Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Autumn Vacation: The Rundown

Let's see, so where did we end up?

Well, William Goldman thinks the 90s were the worst movie decade ever, and came very close to saying that the Oscars were pointless because all the movies sucked. And cranky as he is, I love it, because he's a great writer, and very smart about whatever he discusses--film, theater, Miss America pageants, what-have-you. He learns it and thinks about it and understands it, and then can explain it to you coherently. He's both intelligent and passionate and he writes good dialog, even when he's not writing dialog, if you see what I mean.

The one problem I had with that book, and it was a doozie, was a major, major quibble with everyone at his publisher. First of all, someone made a choice, presumably to get the page count they wanted, to double space between paragraphs, Internet-style. That's fine, I actually kind of prefer it for longer essays, when the paragraphs are dense. But then, they did something I just cannot get on board with--they indented as well. At that point, I was no longer a fan of whoever these editors were.

Also, the book is riddled with typos, but really, that's carelessness. It's not a lousy, lousy decision, like the paragraphing thing was. Ugh.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. I've always had an issue with Oliver Sachs, because I've always felt that he seemed to be rubbing his hands with gluttonous, childish glee over the debilitating neurological disorders he writes about. While I wouldn't say I deeply enjoyed The Man Who Mistook, I can say that it changed my view of Oliver Sachs. First, I had always assumed he was a journalist first, and never fully realized that he was a practicing neurologist for many years before becoming a writer. That changes my opinion, somehow, because, while both could be approaching these people as case studies and subjects, a doctor has a responsibility to fix something, while a journalist is just there to glom onto the tragedy. I give the doctor far more credit.

Plus, reading this longer piece, I realized that his prose is really kind of dense with philosophical musings about the nature of "being" and humanity and the soul. So I think I was confusing actual erudition with pretension. Not that there's nothing pretentious about writing a book about whether your brain-damaged acquaintance has a soul, but still, he's really thinking here, not just writing like he's thinking.

One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey fails mostly as a book, but very seriously as a romance novel (part of Harlequin's new Luna imprint, for fantasy romance). As a book: I knew exactly what was going to happen pages/days ahead of the characters at every turn. As a romance novel: there are NO MEN until more than 3/4 of the way through. WRONG!

I have a lot more to say about the one other book I read, Practially Perfect in Every Way, but it'll have to wait, because I want to think it over and get into it. I enjoyed it, though, and she's a good writer. I might, someday, read her magazine.

Welcome back from vacation!

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