NEW WKAR Book Review: John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries

Current StateI got a really big kick out of getting this book in the mail for review. I always enjoy John Irving and today on WKAR’s Current State I reviewed his latest, Avenue of Mysteries.

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-john-irvings-avenue-mysteries

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

You can snag a copy of Irving’s latest novel here on Amazon.com If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

Advertisements

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2015

Downton Abbey Season 3You always got the feeling that Julian Fellowes was winging it with Downton Abbey.

Oh, for the first season and the spectacular second season he knew exactly what he was aiming for and doing (I’ve written about the show a few times on this site, like here), but for all the years after that there was this general feeling (at least for me) of someone improving on a world stage. (“Do you like this? No? Maybe this? Okay, we’ll do this for a bit.”) And whenever he hits a roadblock, he jumps forward in time; like a reset button.

I’ve been watching the new season and while I felt everything after the second season was pretty weak, this final year is just… okay, I have to say, boring and lazy.

There. I said it. And I feel so better afterwards. Is Fellows so done with his juggernaut that he just wants it over? There is no real action or point so far to the season. He erases major plot points with a simple conversation (this is where the lazy bit comes in, things just happen and life moves on), and nothing really seems to move forward. Soap operas are not this bad. In a way, the show has almost become a parody of itself.

There are things I will always like about Downton Abbey (some of the characters, the period it is taking part) and things I will never understand (the series has jumped forward about 20 years since it’s beginning and no one has freaking aged!), but at least, for all its faults, it was in the hands of Fellows and he is a really good screenwriter.

Now, I just see him as a good screenwriter who is very tired. A lot of fans are going to be very disappointed. I hate to say it, but it’s true. Maybe the second half of the final season will erase my concerns, but right now I see it going out with something less than a grand whimper- a reluctant shrug.

Okay, onto five things I am actually enjoying right now. Continue reading

4 Dreams of Little Consequences

dreamingDream #1

Lorne Michaels was mad at me and I had no idea why.

I had two assignments to write for this upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live. Just two, and they were good ideas. So good! When I pitched them at the writing table, everyone laughed. We were already acting out possibilities for the bits right there at the table! It was a good and friendly vibe. So I figured I was safe for the week, sure to have my first draft in the head writer’s hands by Thursday.

Which begs the question, why was Lorne, the great producer of SNL, upset with little ol’ me?

The first skit was such a great idea that there was a strong possibility it might open the show! It was so easy to pitch, so easy to imagine. Basically, the premise was what if the founding fathers of our country were like the political pundits on Fox News.

You see, a funny idea?

Now it was the second idea that I really loved since it was a Game of Thrones parody. What if Cersei Lannister joined the local PTA? So you have all these typical Midwest women dealing with the problem of planning a bake-off and Cersei is drinking wine at the table and threatening all of their children.

Why, why, why was Lorne angry with me?

I first heard he was upset from one of the cast members. I brushed it off initially since his gossip was always unreliable. But when I heard it from another cast member (a much more reliable one) then I began to worry. God, I needed this job. This job was my life. (Being a writer on SNL doesn’t really give you a chance to have a life, so this was it.)

The e-mail from Lorne’s office came to my inbox on Wednesday morning and I slowly trudged down the hall. I sat in the waiting room (which looked strangely liked the waiting room at a hospital; all white, even the secretary looked like a nurse). I hung my head and wondered what, what, what!?!, did I do? Continue reading

What I Learned From Having a Literary Agent

Snoopy Attempting The DreamFor five years, my books were represented by a big agency out of New York City. While I don’t want to name any names, I think I can safely say that this agency has a long history and has been associated with such writers as Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, and John Irving. (Yeah, I have two degrees of separation between my books and Scout!) Their clients are a who’s who of writing over the last one hundred years and as a writer and literature buff I could not have been more thrilled.

Thrilled? No, let me correct that.

I bragged! I gloated! I patted myself on the back every chance I got! I was big man on literary campus and it was only a matter of time before everyone knew my name. Start preparing the Booker prize trophy now… Wait, do they do a trophy? Or is it a medal? I have no idea (if it’s just a certificate that would be lame).

There is this wonderful Hollywood dream for artists that when someone of importance finds their work that suddenly everything is going to be streets of gold from then on and all the hard work is over. (Remember “The Standard Rich and Famous” contract in The Muppet Movie?) Well, I fell for that dream hook, line and sinker; and over the five years I was signed with this agency my career was stagnant.

Those five years are never going to come back. Continue reading

Adapting One’s Precious: Why most new novelists should personally avoid adapting (or thinking about) the inevitable screenplay

It’s always funny to me how often, when speaking with new novelists, that they are already planning the movie version of their “epic”… sometimes even before they finish the book.

We are a very film-focused society and it is hard to escape the world of movies, especially for someone excited for the world to embrace their first major story. What can I say? We writers are nerds and we want everyone to love us and think of us as popular. Movies are the “cool table” in the lunchroom; novels are the table near the library.

Oh, you are different? You never imagined a certain actor playing one of your characters? Reading one of your lines?

Yes, the dream of adaptation can be like a drug for a writer and, like a drug, dangerous; since it can effect how you write your novel. The fact is each of the storytelling mediums are different with different pros and cons, and if you allow yourself to think too much about, for example, movies while writing a book it can limit the possibility of the book.

How are the storytelling mediums different? Well, let me explain: Continue reading