Because I spent most of the summer writing a memoir, I wasn’t able to indulge in my usual summer reading spree. However, I did manage to begin reading a few books:
– The Sword in the Stone, a whimsical story of the young Arthur’s education and training that heavily influenced the foundational premise (and some of the characters) in Harry Potter.
– Redwall, a novel about mice and other woodland creatures who hang out in an abbey eating fish and cheese and sipping elderberry wine. It’s sort of a modern spin on The Wind in the Willows, which I’m also re-reading.
– John Green’s YA novel An Abundance of Katherines, an emotional first-person story about a gifted but socially awkward young man who struggles with his own fears of getting older and being ordinary.
– The Prince of Nothing, by R. Scott Baker. One of the most gorgeously written and original fantasies I’ve read in a good while, in spite of the fact that I currently have no clue what’s going on.
– My good friend Courtney gave me one of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, and I am in love. In spite of what some critics might have told you, these are literary works of a high quality.
Movies: I didn’t have a lot of time for movies, but I did manage to catch a few in between “mourning the shipwreck of my ill-adventur’d youth”:
– Wings on Wheels, a 2005 documentary about the making of Bruce Springsteen’s seminal album Born to Run. ***1/2 stars
– Network, an acclaimed satire drama from the 1970s about a news anchor who is mad as hell. ***1/2 stars
– Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, since I’m carefully studying the plots of Miyazaki’s films for inspiration for my next book. ***1/2 stars
– The Unauthorized Full House Story, which is every bit as trashy and ludicrous as it sounds. *** stars
Television and Podcasts: My sister recommended a new animated series called Bojack Horseman, the first two seasons of which are streaming on Netflix. It’s a satirical portrayal of contemporary Hollywood through the eyes of a once-famous celebrity actor who struggles with depression. Most of the characters are animals.
My friend Britta got me hooked on “Welcome to Night Vale,” an NPR-style podcast about a fictional southwestern town where horrifying Lovecraftian events are as common as a trip to the supermarket. This is possibly my favorite thing I’ve discovered this month. “The Sherriff’s Secret Police are searching for a fugitive named Hiram McDaniels, who escaped custody last night following a 9:00pm arrest,” runs a typical broadcast. “McDaniels is described as a five-headed dragon, approximately 18 feet tall, with mostly green eyes and weighing about 3600 pounds. He is suspected of insurance fraud.”