Not a big Stephen King fan? I have been and then I’ve sworn him off and then come back again. You could say I have a love-hate relationship with his work. Mostly my qualms come from his ultimate plot resolutions. In that vein, I thought the ending of his novel It was the worst ever. But here’s the thing about Stephen King that is undeniable: he has almost unmatched powers of description and just about a pitch perfect ear for dialogue. I’d say he is just about a literary genius when it comes to creating spaces and people that I want to find out more about. 11-22-63 is one of those books that I can’t get out of my head. The characters are friends and the story is going along at pace. I’m writing this in the middle of the reading so I don’t know if the ending is going to disappoint…I actually think I don’t care. Does that make sense? The book is so good to this point that I could walk away and say I’m glad I got to go this far, even if it hits a dead end. For me, that’s about as good an endorsement as I can give.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5: 39-40)
If you want to learn things that can’t be found in books there are two steps. The first thing you have to do is believe there are such things. The second is to stop looking for them in books.
I have to admit that I wasn’t interest in Ender’s Game until I saw a preview for the upcoming movie. My Sci-Fi go to growing up was Robert Heinlein and I never found anyone else too appealing in the genre. I just finished the trilogy by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Zenocide. The first two books are pretty good and worth the time, but I think the last book would be better in an abridged format. Card says in a 20th anniversary edition interview, that he wrote Ender to get to Speaker for the Dead, which was the book he really wanted to write. This shows. Speaker for the Dead is a very imaginative book with good pacing and characters and ideas. Zenocide descends into a thinly veiled vehicle for the author to put forward his personal “theory of everything.” It is boring and the characters are flat. The first book is really the best example of Sci-Fi storytelling and is worth the read – I just wish I could have avoided falling into the trilogy trap. The movie will represent a significant departure from the book – it can’t be helped due to the interior nature of the story telling in Ender’s Game, but Card was integral in adapting the book to the screen and it may not be a total bomb…we’ll have to wait and see.
“I did some reading on Jewish dietary laws. In one article the author was emphatic that we Christians must not eat such meats as rabbit and camel. The question that immediately came to my mind was, “If I no longer eat rabbits and camels, will I get along with my wife better, will my children grow up knowing the Lord, and will I be able to overcome my depression and defeat?”” – Sidetracked in the Wilderness
Dr.Oliver Sacks is the author of several books about neurological disorders including one made into a movie, Awakenings. If you’ve never seen that movie take the time to find it and watch it (trailer here), you won’t be disappointed. But the best book Sacks wrote is The Man Who Mistook HIs WIfe for a Hat. It is a compilation of his most interesting cases, and in it you meet unforgettable characters. Sacks is a neurologist who writes like a novelist. He cares about his subjects and makes you care about them too. If you are a writer you can’t help yourself – each story, each character is like brain candy, opening up plots and possibilities for more writing. If you don’t write you can end up forever linked to a person more real than Jean Valjean and just as compelling. And, if you don’t write and you don’t connect to any of the characters, you will find out things about our brains more fascinating than Brain Games.
Breaking Bad is done, but if you want to have great insights into where a show like it came from, read Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men. It is a history of what is being called the third golden age of television. An age ushered in by shows like Oz, The Wire, The Sopranos, and continued by Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I listened to the audio version and drove out of my way some days so I could hear an extra 15 minutes.