Today’s Tumblr – December 31, 2013

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Recommended Reading from 2013

Each year, I aim to read around 50 books, which is close to a one-per-week pace. This year, I fell far short. That’s what happens when you write three novels and a novella in one year; there’s no time to read!

But among the books I did get the chance to read, there were several gems. And so, as I do every year around this time, I present a list of books I think y’all might enjoy as visitors to the BLog. Here, in no particular order, are this year’s:

  • Jumper by Steven Gould
  • Wildside by Steven Gould
  • Teen Boat! by Dave Roman and John Green
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  • Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
  • The Intercept by Dick Wolf
  • Every Third Thought: A Novel in Five Seasons by John Barth
  • Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
  • Caught by Harlan Coben
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
  • Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

If you give any of these a try, I hope you enjoy them! Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Memory Monday: Tell, Don’t Show

I saw this in a comic book store over Christmas weekend and I just had to buy it…


(From Superboy #108, October 1963. Art by Curt Swan.)

Today’s Tumblr – December 24, 2013

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In Defense of Love Actually

Ten years after the initial release of Love Actually, it has become fashionable to bash the movie. Some of its crimes, as ticked off unrelentingly by the Internet cognoscenti: It is “unrealistic.” Women are reduced to trophies. Men are encouraged to execute “grand gestures” to win a woman against all odds. And so on.1

I am an unashamed, unapologetic fan of the movie, but I actually agree with many of these criticisms. “Agree” in the sense that they accurately reflect the content of the movie, but — as Inigo said to Vizzini — “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In short, writer/director Richard Curtis is deliberately committing the crimes of which he is accused…all in service of debunking Hollywood’s notions of romantic love. The obviously tongue-in-cheek tale of Sir Colin’s trip to the Americas and his rather unlikely lucky streak there (Shannon Elizabeth! Denise Richards! January Jones!) is a big clue to this — it’s a broad joke crammed into the midst of what appears to be an otherwise earnest set of tales, and proves that Curtis knows exactly what he’s doing. In short, if you accept that Curtis is knowingly taking the piss here, then you must admit that maybe he’s doing so elsewhere in the movie, too.  [Read more…]

  1. Even the best criticisms seem to cherry-pick moments and story threads, conveniently ignoring — for example — the quite lovely platonic love story between Bill Nighy and his manager. Or the very tortured, fractured Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson story, which even the most hard-hearted must agree is devastatingly well-acted, especially on Ms. Thompson’s part.