Indefiniteness of Literature vs. Specificity of Cinema

Well, hello there! Yes, I still exist despite my lack of posting.

I have decided to share with you (the world) an article I just read at themillions.com. As the title of the post indicates, the article is concerned with filmmakers’ adaptation of books.

There is a long standing debate in my house on whether the film (any adaption we just watched) was as good as the book. 99% of the time, it was not. I can only think of three—off the top of my head—that have lived up (or somehow surpassed) the books: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jaws, and Jurassic Park. The first two Harry Potter movies are very close.

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The Sinner King is mentioned in a prominent online magazine

Today, I was thrilled to see that a writing colleague, Rob W. Hart, had mentioned me in his ongoing saga titled Adventures in Self-Publishing, on litreactor.com—a prominent, online, literary magazine founded by the team responsible for ChuckPalahniuk.net.

This is Rob’s fourth installment in the series where he chronicles what the title states. He, like me, just recently went through the Amazon Free Promotion and this article details his thoughts, feelings, and results. Rob and I have been tweeting back forth during our promotion days and he asked me if I would be willing to share my experience with him. In return, Rob shed a positive light on my book and listed it alongside his novella: The Last Safe Place inside this article.

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An Article on Donald Ray Pollock

I’ve not read any of his books and I’ve only just heard of him; he was featured on the cover of the local library’s newsletter and his name grabbed me: Donald Ray Pollock. At first I thought, “Jackson Pollock?” because the photo of him looked terribly similar to one I’ve seen of Jackson Pollock, but then I actually read the big type in front of my face and saw Donald Ray Pollock, and of course I immediately said, “Look, he has my first and middle name!” (Because apparently I’m a Kindergartener.)

Beyond the similarity of our names I still knew next to nothing about the guy or his work, bringing me to this morning and an article on The Millions: I learned that he, like me, is self educated in literature and is from Ohio . . . but that is where the similarities end.

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A revolution in learning how to write?

I came across this article in The Atlantic that delves into the troubles kids have with writing and how it could possibly be affecting their grades in other subjects. Basically, a group of teachers at a troubled High School attempted to narrow down why so many kids in their classes were having such a difficult time writing essay answers, and it turned out that these kids found explaining their thoughts on paper extremely challenging because they didn’t have the language skills to aid them.

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The Second Coming of Philip K. Dick

To anyone who knows me (truly), they know that P.K. Dick is my favorite writer. My love for his work began one day when I thought about what the world would have been like if Germany and Japan had won WWII. I did a Google search on the subject and The Man In The High Castle was the first thing that popped up. I checked it out from the local library and devoured it. I then discovered that a lot of his stories have been made into feature length films (the reason behind this post). Movies such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck and Minority Report have all come from this man’s bizarre genius.

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An essay on DFW’s legacy

I found this essay on The Cult website and decided it was worth forwarding on. It’s mostly about the genius that was David Foster Wallace and the danger his legacy leaves on new-influenced writers.

Basically, the author of the essay, Stephen Graham Jones, is concerned that new generations of writers will grow up in a DFW deified world and lose their own voice while attempting to sound like The Man, which he basically flat out writes, “…you’re only ever going to be able to repeat the surface level characteristics of his fiction, maybe luck into the lope of his voice every now and again.” I think on a broader scope, this holds true for all writers who are looking to repeat the brilliance of their masters, which makes this essay with an ending plea worth reading.

Here is a link to the essay:

http://chuckpalahniuk.net/features/essays/blue-velvet-monster-on-david-foster-wallace

Is it O.K. to be a Luddite?

In 1984, Thomas Pynchon wrote an essay that tackled that very question. Upon reading it today, I found it to be as relevant as ever with the growing reliability on technology, not man, to further progress capitalism. He also addresses the incredible growth in information distribution over the years, which as we all know has grown exponentially since 1984 with the collective use of the internet, and sees it as a problem of time versus need, meaning that the avalanche of information is too much to take in so the focus on specialities has become the dominant reason for learning versus a broader focus on subjects due to limited resources.

The New York Times Book Review
28 October 1984, pp. 1, 40-41.

As if being 1984 weren’t enough, it’s also the 25th anniversary this year of C. P. Snow’s famous Rede lecture, “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution,” notable for its warning that intellectual life in the West was becoming polarized into “literary” and “scientific” factions, each doomed not to understand or appreciate the other. The lecture was originally meant to address such matters as curriculum reform in the age of Sputnik and the role of technology in the development of what would soon be known as the third world. But it was the two-culture formulation that got people’s attention. In fact it kicked up an amazing row in its day. To some already simplified points, further reductions were made, provoking certain remarks, name-calling, even intemperate rejoinders, giving the whole affair, though attenuated by the mists of time, a distinctly cranky look.

Read the full essay here: 
http://www.themodernword.com/pynchon/pynchon_essays_luddite.html

The Best Time To Be Alive

While reading Infinite Jest, I found myself curious about the man who wrote such a bloated work of genius and his motives in doing so. The following is an excellent article/interview with David Foster Wallace. You’ll find that the late Mr. Wallace shared similar feelings about highbrow writing versus commercial writing as yours truly.

Read the article here: http://www.salon.com/09/features/wallace1.html

Chuck Palahniuk on minimalism

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my favorite authors is Chuck Palahniuk, who happens to be an expert at minimalistic writing. His books are some of the finest in modern literature and his tone is more unique than most I’ve encountered.

The following is an interview from October 16th, 2006, conducted by Jeff Sartain for Strange Horizons. In this interview, Chuck discusses his minimalistic approach to writing and how it started.

A former semi-truck mechanic with a degree in journalism, Chuck Palahniuk broke out as a major figure in American literature shortly after David Fincher adapted his first novel, Fight Club, into a film starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. Two more of his books, Survivor and Invisible Monsters, were immediately published coinciding with the release of the film, and a meteoric rise to literary fame began. Proving he wasn’t a one-hit wonder, Palahniuk published Choke in 2001 to rave reviews and massive public acceptance, debuting at number ten on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Since Choke, though, Palahniuk’s fiction has taken a decidedly darker turn since he contracted with Doubleday to produce a triad of horror novels.LullabyDiary, and, most recently, Haunted make up his initial speculative fiction offerings. Palahniuk is currently working on a book of essays about his minimalist style of writing, which is the culmination of two years of a public Writers Workshop that he held at his official website. This summer he is also finishing his eighth novel, Rant, which is his first foray into science fiction, due out in mid-2007.

I caught up with him in Chicago on the paperback tour for Haunted, a novel made up of twenty-five short stories and poems linked by a unifying frame-tale. Included in Haunted is the controversial and wildly popular short story “Guts,” which has been causing people to faint and vomit at his readings since he first premiered it while on tour for his collection of journalism, Stranger than Fiction. “Guts” was recently selected to The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Eighteenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant.

You can find the rest of the interview here: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/20061016/palahniuk-int-a.shtml