Sunday, March 23, 2008

Books Read, and BabelCon

The Contest is still running, but I thought it time for another post. I probably won’t post a lot this coming week since we have more job candidates in and I have tests. I really enjoyed most of my week off, although I was pretty sick from last Sunday through Tuesday. I got a lot of reading done and plenty of sleep, though, and a fair amount of writing. I managed to visit blogs every day. Here’s what I read:

The Narrows by Michael Connelly. This is the first book I’ve read by him. It featured a recurring character named Harry Bosch, who is a private detective in this story and who stumbles upon the key to a serial killer case. The book is a sequel to a book called The Poet, the “Poet” being the serial killer. I liked the book and will read others of his. However, he did one thing that bothered me, although I got used to it over time. Part of the book is told in first person by Bosch, but parts are told in third person and feature the character Rachel Walling, an FBI agent who has dealt with the Poet before. Although the book was enjoyable, I was disconcerted by the switching from first to third person.

Then I got on a western kick and read He Rode Alone by Steve Frazee and Gunsmoke by Wade Hamilton. Both were enjoyable. I also started Three Rode South by Jake Foster, but only made it 8 pages before abandoning it. The lesson, don’t make your first 8 pages consist primarily of an info dump of background information. There was even the dreaded “as you know” type dump. That happened on page 2.

Continuing with the western theme, I’ve started All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully written, but it took me 25 pages to figure out what the hell was happening. McCarthy doesn’t make it easy on you. I’m around 100 pages now and it’s going pretty well, although I wish he’d stop being a "literary writer" long eough to use quotation marks around his dialogue. There’s no sense in it. Still, the prose itself makes the read worth some effort.

In other news, I’ll be a guest at this year’s Babel Con, in Baton Rouge. They’ve talked me into doing three presentations, which I’ve listed below. Join us if you can.

Alien Evolution II
Most of the Aliens that stalk popular science fiction films and TV are based on earth-like forms, especially reptiles and mammals. True aliens would be quite different, although there are some earth forms that might make good models for filmmakers and writers to follow. Come join a presentation and discussion about what is wrong, and right, about the way creative artists currently feature aliens, and about how an understanding of actual evolution could help us develop better extraterrestrials.

Blessed With Nightmares - Using Dreams to Enhance Creativity
Besides being fun for us all, dreams and nightmares contain both imagery and meaning that can help creative artists and writers ignite their imaginations. But first you have to remember them. This presentation will talk about the biological and psychological basis of dreams and dream disorders, suggest some ways for people to improve their recall of dreams, and also discuss where the meaning comes from in dreams.

Beyond Fear - The Psychology of Terror
Some people like scary stories while others hate them. Why the differences? And for those who like scary stuff, what is the attraction? This presentation will discuss a trilogy of dark emotions: Fear, Horror, and Terror. How are they similar, and different? And what are the biological and psychological forces that underlie them? Finally, how can these emotions be used to help writers and other creative artists strengthen their work?

21 comments:

Josephine Damian said...

Ah... the dreaded POV change. Thriller writers are notorious for them!

McCarthy? "Blood Meridian" is the masterpiece.... but yeah, those lack of quotations marks is self indulgent.

Travis said...

I'm struggling with POV in my project. It comes of having too many characters.

The conference sounds interesting, although I'm glad that I don't remember my nightmares. The few times I have...well, let's just say I wished I hadn't.

Have a good week!

Greg Schwartz said...

i'm sorry i won't be able to attend... the presentation sounds interesting.

H.E.Eigler said...

I'll send you my copy of the Poet if you want it. Connelly is worth reading but I don't think I'll make a habit of it. There were some things about the book that drove me nutty too. I haven't read the sequel yet but it is sitting on my book shelf waiting.....it might wait a while :)

Email me your address at heddy.e@gmail.com and I'll ship it your way.

X. Dell said...

The alien evolution one sounds like something up my alley. Not much of a fan of horror, although classic horror novels (e.g. Frankenstein were fun reads.

Lisa said...

I got used to the lack of quotation marks after a while in THE ROAD, but it is kind of annoying.

Would love to be a fly on the wall for those sessions -- they all sound fascinating.

FANCY said...

I'm just dropping by your site ...and hope your Easter weekend have bean nice to you...;-)

Bernita said...

The third topic really strikes my fancy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Josephine, yes, I'm noticing that in modern thrillers. Kind of weird.

Travis, I like 'em. They're better than any movie I've ever watched, and they're free.

Greg, we are going to have a poetry panel as well. J and myself and a lady

H.E., wow, thanks, I'll do that.

X. dell, I did a version of the Alien evolution one last year and it was one of the top ranked presentations. It was fun.

Lisa, yes, you can adapt to the lack of quotation marks but there's really no reason why you should have to. It's silly to leave them out.

Fancy, mine was good. But it's always good to be off.

Bernita, it usually gets a lot of discussion going.

ANNA-LYS said...

Blessed With Nightmares - Using Dreams to Enhance Creativity
Besides being fun for us all, dreams and nightmares contain both imagery and meaning that can help creative artists and writers ignite their imaginations. But first you have to remember them. This presentation will talk about the biological and psychological basis of dreams and dream disorders, suggest some ways for people to improve their recall of dreams, and also discuss where the meaning comes from in dreams."


This interest me - is it on US Radio, or what?

cs harris said...

Glad you're feeling better. Time to read is the one bearable thing about being sick.

Shauna Roberts said...

Wish I could be at BabelCon for your panels. Sounds fascinating!

Sarai said...

Oh I want to come to the conference the presentations sounds very interesting.

Glad you are feeling better. Hope you have a wonderful week ;)

Anndi said...

The conferences sound promising. Dreams... I had a few very strange ones last night.

My daughter told me yesterday the only dreams she remembers are the nightmares... fortunately she doesn't seem to get those often.

Steve Malley said...

Some reason, Connelly's shifting POV's didn't bother me. Maybe because (unlike a few bestselling head-hoppers) he stays firmly in one POV per chapter....

I've gotta hunker down and read me some McCarthy. The stylistic stuff is just so offputting, though: no quote marks, three-page paragraphs, Couple-hundred word sentences... So far, I just have to take folks' word he's brilliant.

ANd *SO* glad to hear you're back up and running again!

Charles Gramlich said...

Anna-Lys, regrettably, no. It's actually never been recorded, but I will at some point run some of the details here on this blog.

Candice, I enjoyed it so much.

Shauna, yes, I guess it's a bit out of your way.

Sara, this week will probably be tough but then things should slow down, at least after the first week of April.

Anndi, tell her that nightmares are just like free movies. That's how I think about them.

Steve Malley, I adapted to Connelly pretty quickly but it still seemed awkward to me. As for McCarthy, I'd suggest you try "The Road" first. It's short and involves fewer characters than many of his other stories, which makes his stylistic stuff less of a hassle. I was put off by the same things for years but I do appreciate his prose a great deal and I try to overlook some of the idiosyncratic elements. still, they are just silly it seems to me.

eric1313 said...

On the subject of dreams and creativity, Kurt Vonnegut said "an afternoon nap is better than a Saturday matinee."

At least I read that on a postcard. A Vonnegut postcard, none the less.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Hope the break gave you time to recover ok, and all the best as you settle back into a busy week.

Charles Gramlich said...

eric1313, I agree with that sentiment. Last night I dreamed of alligators attacking a young boy in the water and of a daring rescue of him.

Julie, I did get rested up and am feeling much better. Thanks.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

Sorry you were sick! As for horror, I do love it,but I have to be careful not to let it get into my mind late at night or else I'm not sleeping for a long time.

Rachel said...

Man! I never heard of BabelCon, but that website makes me wanna go! It sounds fun!