July 20th, 2014

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Yesterday, I finished reading a book devoted to the details of role-playing gaming. Called Play Safe: How to Work Less, Play Harder and Add Stories to Your Games, it discusses certain concepts to avoid the gamemaster's frustrations when his players completely ignore work that had taken him hours to prepare. Oddly enough, the book in general describes how I run my games! It was nice to see my own techniques laid out in specific terms. Good for aspiring game runners.
by the sea

Book 141: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Book 141: The Shipping News.
Author: Annie Proulx, 1993.
Genre: Literary. Comedy/Drama. Relationships. Mature Themes.
Other Details: Paperback. 397 pages.

Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers – the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With ‘the aunt’ and his delinquent daughters – Bunny and Sunshine – in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama. ‘The Shipping News’ is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

I admit to being puzzled by the UK publisher describing this as a comedy. Certainly there are elements of dark comedy stemming from the eccentricity of some characters and the situations that arise, but I would label it more as a drama.

This was a reading group selection and one of those novels that I could appreciate for its writing style and content while not being particularly engaged with its characters. I did find that that the themes of loss, bereavement and coming to terms with major life changes were well executed. in addition, the setting of Newfoundland was extremely well realised. Although apparently set in the present (it was written in early 1990s) there was something very timeless about the maritime setting.

Unfortunately I was taken ill and missed the reading group meeting where it was discussed so have no idea how it was received. The film adaptation was shown on the BBC last weekend and it did give me a better appreciation of the novel as it was so well acted. The film did down-play the elements of sexual abuse though even in the novel this was not explicit but mainly mentioned in terms of various news stories carried by the Newfoundland paper that Quoyle was employed by. Pearl, Quoyle's wife, was also not quite the monster she was in the novel. While not my kind of novel I always appreciate that belonging to a reading group is about reading outside of one's comfort zone and on reflection I am certainly glad that I read it.

18: Stoner

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 18: Stoner
18 STONER John Williams (USA,1965)


The life of an undistinguished English professor struggling with a failed marriage and the resentment of a powerful colleague who intends to ruin his career.

Needless to say, Stoner is one of those depressing novels that makes you fear your life might turn out to be a failure as well.
I certainly enjoyed the contrast between the main character's outward and inward life. The former is reflected in his very last name, Stoner, while the latter is like a sea in constant motion.
Unfortunately, Williams' style does not live up to his ideas. I found that the writing tended to say either too little or too much, and ultimately failed to deliver some of the insights I expected from him.
Around the same time, a writer like Richard Yates was writing about similar issues, but in a more precise and perceptive manner than Williams.


Book 28- A Game of Thrones

28. Game of Thrones (graphic novel, vol.1) by George R.R. Martin. OK, when I ordered this, I didn't realize it wasn't the exhaustive novel. I was also warned that when I do get the novel, it's something around 700 pages- i.e., only get that one book. That said, how did I like my first foray into this wildly popular series? Let's put it this way: I'd only planned to read a bit of it before bed. Yeah. Next thing I know, it's well past midnight, but I finished it. Wow, what an amazing, detailed story. Looking forward to ordering more. It's tough keeping all the characters straight -- Martin has a pretty big world -- but I imagine with more familiarity it will get easier. I've never seen the HBO series, only stills, but I do like how the artists had their own take with the characters. The illustrations are gorgeous, I'm trying to think of a graphic novel done better. Marvel 1602 MIGHT compare, but that's the only one I can think of. There's just so much detail, both in the characters and backgrounds.

Currently reading: Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs, and Stayin' Alive, by Jefferson Cowie.