Monday, March 16, 2009

What I'm Reading

First, I wanted to let you know that one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman (author of the Sandman graphic novels, Neverwhere, American Gods, Coraline- which was just made into a motion picture, and many other great stories), will be interviewed on The Colbert Report tonight. That should be entertaining.

Here's my latest list of books:

Breakfast at Tiffany's (which includes the three short stories House of Flowers, Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory) by Truman Capote. Okay, I've never watched the film, perhaps due to some misguided preconceived notions on what it was about. I still have no desire to watch the film (I am just not a big movie person), but I did love the book. The three short stories were also great. The only Capote book I'd read until now was In Cold Blood which was very well-written, but gruesome.

Pink by Gus Van Sant. Yes, the film director (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho) Gus Van Sant. I saw this book on PaperBackSwap and ordered it out of curiousity. It is strange to say the least, and maybe not for the reasons some may think after simply reading the synopsis. It involves dimensional/ time travel, but the weird part- to me- is that some of the characters seem very familiar.

For example, there is a rock star named Blake that commits suicide and the public blames his wife Blackie, likening her to Yoko Ono for breaking up the great band of the '90s. Blake had a horrible addiction to... buying large farm machinery. Okay, so it seemed a little like Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love if you just change the names and swap "farm machinery" for heroin. Bizarre. The suicide note that the character Blake leaves is practically verbatim to the one Kurt Cobain actually left. Blake suicides by gun, also.

Another familiar character is Felix Arroyo, who is a sensitive, teen "informercial" sensation who dies from an overdose outside a popular gambling club owned by another young star. Sound familiar? Maybe because River Phoenix died outside The Viper Room, which was owned (at least partly) by Johnny Depp if I recall correctly.

While I normally LOVE strange books (I've read nearly all of Kathy Acker's novels) this one seems a little contrived. It doesn't really read like a novel but more like a rough draft for a second-rate screenaply. By the time I was 30 pages in I swear I had alreay had to stop and refer to at least 12 footnotes that Van Sant added to explain who a character was, after making allusions to them out of nowhere. It was very distracting and more than a little annoying.

Also, the story is full of hokey names, such as the narrator Spunky. There is lots of boring information about the making of informercials which is Spunky's line of work. It just seems that Mr. Van Sant, who worked with River Phoenix and later made a film about Kurt Cobain's last days, would have found a more artistic and interesting way to pay homage to these persons he found so captivating. When reading it I felt as though there were lots of cryptic references, "inside jokes," that are put there solely for people he actually knows to "get."

On the back of the book the price was $21.95! (Mine was from PaperBackSwap, so I didn't pay that). My overall sense was that Van Sant had the money and connections to get his book published, so he did. It was almost like a weird posthumous Valentine to River Phoenix. I don't regret reading it, but I do not recommend.

The book I hope to begin today is Darkness Visible by William Golding, also author of Lord of the Flies, which was great.

After that I have The Time Traveller's Wife lined up.


The Self-Deprechaun said...

That Pink book sounds crazy but interesting. Gus Van Sant is a great director. He should stick with that.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I love Van Sant's directing. The book sounds... interesting. You actually have time to read?? ;-)

*mary* said...

Self-Dep: That was my thought too. Stick with films! Also, I just noticed that thisbook was written in like 1998, so maybe he realized this already. This is the only book of his I've seen.

ETW: Haha, I know! I usually read while Violet breatfeeds, which is a lengthy process. One tangible benefit of extended breastfeeding, at least.

jenny said...

have you ever read/watched Even Cowgirls Get the Blues? Tom Robbins wrote it and Van Sant made it into a movie. it is one of my favorite books.

*mary* said...

After reading this post I decided that maybe I was a little bit tough on Van Sant, but I guess I was expecting the book to live up to his movie-directing skills. That's a tall order. His movies are awesome.

Jenny- please start your own blog! I was just thinking that this morning, and here you are! You'd have the most kick-ass blog ever!

Q said...

Forget "The Time Traveler's Wife". You should just watch "The Astronaut's Wife". I hear it rules.

When you watch it and it totally sucks ass, don't blame me.

Cst KO said...

This is my 1st time on your Blog, I worked my way through blog world from Evil's to find you.. Just wanted to say I enjoy the blog and keep it up..


minerva1822 said...

Awesome book selection..Don't know about the one by Van Sant.. I think I'll skip that one next time I go to the

I fell off the wagon and got to curious about the Twilight series and why it is such a fad. I just got done reading it..must say it was good. I know I'm lame and ashamed...haha

Nicole' Happiness said...


Autism Mom said...

Hmm, I know Capote was homosexual, but I don't think he ever made the "change" to "Ms. Capote". ;)

I've mainly fallen back to reading fitness magazines (not the crappy ones with skinny women on the cover, but the ones with buff women) and listening to audiobooks in my car. I practically live in my car three days of the week, so I go through 1-3 audiobooks a week.
Other than that I read books that I'm writing a review for. (not that you asked but now you know...)

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