Sunday, March 6, 2022

On That Salty Air, Why We Write About Ourselves, The Legend of Tarzan, Etc.

That Salty Air by Tim Sievert (Graphic Novel, 2007) - First off, the artwork in this book is gorgeous. Done in black and white, it perfectly fits the theme of the story. Turning the pages, I felt like I'm swimming through an ocean of black and white ink. Unfortunately, that's just about the only thing that I liked about this graphic novel. Sievert touches on a lot of themes with his sparse story - love, loss, redemption, and nature's wrath. Sounds good but the two main characters in the story didn't really connect with me. Hugh is a jerk and his wife is too soft on him. I agree with a good number of reviewers who say that the book has amazing artwork but has bad writing. If you check out Tim Sievert's website, it can't be denied that he has mad talent. Apparently, he has written a good number of books. Here's to hoping that these have better stories than That Salty Air. I already ordered a couple of the titles because I love his artwork. 

Why We Write About Ourselves by Meredith Maran (Editor) (Book, 2016) - I understand that this book was written for aspiring writers who wish to one day write their own memoirs. I have no intention of writing a memoir but I picked up this book because I've always been fascinated by writers and their process in creating their works. It's an easy read and brimming with anecdotes, tips, and advice from 20 well-known memoirists. Each writer has his own unique tricks of the trade so they often contradict each other. That's one of the beauties of writing, I must say. There are hundreds of ways to cook a chicken. There are hundreds of ways to write a memoir. Consider reading this book if (1) you are planning to be a memoirist or  if (2) you are interested in how memoirists approach their craft.

Anna Quindlen on Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time - I came across a 2007 edition of A Wrinkle in Time which contains "An Appreciation" by the American author Anna Quindlen. Here's a quote from the piece that I found really beautiful: "The most memorable books from our childhoods are those that make us feel less alone, convince us that our own foibles and quirks are both as individual as a fingerprint and as universal as an open hand. That's why I still have the copy of A Wrinkle in Time that was given to me when I was twelve years old." Quindlen adds: "On its surface this is a book about three children who fight an evil force threatening their planet. But it is really about a more primal battle all human beings face, to respect, defend, and love themselves."

The Legend of Tarzan (Movie, 2016) - This movie has an average rating of 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's a well-deserved rating because it's a truly terrible movie. It bit more than it can chew. In its nearly two-hour run time, never did I feel invested in the story. Why? There's like a dozen storylines going on in the movie. The film kept jumping from one plot point to another. Just when you start to get invested in a story, the film jumps to another storyline. The picture has above-average special effects and some great action scenes. That's just about it. 

The Dig (Movie, 2021) - When I sat down to watch the film, I didn't know that it was based on a book. I also didn't know that it was inspired by actual events. I didn't even watch the trailer nor read the synopsis. I went in blind. I enjoyed the movie a lot. The story was paper-thin but the narrative was handled so well that I remained interested from the first minute until the last. The lead actors, Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, are in their element. They're great. If actors with lesser talent were allowed to take on their roles, this movie most likely would have been a bore fest. Fiennes and Mulligan elevated the film with their acting chops. Great supporting cast as well. 

Call Me By Your Name (Movie, 2017) - Based on a novel by Andre Aciman (also called Call Me by Your Name), this is a coming-of-age drama about a young man falling in love with his father's research assistant. I haven't read the book so I am in no position to comment if the film did it justice. The film itself is very well-made. The acting is there. The cinematography is there. The pacing is there. It's the perfect drama movie. It doesn't feel like a movie. It feels like you are watching the video diaries of a family. 

Comedy Techniques for Writers and Performers by Melvin Helitzer (Book, 1984) - A good number of the best books I've ever read were written by comedians, humorists, and satirists. So it was with great interest that I delved into this book. This is an old book having been published back in 1984 so chunks of the content may be grossly outdated. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from the book. I was expecting something technical and dense. But it's an easy-to-read book filled with jokes and anecdotes from great and well-respected comics and humorists. The book is divided into several sections covering various topics about comedy - speechwriting, writing for magazines and newspapers, writing for stand-up comics, writing for sitcoms, writing for print cartoons, writing for greeting cards, and writing for advertising.

The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck (Poetry Collection, 1992) - Gluck received the Pulitzer Prize for this collection. This is the first book of poetry by Gluck that I read. And to be honest, I didn't get it. I really didn't understand all, yes all, of the poems in the collection. It's a thin book so I went through the poems two or three times in an attempt to understand them (and like them). Nothing. I still don't get most of them. But to be fair to Gluck, 99% of the poems I've ever read have confused me. I'm reminded of Doug Stanhope's joke about poems: "Children are like poems. They are beautiful to their creators but to others they're just silly and f_ _ _ _ _ _ annoying."