Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Books That Make Me Weep

I've had a few books over the years that have made me weep tears of side-stitching laughter. The funny thing is, most of them are old, except for maybe Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I almost fell out of my bed while Grunthos the Flatulent's major intestine reached up through his neck to silence his poetry reading for the good of all humanity. 

Another laughter-filled classic, roughly as old as Hitchiker's Guide but good enough to be called a classic, is The Princess Bride by the fictional S. Morgenstern, a.k.a. William Goldman. As good as the movie is, the book is even better. Yes, that's cliche, but in the case of The Princess Bride, it's actually saying something. 
I didn't know the movie had been adapted from a novel until I found a dog-eared copy of the book in my high school library shortly after the movie became everyone's #1 quotable obsession. I snapped it up and laughed my way through nearly every page. My sides hurt for days.

But my all-time favorite, perhaps because I read it most recently, is Don Quixote by Cervantes.

My poor children weren't sure what to do with me. I finally had to read it in seclusion to hide the tears streaming down my face and wheezy laughter escaping between each drag for breath. 

Cervantes masterpiece is more than 400 years old, and it still resonates with its readers. Oh to dream so high!
One other book makes me weep too, but not with laughter. Victor Hugo's Les Miserable is still one of the most transcendent books I've read. I was in college when I read it, so perhaps it wouldn't strike me as forcibly now, but I vividly remember wiping tears off my cheeks so they wouldn't stain the pages. 

I dream to write so powerfully.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lines On Writing

I read an article today: "22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing." My favorite sentence came from James Vandermeer:
If you are drawn to write what's uncomfortable, it may help to recognize that you are allowed to write for yourself, and that any decisions about seeking publication are separate from that first, fundamental decision (and freedom). —Wonderbook
I confess, I knew nothing about the author until now because of course I had to Google him after reading the quote. 

I enjoy authors who push the envelope and rewrite the "rules." Roald Dahl is tops on my list for that. The brief interview with him above shows his unconventional thought paths and experiences that helped him create his stories. 

Have a great week.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Good Beginning

I am a Pixar fan. The Incredibles and Monsters University rank in my top five favorite movies. I am always impressed with how clever and tight Pixar's scripts are. The video above is a tiny peek into how they get their scripts started. 

My friend loaned us two picture books I haven't had a chance to read yet--not having a library is no fun people. Anyway, we read The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak. 

My kids giggled themselves silly for hours after reading it, each one recalling their "favorite" part, which ended up being the whole book by the time they were done. BooBoo Butt was soon a fast friend for my children too.

We also read Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton. Poor Mr. President has to deal with The National Gopher Society who is demanding that the White House make room for gophers in the garden. Then there's the sticks and stones battle going on between Bulrovia and Snortburg and the two prime ministers who want the president to fix it. And there's the tiny issue of the VP letting the boy scouts chop up the ping-pong table for fire wood. Mr. President needs to find a simpler, happier place, so naturally, he goes to school. 

He enjoys finger painting, recess and milk and cookies before returning to the White House and solving the sticks and stones issue with milk and cookies and a rousing round of the Hokey Pokey.

The plot is tight, the story is well-executed and enjoyable for both adult and child. And the illustrations by Brad Sneed were perfect. The facial expressions he chose for Madame Secretary tell their own story.

Rick Walton also happens to be the mentor for my friend and author Erin Cabatingan whose Musk Ox books are tops at our house. 

I'm looking forward to seeing more books from each of these authors and of course, I'm eagerly anticipating the The Incredibles 2, which sadly, won't be coming out until 2019. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in those writing sessions. 

Have a great week.