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Friday, May 21, 2010

Sex and Love, Post-Millenium

For those of you who have children and feel bewildered or horrified by the increased sexualization of American children, do I have the essay for you. Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic wrote this amazing article about the evolution of sexual pressure on today's teenaged girls, and manages to tie it to literary theory (if only tangentially), as well as offer a great review of Anita Shreve's Testimony. I suggest you read both the essay and Ms. Shreve's book, both are enormously well-plotted and informative.

You can read the essay here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Will Prince of Persia be the best Video Game feature film adaptation yet?

By Misopogon

Question: Will Prince of Persia be the best Video Game feature film adaptation yet?

Answer: Most likely.

Reason being: Live-action film adaptations of video games have universally blown.

The first video game adaptation to film was Super Mario Bros. (1993), named to most lists of worst big-budget films in history. That set a precedent for films marketed toward the G.I. Joe audience, like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Doom and Laura Croft.

Among film adaptations of video games, the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating ever is 44%, given to Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within (a movie shot in the same animated studio as its games, and copies little more than style from its namesake video game). That mark, which is about the same level as Daredevil and The Golden Compass.

After FF, the next highest is 35 percent, for Mortal Kombat (1995). That's about the level of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or Terminator: Salvation. That is the best a video game-based movie has come.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

White noise of the mind

I've been reading David Lipsky's incredible book-length interview with DFW, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, and there was a lengthy passage in which DFW and Lipsky discuss their supposed TV addictions, and it got me thinking about television and its effects on writers.

When I was in college I didn't even own a TV, let alone watch much of it, so I don't have much to compare my current experience to, but in the last year or so I've noticed that I'm watching a lot more TV than I used to. I long ago figured out I can't read or write while the TV's on because it's too much like trying to focus while someone is talking to you. I always find my eyes drifting to the screen, or find myself losing my place or thoughts. But beyond that, I've begun feeling increasingly like my head is filled with white noise, and individual lines of thought are more and more difficult to discern, even when the TV is off.

In Lipsky's book, both DFW and Lipsky feel extremely uneasy about the effect TV has on their writing abilities, and given my own experience, it really has me wondering whether the attention-span-crippling effects of television do in fact hack away at the set of skills necessary to write, or comprehend, extended pieces of fiction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Writer Spotlight: Charles Dodd White

The region dubbed "Appalachia" is huge, covering portions of 13 different Southern and Eastern states, and yet the term itself calls to mind a series of distinct images: moonshine, feuding clans, homemade whiskey stills, and soul-crushing poverty and ignorance. Yet, while all of these images are correct insofar as any stereotype is partially correct, these are not at all the whole picture.

Here is where Charles Dodd White comes in. A brilliant writer from Asheville, NC, Mr. White portrays Appalachia in all her flawed glory, never shying away from the dark and sinister ("Confederates"), but certainly not dwelling exclusively on it. There is hope in his stories, and beauty, and bone-deep intelligence that doesn't come only from letters and mathematics, but also from the earth and mountains and from sitting alone in the woods long enough that you hear yourself echoing in the wind. Mr. White is an accomplished short story writer, whose works have been published in literary magazines like PANK, WORD RIOT, and Night Train. His ear for language and inuitive grasp of the nuances within silence make him the perfect literary representative for a region that is both mystifying, misunderstood, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.

I asked Mr. White a few questions about his past, his work, and the publishing industry. There are links to his website and some of his published works in the body of the interview. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gen X Grows Up

Here's a cool essay by A. O. Scott of the New York Times from last week that discusses the growing up of the generation that never grew up.

You can read the article here.