Here's the challenge: commit to reading 50 books and watching 50 movies in the next year! (Find out more...)
Courtesy of Tanya | Green Paw Paw | Originally posted 5.13.2012
No, I’m not talking about Metallica.
Even though I’ve been reading other books in between, I’ve really been going through a whole Neil Gaiman phase. It started when I let talks of how I would love this guy, how his writing was nothing like I’d ever read before, how positively awesome he is get to me. So I finally picked up Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett (who I have yet to read). And then I read Neverwhere. Next on the list – The Graveyard Book.
So, do I love him? Yes.
Does he write like anybody else I know? No.
Is he absolutely, positively awesome? Beyond a doubt.
Why, then, have I been avoiding Sandman? Erm.
Quite honestly, I don’t know. Usually, when I hear about a graphic novel, I look up the premise, get excited, and find some way to
devour read it. And I’ve loved every single graphic novel that I’ve read to date (well, except Blankets). So, you’d expect me to jump up and down like a crazy Oompa-Loompa at the mention of a marriage between Neil Gaiman and the glorious art of storytelling that is the graphic novel, yes? No.
Before I read Volume #1, if you said the word “Sandman”, I’d picture a weird hybrid of the sand man/monster from that pathetic excuse for a superhero movie (*cough* Spiderman 3) and the actual Sandman (the dream kind) from a Powerpuff Girls episode. Does anybody remember that one? Creepy guy in striped pajamas? Broken teeth? Can you blame me for not wanting to read it, especially when Neil Gaiman can disturb the hell out of you without even trying?
I was re-arranging books in the store, and it was the comic section’s turn. Tentatively, I picked up the first volume. Turned a few pages. Started reading. Finished reading. My shift had gotten over, and I had stayed for two extra hours. Without even noticing. Lucky for me, it had been a slow day.
I was expecting it to be a whole lot of things. I was expecting the Sandman himself to be a lot of things. What I wasn’t expecting was this.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, may I introduce you to Dream a.k.a Morpheus a.k.a The Sandman- King of Dreams, and one of The Endless – He Who Wears Black T-Shirts And Leather Jackets And Does So Many Things That Leave You Blubbering Like An Idiot And You Want To Cry In Frustration Because You Don’t Know Him Personally And/Or You Want To Be Like Him?
If you’ve read my reviews (if you can call them that) of Good Omens and Neverwhere, you’ll know that I have a problem with how they both end. That I was craving that staring-blankly-at-the-wall-with-the-what-the-hell-just-happened feeling that I thought each book deserved. With the Sandman series, Gaiman hits that feeling on the head with every issue. I’ve read four volumes so far, I’m just starting the fifth (I’m not sure how many issues that translates to and I’m too lazy to check, forgive me), and it leaves me gaping like a fish every five minutes. That man is a genius, and I don’t use that term lightly. He’s a factory of ideas, producing them in such overwhelming detail that I’m half grateful that he exists and writes like he does and half extremely jealous of his ability to.
And the illustration! *high-pitched scream* Yow! I loved the first two volumes more than the others so far, but all of them are incredible. They’ve got to be, anything less and the whole series would come crumbling down.
They’re addictive, these books. And even though you want to just gobble them all up, you realise how important it is to stop – and savour every panel, every moment you spend reading. I can stare at Morpheus’ cloak for a whole ten minutes. And after every few pages, you are forced to pause, shut the book, and think. Because this is not just a book. They are not just stories. Oh, no. You get the feeling that something of consequence is happening. That these books are changing something inside you, somehow. That you have to acknowledge the change, lest it slip away and forever be lost to you. That the way you see things is going to be very different the moment you accept that tentacle the books are extending to you and all that the invitation implies.
You know how people sometimes ask you if there was one book/book-series that you could read for the rest of your life – that and nothing else – which book(s) you would choose? And you think, “What? What is wrong with you? I can’t pick a favourite, go eat some cabbage and stop asking me these rubbish questions”? Yeah, well. I’d choose Sandman.
While I've seen some pretty good movies this year, with many more months to go, I can go ahead and anoint Moonrise Kingdom as my favorite film of 2012. I already gushed about it in last month's Stuff I've Been Consuming but since I just re-watched Moonrise, I can safely give it a double thumbs up. The first time around I just experienced it, trying to soak everything in. The second viewing I tried to pay attention and parse out exactly what it was that sucked me in. Here's a short list. And please, for the love of everything, just go see this thing already so I can stop soapboxing.
Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. The casting of these two were so good. I consumed every interview I could find online. I just had to know more about them. Neither had acted professionally before, can you believe that? Both were around twelve when they shot the film and they look like actual kids, especially Jared. He's a total dork but not of the type we normally see in movies. Gilman's character is prepubescent, totally oblivious in his uncoolness, yet totally assured. Kara's face is amazing. Beautiful and expressive but in an awkward way that is reflected in her slight gawkiness and imperfect symmetry. They seem wonderfully real and endearing, as actors and characters. Plus, what's the last movie like this featuring middle schoolers, Bridge to Terabithia?
First Loves. Watching Moonrise has to make you think of puppy loves. The intense feeling that you'd do anything for the other person, even run away from everything you know. There's so much (painful) sweetness in it. It ain't never gonna be this good again. Except in the movies.
Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. This is a for real thing! I assumed Benjamin Britten was fictional but indeed he is not. here's a great post from Framescourer, "The Moonrise Kingdom of Benjamin Britten," with some history and videos of the whole bit. Wonderful stuff.
Khaki Scouts. Hanging in my closet right now is a Cub Scout shirt from my younger days. I was a Webelos Scout and while I'm not sure exactly what the differentiation was, I just remember all the random skills we had to learn. Tying knots, making fires, archery, fishing, kayaking, all these outdoor things I would never be associated with now. Watching Sam Sandusky use his wilderness skills to survive brought me way back. Man, I hope my uniform still fits!
Binoculars. Suzy's superpower of seeing with her binoculars struck a chord with me. Mainly because I recently purchased a pair for bird watching. Her binoculars made me feel less creepy about owning a pair. I'm not stalking, I'm superpowering.
One-liners. I could quote this movie all day. And I probably will for awhile. I won't ruin it for you though. Oh hell, if you're reading this far you saw the movie already. The "who's the say" line absolutely kills me. I rarely laugh out loud at movies and I was pretty much giggling throughout Moonrise. "I love you but you have no idea what you're talking about."
Suzy's Books. Wes Anderson made animated shorts introducing some of the fake books Suzy takes with her when she runs away. The titles, the artwork, the excerpts, all of them are so great. I would pay good money to have these as actual books. If Anderson wrote them himself I demand he pause whatever he's doing to finish the homage slash parodies. Seriously, the few lines from these are better than most of the stuff I've read this year. I feel like these would win those first page contests hands down. Publishers, get Wes on the phone.
"Meanwhile on the plains of Tabitha, Francine rested. There would be another time for war."[Crossposted from www.jonyang.org]
-The Francine Odysseys-
"I don't believe in magic. I used to but once I started taking introduction to life science with Mr. Mathy, I realized the logical explanation for practically every mystery in the world was even more interesting than a supernatural one. Auntie Lorraine wouldn't agree. Of course that's no surprise. She's a professional witch hunter."
-The Return of Auntie Lorraine-
Norah Ephron passed away a few weeks ago and even though I'd never read any of her books, I was a fan of her work. After all, who hasn't seen When Harry Met Sally? While she didn't direct that one, she did write and produce it. Ephron did helm many other movies, including Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia. While some might call them sappy, others would call them fantastic romantic comedies. In fact, Harry Met Sally set the standard there didn't it?
I don't need to recap who Norah Ephron is, as there's been a slew of tributes about her. What I did want to share is how wonderful her collection of essays are. Until recently I'd never read her work, even though I knew I would love them. Her smart observations and hilarious voice are right up my alley. If you like Fran Lebowitz and Joan Didion, you'll like Ephron. I whipped through I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman in one sitting and am now actively seeking out her older collections.
- From Sharp Edges to Sugary Success and Back
- Seeing Nora Everywhere
- A Farewell to Nora Ephron, Dish by Dish
- Nora Knows What to Do (2009)
And if you find yourself enjoying Ephron, may I recommend Jancee Dunn too? I stumbled upon But Enough About Me: How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet at a used bookstore years ago and fell in love with Dunn's writing from that moment on.
Also, if you're short on movies and want to get some quality stuff in, may I suggest Nicole Holofcener's work as companion pieces to Ephron? Start with Please Give or Lovely & Amazing. I just wrapped up Walking and Talking and am still percolating on where I think that ranks in Holofcener's oeuvre. Her films are talky and low key, and Catherine Keener, Holofcener's muse, is always fantastic.