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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Anthology of Graphic Fiction...

Book #43 on my list this year was An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories.

Compiled by Ivan Brunetti and published by Yale Press, this anthology provides a great crash course in modern comics ranging from popular graphic novels such as Maus to more subversive underground strips. Of the comic anthologies I've read only McSweeney's #13 comes close to this one in terms of successly spanning the genre. Now I'm looking forward to checking out Volume 2 which just came out earlier this year.

Powell's review

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Film #51 for me this year was Robert Altman's Nashville.

My NetFlix rating: 4 stars
Jamie says: Classic. Loved it.
RIYL: Short Cuts, The Last Waltz, old country

Salon.com looks back on 25th anniversary
Rotten Tomatoes reviews


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Day of the Locust

Book #42 on my list was The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West.

DotL is a novel that shreds the celebrity obsessed culture of Hollywood...only it was written in 1939. Prescient, aye? Seventy years later I wonder what West would think about the blog-o-sphere and Tod Hackett's "The Burning of Los Angeles"?

And yes it does have a character named Homer Simpson which may or may not be the origin of Matt Groening's character's name. So it's got that going for it...

Blog Critics review
Time's 100 Best Novels


Sunday, October 19, 2008


Book #41 for me this year was Philip Roth's new novel Indignation.

I really enjoyed this one. The youthful angst reminded me of Roth's earlier work and of J.D. Salinger. Another wonderful addition to the Roth canon.

This one is brand spankin' new so online reviews are available aplenty:

NPR Review and excerpt
The Complete Review

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Film #50 of '08 was Oliver Stone's W.

My NetFlix rating: 3 stars
Jamie says: Worth seeing for Josh Brolin, but rather ho-hum overall.
RIYL: Misunderestimating

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews


A Dirty Shame

Film #49 of '08 was A Dirty Shame.

My NetFlix rating: 3 stars
Jamie says: Every bit as crazy as you'd expect a John Waters film to be.
RIYL: Let's face it, you're really only gonna like this if you like John Waters

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Reading List - Books #1-40

Here are the first forty books of my '08 50 book challenge:
  1. The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007* - Various
  2. This Is Your Brain on Music - Daniel Levitin
  3. Hellfire* - Nick Tosches
  4. The Nimrod Flipout - Etgar Keret
  5. Shortcomings* - Adrian Tomine
  6. McSweeney's #25 - Various
  7. Kafka - R. Crumb & David Mairowitz
  8. The Worst Hard Time* - Timothy Egan
  9. The Fermata - Nicholson Baker
  10. The Call of the Weird - Louis Theroux
  11. Y: The Last Man, Volume 1: Unmanned - Vaughan and Guerra
  12. An American Dream - Norman Mailer
  13. My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead - Various
  14. Y: The Last Man, Volume 2: Cycles - Vaughan and Guerra
  15. Rock On - Dan Kennedy
  16. The Raw Shark Texts - Steven Hall
  17. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 3: One Small Step - Vaughan and Guerra
  18. Knockemstiff* - Donald Ray Pollock
  19. A Voyage Long and Strange* - Tony Horwitz
  20. All the Pretty Horses* - Cormac McCarthy
  21. McSweeney's #24 - Various
  22. Candy Girl - Diablo Cody
  23. Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me - Various
  24. Snuff - Chuck Palahniuk
  25. Y: The Last Man, Volume 4: Safeword - Vaughan and Guerra
  26. Maps and Legends - Michael Chabon
  27. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs
  28. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes - Neil Gaiman
  29. Bastard Out of Carolina* - Dorothy Allison
  30. Y: The Last Man, Volume 5: Ring of Truth - Vaughan and Guerra
  31. The Sandman: Doll's House - Neil Gaiman
  32. The Mulching of America - Harry Crews
  33. Y: The Last Man, Volume 6: Girl on Girl - Vaughan and Guerra
  34. Bad Behavior* - Mary Gaitskill
  35. End Zone - Don DeLillo
  36. A People's History of American Empire - Howard Zinn
  37. Y: The Last Man, Volume 7: Paper Dolls - Vaughan and Guerra
  38. Y: The Last Man, Volume 8: Kimono Dragons - Vaughan and Guerra
  39. Y: The Last Man, Volume 9: Motherland - Vaughan and Guerra
  40. The Moviegoer* - Walker Percy

* = Highly recommended

Previously: My 2007 reading list, My 2006 reading list

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Book #40 on my reading list this year was Walker Percy's National Book Award winning The Moviegoer.

Percy described his novel as the story of "a young man (Binx Bolling) who had all the advantages of a cultivated old-line southern family: a feel for science and art, a liking for girls, sports cars, and the ordinary things of the culture, but who nevertheless feels himself quite alienated from both worlds, the old South and the new America." Binx reminded me a lot of the thinking man characters found in the novels of Richard Ford, Saul Bellow, and Phillip Roth (pretty good company). He is a man on the proverbial existential quest to find himself, a task he titles 'the search'.

"What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple; at least for a fellow like me. So simple that it is often overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life." -- Binx Bolling

Preach on brother Binx. The best part of the book to me was the wonderful nuggets of wisdom which sneak up and bite you every few pages. It's about as quotable a book as I've read.

Speaking of quotes, (how do you like that segue?) here's the main blurb from the back of the book which I found sort of amusing.

"Percy is one of the supplest and most deftly modulated new voices in Southern literature"
Deftly modulated? Supple? Huh? I also like that he's only 'one the supplest'. Apparently there's plenty of supple to go around. Anyways, here's a more traditional kudo that resonated more with me:
"Mr. Percy is a breathtakingly brilliant writer." -- The New York Times Book Review
Blogcritics review



Film #48 of '08 was Orgazmo.

My NetFlix rating: 1.5 stars
Jamie says: South Park stripped of all its sly social commentary. The result is not pretty. Matt Stone is pretty funny though.
RIYL: Team America, Porky's

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews



Film #47 of '08 was Eraserhead.

My NetFlix rating: 3.5 stars
Jamie says: Makes Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Blue Velvet look sane.
RIYL: Surrealism, David Lynch, The Pixies

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Eagle Eye

Film #46 of '08 was Eagle Eye (not my selection :-) ).

My NetFlix rating: 2 stars
Jamie says: I can't help but think that I've seen this movie a few times before...only the other times it was done better. Oh and worst ending ever.
RIYL: Speed, action over plot

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews


Dr. Strangelove

Film #45 of '08 was Dr. Strangelove.

My NetFlix rating: 4.5 stars
Jamie says: I can finally cross this one of the list of movies I'm embarrassed not to have seen. It's worth the hype, Strangelove is still hilarious and poignant 44 years after its release.
RIYL: Catch-22, Austin Powers, Kubrick

Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Teaching Guide

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