Archive for January, 2011

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The Fine Art of the Spoiler Alert

January 29, 2011

First of all, Twin Brother, perish the thought that I have lost interest in either a) this book and b) our blog-based conversation or c) all of the above. Because, of course I have lost interest only in d) none of the above.

Admittedly, I am not quite as far as you, but after getting through my Chapter 3 malaise of nothing really happening–and picking up a few other books that stole away my attention–I got back into the book, and you are correct things do pick up. The introduction of Lelache was like a well timed teaspoon of flour (or cornstarch–choose your own thickening agent) into a watery soup and really helped to thicken the plot.

(I was using a soup metaphor there. While it was mostly a tete-a-tete between Haber and Orr we were dealing with a bland consomme, but now with the introduction of Lelache we’ve got thick hearty stew! Sorry, I might be a little hungry as I write (for stew!) is that showing in this post?)

I feel like this is a topic we’ve discussed before, but as a reader who is perpetually behind you in books (until I speed past you at the end to finish before you) I think in a refresher in the basics of the “Spoiler Alert” works might be useful.

In your previous post you let tell of a rather significant plot point and follow it with the warning “Spoiler Alert.” That would be like me saying:

Rosebud’s a sled **Spoiler Alert**

or

The entire 7th season of Dallas was a nightmare that Pamela was having–**Spoiler Alert**

For a “Spoiler Alert” to be effective it should come prior to relating the event. So for example:

**Spoiler Alert** This is blog post is finished **Spoiler Alert**

Bye!

Justin

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Alien: Reimagined

January 26, 2011

I imagine it must be hard when an author gets to that part in their sci-fi book when they have to come up with a description of an alien being.  How do you not sound derivative from the classical conception of the alien as the “little green man” (I’m looking at you, Great Gazoo!–who, by the way, was voiced by Harvey Korman!  I had no idea).  Le Guin takes the novel (ha ha…novel!), and I think brave, approach of making her alien an elbow talker:

It stood quite still, near Haber’s desk.  Very slowly it raised its left arm, pointing at him a metallic, nozzled instrument. … A flat, toneless voice came out of the elbow joint, “Do not do to others what you wish others not to do to you.”

Unexpected, right?  But it’s awkward that the alien bungled the Golden Rule.  If you’re going to invade a planet [peaceably–spoiler alert!] then you should probably at least do some research on their Golden Rule. As that sage of anti-dandruff shampoo, Head and Shoulders, so aptly put it, “You Never Get A Second Chance to Make A First Impression”

 

Exactamundo!

Well twin brother I’m getting into the final stretch of this book…I’m hoping to be done by the end of month (or at least early February). I have an idea for the next book!

Are you still reading this book? Are you still enjoying conversing with me via blog?

Until next time,
Jon

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Stuff Happens

January 20, 2011

Oh you want some action huh?  Just wait until Chapter 7.  In Chapter 7 you can’t stop the action.

1st piece of action in Chapter 7:  We find out what year this story takes place.  It’s 2002.  My question, if it’s really 2002 where’s the Internet (plot holes!).

2nd piece of action in Chapter 7:  The world ends.  Or rather Orr tells us that the world actually ended in 1998 and the only “reality” they know now is a dream.  Once again this does not take into account the Internet.  Would someone please explain the Internet to me…I find it all very confusing.

But I didn’t really find any of that compelling.  What I want to talk about is Orr talking.

First though I should apologize for my lax posting recently.  I just got over a French disease of the soul. (Ba dump bum bing!  That’s kind of an inside joke between me and Heather Lalache–you had to be there).  Actually I was reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for another book club, and well that book is very, very long (and I procrastinated).

But excuses aside….let’s move onto the way Orr talks.   Let me quote a piece of Orr-ian dialogue:

I’m all right.  It’s just mumble mumble get sleepy.

Here’s another:

Mumble mumble Sunday.

Now my question is are these “mumble mumble”s supposed to denote Orr mumbling?  Or is he saying aloud the words “mumble mumble” each time?  In my experience when people mumble it rarely sounds like “mumble mumble” (It sounds more like “mmmrrrsmmigg”) and yet these “mumble mumble”s are definitely found within the quotation marks–so they are not stage directions but actual quotations.  Which then leads to the next question of whether Orr has a very onomatopoetic mumble or does he just say “mumble mumble” when he wants to play his hand close to the chest?

That’s what I’ve been puzzling over.  What I’m not puzzling over is what Heather Lelache’s last name means in French…it’s coward (she tells us)…so I wonder how that will play into the story.

I had a dream the other night that every time I tried to talk a ball of Silly Puddy or Play-doh came out of my mouth instead of words.  When I woke up I sure was happy that my dreams don’t alter reality.  Because that would have been gross.  It was pretty gross in the dream.

Off for more reading!

Until next time,

Jon

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Is It Me Or Is There Something Missing Here?

January 10, 2011

Like a plot?

Fear not, Twin Brother, your dreams have not yet started changing the future. (Well, except your dream of becoming a librarian. That’s changing the future. For students. But in a positive way. And that was more of an aspirational dream as opposed to a sleeping dream, so it’s probably not applicable.) I’ve been meaning to read more of The Lathe, but I’ve been completely immersed in the late 1970s New York (as opposed to futuristic Oregon) reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids. It was a pretty amazing book, but now I am finished, and I’m back to reading about Mount Hood sized horse poops and crazy dream manipulation (also know as The Lathe of Heaven.)

Anyway, what was a saying…something about something being missing from this little novel of ideas…

That’s right: A Plot.

It seems so far that this book is made up episode after episode of Orr’s sessions with Dr. Haber. And while some interesting hints are being dropped about a futuristic Portland, I am still looking for the point. What’s the story? (By the way, I found your mentioned of aliens a promising development from a plot perspective, but quite frankly I had already gotten my dander up about a lack of a plot so, I decided to just run with it.)

So, while I hold out hope that things will be getting more interesting as the book progresses, right now I’m fighting the distraction of other more plot-driven reading.

Oh, by the way, congrats on the hundred books. Rather than being intimidated by it I am rather impressed. Well, enough back-patting. Time for more reading.

Justin

 

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I Dreamed A Dream

January 8, 2011

Last night I had this crazy dream…CRAZY!!!!!!! (All those exclamation points…must be pretty crazy).

Anyhow…In my dream I’m sitting on my couch reading Lathe of Heaven and all of a sudden the phone rings (this is how I know its a dream– my real phone doesn’t ring so much as sound like a pinball machine).  I pick it up and on the other end of the line is you, my twin.  I get really excited (just like when you call in real life ohboyohboyohboy) and I start telling you about this exciting book I’m reading and you say, “Lathe of Heaven, huh?  Never heard of it.”

Did I change reality Justin?  Are you not posting because my dream made it so that you’ve never heard of this book???  Or is it because you were intimidated by my megalist of books read in calendar year 2010?

Whatever the reason…I just finished chapter six.  Chapter six opens up with a description of Orr’s pre-Haber living situation that I must draw your attention to.  Here goes…

He perfectly remembered his other flat, of course, the one-room 8 1/2 x 11 with the pullout stove and the balloonbed and co-op bathroom down the linoleum hall, on the eighteenth floor of the Corbett Condominium tower, which had never been built. (72).

That was pretty subtle…you may have missed what I wanted to highlight.  So let me zoom in on the pertinent part of that description:

balloonbed

I can’t decide whether to be delighted or terrified by the concept of a balloonbed…I’d say my gut instinct is to be equal parts both.  At once it sounds very comfy, but balloons can be dangerous and I’m an open-mouthed sleeper.

Also in chapter six we see the advent of the aliens (spoiler alert: they’ve colonized the moon)….we’re in full-tilt genre sci-fi now!

Oh and one more thing…in chapter six Orr justifies continuing to go see Haber, although he knows Haber is manipulating and wielding his dreams as a weapon to shape the present, because if he doesn’t continue the sessions he’ll have to go to jail.  But if he did get sent to jail wouldn’t he be likely to dream of his days of freedom and then bam! there he is back enjoying all that futuristic Portland has to offer.

Just a thought.

Anyhow, it’s late so I’m signing off….to sleep, perchance to dream.

Jon

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BookIt Achieved, Or Happy New Year!

January 1, 2011

At around 5:30 yesterday afternoon, December 31, 2010 I finished Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan and officially achieved my Adult BookIt Goal of reading 100 books in 2010.  In case you’re interested (I can’t imagine how you couldn’t be interested) here’s the list:

Jon’s 2010 Reading List

  1. Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
  2. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
  3. A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Christina Nehring
  4. Far Arden by Kevin Cannon
  5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  7. For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
  8. Far North by Marcel Theroux
  9. Digital Literacy for Technical Communication: 21st Century Theory and Practice by Rachel Spika
  10. Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
  11. The Broken Teaglassby Emily Arsenault
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  13. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsessionby Julie Powell
  14. Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
  15. Bryant and May on the Loose by Christopher Fowler
  16. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie Di Donna
  17. The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
  18. Invisible by Paul Auster
  19. Point Omega by Don Delillo
  20. Still Life by Louise Penny
  21. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  22. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  23. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  24. About a Mountain by John D’Agata
  25. Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts edited by Michael Taeckens
  26. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
  27. Eating Animalsby Jonathan Safran Foer
  28. The Bronte Projectby Jennifer Vandever
  29. White Noise by Don Delillo
  30. Lincoln by Gore Vidal
  31. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  32. A View from the Bridgeby Arthur Miller
  33. The Spellmans Strike Againby Lisa Lutz
  34. The Americansby Robert Frank
  35. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  36. Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering by Mya Poe, Neal Lerner, Jennifer Craig, and James Paradis
  37. Sonata Mulattica: Poems by Rita Dove
  38. Ford County by John Grisham
  39. The Vintage Caperby Peter Mayle
  40. I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
  41. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro
  42. Stitches by David Small
  43. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  44. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak
  45. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
  46. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  47. Effective Blogging for Libraries by Connie Crosby
  48. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  49. The Humbling by Philip Roth
  50. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
  51. Schrodinger’s Ball by Adam Felber
  52. Snapshots in History’s Glare by Gore Vidal
  53. Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace
  54. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  55. Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow
  56. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno
  57. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
  58. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  59. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  60. Death in the Fifth Position by Gore Vidal
  61. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution edited by Wally Lamb
  62. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  63. The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz
  64. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  65. The Uses of Digital Literacy by John Hartley
  66. Room by Emma Donoghue
  67. Speak Low: Poems by Carl Phillips
  68. The Danger Box by Blue Balliett
  69. The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
  70. C by Tom McCarthy
  71. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
  72. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  73. Big Machine by Victor LaValle
  74. Service for Two by Kate Kingsbury
  75. Exley by Brock Clarke
  76. So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
  77. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
  78. Scott Pilgrim vs. The Worldby Bryan Lee O’Malley
  79. The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare
  80. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  81. The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  82. Ruined by Lynn Nottage
  83. Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
  84. Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews
  85. The Fever by Wallace Shawn
  86. Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home by Susan Hill
  87. Homage to Mistress Bradstreet by John Berryman
  88. The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
  89. The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  90. Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

 

If I had to pick my favorites, which I don’t, but which I’ll do anyway I’d say Logicomix (#17), A Single Man (#27), Lincoln (#32), Contested Will (#43), The Age of Wonder (#47), C (#76), Exley (#83), The 39 Steps (89), and The Housekeeper and the Professor (#94)

Three cheers for goals attained!

This year’s reading goal:  Catch up on New Yorkers.  Actual date, Jan, 1, 2011…New Yorker date April 2010.  Off to read some “Talk of the Town”!

Jon