Friday, July 5, 2013

JOYLAND by Stephen King

If you like Stephen King, here's a glimpse of his latest novel, JOYLAND. Typical of King's flair for story, King delves into this light-hearted tale with humor. I found the opening chapter hilarious and not sure why none of the reviews mentions how funny this story really is.
As a book collector, I'd get this book just for its nostalgic pulp fiction style cover, but when I read an excerpt, I knew I had to have it for the story too. The setting is North Carolina, 1973 featuring a student, an amusement park carny who discovers a murder mystery. Reminicent of New York's Coney Island for me, which would have also been a great setting, this tale seems to have all the makings of a good read.

What I really like about Stephen King is how he handles or even defies a genre. It's all about feeling for King, and if you read my previous post about mixing genres, King's writing is an excellent example of that. Of all the major writers, King has influenced me the most with his writing style and I think that's apparent in my own novel at just about every turn. Hey, if you're going to learn and emulate a writer, it may as well be Stephen King.

I've always been a fan of King and especially enjoy stories such as: The Green Mile, Carrie, Misery, and Duma Key. If you'd like to see a breakdown on the Book Teaser for Duma Key, click on this link to BookTeasersPub to see this very effective book teaser in action and the reasons (a deconstruction) why it works so well.

These classic Stephen King stories have great drama, substance, and plenty of surprises. If there's one thing you can expect from a King story, is that it will be full of unexpected moments. One of my favorites being the scene in The Green Mile (movie) where a prisoner (Michael Duncan) exhales a swarm of bees in an apparent effort to rid himself of something evil. This is truly an unforgettable story for many reasons.

And when it comes to fascinating stories, "Stephen King" is all you need to know, and that's why his name is always bigger than the book title folks. I think that says it all.

Joyland certainly seems like a fun ride. Available June 4. Can't wait to get it.

Check out the Book Teaser:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

Okay folks, here's a new novel by Kate Atkinson that seems to be taking off into the stratosphere, maybe into the afterlife. Good for Ms. Atkinson. I'm always a sucker for this kind of story, although I'm only commenting on this novel and not reviewing the story. And yes, I realize my comments are a review of sorts, an inadvertant promotion, so to speak.

But who really cares? If you like a story idea, by all means reward its author. We all know how hard it is to come up wth original concepts. So here goes. First things first. The title. Search this title and you'll obviously get many other non fiction books by the same title, relating to the afterlife.

I thought Life After Life was non fiction too, and after reading Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D. several weeks ago, I thought LAF was along those same lines, but it's a novel, and that means the story could be be about anything. And guess what? This book is about maybe too many things, but somehow it still works for me. You'll notice this novel has garnered mostly good reviews (by open-minded readers) on Amazon. That being said, it also has about 45 One-Star reviews from readers who hated it. I think it's safe to clasify these readers as "literary purists".

They're just not having it. All the weird plot structure and unusual back and forth, as in "not moving the story forward" kind of writing, which delivers too much backstory early on and mixing the past and present throughout. Good heavens, a deadly sin. Lord have mercy on you if you ever commit such a literary sin. Shame on you. Okay, you get the picture. You know where I'm going with this, but hang on, there are a few surprises to be had here.

You know I'm not that predictable. The point is, this author took a chance, and more importantly her publisher (Reagan Arthur Books, a Little Brown And Company imprint) took a bigger chance that seems to be paying off. And in case you haven't noticed the recent shift in the publishing world, take note of all the obscure (to me) imprints that noteworthy publishers are touting these days with a great deal of success.

What do all these imprints mean? In a word or two, niche marketing. Publishers know there is a market for just about every kind of book (story) out there. And while these small markets are miniscule compared to their full-blown genre counterparts, sub-genre stories are coming on strong these days. Books have always taken the lead from Hollywood movies, as far as story structure goes, and conversely, Hollywood thrives off bestsellng books.

I truly believe the days of hardcore genres is out though. The same goes for the music industry. Today's hits are a mix of many genres. Virtually nothing is pure Country, pure R&B or pure anything anymore. Novels are going through the same metamorphosis and that's a good thing. Of course, you can't be all things to all people. Genres, hardcore genres, that is, still have their place and always will, but the days of Romantic Historical Tragic Comedies are here to stay. Okay, maybe that's a stretch but you get the picture.

These kind of stories are multi-textured and offer great latitude in the sales department. Yes folks, there's the "S" word. Sales, as in profits. Does everything have to lead to money? Uh, YES! Maybe that's why so many publishers steer away from literay masterpieces flexing for a Pulizer Prize. Awards like these may be good for the author but not so lucrative for publisher's bottom line.

Just ask Paul Harding. Remember him? (2010 Pulizer Prize for Tinkers)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ian Ruhter Photography

Here's something I caught on Last Call, with Carson Daly. These images by Ian Ruhter, reminiscent of Daguerreotypes are fascinating stuff but Mr. Ruhter doesn't reveal much about his photographic techniques. (Of course, we shouldn't expect him to give away the secrets to his monster camera. Now there's a story!) But we get the idea.

These nostalgic images are simply breathtaking, filled with a sense of longing for the past in the midst of this high tech digital world.

Sure, you can Photoshop images like these and transfer them onto metal plates, but where's the fun in that? Take a look and see for yourself. Ruhter's approach is very raw and rudimentary but that's the point, after all.

***See more amazing images here:

Friday, March 8, 2013

HOPPER: A Journey Into The American Dream

Here's one of my all-time favorite actors, Dennis Hopper. Loved him as art critic in Basquiat and even more as a demented photo journalist in Apocalypse Now.

In this biography by Tom Folsom (click the tiny screen link for B&N and scroll down for the Folsom video) you'll get to know Hopper on another level. A fascinating read.

Browse The Book Here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer

The Infinite Tides from Christian Kiefer on Vimeo.

Here's a Book Video very reminiscent of that riff from the Thelma and Louise movie, or maybe the dramatic feel of the ending from Full Metal Jacket, as they hunted down a sniper. See the latest FMJ App with an exclusive behind the scenes tour from its star, Matthew Modine (below). Wow, that was a long time ago and the flashbacks are still vivid. Haunting me still folks. That explains a lot.

OK, back to The Infinite Tides book. This book has been out for months now but since I've been so busy I just came across it on Cormac McCarthy's site while looking for new novels by McCarthy. Fortunately I found this new book from a promising writer to tide (excuse the pun) me over until McCarthy releases some of his new work.

These days, I have to shop for books based on my favorite authors (which is a very short list) almost exclusively because I know I won't be disappointed otherwise since I barely have the time to read any more. Although, I think it's safe to say that I can add Kiefer to my short list of authors to read. I thought I'd post his book video here because it really speaks to the tone of his story about an astronaut in despair over the death of his daughter and abandonment from his wife. Nothing like a death in the family to shake marital issues up folks. I can identify with this story for other reasons too.

Kiefer's writing is fresh and crisp and unexpected, as he delves into mathematical equation speak without skipping a literary beat. The book is a meditation on matters of the heart and based on some of the reviews, delivers an upbeat ending. I have a feeling I'll be speed reading through the middle of this story.

Sorry Kiefer, I know that's a travesty to this exquisite literature, but I'll never get to the best part otherwise so I can post my review while your book is still topical. I've fallen behind a handful of books, to include Toni Morrison's, Home. Luckily, that's a novella.

I did manage to finish Steve Jobs Bio since I can skip around a bit, but still have quite a few unfinished books to get to. Some day I hope to really retire in earnest and re-read all my favorite books, savoring every word this time around. Meanwhile, if you want to sample Christian Kiefer's new labor of love, The Infinite Tides, check it out here:

And stay tuned for my review of this book, hopefully next month or sooner. I've got quite a few observations about Kiefer's approach I'd like to discuss, including some interesting comparisons to other well-known books.

Dig it bro. Peace out. (Does anyone really say that anymore? Well, I just did.)