lhskarka: (Books)
Two highly touted OFFICIAL SEQUELS have made the news recently.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is due to be released next October. It was written by Dacre Stoker, a *gasp* genuine descendent of Bram Stoker, and Ian Holt, a Dracula Historian. It largely appears to be Mr. Holt's idea, as the current Mr. Stoker was previously known for being an Olympic Pentathalon coach, and not a writer. But what really got to me was this quote from the article:

"Dacre Stoker delved into his ancestor's handwritten notes on the original Dracula novel to pen his sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead - the original name for Dracula before an editor changed the title. The novel, out next October, draws on excised characters, existing character back-stories and plot threads that were cut from Stoker's original novel, first published 111 years ago."

Original notes or not, if these threads were cut from the novel, doesn't that indicate that the author discarded them? I thought that was part of the writing process - coming up with a lot of ideas and then streamlining them to create your story. I would actually be far more interested in seeing the notes themselves published in as complete a form as possible. (Unless they have been before, and I've just missed it?) At any rate, I just can't accept that this particular version of a Dracula sequel has any more literary legitimacy than any of the dozens of others that have been penned over the years, even with the Stoker family stamp of approval.

And then, a sequel to "The House at Pooh Corner" is due to be released later this year. An act which seems to be largely driven by money. The new author has plans to deal with an "older Christopher", as Milne "dropped hints in the 1928 book, which followed Winnie the Pooh (1924), that Christopher Robin was growing up." Isn't part of the point of the books that each child reading them gets to decide for themselves what happens as Christopher Robin grows up?

In "The House at Pooh Corner", A.A. Milne wrote this: "Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." Those seem like pretty telling last words on the subject.

Among many other works, H. Beam Piper wrote and published two novels in his "Little Fuzzy" series before committing suicide in 1964. Some years after his death, other authors (Fuzzy Bones (1981) by William Tuning and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey (1982) by Ardath Mayhar) tried to fill in the gaps and "complete" the series, only to be totally contradicted by Piper's own third complete manuscript, which was discovered and published in 1984. In Tuning's case, I don't even think that he wrote a bad book - it's just that he was proven not to have written the book that Piper would have. Which is pretty much my entire point.

There are huge debates in the art world about whether or not paintings and other artworks can ever be "restored" to their original appearance as envisioned by the artist. But how many people have picked up da Vinci's notebooks, or Van Gogh's sketches, or Andy Warhol's scribbles, and claimed that they have now produced new works that should be regarded as the next in a series of paintings, just as the artist intended?

Seems a bit daft, really. Why should it be different for authors?
lhskarka: (Books)
Recently finished reading $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better by Christopher Steiner.

Here he is, talking about it in a couple of clips.

Mr. Steiner is not an economic expert. (Rather, he is a staff writer for Forbes magazine, with a background in civil engineering and journalism.) And his outlook is very fluffy - or at least the way he writes about it is. One of the problems I had while reading is that he doesn't discuss alternative fuels until the very end of the book, while the earlier chapters detail what he thinks we'll have to give up at each permanent $2.00 rise in the price of gas. He took 2008 data as a model, and extrapolated possible world changes from there. Like the loss of most air travel at $8, and sushi in places where it really doesn't belong at $16. (Boo.)

I'd like to believe that some of the other things he predicts could actually happen, though, like fewer cars on the roads and high speed trains connecting major cities across the U.S. and a return to cleaner and healthier fertilizers for crops. But I think the process will end up being a lot more painful then Mr. Steiner seems to.

In the meantime, I'll be over here, recycling, trying to use less "stuff", and driving a fuel efficient car. Join me?

15 Books

Jun. 25th, 2009 04:11 pm
lhskarka: (Books)
I liked this meme, so I'm snagging it!

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

1) D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
2) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
3) Looking for Jake by China Mieville (short stories)
4) Deerskin by Robin McKinley
5) The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
6) Dracula by Bram Stoker
7) Beauty by Robin McKinley
8) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
9) Fairie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
10) The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
11) Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
12) Sandman by Neil Gaiman Don't try to tell me it isn't a novel.
13) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
14) The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart Yes, trilogy - there are ONLY 3 books!
15) The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot

Angry Now

Feb. 19th, 2009 12:40 pm
lhskarka: (Default)
Story (acquired via [livejournal.com profile] chernobylred) about children's books produced before 1985 now being illegal for resale because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China.

Apparently, because there are trace elements of lead in the inks used to print some picture books pre-1985, we are now supposed to be concerned about vast numbers of children EATING vast numbers of children's books and getting lead-poisoning.

The New Book Banning

It's funny, but I seem to recall being raised with a great many picture books that were printed before 1985, and both my sister and I are still alive. Hmmmm...

While the law as it stands currently means that used book stores and secondhand shops may be prohibited from selling these books, the American Library Association has determined that until they are told otherwise, it does not apply to library collections, since they are not selling the books, and at least the last time I worked in a children's library, were also fairly active in discouraging people from eating them!!!! (The law will, however, probably play havoc with library book sale donations.)

Somebody really wasn't thinking when they wrote this damned thing. Phooey.

UPDATE: Additional link in the form of a guide to the CPSIA for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities.

Here's hoping that an offical review of the regulations by slightly-less-panicky-morons will help.
lhskarka: (Books)
Today I am indulging in one of my favorite exercise programs - reshelving books. There's bending and stretching and lifting and walking and pushing heavy objects. When I used to do this sort of thing 20 hours a week, I was in much better shape than I am now. I've missed it. Plus, I am a chronic book-truck browser, so if a new book or two hasn't wandered back to my desk with me by the end of the day, I will be very surprised.

I've also come to realize recently that the longer I work in libraries, the less I view books as physical objects, and the more I see them as the ideas they contain.

Which means that the objects themselves can pass through my hands, leave, and come back again when I want them. Instead of being stored in boxes, rarely looked at, and hauled back and forth across the country "just in case" I need them - yes, guilty as charged. Did I mention that I have a bit of a hoarding problem? (Also a long-standing disappointment at the fact that a number of people who have the same interests as I do also seem to constitute a large percentage of the people who steal books from libraries - but that's another story, and can be told another time.) So this is a fairly revolutionary idea for me personally.

My newfound attitude doesn't apply to all my books. Some I can't replace, some have individual sentimental value, and some I just love so much that I'd have to keep them out on permanent loan. Those all need to stay. The rest though, the rest can travel. If I need them again, they'll come back.

Just another reason why I love libraries.

Libraries = freedom from stuff!
lhskarka: (Books)
"Here are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you looksmart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish."

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion

Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King

The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)

The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince

The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon

Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down

Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences

White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Apparently, I either read a book or I don't, as I didn't have anything italicized. And I was a bit surprised to see that Neil Gaiman has three books on this list. I mean, yay for people thinking that reading Gaiman makes them well-read, but what exactly makes his novels so intimidating that people don't actually READ them?


Dec. 7th, 2006 12:57 pm
lhskarka: (Books)
Finally finished "The Honest Courtesan" by Margaret F. Rosenthal. Whew! I'm kind of embarrased that it took so long for me to read. All I can say in my defense is 1) I've been busy for the last few months, and 2) It's a thesis. So it reads like...a thesis.

The most interesting sections are the (of course) last two, where Ms. Rosenthal examines the way that Franco wrote poetry in her own defense, first during her trial for heresy, and then socially during her two-year exile from Venice. Veronica used the rhetorical styles of Ovid's Heroides and Amores to turn the image of herself as courtesan from deceitful whore to a woman of honorable and honest fidelity by changing his traditional elegiac verse from a positition of male moral superiority to one centered on the lamenting female voice. It may not sound like much by our current standards, but for a woman to have been able to publish such works during the Renaissance, when a majority of women were being steadily pushed farther and farther away from the seats of intellect and discovery they had been privy to during the Middle Ages, it's a pretty big deal. She wasn't even tried for heresy a second time. :)

Also read: "Lost New York" (2000 ed.) by Nathan Silver. This one's research for the novel. It's full of black and white photos of old New York neighborhoods and buildings that no longer exist, with blurbs about where they were, and how they were lost. The coolest/weirdest thing about it for me was looking at photos of street intersections where I have been, and seeing how different they were 100 or 50 or even 10 years ago. And since the book was published in 2000, it was also a bit bizarre to read his passage about the B-25 Bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945, which finished with this statement: "It takes the work of aliens using special effects, as in the 1996 film 'Independence Day', to guarantee a complete destruction job."...*shudder*


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