So, I have started working on a new book. Awesome, right?
Its a zombie book.
WAIT! Don’t leave!
This ones different.
WAIT! Seriously, this one is way different. For starters, there are no zombies in the book.
Yes I can.
Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do. If I want to write a zombie book without zombies I can, and who the hell do you think you are to tell me I can’t?
It has so been done before, not the same way, but it has been done. The Road by Cormac McCarthy was totally a zombie book without zombies and it sold a bazillion copies.
Yes it was.
Look, every step of the way through that book I knew what was going to happen just because I had read a dozen zombie books before I started reading it. The only difference between The Road and the Walking Dead graphic novels was that Cormac left out the zombies and the cool pictures. Anyhow, my book, the one I’m writing I mean, It is nothing like the Road. Where the road was a zombie story without zombies, mine is a human story with zombies, just the zombies aren’t in the story.
You’re the nut job! Look, this is very easy to understand. There are no zombies in my story just as there are no Germans in Catch 22. My book is a story about what would happen if there were zombies in the world, but in the area that the story is happening, nobody has seen a zombie other than youtube videos.
Yeah, that about sums it up, I’m writing a book that is Catch22 crossed with The Road during a zombie apocalypse. I’m also drinking heavily while writing, so cheers.
I find most travel writing to be about as interesting as reading ingredient lists on highly processed foods. You can tell me all you want about a cool place that you’ve been to, but you will fail in every way to truly capture that place for me. I find that I often enjoy a travel book more if it is a place I’ve already been, that way I can relive my own experience, but even then the writer’s experiences are more times than not so different from my own that I am left feeling that the experience was faked. So with these grievances against travel writing, I would like someone to please explain to me how Bill Bryson, noted travel writer, has managed to work his way through my personal rankings to become my favorite living author. Really, you don’t need to explain it. I think I have it figured out.
Bill is a friend of mine. A good friend really. I mean, we have never actually met, yet he has brought me along with him on many of his journeys around the world. With this book, Bill took me around his adopted land of England, and what a trip we had. Bryson, on this trip shares with us the awkward conversations he has on the train or in the department store. He tells us about the flood of emotions that hit him while venturing into a McDonalds. He tells us about historical nuggets he scraped off the web. But he tells us this while on the journey, and you want to hear about it because Bill Bryson is your friend too. He is predictable and foolish and hotheaded the way every living person is from time to time, and Bill is also sweet and wise and sentimental the way every living person hopes to be.
I know this is a review of Bryon the author more than a review of The Road to Little Dribbling, but a book like this, like all of his books, needs to be experienced for one’s self, much like traveling.
Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger Than Fiction was a fun book. I think his fractured, repetitive style is ideal for short story collections. While none of the stories really left a lingering effect on me, I found it was a book I looked forward to reading. I have read many books by Palahniuk, and always found that he delivered interesting stories in a style that left me wondering why I keep reading him. But the stories he delivers always leave a deeper mark (gouge, divot, crater) than the impression of the sloppy writing. This book was the opposite. The stories will fade despite being fun, but the writing style will stand out in my mind as a well written set of stories.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is a novel that has failed to survive the last century. The writing style that was once declared as masterful storytelling now reads like a preachy, half-hearted effort. I screamed at the book many of the now standard writing advice slogans: “Show me, don’t tell me!” and “Relevant information only!” I found it hard to find the story anything but comical. Within the first dozen pages, the snotty, self-gratifying, and selfish “problems” of the characters wore me out and made me want to shake them and tell them that their fairy-tale problems in their fairy-tale lives don’t matter worth a damn and that the true problems existed with the maids that ran around serving them.
In many ways, I saw this as being similar to the show Downton Abbey, only instead of having the interesting stuff about the house staff, you only have the whiny girls trying to find husbands. The book wouldn’t have been quite so bad if I hadn’t tried to explain the plot to my wife early in the reading and ended up with Weird Al’s First World Problems song stuck in my head throughout the entire book. But I think that is a modern day equivalence: Young woman is distraught because her Wi-Fi doesn’t work in the kitchen because her house is too big. And the stress of this situation leads the girl to take a few too many antidepressants and ends up ODing. What a freaking Tragedy!
Even the end, when I was supposed to feel pained over the mournful events, I still couldn’t bring myself to feel anything. I think part of this was because I never saw the woman’s actions in my mind and deciphered her quirks, instead I was told exactly what she was thinking and how she did everything. It was like watching cardboard cutouts thrown around a room and told that it was a story. If this is supposed to be one of the great feminist books in American history, it surprises me that the movement ever took traction, but I am willing to admit that some of it may have been lost over time.
Everyone knows this show is the hottest show out there and that the books are supposed to be better. Having read the first book, I can say that the book is not better. There are the words that get typed so rarely. Writing as an art form has millions of advantages over film, making it nearly unthinkable for a movie to surpass the book form; however, in the case of GOT, the show was able to capture the world in nearly every sizzling detail and played tricks on the viewer that the book couldn’t do. One thing that I loved about the show was how (and I’m only comparing first season to first book here) you saw the white walkers at the very beginning and saw nothing else to convince you that it was a magic world until the very end of with the dragons. The book was much more in your face, staking its place as a high fantasy early on with constant talk of the mythical creatures.
Now let me say that I saw the show first. I love the show, and the book was a real joy to read. I look forward to reading the rest of them. I hear they break from the show later on, and I look forward to that. But as of now, I would say that the show was brilliantly made from the very good book.