Sunday, January 25, 2009

From the page to the screen

Ok, I'm not very good at keeping up with movies and movie adaptations of books. Just recently I've missed announcing and reviewing:The Spirit, The Secret Life of Bees, Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and probably a dozen others.

Largely this is because I'm not a huge movie-goer. (For just a few dollars more, I can own the book and be the visual director.) I'm also wary of adaptations because they are re-tellings of stories; stories that we've come to love because they were originally told so well! But, it can also be very magical to see and hear another person's vision of what you've loved.

I have a feeling that this movie will be one of those magical, visual experiences. Coraline by Neil Gaiman looks to be quite tremendous. For those of you who are not familiar with Neil Gaiman, here's my reductive impression of his works: he understand Story(yes, with a capital S) to an extraordinary level; he is not afraid of the dark; because he truly embraces Story, his works span age levels very easily; he has a great wit; and he has a true knack for teaming up with brilliant visual artists. Take that writing force, apply it to a story of a little girl who is fleeing the ordinary and then trapped by the wondrous, compose it with an innovative/creative production company and you have a potential classic on your hands.
Opens February 6th. I'll have to watch it February 7th, since I'll be listening to Michael Ryan read at CSS. So, if you can't make it to listen to Michael Ryan, I highly suggest you see Coraline.
Here's the Gaiman approved trailer:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Now here's an exciting challenge

In a time of year dominated by weight-loss challenges, The Bookstore People announce a challenge that will result in Brain-Gain!

The Independent Bookstore Readers Challenge is a challenge to explore the world of indie booksellers. They have different levels of commitment - check out two new(to you) stores to be a scout - visit Indies in Europe and become a Globe trotter! Sign Up Here!

They are also planning to help cross-post reviews and experiences, so make sure to share your discoveries and help your fellow scouts, specialists, nationalists, continentals, globetrotters and type A personalities (see their page for descriptions!).

So, next time you're about to head out on a trip, check IndieBound to find stores along the way!

The bags are pretty handy for travelers...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The More You Know...

another definition of songstress
We're big believers in attending class daily through the University of Life Campus at Northern Lights Books.
Today, Melanie and I heard a singer/songwriter referred to as a "songstress" on the radio. I doubted it was an actual word. It sounds like someone slapping a suffix on a noun and calling it a day - I have no real objection to that practice, I'm a suffixer on occasion myself, but this caught me off guard.

So, asking Melanie how sure she was it was a word (She was $1 sure; in these rough economic times, I wasn't that sure, so her wager went unmatched), I googled it. Sure enough, songstress is a word. Melanie would have won a dollar in a non-recession year.

But! The definition includes the root word, song: "a female singer, esp. one who specializes in popular songs." Not esp. helpful in a definition. So- do they mean hits, top 40 songs? Or do they mean popular, "pop," music as a genre? It seems absurd to specialize in writing hit songs (it wasn't mentioned as a career path at my job fair in elementary school), but it's also awkward to refer to a musical genre by "songs."

Is it one of those awkward moments that's actually more correct? Is the dictionary ambiguous because they felt resentful including the word to begin with? What words do you like to suffix into creation? Prefixers out there?

Keep questioning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration poem.

Twin Cities Poets weigh in on Inauguration Poem

As I'm writing right now, Obama is motorcading on his way to the Inauguration. It seems redundant to express my excitement on that fact, so, let me shift attention to the fact that poetry is being featured again today!

Elizabeth Alexander will soon be reading her poem to commemorate the occasion. She will be only the fourth poet to read at an inauguration.

The role of the poet and of poetry is... influx; precarious; languishing; misunderstood; vital; all of the above? Whatever your personal stance, there is something truly remarkable, and not just because it is somewhat of a rarity, when a poet gives voice to ideas/emotions/images/sounds. Art and ideas joined in celebration and reflection of an event: they can be very powerful. So, as a lover of words, this is truly a moment of hope and change!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reading for Comfort

After some discussion about how and what we read, there's a nice new blog out there (in the interwebs) focusing on specific titles and explaining more of the emotional effect the books had for the readers.
Via The Olive Reader (another nice site for book news), Good Books in Bad Times is also backed by HarperCollins but features a range of books and titles, new and old from multiple genres and discussed by different authors. Good to peruse at any time, but I especially recommend it for anyone in search of a good cathartic book. Tearful can be uplifting!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Have you been reading?

2008 One Book, One Community Read
Although it's been hard to say how accurate the findings really are, there's a new study by the National Endowment for the Arts released that shows that people, especially younger people, are reading a bit more than in the last few years.

Among the credits: popular book groups (a la Oprah), online resources (both for the writing itself as well as more communcation and awareness of books), and community reads.

Our last One Book, One Community read, Three Cups of Tea was a great success - we're eagerly looking forward to this season and will announce the new title as soon as it's finalized!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

But baby, it's cold outside

Twelve Below Zero
So what books are you reading to keep yourself warm?
For some reason I've just picked up a handful of books by Scandanavian authors (The Howling Miller & Silence of the Grave), a cool new collection of Minnesota authors,Fiction on a Stick and local short story craftsman, Anthony Bukoski's Twelve Below Zero.

I seem to be taking the aclimation approach to taking on the cold.

How about you? Cold days - do you dive into Pamuk's Snow or are you off to the tropics and mystery Coroner's Lunch? Do you block out the cold by focusing on politics and the world around us?