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Author Archive: "Venkman"

Michael Crichton Q&A

Michael Crichton fans chomping at the bit for their copy of his latest thriller, Next, will want to read the author's Q&A, which the publisher has supplied exclusively for Powells.com.

Here's a taste:

Have you been tracking the science of genetics for the last 15 years, watching it, seeing what's going on, and building a portfolio?

Actually, you know it's odd, I was very interested in it at the time of Jurassic Park, which now to my astonishment, was 15 years ago. But then I lost track of it a bit, so to return is to have this odd sense of coming into a world where so many things that were fictional 15 years ago are now taking place.

Next challenges the reader's sense of what is happening, what is true and what is invented. How much of what's in the book has already taken place?

It's odd but nearly everything in the book has already happened, or is about to happen. The book does look to the future a bit, particularly with regard to some transgenic animals that become important characters. But for the most part Next is

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Sweeping Depth Into the Dustpan

In response to Alexis's entry, "Are You Listening, Oprah?" LSJ commented:

I think some of the best written books in the world are for children, not adults.

I honestly can't agree more... except to add that some of the best pure storytelling can be found in children's and young adult's books.

Unfortunately, as we get older, I think it's pounded into our heads that our themes must be bigger and the language must be loftier, and the simple act of telling a good, strong story in an engaging way becomes forgotten entirely. Or is considered too simplistic a goal for a work of capital-L "Literature."

I would argue that a lot of the "bigger" themes in adult literature really aren't as profound as the authors and many critics would like us to believe. Burying a trite theme beneath acres of tangled, overly self-conscious prose doesn't actually make the theme more meaningful, does it?

When I look at the first paragraphs that Dave has posted on this very blog, I find myself thinking, No WONDER the Harry Potter books are so popular among adults!

I don't mean to pick on the authors of these two books — the same holds true for any number of titles that fill the New York Times Book Review each week. It's come to the point that I feel like much adult literature is actually an endurance test: Do you dare admit defeat?


This Is Your Brain on Blogs…

WARNING: If you're reading this, you may be depleting your IQ faster than marijuana use! So says an article about the problems of excessive Net use in the Register.

And when your parents catch you reading blogs in your bedroom, you can always cry, "I learned it by watching you, all right?! I learned it by watching you!"


Slow News Day

  • Time.com has a feature on the making of Syriana, the new film that purports to do for crude oil what Traffic did for the drug trade. The article describes how screenwriter/director Steven Gaghan (who won an Oscar for writing Traffic) developed his multi-character film from an anecdote in former CIA officer Robert Baer's book, See No Evil, and while meeting with Baer decided "that the ex-spy, who was once accused of trying to arrange the assassination of Saddam Hussein, was far better movie material than his book."
  • Time.com also offers a review of bestselling fantasy author George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows, the eagerly awaited fourth volume in his Song of Ice and Fire series. In addition to proclaiming him "the American Tolkien," the piece notes:

    Martin isn't the best known of America's straight-up fantasy writers. That honor would probably go to upstart Christopher Paolini (Eragon), or Robert Jordan (the endlessly turning Wheel of Time series), or better yet to ageless grandmistress Ursula K. LeGuin (A Wizard of Earthsea). But of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin

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Book Bits (and Bits of Books)

  • 'Tis the season for book awards. Fast on the heels of the National Book Award winners, the Canada Council of the Arts announced this year's Governor-General Literary Awards. The Fiction winner was A Perfect Night to Go to China by David Gilmour; the Nonfiction winner was The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant; Ann Compton won the Poetry Award for Processional; Children's Literature-Text went to Pamela Porter for The Crazy Man; the Children's Literature-Illustration Award was bestowed upon Rob Gonsalves for Imagine a Day (text by Sarah L. Thomson); and the award for Translation went to Fred A. Reed for Truth or Death: The Quest for Immortality in the Western Narrative Tradition. Congratulations, eh?
  • The Onion AV Club has an interview with Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, that has the distinction of being the first such interview I've seen that actually addresses the distinctive literary styles of Handler and Snicket in such questions as, "Your two adult novels have noticeably different narrative voices, and then Lemony Snicket has a third style. Was there a process to finding the

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We Don’t Make Misteaks

Correction: In yesterday's news post I indicated that Christopher Wilson's The Ballad of Lee Cotton, a 2005 Whitbread nominee, hadn't been published in the U.S. In fact, I was wrong; it is published on these shores, as Cotton (Harcourt). I regret the error. My fact-checking staff has been replaced.


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