Monday, August 09, 2010

Winners and Losers

True to my intentions, I've taken a few days largely off writing and tried to just relax and do some reading. I've even engaged in a little TV/Movie action. I caught a few more episodes of The Office, watched some Frasier and Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns, and watched Hell's Kitchen. Last night I rented the movie The Losers, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. I've never read the comic book series it is based on, and it looked at first glance very much like an A-Team kind of set-up, but I liked the characters and the action was satisfyingly over-the-top. I don't know the names of the actors but among the characters we had the woman who played Uhuru on the new Trek, the guy who played the "Comedian" on Watchmen, and the guy who played Johnny Torch on The Fantastic Four, all of whom I like as characters. The villain was Jason Patric, who gave a pretty good performance as a totally conscienceless but sometimes blackly humorous evil CIA operative.

In reading, I started Hunt at the Well of Eternity, by our own James Reasoner, and am enjoying it muchly. I'm reading a collection of Loren Eiseley's poetry called The Innocent Assassins, which is, in general, not as good as his prose essays. I also started Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer and am liking it. I was hooked on the TV show before it was cancelled and the book so far is pretty close in many ways to the show.



I finished Ed Gorman's Harlot's Moon, which was very good, and Ira Levin's A Kiss Before Dying, which I liked a lot although I don't know if I'd consider it among the world's fifty best mysteries ever. I also read an enjoyable western by a fellow named Gary Addis, who I've mentioned in this blog before. I've copied my review from Goodreads below:

"Lance Jolley is a gunman. He's been shaped by childhood and by the harsh environment of the American Civil War into a hard man who can react with volcanic violence when he's pushed. And he's not adverse to trading on his gun rep.

But Jolley has a moral center and never forgets a friend. When the son of a friend is harassed into a gunfight that the young lad can't win, Jolley sets the range on fire as he rides for vengeance. Once more his enemies will learn not to push Lance Jolley, or those he cares about.

I just finished reading this for Kindle, which is the only way it's available at the moment. This is Gary Addis's first novel, I believe, although he's been published in nonfiction and fiction multiple times. It's a very good story, well written and strongly visual. There are flashbacks to the Civil War that are gut wrenching in their realism.

Good stuff, and I hope we see more of Lance Jolley."


Until next time, keep the word side up!
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29 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Denise and I are watching Hell's Kitchen. Crazy addictive show that one.

Hunt at the Well of Eternity was a top way to start that series.

X. Dell said...

Hmm. Your tastes in narrative are far more catholic (small 'c') than I gave you credit for.

Regarding your previous post (you're pitchin' 'em fastern I can catch 'em), your warming to The Office seems to illustrate that there's more than one way to create a compelling narrative, and sometimes that requires a suspension of belief. For example you have to ignore the implausibilities inherent in a Roadrunner cartoon--among other things, why does this canine always shop at ACME; you'd think, after his experiences, he'd go with name brands--in order to enjoy it. One of the things about rules, IMHO, is that they do a lot of the interpretation for you. To engage a story on its own terms requires more active participation.

Sidney said...

I need to read more Ed Gorman. He's incredibly prolific. I read a really good crime story by him in Ellery Queen's once.

Deka Black said...

Why Wile E Coyote shops always at ACME? Easy: Is member of the administration board and President of Quality Control. That's why always fail.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like we watch a lot of the same shows. God Bless NetFlix and Hulu!

Charles Gramlich said...

David Cranmer, I know. I started watching this one because of Lana too but have gotten to enjoy it.

X-Dell, there isn't much I won't read. I'm much less broad where music or TV is concerned. As for suspension of disbelief, I'm much better able to suspend disbelief when the world is indeed posited as fantastic than if the world is posited as being totally realistic and yet clearly is not.

Sidney, He's very varied in his output too. great westerns, great mysteries with comedic elements, and great mysteries with more noir elements.

Deka, I suspect you're correct about Wil-e.

sage said...

We can all use times when we move away from the writing and just soak in the stories of others.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Your time off is being spent well. A KISS BEFORE DYING has probably been copies too much to seem as fresh as it did fifty years ago.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, absolultely

Pattinase, I'm sure you're right. The writing is very nice, though. Some great turns of phrase.

Steve Malley said...

Great stuff!

laughingwolf said...

go on my tbr list, thx...

Leigh Russell said...

It looks like you did lots of reading in your few days off. I love Frazier - was watching the scene this evening where Niles sets fire to Frazier's couch. I laughed out loud. Also love The Office. Was hooked on the English version when it first came out.
Sounds like I need to do more reading... oh well, back to the writing. My second has just come out (ROAD CLOSED), MS for my 3rd is with my publisher and I'm 25% through my 4th book. Ain't no stopping me now! (but not enough time for reading)

Carole said...

You are a prolific reader. Excellent.

I have no idea why this post gave me a longing to go watch Firefly and Serenity, but it did, so off I go.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Malley, btw, I reviewed Leather Tales over on goodreads. I found it easier to read on kindle pc than the kindle device.

laughingwolf, My pile is getting vast.

Leigh Russell, you are making good progress. Glad to hear that. I remember that episode of Frasier.

Carole, hum, me either, unless it's just the mention of favorite TV shows in general.

BStearns said...

Glad you liked the loosers. I really enjoyed it as well. The main actor is Jeffery Dean Morgan and he is really a great actor.

-Bryan
www.sff-hub.com

ivan said...

Strength of narrative is compelling.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to achieve it exactly in my fiction.

Prof had said, "Go back to your war childhood. Narrative is strongest there...No matter who should write it... Story tells itself."

the walking man said...

I guess i need to watch more TV that does not have a political bent. I haven't a clue about any of the shows you mentioned Charles.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad you've been unwinding a bit, baby. Everyone needs time to just relax. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Bryan, I didn't realize till after the movie that he was the guy who played the Comedian on Watchmen. I really thought he did a great job in that one.

ivan, there does seem a certain amount of "given" in storytelling, although I do see folks improve over time.

Mark, I never watch TV with a political bent. I'm already pissed off enough as it is.

Lana Gramlich, I agree sweetums.

BernardL said...

Flash Forward on TV was certainly more entertaining than a lot of what was on. When you see what was renewed, especially the reality shows, it gets a little weird. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

bernarld, I know. I made the mistake of getting into it. Of course it was cancelled. I thought it was a lot better than "V"

Travis Cody said...

Drat. I hadn't heard that Flash Forward was canceled. I thought it was getting better as the season went on and might get another chance.

Erik Donald France said...

Here's to days off -- and enjoyment of them.

That's quite a pile o'readin' in short order -- impressive.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis cody, no they axed it. I'm sorry to say. I'm reading the book right now that it was based on.

Erik, I've made a run at it toward the end of the summer.

writtenwyrdd said...

Glad you are getting to catch up on your reading. I'm trying to contain the purchase of new books so I can catch up, too.

Barrie said...

And now it's my turn for some R&R. ;) I must try Hell's Kitchen!

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrd, I know. I have to stop buying but I probably never will.

Barrie, I've enjoyed it. This season ended last night actually. but there'll be another one.

ArtSparker said...

Just reading Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, which is quite a pitch-perfect ghost story/critique of the British class system circa 1947. I think you might enjoy it, although it's at a remove from you usual territory. As a repurposer myself, I admire how she's rearranged Henry James.

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