland after a while. Her writing does not take long to go almost completely and utterly stale. The book falls flat whilst there are still other books, written about similar subjects, that are out there and more worth your time to read.
Book Review: "Rhyming Life and Death" by Amos Oz
Now, if you do not already know, I have been reading Amos Oz books for a while and I just want to start by saying how amazing they all are. Amos Oz's writing style has always been a great mixture between the mundane and descriptive, blended with the extreme emotions that we encounter in our everyday lives. I love it when Amos Oz chooses to write about topics that are more naturalistic, such as the writing he did in Scenes from Village Life - which is probably my favourite book by him. In his book Rhyming Life and Death Amos Oz attempts a little bit of poetry as well as his prose, and gives us something brilliant. He gives us one night in Tel Aviv, in the 1980s.