Thursday, September 9, 2010
Books Read Lately
Nail Your Novel, by Roz Morris
This is a must for writers. Roz hates wasting energy. This is a fantastic battle plan for assisting a novelist, gleaned from years of experience. Virtually any situation you may find yourself in is covered, so that you can get the most of your writing time.
She tackles all the aspects and distractions, beginning with - Why people start novels and don't finish, shaping and focusing your inspiration, getting through your first draft, What to do before you rewrite--This was the section that especially spoke to me right now.
The Beat Sheet Game, this is about checking all the story mechanics and guiding you to ask critical questions for the sake of having the most powerful and resonant scenes possible. All in all it helps write a better novel.
Then there is the rewriting section, that guides revision and finally sending your novel out to seek its fortune.
The tips contained are not geared for any genre or style per-se, it's all about technique, craft and confidence.
People of the Jaguar, by Nicholas J. Saunders
How about that? I could not find an image online for the cover and I was too lazy to scan one-so I have one of the pics contained within that itself establishes what the focus is about.
Subtitled, the Living Spirit of Ancient America, this is a historical anthropological look at how ancient Americans viewed that top-notch predator, the jaguar and how it affected their belief structure. While I have read more comprehensive books on the Maya and Aztec, this one focus's on the great cat. The pic I have posted shows a beast with manlike attributes, eating a human heart.
The sorcery and mysticism involved with these legends are rivers of inspiration for a fiction writer.
Taming the Sasquatch, by Lee Nelson
A very brisk read. Nelson opens with what is the end and we are along for the ride in what really happened at the top of the Dam on Deer Creek reservoir, I have to laugh because the scene in the book is somewhere I am personally very familiar with in Utah, and then, get this, where the Sasquatch comes from (in Montana) is another place I am very familiar with, having camped where the Sasquatch lives many times. I sure never noticed one, but it made everything in the book very easy to picture.
It was enjoyable but at the same time nearly everything was just too convenient, I would have liked a tad more suspension of disbelief-and this is coming from a guy that as Fox Mulder says, "I want to believe."
Batman: Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, by Grant Morrison and Paul Dini
I gotta say I love the character of Batman, one of my absolute favorite comic characters (along with Wolverine) and I love other Batman graphics that these guys have worked on DETECTIVE for one, but something about this one wasn't quite right. I was excited for the concept-one of Batman's best villains coming back from the grave but the execution here was a little weak. Things jumped around and were never clear to the audience and not in a good way either. Flashbacks gave snippets of information about things we have no way of knowing enough about to care. A new character was introduced that didn't make a lick of sense in the first place, one of those guys where we are supposed to accept he has always been there-you just never noticed him before? Come on.
So it wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly as good as the other Bat books I have read the last few years.
Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks
I have put off reading Brooks for years because I wasn't interested in someone aping Tolkien-at least that's what I always heard he did. I had to laugh over how much Lin Carter* raged against Brooks in The Years Best Fantasy 4, the collection that came out the same year as the Silmarillion and Conan of Aquilonia.
So while I own a copy of SoS (my library is vast...vast) I haven't really wanted to pick it up.
Then I was working with some friends a couple days, who wanted to listen to an audiobook-that's cool, I love audiobooks. What do they have? Sword of Shannara.
I have listened to at least 6 or 7 hours of Brooks and I'm done. Everything was as I suspected a twist on Tolkien, every single concept. Oh and can the guy Al-Anon (Alcoholics Anonymous?) do anything without it being labeled "mockingly"?
I kinda hoped it would be better than I expected, but NO. My friends assured me that the books later in the sprawling series are better, but I don't have the time.
* Thanks Lagomorph Rex