Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wristcutters: A Love Story vs. "Kneller's Happy Campers"

It's never fair to compare a film to its prose counterpart, but readers do it all the time. So when it comes to Wristcutters: A Love Story and "Kneller's Happy Campers" - written by Etgar Keret and can be found in the collection The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God & Other Stories - there are few things that irked me.  

First of all, the names are changed. Rather than following Mordy, Uzi and Lihi on their afterlife adventure into the unknown, we're following Zia, Eugene and Mikal. Kneller, who is played by Tom Waits in the film, and Desiree (Leslie Bibb) are the only characters who keep the names of the literary counterparts. But that's something I can get used to because it was expected. "Kneller's Happy Campers" wasn't originally written in English - it is, after all, a translation - so it was expected that some sprucing up would taken place. And with that, the characters' nationality vanished, too. 

Now conflict is always big so, with an adaptation, there has to be some sort of tension between the characters. Mordy was obsessed with finding Desiree in the short story so his attention toward Lihi minimum, but you can see the budding romance between Zia and Mikal as the search for Desiree carries on. So it would make sense that the whole guy meets gal, gal runs away, guy slowly realizes his love for gal. 

Most of the movie follows the same idea as the short story. Additions here and there to explain the problems with Eugene's headlight problem and what not, but otherwise it keeps the same idea. A plot device is added in the film's story - a black hole beneath Eugene's passenger seat adds to the movie's conclusion. And while the bitter sweet ending in the short story - Mordy hopes that Lihi one day returns to the world of suicides, continues on with his afterlife by mixing a little everyday screw ups into his daily routine - is endearing on its own merit, the film decides to give us the ol' Hollywood ending. It's not bad, however it's not good either. It's just so-so.

"Kneller's Happy Campers" has also been adapted into a graphic novel entitled Pizzeria Kamikaze - where Mordy/Zia is employed in the afterlife. I wonder if the movie borrows elements from the graphic novel. Either way, the winner of this is the short story. While the movie was good - dramatic where it needed to be, humorous when it was appropriate - it holds no flame to the short story. 

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Fictional books - as in, the ones that don't exist in the real world - always intrigue me. When I read Wonder Boys by Chabon, I wanted to read the collective works of Grady Tripp and those of "the first real writer" Tripp ever knew - August Van Zorn. So it goes without saying, when Californication came into my life, I wanted to read Hank Moody's novels. My prayers were answered when his novel, God Hates Us All, was released last year. Note: It wasn't the fact that I couldn't afford his book last year, it's just that it takes me a year to grow the balls to read a novel based on a novel in a TV show. Finally having finished the novel, I have to say that I understand why Hank Moody was pissed off when his novel - which takes its title from a Slayer album - was turned into the TomKat flick, A Crazy Little Thing Called Love (which, god forbid, no one decides to actually make). But then again, let's not forget how disappointed I was with the novel. 

It's not that it's a bad book. And I really didn't know what to expect when a fictional novel is released into the real world, but whatever I did expect, I can assure you this wasn't it. I can't even fathom how something like this could ever be adapted into a romantic comedy starring TomKat. And I know, I shouldn't even think like that because neither Hank Moody, TomKat (in the sense of the show, anyway) or the real (though, actually, fictional) God Hates Us All don't really exist. 

In actuality, Jonathan Grotenstein - who, possibly, wrote this book -  probably had Hank Moody in the head. I'm not sure how much instruction he got or how much creative freedom he was allotted, but after a few chapters into the book, I thought less and less about Hank Moody's persona on the show and more about how this book seems completely color-by-numbers. The book starts reading more like something out of the mind of Hank Moody toward the last half, but the voice is still lacking. Push in a few music references - like the show does - and you got yourself something that isn't bad, but isn't something you'd expect. And the nearly perfect wrap up, well, that's something I'd rather not talk about. 

All in all, I'll give the book a three-star review. I think it's fair, don't you? Until next time, happy huntin'.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A short bus ride

Guest post written by Beth Stokes

I was so sad when I found out that I got a job in New York and my boyfriend got a job in Boston. For the first time in four years we wouldn't be in the same city together. But at least we weren't going to be across the country from each other.

I started looking up flights between the two cities right away with my Clear Wireless Internet 4G as soon as I made the big move. But then my boyfriend found some bus prices where I could get on a bus in Chinatown for just fifteen dollars and ride it for three hours and then I would be in Boston. I knew that as far as weekend trips to see each other went, that couldn't really be beat.

We've visited each other about four times since we both moved after graduation. The last time I went to Boston we went to see the Trinity Church, which was so beautiful and had some really ornate architecture. See, I'm an architect so I could really appreciate it.

My Erotica, or My Unquenchable Lust for Books

Monday afternoon, I woke up to find my copy of Coming & Crying at my doorstep. This, as you all know, is the book hunter equivalent to finding a baby in a basket. The book was edited by Melissa Gira Grant and Meaghan O'Connell and I only learned of it after the KickStarter for it had ended. If you're like me, you can purchase a copy here

Also, in the mail, my copy of Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura arrived. If you recall, I mentioned the book last year when it was announced that Playboy was going to release an excerpt in their December issue.

After that, I got dressed and headed out with Monica and Binx to book hunt because that's what we do whenever we're together. First stop led us to Georgia's Thrift Shop where I picked up a copy of Brian Keene's Urban Gothic. Afterward, we wound up at Books -n- Things where I picked up a copy of The Stand - the unabridged copy, as I already have the original published piece - and William Gibson's Neuromancer.  

Today was another day of book hunting, where I purchased a copy of Brian Lumley's Maze of Worlds - only a $1.50! - and No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

I think that concludes - fingers crossed - my book hunting for the rest of the year. My queue is backed up to next December, I believe. Oh well, until next time, keep on huntin'.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Batman - My Favorite Superhero

Thanks for the post from Barney Crosby

Call me a sucker for the classics, but there is no superhero in the pantheon of comics, cartoons, movies and anime that can compete with the awe inspiring cool of the Batman. While some believe his appeal is rooted in the fact that he is an ordinary human, I believe it is his ability to not let cultural stereotypes and definitions of manliness effect his persona.

The Batman, after all, is a hard-boiled detective, a man who oozes the bad boy cool of film noir. Still, he doesn't let this image affect his dress. He is not afraid of what people think. While other detectives prefer the long trenchcoats and low-brimmed fedoras, the Batman wears a pointy cape and cowl. The Batman is so indifferent to the so-called style of manliness that he wears his underwear outside of his tights. I can only assume this is what makes the Batman feel most comfortable, and it totally works. I also envy the Batman's do it yourself attitude. While he is wealthy enough to buy a militia to mete out justice, he instead invests solely in superhero gadgets and giant pennies to decorate the batcave. Truly this is a man who is serious about fashion and decorum, and precisely why he is my favorite superhero.

It's hard finding good old Batman episodes these days unless you have direct tv. Only then you can get channels like Boomerang, a network for classic cartoons and classic superheroes.

When I Was I Kid, I Thought I Was Jesus

I'm going to be honest, the only reason I picked up The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God by Etgar Keret was for the story "Kneller's Happy Campers," which was adapted into the film Wristcutters. I haven't watched movie yet, mostly because I wanted to read the story. It's silly, I know, but sometimes reading the story first allows me to watch the movie comfortably. What I didn't know was that Etgar Keret's collection of short stories is a translation. I've mentioned how translations tend to mess with my mind sometimes. 

Either way, the book is brilliant. From start to finish - which just happens to be "Kneller's Happy Campers" - the book is filled with stories that are a little bit amusing, a little bit lovely and downright weird. Warped and Wonderful, as the quip says at the bottom of the cover. It's not lie. From grandfathers coming back as sneakers, finding Heaven within a pipe or a man who is afflicted with a crippling disability of being too nice, the stories never have pause to ask whether or not they're believable. You simply accept them. 

Much like Bizarro fiction - from authors such as Carlton Mellick III - Etgar Keret engages us with themes that  we can relate to or recognize while dazzling our senses with a slice of imagination that we normally don't read in contemporary literature. His voice carries through the pages, description wrapping us. 

The first book of the season, and I'm glad it was a memorable one. I'll write more on "Kneller's Happy Campers" and Wristcutters in a later post. Until next time, happy huntin'.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Book Hunter's Journal Opens the Book Hunter's Playground

And then I did something silly like go and make an bookstore using the Amazon Affiliate Program. Why? you ask. Well, why not? It's not like it's costing me anything if no one buys from or visits it and, if someone should buy from it, then kudos for me. 

This blog is riddled with potential bucks if I could draw in the readers. But book blogs are a dime a dozen. And let's face it, I'm not reviewing top notch novels like Twilight or books by whoever happens to be the It-Author (sorta like the an it-girl, only with classier drugs and alcohol, less time on E! and better shenanigans). I've learned that using Blogvertise is successful more times than not. (Advertisers should check this out.) But a book hunter must dream, right? 

Anyway, while you're here, you should check out The Book Hunter's Playground which isn't only about books, I should add. I've also listed Movies and Music, even opened a Pure Lust Entraps Substore

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More books arrived

I tell you, nothing makes a book hunter happier than receiving books in the mail. And last week, I received my package from Better World Books - purchased off Amazon - which contained Sex Diaries edited by Maxium Jakubowski and Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death edited by Mitzi Szereto. 

In the mail today, I received my (hopefully) final order from Amazon for the year. The order was made up of Etgar Keret's The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God, a book I've been lusting after since I saw the trailer for Wristcutters: A Love Story. Stapled to that book was Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands and God Hates Us All by fictional fiction writer Hank Moody from Showtime's Californication

I started on Keret's collection of short stories and plan to move on Hank Moody's novel. At the moment, however, my only concern is getting over this cold. Because being sick puts a damper on my reading groove. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Insomnia and Bondage

Can't sleep, go figure. My mind's running rampant with thoughts. This is even keeping me from reading the Pauline Réage erotic classic, Story of O. I've attempted the read years ago, but failed to keep up with it, partly because of school and mostly because of apathy. I know, that sounds wrong. In my senior year of college, I also picked up a copy of The Illustrated Story of O with photographs by Doris Kloster. I'm still to own the film, however. I also need to pick up a copy of the sequel, Return to the Chateau. I should attempt to sleep. I don't see it happening, however. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holy Awesomeness, Batman!

If you haven't read Batman: Cacophony, I strongly suggest that you do before picking up the first volume of Batman: The Widening Gyre. Like Cacophony, The Widening Gyre is written by Kevin Smith with art by Walter "Tell 'Em, Steve Dave" Flanagan. 

The volume - the hardback to be released on 14 December 2010 - features a cast of infamous and not-so famous Gotham villains. However, there isn't a single one that is a singular in the story arc. The focus is on the hero in town. One called Baphomet, which has Batman and the boy wonder at odds whether this shady crime fighter's intentions are pure. 

But Batman's guard is down when Silver St. Cloud returns to Bruce Wayne's life. Flashing back to every relationship he ever held as Batman - nonromantic, that is - Bruce begins to wonder if Gotham is safe without him. Assured that both Robin and the newcomer can take care of things, Bruce allows himself something he hasn't in years - peace of mind. 

With the light at the end of the tunnel becoming brighter, Bruce is forever looking behind his shoulder. But will his guard be up when the one that go away returns to his life? 

I'd like to say as usual but considering that Cacophony is the first story arc by Smith that I've read, I think it's a moot to even think it. However, Kevin Smith doesn't disappoint with the first of two volumes. Along with him, returns Walter Flanagan whose art amazes me. Both are able to blend humor with the seriousness expected of Batman. It won't say it's canon, but The Widening Gyre is essential to any Batman fan out there. Just be sure to read Cacophony first. You'll lost without it. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Collins delivers the absolute ending for a trilogy

Picking up where shortly after Catching Fire left off, Mockingjay opens with Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, whom the citizens of Panem fell in love with at the seventy-fourth Hunger Games, standing in the charred remains of District 12. Confusion is still looming over her as the realization of all she was raised to believe were lies. But mostly because while she was rescued from the last arena, Peeta wasn't. His fates lies in the hands of the Capitol and the loathsome snake president, Snow.  

The survivors of District 12 have become refugees of thought-to-be-destroyed District 13, whose citizens have resided underground for the last seventy-five years. Armed with their greatest weapon, Katniss Everdeen - the Mockingjay - who stood up and defied the Capitol twice, in two different arenas, the rebels are ready to take on the Capitol one district at a time. 

But what looms over Katniss's thoughts is - who is the enemy in all this?

After reading the last book, I was on edge that Suzanne Collins wouldn't be able to capture my attention like she did with The Hunger Games. And after Aaron Guerra's constant reminder that this book would piss me off, I wasn't looking forward to reading it. But I did. The moment I put down Catching Fire and picked up this book, I was sucked back into the world that Collins first introduced. While the elements of "who will Katniss pick" still lingered, foul smelling like Snow's roses, the book was motivated with plot and action, leaving you turning the page at the edge of your seat. 

While I can understand why several readers found this book disappointing, the turn of events (no spoilers here) were a necessary evil. And if you're a true reader, you would've seen it a mile away. The book was thought provoking, as well as, heart wrenching. Collins' gift doesn't leave her side as each word carries you through the world of chaos and confusion. 

My only anticipation now is the adaptation that is coming soon of the first book. If done right, we'll have something that blow both Harry Potter and Twilight out of the water. But then, again, it's Lion's Gate that's releasing the film(s). 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Also in the mail today

The last eBay win arrived along with Batman: The Widening Gyre, my copy of Anne Rice's (written as A.N. Roquelaure) Beauty's Release. For those of you keeping tabs, this is the conclusion of the Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty, which is made up of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment and this book. I inherited the first two parts back in the day when Monica was working in reference and her office buddy, Karen, brought a big old box of books to claim. Of course I came out with the naughtiest pieces because the erotic has been the center of my attention for years now. However, because I'm strange, I never picked up the first two books because I didn't own the last one. Now that I have it in possession, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to start exploring the world of this BDSM fairy tale. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Batman: The Widening Gyre

Forgive me for the shotty photograph, but it was the best of the lot. Kevin Smith and Walter "You Tell Them Steve Dave" Flanagan returned with a new Batman storyline, The Widening Gyre (the hardcover trade to be released on 14 December 2010, according to Amazon). This follows the three-part series, Batman: Cacophony.

The Widening Gyre is a twelve-part series, split into two six-part volumes.  The first volume, photographed above, was supposed to run from August 2009 through January 2010, with volume two running from July 2010 through December 2010. However, issue six of the first volume was released in July, leaving fans to wonder when the second half will be released.