2014: Movies of the final quarter


In theaters:

The Invisible Man (1933): It's only the end of the story; it has almost too many laughs. But Claude Raines is awesome. One of the great masked roles in movie history. And to see it for the first time big was lots of fun. Only 71 minutes (too short for proper character development by modern standards) but an enjoyable 71 minutes.

Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) / The Pawnshop (1916) / The Rink (1916) / The Immigrant (1917) / The Adventurer (1917): Although technically these posts aren't supposed to include shorts, but I took the kids to this show in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Little Tramp character's debut and they loved it. How could they not? So dang it this was a movie. The first in the program was the first or second Little Tramp short ever and had no story. Just the Tramp trying to get on camera while the cameramen try to get him out of the way of the race. Went on a bit long. Then it was great short after great short after great short. His recurring cast was strong and I wish we had room in modern popular culture for such eyebrows and facial hair.

Big Hero 6 (2014): Character design and acting are great. The design of the city is awesome. The villain is one of the best I've seen. (So good the filmmakers had to cheat to give the heroes a chance.) But the movie left me utterly disappointed. Sure I had some laughs, sure they manipulated my emotions successfully a few times, but I rolled my eyes over and over. Every plot point was painfully predictable moments (or minutes) (or acts) before. Nothing in this movie, in terms of story, was at all interesting. Even the short was generic and derivative of recent premovie shorts. Disappointing. Why didn't we go see Boxtrolls?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014): Not as thrills-a-second as the first two movies, but that slowness was good, actually. Made for a much more grown-up movie. I'm not surprised this one isn't making as much money, but I thought it was fine. Also, it felt short, which was nice in this era of bloated epics. Not a lot happened, but I'm okay with that. Especially knowing how stupid the rest of the book was and that we may not have Philip Seymour Hoffman footage for the final film.

Interstellar (2014): Beautiful film, more moving than I expected, fantastic cast well used. Not perfect but very good and I want to see it again on IMAX.

At home:

Sullivan's Travels (1941): Hard to know what I think of this movie after only one watch. Especially when you consider that the only reason I haven't seen this movie already is because I've been afraid of loving it either too much or too little. As it is, I laughed a lot, was startled by its tonal shifts, am not sure what to make of it. In other words, a similar reaction to how I often feel when first watching Coen Brothers films---fitting as they've been rather publicly influenced by Sturges's work. As it is, the film feels important. Not so much as a treatise in favor of comedy, so much as a portrayal of what America might be, as it moves from the caricatured "Colored Chef" to its climax as the poor of America find a generous, almost postracial equality in their brief escape from misery. It's visionary.

The Fisher King (1991): Wow. I'd kind of decided Terry Gilliam is a gimmick-first-gimmick-last director, like Tim Burton, but this film---though certainly with gimmicks extant, is a great movie. Enough to make me willing to see any Gilliam films I've missed. Great script (Richard LaGravenese) and great acting, especially by the two leads, Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams. Thanks to those, particularly Luisa, who insisted this be the film I see to commemorate Robin Williams. The perfect choice. A beautiful, multilayered, mythic story of friendship, love, and redemption.

Unicorn City (2012): What a grave disappointment this was. After hearing so many good things, I expected more of them to pan out. Moments of good performance were generally overwhelmed by tired cliches and ancient solution. Just a few changes early on would have necessitated a new trajectory that would have prevented the larger errors. For instance, if the gamer utopia hadn't ben prerequisited by the lead needing a job, the writers would never have been tempted to have him turn down the job later to Make a Point which needed not be made. Sigh.

Step Brothers (2008): More than any other comedy of the last ten years, I think this one is cited most by the teenagers in my acquaintance as their favorite, as the funniest---it seems to be the most quoted and the most beloved. And is it worthy of that love? Well. Um. I guess so? It's about what I expected. Maybe a bit funnier than average, but not really astounding. Good casting is the secret to any successful comedy though, and that's the case here as well. So yeah: casting. Good casting can float a lot of dumb crap.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012): If you, like me, mostly know that this movie has some curves it's best not to know before seeing it, then see it and come back. I'll be vague, but not vague enough for you. So yeah: typical slasher-in-the-woods with some minds behind the horror. Some nice banality of evil combined with increasingly eldritch undertones, ending in a climax that is purely gruesome while horrifically humorous and undertoned with a more existentially weird terror than is normal in slasher flicks. In other words, this film manages to be a whole lotta things at once and does almost all of them very well. It plays weaknesses of one level against strengths of another. The only actual disappointment is probably the final shot. But hey---I'm not complaining.

ParaNorman (2012): Surprisingly scary. The final act's a bit bloated and wholesome, but ultimately just about everything in this movie works and works well. Laika continues to impress. x2 Still a bit bloated, the bit with the witch, but actually better the second time around.

Paprika (2006): I don't remember what attracted me to this film eight years ago, but it wasn't enough to get me to theaters. Then a former student sent me a look at Kon's editing which is wild and fascinating and led to this viewing. And I loved it. A bit of Bill Pympton madness in a better dreamworld that Inception and yes: fascinating and wild editing. Brilliant and beautiful. Some of the same cultural thinking in films like Spirited Away while having some very different things to say. I don't yet know, for instance, what to make of its take on gender. Lots of unpack here.

The Shining (1980): Jeez, what a disappointment. I've been too terrified to watch this movie, always bumping it to next October, and I watch it and it's just a bunch of Technique. Sigh. Well. So it goes. We'll see if it shows up in my dreams..... (So annoyed I wrote a post.)

The Night of the Hunter (1955): I was expecting an M-esque thriller. Instead, I got a much more balanced look at the good and evil promised by the reverend's knuckles, including a performance of honest goodness from Lilian Gish (I know! Lilian Gish!) that ultimately beat out Robert Mitchum's evil. At times, almost absurdly formalistic in composition (both visually and auditorily), each bit added to the whole. I'll have to watch it again sometime, knowing what I'm getting into. See how it plays then. (Also: I need to do some reading, see how people interpret the animals.)

Million Dollar Arm (2014): While, sure, a bit predictable, the Indian leads are compelling actors (it's the guys from Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire) and it's a thrill to watch them move up and down. Jon Hamm's fine; I didn't think to check if he was wearing underwear.

Mary Poppins (1964): A practically perfect bit of filmmaking. Every song is excellent. Bits of recurrent symbolism there for the picking or the ignoring as you please. Julie Andrews beautiful in face and voice and oh so poised. Dick Van Dyke the physical comedian I still aspire to be. Plus, having seen the machine Ub Iwerks invented that made this film possible before greenscreen at the Walt Disney Family Museum, thinking about the craftsmanship this time was all the more pleasurable. Truly timeless.

Dans la Maison (In the House) (2012): Swirling layers of storytelling and it's hard to tell when the Scheherazade, with his Joker-like smile, is honest and when he is not. When he is manipulating words and when he is manipulating people with words. Is he a young sociopath finding his way? Is he simply lonely and alone and desperate for human connection? As a whole, the movie worked well, though the ending stuttered. As one character says, the best ending is the one the audience did not see coming but feels to them inevitable. By giving us so many endings, the filmmakers hoped that would, of necessity, happen at least once. I'm not so sure it did. But I have a very strong suspicion that the French is much more beautiful than the English subtitles. Ah well. C'est la vie.

Safety Last! (1923): Considering how much I love Chaplin and Keaton, it's remarkable that I've never watched Harold Lloyd before. But what better way to start than him hanging from a clock? The physical comedy is, as expected, brilliant. The romantic plot is underpinned by lies and bad decisions in what will become classic sitcom fashion---and it painful to watch. In a good way, I suppose, but it's not my favorite basis for comedy. The building climb though is AMAZING. Tense and funny and frickin AMAZING. Totally lived up to expectations. Which was a lot of expectations, I assure you.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942): Gary Cooper isn't much good at playing twenty-plus years younger, nor is he a particularly good playful roughhouser---but when the film gets serious he excels. I didn't cry where I was supposed to, but the film is sticking with me in surprising ways. I doubt I'll ever watch it again, but I definitely enjoyed it this time around. Sure made me like those Gehrigs.

Why Worry? (1923): The kids loved this Harold Lloyd. Madcap all the way through. And the giant reminds me of Fezzik and Sweetums. What a great tradition film has! (We'll have to check out Volume 1 again to finish the features.)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Not as provocative as the trailer promised but a terrific action movie in all respects. Made me want to rewatch the first one. New characters to delight and more mythology to overwhelm. But a net win.

Ernest & Celestine (2012): As delightful as promised, with some interesting parallel structure and allusions to all sorts of film from dystopian prison films to interracial love stories. In fact, regarding that last one, I'm fascinated by how they crossed a child-friendly story of friendship with some serious sexual tension. ...Or was that just me?


William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996): Movies that are interesting to look at and technically adept---as well as well written and well acted---are easier to rewrite. Watched this time on the largest screen I've ever seen it on and noticed details I'd missed before---such as Mercutio's wig getting bigger in the dance scene.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (2000): The Reduced Shakespeare Company needs to record a new version. The topical humor ain't topical anymore. Also, I don't understand how Adam Long hasn't become one of the most sought-after voice actors in Hollywood. The way he passes from ridiculous to deeply emotional soliloquies is amazing. Although his performance is usually buffoony and absurd, elements of his performance are so pure and honest that I can't understand how he switches from one to the other in moments.

About a Boy (2002): This movie is still so great. If you look at the careers of the folks behind the camera, it seems a bit black swanny, but who cares. This movie is about perfect in every way. The acting the writing the direction the editing. The clever bits of parallelism and other terrific structural devices. One of the best uses of narration I've ever seen. How they painted a romcom over the top while not being a romcom at all. The planting of important details in a couple seconds in a way we always remember them. Just a great movie.

Previous films watched




Lost Songs: 김종서 edition


When I came home from Korea, I found it difficult to listen to much American music (Blondie and the Moonps being notable exceptions). And no although my favorite Korean bands were girl-fronted, no songs mattered more to me than this pair from Kim Jeongseo, the first of which I can still sing along with the whole way through. Which is remarkable figuring I can't do that to songs in English. Regardless: one of my all-time favorite melodies.

The second was made with former bandmate Seo Taiji (who had gone on to invent everything folks love/hate about modern K-Pop) and appeared on both of their solo albums.

Running down these songs tonight on YouTube felt so so good.


Nearing the end, destroyed by our friends


103) The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins, finished December 26

Beautifully made book. Lovely to touch and to hold and to open and to read.

It's a morality tale warning us against the conformity and gets a bit heavy-handed in the middle, but as they take Dave and his beard and remove him from the once-safe Here and cast him to the unknown chaos of There, the novel redeems itself by sliding back towards ambiguity.

Of course, like so many comics today, this one is ultimately about story itself, but it's about story in a somewhat new way---which makes early moments like this stronger in retrospect:

Nice layering of details though makes this a terrific bit of literature, regardless of your or my personal opinion on its final level of success. Check it out!
two days


102) Amsterdam by Ian McEwan, finished December 16

How I love McEwan's writing. Even in a book with an overly projected and contrived "tragic" ending, just reading McEwan is a delight. His words and sentences and paragraphs are joys. His adeptness with metaphor and dialogue and the whole dang toolbox.

This story pits humans against their work and I find myself taking art's side even though the tale warns me again and again that's a mistake. It's a startling balance.

Plus, the novel is short, under two hundred pages. This is a more natural length for me as both writer and reader. It's nice to be reminded in this post-King era that short books are still allowed.
under a week


101) Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished December 10

[reviews of Scott Pilgrim]

Bryan Lee O'Malley has done it again. He has managed to put utterly realistic characters into a contemporary world of metafantasy and made us care about them and understand their insane journeys. Seconds is about a late-twenties chef and her manic ability to screw up her life and the magical gift she's given to fix her mistakes.

Since O'Malley credits a drawing assistant and a colorist and a letterer, I'm not sure how single-artist this novel actually is, but regardless, it's freaking amazing. And not just the execution of the story. The execution of the detail. He's taken manga's genius and alternating between detail and no detail and put it to proper use. He does amazing things with panels that are pure black. His characters are truly cartoony but somehow are shaped and move like realistically drawn humans.

The story devolves into chaos but never loses its way---not an easy feat---and the ongoing tension between Katie and her narrator is delightful and instead of throwing the reader out, keeps us close.

If I were willing to make a scan and write all day, I could keep talking about this book for hours. But I got other stuff to do. Read it yourself.
a few days


100) Paradise Vue by Kathryn H. Kidd, finished December 10

I believe I first learned about Paradise Vue from Storyteller in Zion (but I can't check because I can't find my copy), and so for twenty years I've looked forward to reading what is, according to its back copy---presumably penned by Card---"the funniest Mormon novel ever published. . . . [and] also the best." I finally bought it last January and finally picked it up recently.

Only to be pretty much immediately and constantly disappointed. It doesn't help that Card's introduction talked about how much he loves the book, dropping comparisons to Austen and Twain and Dickens like anyone who reads the book will feel the same.

The novel has a hard time settling on anything akin to a plot. Which isn't unforgivable---I don't mind a bit of picaresque now and then---but all the nonce characters and situations are set up with some lazy tell-not-showing then disappear again. At the end, where the novel decides it needs to have a point, that moral/resolution is projected much too strongly. Somehow, the final chapter manages to work even though I still don't really care about the widow's widowness or the cuckquean's husband leaving her. Maybe I'm just a very generous reader....

I'm not being too harsh, but I should point out that the novel has moments where it almost works. But there are much more moments like this:

As she grew more familiar with the group, Doris developed a sense of camaraderie with them. She barked orders and encouragement to each woman individually. (61)

If ever there were a moment to expand with actual diologue and business, it's this, right?

Or maybe not. After all, Doris will never appear again.

Which is probably for the best. When first introduced, Doris seems like she will be an interesting character. But then she devolves into being characterized solely by saying funny Asian things like "Dericious" (66).

I think one thing that made this book impressive in 1989 is how Transgressive!™ it is. The characters drink Pepsi and Diet Coke like Nick and Nora drink cocktails, and every hell and damn is italicized to make it extra realistic.

I can't get over how disappointed I am. I'll admit I might have been expecting too much, but gee whiz. It should at least have been a good book, you know?

Card started Hatrack River to publish books more honest than the extremes on either end being published by Deseret and Signature. His writings on this topic inspired me to get involved with writing Mormon fiction. But reading this novel---? I suppose I'm just thirteen years old and learning my parents aren't perfect all over again.

I would like to know if anyone's read other Hatrack titles and could tell me of any of them are more successful?
a couple weeks maybe


099) Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995 by Bill Watterson, finished December 6

I'd seen this book around before but never picked it up. I had all the Sundays here or there, so why bother?

But when Little Lord Steed chose it from the library, we checked it out and brought it home. I'm so glad we did.

Just a few years after Calvin disappeared from newspapers, Ohio State did an exhibition of Watterson's originals alongside the colored printed versions. Sure, I've read all these strips before, but this book gets you one delicious step closer to the originals. Wonderful.

And even better are the notes from Watterson on his changing process. I could read something much much longer with these insights.

So great book. Just wish it was much much much much more.
two or three days or i don't even remember

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Dental Daniel


Sure, I collected Garbage Pail Kids when I was a wee thing. Of course I did. They were great. Haha and gross and so on. Everything cool. But of all of them, this fellow has stuck with me most. I have, in fact, lived in terror my whole life of accidentally thrusting my brush through my cheek. I think of it once a week, at least, this threat to cheek integrity.

On December 5 of this year, I was brushing my teeth and watching Gotham at the same time and at a jump scene I jumped and stabbed the roof of my mouth with the toothbrush. I ran back to the bathroom and stood over the sink bleeding, bleeding, bleeding, whimpering, unable to speak. The hole left in my palate was as grotesque (and is taking as long to heal) as the tonsillectomy holes made in the back of my throat two months ago, complete with constant need for drugs (without which I could not move my tongue or jaw to speak) and giant white scabs. I now carry around a bottle of KANK+A with me and may, at any moment, may paint the roof of my mouth with anesthetic.

So it's finally happened. I have become Dental Daniel. In terms of preventing permanent aesthetic alteration, my palate was probably a better thing to stab than my cheek. I hit that bone so hard.... I may well have torn through my cheek had I been brushing different teeth at the moment.

Lesson: stick with romcoms.




098) The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, finished November 28

I can see why Sir Arthur felt the best thing to do was to kill off Holmes at the end of this sequence of stories. He was sleepwriting through most of these stories---even given the creation of important characters to the mythos such as Mycroft and Moriarty, these tales just weren't as developed as the first collection's. Largely, they consist of a summing up of past events rather than a reliving thereof. And while some of this disconnect can be attributed to Watson's marriage, that's hardly excuse sufficient.
about six months


097) FF - Volume 2: Family Freakout by Matt Fraction & Lee Allred & Mike Allred & Joe Quinones, finished November 26

This charming fan favorite is filled with metacomic humor and charming kid supers and gives Mike Allred everything he needs to be at his best. Plus, because it's meta, we get to see how he draws himself and the missus. And brother Lee, when he comes in to take over writing from Matt Fraction, not only nails a seamless transition but excels.

All good stuff. Probably even better if you've been baptized into the Marvel ethos.
two or three or four days


096) A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo and Kris and Vincent Bailly, finished November 24

I'd never heard of the original memoir, but the comic adaptation is a compelling look at French Jews staying alive under the Vichy, specifically two boys. They through in a bit about marbles on the first couple pages, but otherwise I have no idea why Joffo named the book what he did. I am glad however to have bumped into his story. It's simple but moving and very very different from other WWII-Jew stories I've read. Adventure and running and the worst of annihilative dangers.

One detail I admired. After a full book of denying their Jewishness, one of the boys, upon the end of the war, cops to his Jewishness to save a Vichy a*****e who had protected him and housed him and fed him---in ignorance of his Jewishness. And so, even after all this denial of self to save A from B, he returns to his identity to save B from A. Fascinating bit of parallelism.

Also interesting to see how secular Jews of the time didn't have a clear definition of what a "Jew" was. I wonder if WWII's ugliness had the silver lining of saving an ethnic identity. I mean---I know people have written about this, but seeing it in story made it live.
three days


095) Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd, finished November 23

There're other books on graphic design for kids, but I hadn't read them. So I have no basis for comparison when I say this is by far the best design book for kids I've ever read. It was a good design book for me. Frankly, you should buy this book for every ninny who's making their own book cover.

Kidd's inspired me before and I hope this time I can get him to inspire my kids. (So far, kids not cooperating....)
about a week

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Some white guy's thoughts on Ferguson


First, feel free to ignore me.

Second, I'm not going to say what the grand jury "should" (or "should not") have decided. They had more information than me and anyway that part of all this is over now.

Third, I'm not going to tell people to be civil. That's way too easy for me to say. I don't live in a city where people my color make up 70% of the population---and 0% of the city council and 0% of the school board.

I will say that once the passion has burned off, I hope we see fewer white folk running unopposed for public office in Ferguson.

Also, I hope that we'll see more of the whole pushing-for-equality thing here in America. And, historically, the only way that works is when we're mobilizing economic power. So consider Hands Up Don't Spend. Yeah. You can do it. Take a breath. It's possible not to spend money this weekend.

Look: America has gotten a lot better over the last couple hundred years. But we're not done yet.

The flag we fly is more a symbol of what we aspire to than, I hope, what we now are. But sometimes we get complacent and then we need to reconsider. And don't forget: the flag is also just a piece of cloth. It doesn't hurt you if someone sets it on fire in the middle of the street.

But hey: If someone is burning a flag? The flag is still a powerful symbol and they are thus engaging in powerful symbolic speech. So don't just get mad. Ask yourself if that symbol you love is failing someone. Ask yourself if it's become a symbol of our lazy satisfaction instead of a symbol of American aspiration.

Anyway. That's what I'm thinking about. You?

Read any good books lately?


084) Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, finished November 22

A short and charming folktale about a boy and the Nordic pantheon. I've not much else to say about it.
an evening


083) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, finished November 20

I'm of two minds. On the one mind, it's great that we're getting as many Pratchett books as possible before his mind is completely melted away On the other mind, these cowritten books just aren't as good as pure Pratchett goodness. I know nothing about this Baxter guy, but I don't even think Good Omens is all that great and people love that book. Anyway.

The Long Earth, even though I found it generally tiresome and frequently outright boring, is still one of the most interesting looks at parallel worlds I've ever seen. And although I found the implementation troublesome, I still think the vocabulary's pretty great as well.

Ultimately, it's sort of like the Long Earth is supposed to kind of a more serious, realistic Discworld. I'm guessing Pratchett and Baxter planned together then Baxter executed, trying to capture Pratchett's capacity for scattered madness without much success. Pratchett can transcend reason. That's a remarkable skill. But the scattered glimpses through the Long Earth just don't work here.

And frankly I don't care about the next four books in the series.
i thought like a month but according to the receipt in the book it's been over three


082) Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle, finished November 20

I love how the Center for Cartoon Studies includes publishing books as parts of its mission, but I'm rather happier when it's student work rather than faculty work. That said, this is a nice little look at Earhart starring (I think) a fictional teenage journalist in the small Newfoundland town that Earhart flew out from when she crossed the Atlantic. It's a smart choice, both in terms of keeping the story small and providing an outsider's perspective.

This is a good book but unlike, say, the Center's Helen Keller book, not a great one. Honestly, the intro affected me more emotionally than the comic itself. But still a good book and made me really like ol' Amelia.
under twelve hours including a night's sleep


091) Space Usagi by Stan Sakai, finished November 17

Although I could not enjoy it quite as much as feudal Usagi, this volume too represents some serious storytelling chops from Sakai. And---can't help but to notice such things these days---this one uses its female characters a little better.
three days


090) Clear the Decks! by Daniel V. Gallery, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), finished November 7

This WWII memoir started flat-out hilarious and never left off the funny though it also dipped into the tragic, the exciting, the surprising, the human, and the moralistic (mostly about the boneheads who would dismantle the US military after the end of each war---a policy I don't quite agree with and his reasoning at time seemed a bit paranoid . . . but then again, he has some good examples which kept me humble). I'm sad these memoirs aren't still in print and I hope to hope that some enterprising company gives them a big push at an upcoming significant WWII anniversary. They're too good to be forgotten.
many months---maybe a low number of years---as it was my in-the-car book

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Some tragically lost memories


Boy, I sure wish I could remember when I first had Nutella. I know the story of the first time my wife had Nutella---easily a decade before we met---but I don't remember my first time!

I guess you just don't know which food you're trying for the first time will be a memory worth preserving. Which foods will matter more and more? Which will be one and off? Which will be delicious but never revisited?

I remember my first time having falafel---at a San Jose dive my mother-in-law saw on Food Network. I didn't like it. I've had good falafel since then, but it's certainly not anything I seek out. Hummus however has become an absolute staple of my diet.

Yet I have no idea when I first tasted hummus nor what I thought.

Stupid brain.

That reminds me.

I haven't tried brain yet.

Maybe on a burrito---?


I'm not Sir Paul and neither are you


For fifty years now, Paul McCartney has had time to come to grips with the fact that someone, somewhere (probably manyones manywheres) is singing a Beatles song or listening to a Beatles song or picking out a Beatles song on the guitar or talking about a Beatles song. In fact, this is probably true of "Yesterday" all on its own.

But what about us little people?

I think about this now and then, most recently as I was falling asleep with "Stupid Things" playing in my head. When I woke up with "Watching Goonies at My House" (another Sarah Dooley song) I figured I should write about it.

We all know that people talk about us when we're not present---just as we talk about people when they're not present---and we will never know more than a fraction of what's said. So in a way, what people think about art is more likely to be discovered, but at the same time, you never know if when how, and what does come out might be hard to predict. And will only ever be a small percentage of the total.

We all get thought about sometimes. Someone may be remembering a bonmot of yours right now.

At core, I think we're all solipsists.

So really: isn't this fact the weirdest the universe has to offer?


Pulp Literature


I became aware of the rag Pulp Literature shortly after their first Kickstarter campaign and was immediately intrigued by their positioning and decided I would subscribe as soon as my Ploughshares subscription died. (I only allow myself so many litrag subscriptions at a time. As it ended up, I accidentally let One Story lapse [bummer] and so I picked up Pulp Literature when I realized. When Ploughshares finally quits coming, I'll pick One Story back up.) In the meantime though, I've been following their Twitter feed, reading their blog, and generally being impressed by the brand and the women behind it.

Anyway, my first issue came and I am happy with it. It's classy. Lots of white space. The illustrations are great too (though a few reproduced too lightly). Some of my favorites among the writing:

Soldier, Wake by Susanna Kearsley:
Mythic redemption, beautifully writing, pure and simple horror. Also, Scotland.

Blackthorne and Rose: Agents of DIRE by KG McAbee:
Terrific steampunk/zombie/romance/adventure novella with diction that won't let you read it out of a proper English accent. (Author's giving away a lot of her other work for free right now.)

Below the Knee by Susan Pieters:
Delicious little story mining the same vein as "The Lottery"---but more modern in a way as it ends with an emotion rather than an action. Also, the smallness of it feels appropriate for 2014, just a girl and her leg.

The Death of Me by KL Mabbs:
Time-travel stories are tricky and I'm not going to parse this sentence by sentence trying to catch the author in error. In the end, this story kept coming to mind for days and each time I reevaluated it---each time at a slightly higher valuation. It twists and it circles and it asks more than answers.

intimacy requires more by Daniela Elza:
In appearance, seems to be the sort of poetry I have very little patience for. But some of the lines are just incredible.

Granted: my primary response to Pulp Literature's tagline "Good books for the price of a beer" is to be glad I'm a teetotaler. But I'll tell you what else: the fourth issue was well worth each Canadian penny I sent them. Part of their success no doubt comes from their Kickstarter beginnings, getting enough money to pay their contributors right. As a general rule, you get what you pay for. And a publication that pays, gets offerings worth paying for.

So my recommendation is to head over to Kickstarter and subscribe now to the coming year---or pick up last year's offerings. (Some of the deals on offer seem a bit too generous.) Either way, if we can generalize from 25% of their total output so far, you'll be glad you did.

And today's their halfway point---if you subscribe via Kickstarter now, you get a free novella from the twisty time-travel author mentioned above.


Yeah, yeah. More books.


089) Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World edited by Monte Beauchamp, finished November 4

Sounds like a great idea, talented comic artists writing short in-comics biographies of luminaries (an all-male list consisting of Charles Addams, R. Crumb, Walt Disney, Edward Gorey, Hergé, Hugh Hefner, Al Hirschfeld, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Winsor McCay, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, Joe Shuster, ‎Jerry Siegel, Osamu Tezuka, Rodolphe Töpffer, Lynd Ward). But, sadly, most of them fall flat. Just a bunch of exposition. And, frankly, if you know much at all about one of these people, you're unlikely to be surprised. And although I love Edward Gorey as much as the next person, seems odd he beat out, say, George Herriman. And considering how many times Fredric Wertham came up, maybe he should have just had his own story?

I get how these things work. You have an idea. You get people involved. You hope for the best. You can't know ahead of time that it'll be two chickens walking in the rain, one of them reciting an encyclopedia article. You hope for the best, put it together, send it out. If you're interested and are starting from scratch, this is a good enough place to start.
over a week


088) The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison, finished November 2

Pretty terrific book. Expect more than one post on AMV.
under a week


087) Fences by August Wilson, finished October 31

Sure, it's a bit obvious in places, but it's obvious in beautiful and poetic ways.

My students loved this book. I'm just glad to finally get around to reading it.

Terrific look at American culture---midcentury, black, sports, work, family, you name it. Simple---follows Aristostle's unity of place---but layered. Great book for kids to write about. I'll be teaching this one again.
three days


086) Richard III by William Shakespeare, finished October 18

What I know about Richard III before beginning to read it is that he's the evillest guy out there (save Iago), and at the end of the story, he'll be desperate with regret and mortality, willing to trade everything for a horse. As it ends up, I'm not convinced that latter bit is the best interpretation of his kingdom for a horse, but your interpretation works just fine, sweetie. I'm not here to say you're wrong.

I do think Richard is a more complex character than he's often given credit for as well. Sure, he's a scumbag and a megalomaniac and a machiavellian pile of crap, but . . . is he really that much worse than other people in the histories? I mean---all other characters say he is, but of course they would say it. Take the interesting arguments Queen Margaret has with people, telling them how awful Richard is---which they don't disagree with--while simultaneously having them remind her how awful she is. Or take Anne, who begins one scene hating on Richard for killing her family only to end it thinking, well, he does think I'm pretty and that would make me queen. . . .

They all walk his talk.

And take the final speeches on the field of battle. Both were good, but Richard's was better. In part because it was more honest. Not completely honest, but more honest. Richmond's is wholesome and cheery, but by putting Richard's second, he shows the holes in Richmond's argument.

I suspect Shakes was annoyed at how poorly people had uncovered irony in the St Crispin's Day Speech and didn't want his audience to pretend any of these royals were that much better than any others. Richmond's and-now-we-shall-live-happily-ever-after speech is half ironic commentary on what didn't happen next and half political argument for acting as we pretend we should.

Anyway. It's a swift play, hollow in sections, demands a lot of previous knowledge to get the nuance, etc etc, but it starts out craaaaazy and keeps things happening all the way to the end. That's Shakespeare, baby.
over a week


085) Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, finished October 16

I picked this book up with the idea that it would hold my attention and distract me from my upcoming surgery. Good job, book. But then it grasped onto my fevered recovery mind and that was less good job. The novel's tightly constructed though it did a bit too much explaining for my taste and pulled a double-twist at the end I found a bit cheaty. But it was a quick read and the monsters felt real. That's the best thing a monster book can do.
one week

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Th' #MormonPoetrySlam


It's time for the Mormon Poetry Slam again and since self-promotion is all the internet's really about anyway---and since I've placed a few poems over the last year or so---here's some therickified goodness for your outloud reading pleasure. (Since it's a #MormonPoetrySlam, I've ordered them from "most" Mormon on down. And since it's a #MormonPoetrySlam, I've left out a few that probably won't read well. Also any you have to pay money to get---those are left out too. because I'm so nice to the poor.)

A Hymn for Mother’s Day in Long Meter

After Party


Jesus Fishing the Styx

Some seduction this—

My Latest Trip to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens


Rifflection: ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’ by John Donne

Enough Is

Being a High-School Teacher Is a Great Disguise

Sponsored Funeral

Amtrak to SAC

The Fiberglass Giraffe in Davis, California

Accidentally Deleted

Completely Static Account


Well. That's another scariest-movie-of-all-time over and done with.


And, alas, like Night of the Living Dead, The Shining was a disappointment.

Look: heckuva lotta Filmmaking going on here. No question about that. And no doubt it stressed me out. But it was just too much. Which may seem like a funny thing to say, me being a wild Wes Anderson fan, but you don't want a silly scariest-movie-of-all-time, do you? No. Of course you don't. Then it wouldn't be the scariest-movie-of-all-time, would it?

Does that music get you scared? Sure. I guess. It's better than most Halloween sound-effect tapes, for sure.

Does that almost-symmetrical-but-not-quite framing keep you off guard? Yep. Sure does.

How about Danny riding his bike around and around and around?

How about the All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. manuscript?

How about the lady in the tub?

How about the running through the hedge?

The use of mirrors?

Yes, yes, yes. All very well done. The sudden cuts made me jump almost every time (although the last one to the iconic image of frozen Jack just made me snort), but aren't you wasting tension, making me jump just to tell me it's Tuesday?


I can see where the influence of this film has shown up in everyone from my boy Wes to Twin Peaks, but come on. The slow build of terror was so slow it finally fell apart and collapsed. The sudden death of Dick provided no payoff or release. Having Mom see ghosts got in the way of the true source of the terror. The room of skeletons just made me laugh out loud. And that photograph at the end? Oh yeah. Very artsy. Whoopdefreakindo. That does nothing for me, Kubrick. Stop patting yourself on the back.

Some great acting from the leads, though! Even though the direction included lots of needless pauses. Jack Nicholson was born for this role. I'm glad other people like it....

I know I'm grumpy. Sorry. But really. For all it's merits, when you add them all up, the film kind of sucked.

There it is.


Rejected books: YOU by Caroline Kepnes
#WhosReadingYou? Erm. Not me.


[NOTE: I received this book as a Klout perk with the presumed hope of the publisher that I would love it and tweet that love with the hashtag #WhosReadingYou. I wish that had been the case.]


YOU is the tale of a man who thinks he is not merely rational and good, but better than you or I---less degenerate than the rest of us, smarter, kinder---the only man with his head screwed on straight in the whole damn world. Which naturally leads to stalking a pretty girl and locking her up and heroically trying to save her from herself for himself.

Which is fine. This sort of thing can be done well. Joyce Carol Oates's Zombie is arguably of this genre and is the most terrifying novel I've ever read and is fabulously written. Largely, the book works because I believed that I was actually experiencing the inside of Quentin's head.

Compare that to a story I wrote for an undergrad writing class. I don't remember the title anymore, but I think of it as the cockroach story. In that one too, the lead is a creepy fellow who's not so bright and has never grown beyond the solipsism of youth and who only kills because it's necessary and sensible and kind, given the circumstances. When my professor returned my portfolio, for all the love she had for my work in general, she was disappointed in the cockroach story as a generic piece of crap. I hadn't known this character was a tired trope, a cliche much in need of execution, but since then, yeah, I've seen it many many many times. It's worn out and almost impossible to do well, even if you only try to maintain it for ten pages.

YOU is 422 pages and, I'm sorry to say, much much closer to my cockroach story in execution than it is to Zombie.

This is not to say that Kepnes can't write. She's clearly talented. She's just written a kind of bad first novel.

Now look: I'm definitely in favor of ambitious failures. And this novel thinks it's ambitious in the same way a teenager who asks "How do I know that what you see as red is what I see as red?" thinks she's deeply philosophical. Kepner's book is called YOU to emphasize that the bulk of the narration is Joe's internal thinking as aimed at Beck---he's talking to her at all times within his head.

First paragraph:
YOU walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn't slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it's impossible to know if you're wearing a bra but I don't think that you are. You're so clean that you're dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte's Web and where did you come from?
She's clearly meant for him and he begins to court her by following her around and learning everything about him. And not in a cute way like in The Fisher King.

It's pretty easy while reading this novel to see the balancing act Kepnes is attempting. If Joe starts seeming too legitimately cute she has him say something utterly misogynistic or to talk about watching Beck masturbate (which she seems to do all the time), and when he starts seeming too creepy it's time to talk about movies or chivalry again. The real issue comes not that Joe is ambiguous (something he should be) but that he's actually not ambiguous. She doesn't seem able to make him chivalrous and dangerous at the same time, so he's one then the other then one then the other. He's never a good guy, mind, but his character is inconsistent in terms of what sort of bad will he actually be, even though it's obvious pretty quickly that he'll be locking her up ala Room and, thanks to that violent cover, she'll die.

The sloppy execution though made it so that I couldn't get past page sixty. I skimmed a bit here and there through the end and it was pretty much exactly what I expected. Nothing impressed or surprised me.

Which is where the marketing confuses me. Is it possible that no one at Simon & Schuster realized that calling it "a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before" just isn't true?

Unless. . . .

Here's my theory: This book is aimed at a younger, Millennial audience who maybe hasn't actually seen this before and thus might actually be impressed by it. An young audience the suits hope might be suckered into thinking this is hip stuff because it has Twitter and Smartphones and Cool Stuff Like That. Also, it has sex and young people like sex. I mean---the way this girl grinds her c**t against that pillow! Gracious.

Looking at the Goodreads reviews, I think the suits mostly guessed right. It appears that the novel is coming off as something new to many readers, and so they at least are getting the experience this #WhosReadingYou campaign has promised them. Lucky kids.

Anyway. I know I'm coming off like a bit of a hater here, but I'm bummed that the book wasn't better than it was. Although it was obvious almost immediately that it wasn't going to work for me, I kept forcing myself to read just one more chapter until I couldn't anymore.

I hope that Kepnes keeps writing and keeps being ambitious. And I hope someone's upfront with her the next time her ambition takes her down a tired road. Someone did me that favor once, and I'm still grateful.

Keep reading, Kepnes. Keep writing.


Dead supermodel on down


084) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, finished October 11

This was recommended to me by a former student now working at my local library. I think he'd read it as a duty, being a grown-up member of the Harry Potter generation (Galbraith now revealed to be a pen name for Rowling).

Having been reintroduced to detective fiction of late by reading Sue Grafton, I tend to think of her pacing as the standard. The Galbraith novel's mystery is about the same size as those in the Grafton books I've read, but it's much, much longer. The swift conclusion arrives about the same distance from the end---absolutely, not proportionally---which is to say it seems a bit too long to get too. I found the twist a little too obvious in the sense that I didn't think THAT person could be the murderer because all the misdirection made THAT person impossible.

Anyway. I think the most important part of these sorts of novels is whether or not we grow fond of the the hero[es] to come back on another adventure with them. In this case, Cormoron Strike is compelling and ultimately likable. His assistant Robin Ellacott even more so. Their love histories and presents are still to be fully explored. (Although choosing to introduce Robin's fiance as a wonderful person and then spend the rest of the book undermining that was an odd choice.)

Yeah. Anyway, the point is it was enjoyable, too long, not remarkable really in any way, wonderfully British, and---because we already know---tastes a lot like JK Rowling. Just with more swears.
two or three weeks


083) Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary Journey into Senseless Knowledge by Kent Woodyard, finished October 8

Apparently these originally appeared on McSweeney's, and in many ways, that's a better place for it. My favorite part of the collection is the final chapter in which every mnemonic is something said at his ten-year high-school reunion. The random things which these are made to signify is the undercurrent of humor but the contrarily directed undercurrent of deciphering a "true" story simultaneously makes the whole gag more successful.

Ultimately, this is the sort of book in which a sequence of mildly humorous antijokes set up the more largely funny antijokes.

In other words, hard to imagine that most people won't hate it.

But it's a pleasant humor book of the sort I thought they stopped publishing in the 90s. So if you like these---or enjoy giving them as gifts---it's a solid choice.

[Review of gratis copy from publisher.]
four days


082) Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, finished September 28

I may someday finish this other loooong comic I'm reading whose name I can't be bothered to look up right now, I may not. I mention it because the introduction talks about how its creator is the creator of Babylon 5 and his genius shines through in comics form as well. Now, I've never seen Babylon 5(and after the good-ideas/holey-execution of that comic, I've no real drive too), but the reason I bring it up is because I just discovered this book is also by that bloke.

I liked a lot about this reimagining of Superman's coming into the public eye, but, at the same time, it did a lot of things that didn't make sense. I'm forgiving those flaws because I liked the parts I liked, but let's face it: no way was this good enough to turn me on to Babylon 5.
two days


081) Usagi Yojimo 20: Glimpses of Death by Stan Sakai, finished September 28

Incredibly, I've never read any Usagi before. Just never happened. I'm always a little leery of martial-arts stories (the oft-repeated trauma of watching Karate Kid is no doubt to blame) and there are sooo many of these books. But I was stuck at the library and looking at the comics in the teen section and they had two, one of which was a standalone. I decided to take that one home, but in the meantime, I read the first few pages of this one. A few turned to forty and I took this home instead. And I loved it. I don't even care that I'm in the middle of some longer tales. Each of these short stories satisfies---and in different ways.

Man, I've wasted a lot of time not reading Usagi.
two days

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


True or False: Theric's exhuming things that's better left alone
lost songs


I can't think of a song more suitable for the Lost Songs series than Randy Travis's "Diggin' Up Bones" which is, after all, about "resurrecting memories."

Travis's is one of the memorable voices of my childhood and this particular song is one of many permanent tracks in my internal jukebox. It has also, for reasons I cannot explain, recently been placed on Constant Rotation alongside current popular songs and new favorites.

This particular song is about a fellow up late one night taking out old photos and love letters and like paraphernalia of a lost love. He puts on his old wedding ring and then gives hers a fling (a nice bit of wordplay), then slips into the chorus:

Yeah tonight I'm sitting alone, diggin' up bones
I'm diggin' up bones, I'm diggin' up bones
Exhuming things that's better left alone
I'm resurrecting memories of a love that's dead and gone
Yeah tonight I'm sittin' alone diggin' up bones

I think I liked this song a bit better than some of the others when I was a kid because there was no hint of infidelity---I liked songs about broken hearts, but infidelity was too much. The closest thing to sex here is "the pretty negligee that I bought you to wear."

In short, though, this songs was an excellent choice for exhumation. I think it captures much of what is typical about Eighties Radio Country---melodic hooks, cheery pop background singers, over-the-top metaphor---and grounds it in some simple guitar work and the hyper-masculine-yet-vulnerable voice of Mr Randy Travis.

I've played this song maybe a dozen times while writing this post and I still feel no regret about my decision. That's impressive.


2014: Third-quarter movies


In theaters:

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly---my goodness. Many of my favorite Hollywood men. (Clearly I have a type.) The movie did not disappoint, though I was never quite able to suspend my disbelief re the durability of that cassette tape. I passed up some other great options to be part of the zeitgeist. Yes, I let my expectations get a little too high, but I choose no regrets. Largely because I have faith in this incredible Marvel machine to keep paying dividends.

Ghostbusters (1984): Although the cartoon and the soundtrack are pivotal parts of my childhood, I'm not 100% sure I've seen the movie straight through before. It's not flawless, but I found it very satisfying. I laughed, I jumped, it was worth it.

At home:

Brick (2005): A great noir that manages to also be one of the better high-school movies I've seen---even though it goes in for the high school = drugs thing that I'm sick to death of. The details of set and character, and the clever moments of character work really make the film sing. I picked this up on reputation and the author's other work and the fact that he's tapped to take over Star Wars Episode VIII. Based on what I've seen, I'm intrigued at the choice.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971): One of the most rewatched movies of my childhood has just sent my children rolling on the floor in conniptions. And they even sat through "Portobello Road"---so I call this a great success. Personally, I'll always enjoy this more than Mary Poppins. (And, of course, waaaay more than Pete's Dragon.) So even if I would never watch this based on its concept were I hearing of it for the first time today, I recommend it to you all the same.

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010): This was pretty good. Another awesome female character from Miyazaki. Anyone who thinks it can't be done needs to sit down with his oeuvre. Not one of my favorites, but when I said that, Lady Steed was shocked. Of course, I liked The Wind Rises much more than her.

The Green Mile (1999): Loved the book and this is a terrific adaptation. Some of the layers are missing and you'll find some clever additions for make it more cinematic, but this really is one of the great adaptations. It captures the book and is a terrific movie at the same time. Also, it's not as gruesome as the novel which is good---otherwise it wouldn't be watchable. I've been wanting to see this movie since reading, before it came out, that it broke the studio's record for best responses from test audiences. It's taken me a long time to get around to it. Worth the wait.

In a World . . . (2013): The script's a bit choppy at places (especially with chronological clarity) but the important moments hit. The cast is strong and the acting is good. As is the dialogue they're acting. Good stuff.

Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012): A plethora of half-clever ideas do not a good movie make. But, you know, it was watchable.

Up in the Air (2009): This is a movie that threatened to resolve into typical cliche several times, but then veered away. I'm not sure quite where it did end, but it was a satisfying ambiguity. And what a cast, what a cast. The filming was such an important part of the storytelling, I often had times imagining the screenplay. (Imagining screenplays is a large part of my moviewatching experience these days.)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004): I've seen this movie more times than you have (guaranteed) and I've impressed with how this picaresque hodgepodge is ultimately so tightly constructed with such a large emotional payoff. Love it.

American Hustle (2013): It pulled a scene-from-the-middle-then-lengthy-flashback on me, but it was more forgivable than usual because the information revealed still made sequential sense without repeating things. Still my biggest complaint though. The acting was great and the twist both surprised me and would not poorly affect rewatching.

Little Secrets (2001): I first saw this when it was new and was surprised by the quality. I always wanted to someday show it to my kids. And now I have---to the oldest at least. Though not quite as good as my memory (no element of surprise this time), it does have a worthy payout and it makes surprisingly wise comments about secrets (then attempts to spell them out, which is what makes it kid-friendly, I suppose). Also funny to see Sam Cardon and Kurt Bestor heralded as the great artists of their generation. Truly a made-in-Utah film.

Bottle Rocket (1996): This was Lady Steed's first time seeing this movie. And though I wouldn't place it at the top of Wes Anderson's oeuvre, it's funny and pleasing. Totally bombs the Bechdel Test though, if you're keeping track.

Ginger Snaps (2000): One of the great B-movies of the 21st century, they say. One of the great movies about teenage girls, they say. One of the better horror movies of recent history, they say. You know what? I think they were right. It's a not a bad example of body horror either. Color me impressed. Wish I'd watched it a long time ago.

Better Off Dead... (1985): My first time seeing this movie. I'm so sad of this. It's a movie I could have enjoyed over and over. I still can enjoy it more than once, certainly, but I don't rewatch films so much anymore. And I would love for the chaos of this film to infect me. I mean---even more than it probably has. Children, live your lives such that you do not have regrets such as mine!

American Grindhouse (2010) Not much I didn't know, but interesting and free on Crackle and a good movie to put on in moments since, you know, it's just history---not plot.


Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012): A lot about this movie seemed impossible to pull off. The trailer was great, but I didn't see how to make is succeed as a film. A comedy about the end of humanity? How can a comedy end in a marriage AND a funeral? It didn't seem likely. And perhaps it wasn't perfect. But the humanity of the characters and the pleasure of the details made this movie work. The end shares DNA with many bad romcoms, but it comes from a more honest place and it works.


Rape, murder, theft, and murder


0##) Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov's Novel in Art and Design edited by John Bertram and Yuri Leving, finished September 20

I forget what I was doing. Perhaps it was when I had bumped into the Chip Kidd book for kids. Anyway, I was linkfollowing on Amazon and saw this book. I have a general interest in cover design, but this caught my eye in particular. Perhaps it was a student presentation in June on Lolita. Perhaps it was my own reading of the novel (stopped cold about fourteen months ago when Humbert first laid eyes upon "his" "nymphet". Perhaps it was my own cover struggling with a short novel called Perky Erect Nipples. I don't know. Anyway, I had it sent to my library from another system.

I had expected just a book filled with other designers attempts to design a good Lolita cover (the bulk of which range from hmm to egad). And that does make up about eighty pages in the middle. And most of them are hmm at best. The real value of this book is the essays. Granted, I ended up skimming two of them, but even though I don't have a large and abiding interest in Nabokov, scholarly looks at paratext (new word for me) were delightful as it's a topic I've been thinking about my entire reading life and have rarely had anyone to talk to about. (It's a shame I don't get on better with Dave Eggers.) So that was great. And stories about the times and how people read and misread controversial texts (or manipulate the public re said texts) and the thinking of designers---etc etc etc---ranged from the mostly interesting to the pretty great.

If any of those things interest you, might as well give this a heft.
a couple weeks


079) Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, finished September 18

My experience with The Shining was that the alcoholism was more terrifying than the ghosts. With its sequel, much of the same. Alcoholism is still terrifying. But the True Knot is scarier than the ghosties of the Overlook Hotel. And yet---the book overall packs less of a punch. I think because King pulled some of his. The good guys stop dying about halfway through the book. I kept guessing who would die and how and no one ever did.

Even worse, he kept pulling the camera away to keep me the reader in ignorance, hiding bits of the plan and so forth for suspenseful effect (and affect), which is a bit dishonest if not done right. Frankly, he seemed a bit lazy about hiding the strings in the last quarter of the novel.

All that said, I greatly enjoyed it and hope King lives long enough to write a second sequel starring Abra in her middle age.
a couple weeks


078) "B" Is for Burglar by Sue Grafton, finished September 11

Wowee. The first one was good. This one was better. I need to keep my eyes open for a free copy of C.

This one, a couple chapters from the end, built me up to that compelling point of can't-stop-reading that my jaded self hardly ever manages to reach these days. Loved the mix of truth and lies and identities. Granted, hard to accept this sociopath sudden change, but hey---when you're a PI, you only are part of these lives for a brief time. You see what you see.
about nine days


077) "A" Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, finished September 2

I've been watching these books come out my whole life. I've had them recommended to me in essays by authors I admire (Stepehn King and Orson Scott Card). I picked this one up free, and you know what? I really liked it. Slow burn---seemed to be going nowhere, but the meantime the clarity of description and the cleanness of character kept the story moving forward. Then it all blew up at the end. Very satisfying.

I think I may keep reading these things. What better way to relive the '80s?
two weeksish

Previously in 2014 . . . . :