Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I'm Watching, Reading, Writing...

On Books:
Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has been on my must-read list for almost a decade. I remember the buzz when it came out, when the author famously dissed Oprah. Ha!
I FINALLY got around to reading it and it was brilliant. Freaking BRILLIANT.
That said, as much as I was awed by his writing, I couldn't get into it for the first 100 or so pages primarily because I didn't like the characters. They appeared selfish, self-serving and bottom-line unlikeable. But as the story unfolds, as you delve into each characters childhood, their memories, their coping strategies, and how their shallow pschyes gain depth through the perspective their individual lives, the story becomes moving, disturbing, eye-opening, thought provoking and have I said brilliant? Even if the story of a dysfunctional family doesn't appeal to you, read it for the stunning writing.

I received Wm Paul Young's The Shack for my birthday from a very dear friend. I'd heard some buzz last year but wasn't interested enough to pick up the book. And truly, I didn't realize it was all about God, which would have sealed the deal on my avoidance. Don't get me wrong... I believe in God, not just the one who hates gay people and turns water to wine. I am, in despite of my disgust at organized religion, a very spiritual person. So... into The Shack I went with the dad of a kidnapped and murdered child to spend a weekend with the Holy Trinity.
Between the occassional eyeroll and chuckle, I admit to truly liking this book. Call it a right-time, right-place experience, but this book spoke to me, calmed me, made me open my eyes to a few things I'd firmly shut them against. The principle of the book -- relationships, acceptance, forgiveness -- were things I needed to hear, needed to feel...

The Shack, much like The Corrections, won't be for everyone, but each is cathartic to an open-minded reader.

On Movies:
Avatar. Wow. Was sceptical of the over-hype but WOW. Go for the visual brilliance.
The story is okay, nothing you've not seen before in countless other incarnations, but the world-building, the characters, the amazingness of Sam Worthington -- all worth the price of admission.

Sherlock Holmes. RDJ and Jude Law were magical together. Haven't seen bro-chemistry like that in a long time. I enjoyed this movie immensely, though it didn't give me that "OMG - this is the bestest movie evah!" feel like I got after seeing Iron Man.
But the story was excellent, the visuals spot-on (the close-ups, foreshadowing of clues - brilliant) and the acting superb. Can't wait for the sequel.

On Writing:
I finished a contemporary romance, currently titled A Taste for the Game, before Christmas and spent a good chunk of December querying agents. Nothing has come of that yet, beyond a few form rejections (ouch) so while I wait,... patiently, endlessly, obsessively checking email... I'm writing a new book. It's a stand alone, though it involves characters I introduced in A Taste for the Game, with the grand hope that if one sells, perhaps the other will.

I've been recently asked about my post-apocalyptic novel, Jump Zone. That one is still sitting on the shelf.
I will, eventually, dust it off, make some revisions to tighten the pacing (thanks to Eve Silver's pacing lecture!!) and get my querying hat on again. But the rejections (despite the great contest feedback - humpf) ... oh, they just overwhelmed me.
Also, in terms of a career strategy, it's best that I stick with contemporary until I have some level of success before I introduce my darker gloom on the world.

What are you watching/reading/writing?


Thomma Lyn said...

Hi, Wylie! I had a similar experience to you with The Corrections. I didn't like the characters much, but oh the writing -- simply stunning! And Franzen's adroitness at bringing the reader into the minds of his characters made them fascinating, if not likable. Yes, brilliant!

I haven't read The Shack, but after reading your description, I've put it on my to-read list. I'm not a fan of organized religion, either. Spirituality is cool; dogma and intolerance suck. But it sounds like despite the occasional eye roll (I would have them, too, I'm sure! :) ), The Shack has some excellent and positive messages for its readers.

And on writing: I hear you on the ick of rejection. I've decided to shelve Patchwork Stained Glass because of massive agent disinterest. But the relentless rejection has toughened my skin, and I have my hopes pinned on my novel-in-progress, Heart's Chalice, about which I'm very excited and enthusiastic.

Keep on keeping on, my friend! I'm excited that you've started a new book. And I'll keep my fingers crossed for A Taste for the Game! I thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

Julia Smith said...

I'm with you on Sherlock Holmes - definitely great bro-chemistry. I really like Guy Ritchie's stuff.

Haven't seen Avatar yet, but can't wait until I reverse that trend.

I've got a sing-off over at my blog which Hugh Jackman is currently winning. I've been in a musicals mood lately.

M. said...

"....introduce my darker gloom on the world."


Someone suggested 'The Shack' for my bookclub but I just couldn't deal with a story about child brutalization. Also why I haven't read 'The Lovely Bones'.

We are reading 'Halfbroke Horses', though, which I'm tearing through. It's semi-fictionalized memoir of an incredible woman.

If you like Guy Ritchie (I'm up and down with him) IMHO his best is 'Snatch'. Excellent black humor.

Wylie Kinson said...

Hiya M,
Both The Lovely Bones and The Shack were given to me as gifts, neither book would I have picked up myself for the same reason you mentioned. But I must say, in both books, the 'situation' is handled tastefully and un-nightmarish. And both were interesting reads.

LOVED Snatch. Ritchie's humor and talent with those quick choppy scenes make his movies delightfully unique.

Wylie Kinson said...

Julia and TL,
Thanks for stopping by. I voted in the sing-off, Julia, but I'm afraid I was alone in my love of Patrick Wilson.
TL - have you read anything else by Franzen? I'm interested to see if his other books are as brilliant.
Bummer about PSG (I really enjoyed the story -- it was intellegent and emotional) but understand that it may need more time before the marketplace is ready for it. Hopefully HC will make you BIG!!

Anonymous said...


Julia Smith said...

Wylie - my cousin voted for Patrick Wilson, too - not alone in hearting him, that's for sure. I love his version of If I Loved You.