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Showing posts from September, 2012

Review of Alice Hoffman's The River King

The River King by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book by Alice Hoffman I have ever read, and from reading the other reviews, I see that some of my problems with the book are generally found in all of her works. The River King is truly splendid story telling, but suffers from an over-abundance of Omniscience. The first half of the book is a wonderful example of a well-done omniscient narrator, but it seems to come apart at the scenes after the body is found in the river. I have a prejudice against a lot of description, but I will say that Hoffman's prose makes the endless details bearable. Her characters are very well done, created authentically. These people seem real, if not terribly sympathetic. I don't have an inherent need to like the characters I read about, which is a helpful quality when reading The River King. I enjoyed the book overall and I liked exposing myself to a new author's voice. I doubt I will read more of Hoffman's work, but …

Capturing a Moment in Time

The old cliche "write what you know" has been spat upon by many writers, particularly those of us inclined toward sci-fi and fantasy. I imagine the phrase, inarticulate as it is, caught on because it gives an impression of what every writer should be aiming for, but is easier to say and remember than: "Craft an air of authenticity in your work."

I bring this up because I was startled into a memory this morning while reading Roger Ebert's review of a documentary called How to Survive a Plague, which detailed the rise of AIDS from 1980 to 1996. It just so happened that 1996 was the year in which I wrote a short story about a young boy who has AIDS from a blood transfusion and how his friends (girls, for some reason) rally around him and help him become homecoming king. I don't remember the details of the story; I didn't even remember I wrote the story until today. But after reading Ebert's review of the documentary, I started recalling my English teac…

Great Movies About Writing

Whoever said television rots your brain was surely speaking out of ignorance. Yes, in these modern times of reality television and endless movie sequels, there is a lot of opportunity for terrible cinematic experiences. But then there are truly great movies and television series. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than to find a great film about writing—combining the best of both worlds. My list is confined to movies I have actually seen; if you haven't seen them, allow me to recommend that you do.

What are your favorite writing movies?

Stranger Than Fiction

Harold is going about his daily life when suddenly he starts hearing narration in a woman's voice. As it turns out, he is a real person that an author (also real) is writing about, even though the two have never met. If that seems a strange premise, allow me to convince you how wonderful this movie is. In addition to showing a writer in an authentic sense, it also tells a wonderful story of the connection that exists …