January 25th, 2011

Relax!  Grab a Book!

Book 3

  1. Portis, Charles — True Grit (215 pages)
  2. Simpson, Joe — Touching the Void (210 pages)
  3. Bardin, John Franklin — The Last of Philip Banter (207 pages)

Page count: 632.

The Last of Philip Banter was recently recommended to me. I don't generally go for the crime genre, but this seemed interesting.

John Franklin Bardin is a little known novelist who between 1946 and 1948 produced three very well regarded novels that are probably best categorized as crime novels but are perhaps more accurately psychological studies. The Last of Philip Banter is the second of the three and deals with perceptions of reality and sanity.

The premise really is quite interesting. A person arrives at work to find a neatly typed and stacked manuscript on his desk titled "Confession" and bearing his name. The confession describes in great detail events that are yet to happen. Our protagonist has no recollection of having written this, though he cannot rule out the fact as he cannot remember anything from the previous night. One by one and uncannilly, the events described in the confession begin to come true, unnerving the protagonist and sending him careening down a slippery psychological slope. Is he crazy, is the confession and the ensuing events a product of subconscious auto-suggestion prompted by dissatisfaction with life, or is he being framed?

While a lot of Bardin's writing seems quaint and old-fashioned, the scenario and the manner in which Bardin unfolds the plot is fascinating. I think this would make a great movie, along the lines of a Shutter Island. A movie was made, but it is obscure enough that I was not able to download it.

I look forward to investigating at least the first of these three books, which deals with a murder possibly committed by leprechauns in New York, or by a psychotic who believes he sees leprechauns.

Relax!  Grab a Book!

Book 4

  1. Portis, Charles — True Grit (215 pages)
  2. Simpson, Joe — Touching the Void (210 pages)
  3. Bardin, John Franklin — The Last of Philip Banter (207 pages)
  4. Millar, Martin — The Good Fairies of New York (278 pages)

Page count: 910.

I'm not sure how I first heard about The Good Fairies of New York, but I'm sure glad I did. It was such a pleasure to read, had me grinning the whole way through.

The Good Fairies of New York is about Scottish fairies, Irish fairies, industrialized English fairies, Ghanaian fairies, Italian fairies, and Chinese fairies; about a hippy girl with Crohn's Disease and a colostomy bag and the fat, obnoxious homophobe who likes her and is the worst violinist in New York; about fiddles and Gibson guitars; about A Midsummer Night's Dream and an ancient Celtic flower alphabet; about the ghost of Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls; about Xenophon's armies battling the Persians and New York's homeless trying not to die on East Fourth Street; about love and revenge, politics and revolution, sex and whisky. What's not to like?

Relax!  Grab a Book!

Book 5

  1. Portis, Charles — True Grit (215 pages)
  2. Simpson, Joe — Touching the Void (210 pages)
  3. Bardin, John Franklin — The Last of Philip Banter (207 pages)
  4. Millar, Martin — The Good Fairies of New York (278 pages)
  5. Millar, Mark — Kick-Ass (190 pages)

Page count: 1100.

Too many of my reading selections are influenced by the movies.

I was looking for movies to download and saw there was a recent movie made of Kick-Ass. I read a bit about it and learned it was based on a graphic novel by Mark Millar. I liked the only other think I've read by Millar (Wanted), so when I found the graphic novel on sale last week for only £6 I bought it and downloaded the movie.

Kick-Ass is kick-ass, in many ways better than Wanted. The story is very compelling and appealing. An ordinary kid wonders why there aren't any superheroes and isn't satisfied with any of the responses, so he takes it upon himself to become one. After all, a superhero is just someone who goes about doing good deeds, stopping others from doing bad, under a mask of anonymity. Of course, our hero fails spectacularly his first time out, for he has no redeeming qualities other than a good heart. Yet a series of unexpected circumstances put his alter-ego, Kick-Ass, in the spotlight, where he can, against all odds, make a difference.

Millar is an ace writer. He can be a bit over-the-top, but that's part of his appeal, and he really knows how to construct a story and develop characters within a short space. Which makes me wonder why the Hollywood types have to go and change significant parts of the story. Yes, it's my usual anti-Hollywood rant, which I realize is a bit hypocritical from someone who enjoys movies so much. The Kick-Ass movie was entertaining, but it could have been so much better if they hadn't changed so many important elements which define the characters. It must be an ego thing.