Friday, September 27, 2013


For decades Disney has been trying to get rid of its animation unit but instead it seems to have doubled in size. In the late 1980’s the animation unit (consisting of a few hundred artists) was banished from the main lot to warehouses in Glendale where, contrary to expectations, it blossomed into the second golden age of animation. (Lesson: leave animation to the animators if you want good stuff?)
    After the successes of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, LION KING etc. a new animation studio was built and management took an interest in animation production. This resulted in THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE and ATLANTIS. Layoffs followed.        
   After the hand-drawn but formulaic PRINCESS AND THE FROG did poorly at the box-office in 2009 and star animator Glen Keane quit in 2012, the pencil animation department was gutted in 2013. Today, it looks as though Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn are the sole pencil-wielding survivors and we wonder what they're working on. If anyone knows please leave a comment here.
    Remember how hopeful we were for the future of hand-drawn animation when John Lasseter took over at Disney? But his comments five years later  seem to indicate consumption of company Kool-aid and no hope of a hand-drawn feature from Disney any time soon.
    It’s sad to see a much-loved art form die, especially as all the arguments that have been made for its discontinuation seem to be specious:
- It requires too many artists and the studio needs to cut back on human resources. But the 2013 digital animation department, which produces safe and derivative content for very young audiences, is even bigger than the old pencil animation unit and produces far fewer hits.
- Hand-drawn animation takes too long to produce. It takes 3 to 4 years to produce a hand-drawn feature and 3 to 4 years to produce a digital feature.
- Hand drawn animation is too expensive. Computer hardware, software and animators cost as much if not more than pencils and paper and artists.
- Nobody wants to see hand-drawn animation. As Lasseter himself said, nobody wants to see BAD hand-drawn animation but they do still want to see hand-drawn animation. The proof is the stunning popularity and box-office successes of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN and THE LION KING, all just as hand-drawn as the less well-made box-office flops BLACK CAULDRON and PRINCESS AND THE FROG.
    Disney is making shiploads of money from hand-drawn animation by merely marketing the hell out of existing animated classics (all hand-drawn, of course) putting them on Broadway and making live-action film versions of them like CINDERELLA and MALEFICENT. But can this go on forever? Won’t the animation unit have to make something memorable to market the hell out of sooner or later? How much merchandise can you wring out of WRECK-IT RALPH and who even remembers CHICKEN LITTLE?
    Interesting shorts involving hand-drawn animation like PAPERMAN and GET A HORSE are made from time to time but sadly, despite the interest they generate, they’re never followed up by a feature film.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Why is it that writers are asked to read their own work? Writers, with some exceptions, are not good readers, they lack the dulcet tones and vocal control of professional actors so their finely-wrought words emerge inelegantly, instead of being smoothly pronounced with the grace and passion they deserve. 

No extra insight into the book can be gained by clumsy, stumbling readings and it’s embarrassing for the writers. I think readers just want to see the author rather than hear them blundering inexpertly through their text. A bit like staring at movie stars in the dark.

Fortunately, there are groups of professional actors who will read a writer’s text for her and this is a fabulous idea. Everybody’s happy: the writer hears her work read with polish, the appropriate emotional emphasis, even accents and the actor gets to strut his stuff and get noticed by someone who may be a producer and the audience gets to watch the writer, hear her words delivered properly and get her autograph.

LIARS’ LEAGUE - London, NY, Hong Kong, Leeds.

Unfortunately, these groups are not yet more widely available and we'd love it if they could spread faster to Paris, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Melbourne, Madrid, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Montreal, Vancouver and elsewhere. There are actors in all these places who’d be glad of the chance to show off their talent and grateful writers who be equally happy to hear their work read well.             
             Photo of Charles Laughton by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Friday, August 2, 2013


It seems literature has swept grandly through the ages, illuminating, educating, saving lives with flair and panache only to stumble over digitization and fall into desperate commercialism in the 21st century.
    But, what the hell, we’re constantly being assailed by yelling, flashing pop-up promotions anyway, so why not embrace commercialised literature as well? Publishers and authors are following Hollywood’s example and producing sequels and "prequels" like Joseph Heller’s “CLOSING TIME” and John David California’s “60 YEARS LATER: COMING THROUGH THE RYE”.  They’re making book trailers with music, action sequences and special effects that make you want to see a movie, not read a book. There’s even a writers’ wreality show called WRITERS’ ROOM where actual writers chat about how they wrote famous TV series. 

    So why should literature not go the whole hog? Why not make  movies about editors and publishing houses as well as writers? The process of getting a book from idea to print can surely make a good movie. Book editors are interesting people who do all sorts of things besides read manuscripts.
    There are plenty of movies about writers even though the less the writer writes in them, the more successful the films:
    Michael Chabon’s WONDER BOYS
    Stephen King’s MISERY
    Nabokov’s LOLITA
    Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
    Michael Tolkin’s THE PLAYER 

    Joel and Ethan Coen’s BARTON FINK
    Michael Cunningham's THE HOURS  
Publishers try hard to promote young, good-looking writers to stardom by having them do lots of TV interviews, writerly blogs, Twitter accounts and pose for stunning photos but is that enough?
    Why not  have a heavily promoted awards show (The WRITIES, the LITTIES, the AUTHIES?) where nominated writer stars could swan down a red carpet in extravagant tweed and corduroy outfits, with sparkly scarves and toothy interviewers could ask: “What on earth are you wearing?” and “Is that Windsor and Newton ink on your fingers?” and “That bishop’s mitre looks marvelous with your leather elbow-patches, Dan.”
    Inside the theater there’d be witty presenters, a live orchestra and  lavish dance numbers based on scenes from best-sellers. The prizes could be a gold book, a silver quill, a bronze computer keyboard, something that could be brandished for the TV cameras in a dignified, writerly way. Prizes would, of course, presented by Adam Johnson, Annie Proulx, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez.
The speeches would be fabulous - I’d watch it, wouldn't you?

Friday, June 21, 2013


It has always distressed me that we need to spend half our life unconscious. It's such a waste of good living time. Why could we not simply plug ourselves into a wall socket for ten minutes to recharge? 
For someone as impatient and uneager for sleep as me you’d think insomnia would be welcome, but no. You can't really do anything worthwhile when your brain needs recharging, yet you can't recharge your brain because of excitement, anxiety whatever. There’s nothing as infuriating as being exhausted and unable to sleep. I do a lot of mental writing just before I go to sleep so maybe it's not surprising that I have no trouble evading the arms of Somnus.
    After years of insomnia, I recently agreed to do a sleep study or polysomnography. The idea appalled me: a sleepover in a doctor’s office covered in electrodes? Never in a million years would I be able to sleep that way. Sleeping is so deeply personal and intimate, how could I do it in public while a technician watched? Nobody likes being watched when they’re unconscious and vulnerable.
    But, despite my doubts, I packed a big art supplies carrier bag with my very own pillow, black ninja pyjamas and ear plugs in case there was beeping or buzzing. I also watched a YouTube video thoughtfully provided by a young insomniac.

    Around bed time, I drove over to the dark and deserted medical center, parked and took the elevator feeling a bit like a sleepy burglar. At the doctor’s office I rang a bell on the counter like you would at an hotel. A charming technician hurried out and showed me to my comfortable-looking room, also like an hotel. Who knew all this was right next to the more clinical doctor’s office I’d previously visited? The  sleep study room had a TV and original but horrible art on the walls. The good art was outside in the corridors. A mistake to think sleepers don’t need good art. Good art can sooth and calm, among other things.
    The technician or polysomnolographist was also a soothing conversationalist which was a big help. After hooking me up to a myriad wires (“The electrodes are plated with real gold,” she told me), I got into bed, deployed my pillow, turned on the most boring TV channel I could find (CNN) while she went to another room to check the monitors she would stay up all night watching:

The EEG (electroencephalogram): brain wave activity 
The EMG (electromyogram): face, leg twitches, teeth grinding.  
The EOG (electro-oculogram): eye movements. 
The EKG (electrocardiogram): heart rate and rhythm.
The Nasal Airflow Sensor: breath temperature, airflow, apnea.
The Chest and abdomen belts: breathing depth, apnea, hypopnea.
The Oximeter: blood oxygen saturation through a clip on a finger.
The Snore Microphone.
    The technician returned to say that everything was working fine. “You have beautiful brain waves,” she said. Ugh, I thought, that's
like saying she’d seen my knickers. Which, of course, she metaphorically had, she’d read my mind. An even greater intrusion than the NSA monitoring my phone calls and emails.
    Aware my brain waves were being monitored I felt obliged to think beautiful thoughts which stopped me from sleeping despite the fact that it was way past my bed time and I was very sleepy. Eventually, however, I stopped thinking and fell asleep.
    But, four hours later the technician did something incredibly cruel.
    She woke me up.
    To ask me to sleep on my back.
    I don’t know if the microphone picked up all the cursing after she left the room and the further cursing when she woke me at six am so I could stagger home and stare at my computer screen in a sleep-deprived daze all day.

    The results of all this showed I had no apnea, leg jerking or sleep walking. I just had insomnia. No, really? I subsequently discoverered that these sleep studies are mainly interested in the breathing of the sleeper, not the insomnia.

UPDATE 4/19/15: Here's a book on a programme developed at Harvard that will actually help you sleep well every night if you put in the work: 

Friday, May 3, 2013


So many literary characters are part of our lives. Some inspire us, some repulse us some make us laugh, all entertain us. How impoverished we’d be if we’d never known Harry Potter, Stephen Dedalus, Philip Marlowe, Hercule Poirot, Lolita, Andy Dufresne, Mr. Wemmick or Magnus Pym, among others.
    If some bold and adventurous publisher hadn’t taken a chance on JK Rowling, James Joyce, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, Charles Dickens or John le Carré, they would have continued their lives as teacher, singer, petroleum executive, housewife, entomologist, gas station attendant, law clerk and spy. Their stylish stories and brilliant characters would have rotted away in a drawer or a hard drive, never to come to life on page or screen. An unbold publisher is not unlike a jailer, keeping all those characters prisoner in their pages, unable to entertain and enlighten.
    How many other vivid, inspirational characters and stories have we been deprived of by today’s fearful publishing industry? How many other writers are still driving trucks, selling cars, frying Big Macs, exterminating termites or picking strawberries? We know publishers are legitimately afraid of being obliterated by self-publishing and e-books but is fear good for publishing? Will it cause publishers to produce books with the same bland vanilla characters often found in self-indulgent self-publishing? Or will it make them publish more books with feather-ruffling, mind-stretching characters? Characters who might, incidentally, make more money than the bland vanilla stuff.
    We understand publishers’ promoting and brandifying well-known, best-selling authors and their books to the broadest possible demographic to stay afloat and also to generate cash. This cash gives them the means to publish lesser-known writers, not to mention un-discovered ones still working themselves to the tendons in poorly-paid, soul-destroying jobs and maybe bitterly burning manuscripts containing characters who could possibly illuminate the world.
   So, we buy the books featuring Katniss Everdeen, Bella Swan and Robert Langdon in the hope publishers will eventually be able to publish more books featuring characters like Jonathan Pine, Scarlett O’Hara, Sherlock Holmes, Joe Kavalier, Henry Skimshander, Miss Haversham and Charles Swann.

Pen and ink drawing by H. M. Brock: "’Well, aged parent,' said Wemmick, 'how am you?'"      

Friday, April 19, 2013


Why is it that many photographers pose writers with their hand(s) awkwardly hovering around their face? 
How often do we do this in real life? Almost never.

•   the chin-on-fist pose (looks like a punch on the chin)
•    the finger-on-chin pose (smart and pensive)
•    the drooping fingers under-chin pose (nonchalant)
•    the chin-almost-on-palm pose (uncomfortably relaxed)
•    the fingers clasped pose (please buy my book, I beg you)

•    the fingers-over-mouth pose (I'm muzzling myself)
*   the Mr. Burns evil steeple (come into my parlour)

As few of us are actors or models, we’re not usually comfortable with cameras so posing can be awkward and unnatural and we tend to do what we’re told by the photographer. 

But few photographers are directors so they don’t really know how to get our quintessential body language right. 

When you feel uncomfortable in a pose, you'll look uncomfortable so, pick your own, the photographer wont mind and you’ll look much better.

Friday, April 12, 2013


The reason I haven’t written about writing for a while is that I’m not really writing, I’m re-writing. This, for me, is a thrill and a pain. A thrill because I get to re-invent a character and look at the story from a different point of view. Like picking up a snow-globe and giving it a turn and a shake. It’s also a pain because my imagination tends to write little novels around each new angle and this is exhausting.
    A character usually pops into my mind fully formed, as did the protagonist I'm changing. But he's now been promoted from a rather bland beauty to a leading man with the same motivations but more time on stage. I had no idea how much trouble this would be. Even though he looks the same and has the same role in the story, he’s got to think, speak and behave more dramatically and this involves massive amounts of re-working.
    And of course, his new importance affects every other character. Some just slightly, other more profoundly. The trick is not to get carried away with the new aspects, not to let them branch out and grow into useless distractions. Ruthlessly managing each is like riding an ostrich: you don’t want to hurt it but you also don’t want it to hurt you by bolting and wasting your time.
    * Surrounded my desk with many leafy plants so the additional oxygen will  feed the writerly neurons in my brain.
    * Read magnificent books that made me gasp with admiration and feel yes, I could do that even though I knew I couldn't because I’m not those writers.
    * Got up at 3AM and sometimes just sat stupidly staring at my screen until lunch but on magic days, I wrote like a banshee until bed time.
    * Painted trompe-l’oeils on all my walls which allowed me to think and plot while giving my fingers a rest from the keyboard. Painting as meditation.
    * Had other pressing things to do, which never fails to give me a powerful urge to write.



Saturday, March 16, 2013


 I’ve used Lisa Simpson as my avatar online for years. I love her cocky yellow grin, her pearls and her spiky hair. I thought she was a perfect avatar, symbolizing cartoons and smarts on a gorgeous lime-green background.

I paid no attention to those who said they heard my tweets and posts in the youthful, high-pitched voice of actress Yeardley Smith. I ignored those who tweeted down to an eight-year-old cartoon who wouldn’t know a paragraph from a Post-it. I assumed most people would know that the person represented by a cartoon was unlikely to actually be a cartoon, let alone a squeaky yellow girl.

But I underestimated the power of a picture. Worth a thousand words you say? Idiocy, ignorance and stupidity are apparently some of the words conjured up by the image of Lisa Simpson. Which is odd, as she was created by UCLA and Harvard-educated writers who’ve given her a complex and charming character: the talented and smart daughter in a family of dolts. 

Being treated like Lisa Simpson would be rather flattering but many readers, including highy educated people who should know better, seem to confuse Lisa with
Homer, doh! Or, more likely, they don’t know the TV show and just see any cartoon as puerile and gormless and anyone represented by one as equally gormless. 

I worried that, as my book is set in the animation industry (more cartoons!) and I’ve tweeted and blogged quite a bit about animation, perhaps I'm in danger of being taken for a feckless nincompoop by agents and publishers as well

The last straw came when a reader, who consistently talked down to me, told me hautily that 1066 was an important date celebrating Norman the Conqueror, took it upon herself to critique, uninvited, a summary of my book with hilariously incorrect corrections and when I didn't respond, she attacked me on Twitter saying I'd been offended by her "brutal honesty" then she misconstrued my Tweets as being about her when they weren't. After that several followers with PhDs unfollowed me, seeming to confirm the power of an avatar or the opinion of a misguided follower or both.

While my writing and I have our flaws, we are not dolts. So, I decided I needed to put a stop to such misunderstandings and the possibility of more. After much thought and designing, I changed avatar to something more serious, a cartoon pencil. It's my own design, more neutral and without all kinds of inappropriate character associations. 

Goodbye Lisa. I’ll miss you, a much misunderstood avatar.
Yeardley Smith, actor, writer, artist, voices Lisa Simpson.

Friday, March 8, 2013


 The story that this celebration originated after a protest in the US is apprently apocryphal.
It was probably substituted for the fact that the first celebration of working women was observed in 1909 in the US following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America because the aforementioned Socialist Party of America has fallen out of favour in the US.

    Frankly, I find this a feeble fête, a token gesture. It doesn’t have a fraction of the clout of Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. We’re not even showered with flowers, cars, chocolates and diamonds on this day like the other “women’s” holidays. Heck, this not even an official public holiday, a day off worldwide as would befit the celebration of such magnificent creatures as us. In France this is called la Journée de la Femme, prompting a writer friend to say wryly: "Quelle femme?"
    But seriously, as sure as I am that we all enjoy being showered with champagne and diamonds, do we really need another soft, flowery celebration of women’s wonderfulness? Wouldn't a solid foundation of respect and human rights, decent pay and freedom from routine beatings and rape be of more use to us?                       
    International Women’s Day should be an occasion to pass laws worldwide that would improve the lives of women who still have to fear being raped on a bus and generally disrespected.
    Respect is a better gift than flowers and chocolates.

March 8, 2014: This year's celebration seems a little more muscular than the last one, things like equal pay are being mentioned in a more energetic way, but a hundred years is too long to wait for pay parity. Higher salaries and wages must be demanded and contracts negotiated more fiercely.


Monday, March 4, 2013


Have you ever wondered why we like to read or listen to stories? Ever since Neanderthals told tales around cave fires, the human race has been fascinated by stories. Oral histories, gossip, books, movies, we just can’t seem to get enough.
My theory is that we need all the ideas we can get about life and survival and how other people do it so we can keep up, surpass or simply marvel at the ingenuity, inventiveness, idiocy or dirty rotten evil of our fellow humans.
    We’re told that a good story needs conflict. Why is this? Maybe because readers want to know how to compete, overcome, surmount, conquer and prevail. We empathise when good or bad things happen to the protagonist and we feel we could do as well in the same circumstances or we store the information away for use the next time those circumstances show up in our lives. Haven’t we all sworn we’d never throw ourselves under a train or steal a loaf of bread or swanned around for a few minutes like Scarlett O’Hara, d’Artagnan or James Bond?
    And we particularly like to hate villains because we think they’re not like us. Villains make us feel virtuous and superior. We recognize similar traits in the people we know and feel better armed to deal with them. But we rarely if ever feel villainous or evil ourselves. We know we have good reasons for our bad behavior and that deep down we’re fine, upstanding people. I’ve never met anyone who says wow, I really see myself in Iago, Javert, or Voldemort.
   Reading makes us feel informed, enriched and better prepared for life because of the characters and events we’ve read about. Better human beings, even.
    I always feel as though I’ve eaten a delicious, colorful and fattening meal when I’ve finished a good book. I’m always sorry it’s finished and I need to take a while to digest it before starting another.                                              *

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


ADAM and a DOG  (The trailer was hand-drawn, the film made in “digital 2D” with “some work on paper”). Written and directed by Minkyu Lee. Consultant Glen Keane. Remarkably, this is an independent production (budget between $10-20,000) with no studio involvement. This is the way fresh new content is going to get back into animation. I hope it wins.
FRESH GUACOMOLE (Stop-motion) Written and directed by PES,
born Adam Pesapane, who was influenced by the work of Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer. (PES Productions)
HEAD OVER HEELS (Stop-motion) Written and directed by Timothy Reckart (NFTS, UK)
MAGGIE SIMPSON in “THE LONGEST DAYCARE” (CGI) Directed by David Silverman, written by James Brooks, Matt Groening and 5 others (Gracie Films)
PAPERMAN (2D and CGI combined) Directed by John Kahrs, written by Clio Chiang and Kendelle Hoyer (Walt Disney Animation Studios) If Adam and a Dog doesn't win, this might. Oscar winner 2013

BRAVE (CGI) Directed by Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Written by  Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell (Pixar) Also nominated for a Bafta and winner of a Goden Gobe. I think this flawed but dazzling film will win. Oscar winner 2013
FRANKENWEENIE (3D stop-motion) Directed by Tim Burton. Written by
Tim Burton, Leonard Ripps, John August (Walt Disney Pictures) Also nominated for a Bafta.
PARANORMAN (3D stop-motion, using 3D printing) Directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell. Written by Chris Butler. (LAIKA) Also nominated for a Bafta.
The PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (Stop-motion) Directed by Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt. Written by Gideon Defoe. (Aardman Animations)
WRECK-IT RALPH (CGI) Directed by Rich Moore.  Written by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon, Jennifer Lee. (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Sunday, February 10, 2013


When did LOVE get replaced by the ghastly soulless word RELATIONSHIP? Surely "the way in which things and people are connected" is not how we feel.
Are we so afraid of the power behind the word LOVE that we feel the need to dilute and distance it? 
Are we so worried about wanting and needing LOVE that we’re even afraid to mention its name?
LOVE, the-thing-that-shall-not-be-named.
According to TV and movies, just saying “I love you” has become a phrase to be avoided like a landmine.
Perhaps we’re afraid of the passion involved in love. When we’re swept off our feet by a force stronger than logic, is it the lack of control that scares us? 

But shouldn’t we welcome being overwhelmed by superior forces of delight and wonder? Shouldn’t we be thrilled to float down the street emiting beams of bliss
Or to feel the quieter, deeper satisfaction of long-term love?
Why not throw caution to the winds when it comes to love?

And why the coy: "I've met someone"?  We don't dare say "I'm in love."
How odd that love should be taboo
How sad to hear: "The person I'm in a relationship with" instead of "My lover."
Why not be happy for the privilege of that rare and wonderful state and celebrate it out loud all over the place?
Valentine’s day is a celebration of LOVE not relationship.
Let’s celebrate the heart-pounding, hand-trembling, throat-constricting breathlessness of something that sounds like a medical emergency but is, by far, the best feeling in the world.

Let’s stop pussyfooting around with clinical words like RELATIONSHIP and say what we really mean.


Friday, January 4, 2013


These subjective imressions should not be taken for proper reviews. Like Michelin rated restaurants *** is best in my opinion.

The ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach ***  Moby Dick-themed names: Harpooners, Skrimshander, Starblind, Pella (as in pelagic perhaps). The rich, meaty characters are still with me. Sporty bits are easily skipped without losing the pedals.

The SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx *** Proulx’s writing is like a graphic novel without the graphics; bright pictures leap from her words, glow in your brain and sometimes make you laugh or break your heart. 
L’ELEGANCE DU HERRISON by Muriel Barbery *** Wonderful study of the unexpectedly intellectual and sensual life of a Parisian concierge.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY by John Le Carré *** Intricate plot, brilliantly flawed characters: Smiley, Haydon, Connie Sachs and creative spy terms: moles, joes, lamplighters, mothers etc.. My favorite writer by far, he deserves a Nobel Prize.
A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU de Marcel Proust. Edition française complète, 10 tomes augmentée, illustrée et commentée *** (Commentary based on the first tome and a half.) Immobility imposed by asthma gave Proust the time to study his family and surroundings at great length. His languid writing is a lot funnier than expected and resembles a Persian miniature with its tiny  details of people and places. Long, stately phrases studded with jewel-like images, wit and well-observed pettiness and snobbery. Slow-motion passion.               
A HANDMAID’S TALE – by Margaret Atwood ** Beautifully crafted dystopia, compelling characters, slightly spoiled, for me, by the rather clinical ending.
DEEP DOWN (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child ** Short, sharp action-packed sentences make Jack a bright boy.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green ** The un-sentimental voices of young cancer patients Hazel Grace and Augustus are clear,  instantly endearing and inspiring.
The CHEMISTRY OF TEARS by Peter Carey ** Grief and all its ramifications. Not one of Carey’s most colorful but definitely readable.
NEVER MIND, BAD NEWS, SOME HOPE, MOTHER’S MILK by Patrick Melrose ** The mighty struggle to deal with the consequences of casual cruelty, these books are medals and gold stars, tributes to courageous battles that are seldom acknowledged let alone rewarded.
EXTREMEMLY LOUD and INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer * Yet another Holden Caulfield-inspired voice of a boy in Manhattan struggling to come to terms with his father’s death in the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
FROM A BUICK 8 by Stephen King * Stephen King makes you believe that a Buick is the gates of hell spitting out malformed monsters and evil smells. The characters are not quite as interesting as the car.
The CASUAL VACANCY by JK Rowling – I’m a huge fan of what Rowling has accomplished for reading, her fairy tale success, her quirky personality and the inventiveness of the Harry Potter books, but this book bored the pants off me. I didn’t care about any of the characters apart from grotesquely tragic Krystal. Relentless sordidness is as dull as happy endings.
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole – This large work was rejected by so many people that the author sadly committed suicide before it was published. I really wanted to like it but found the characters and actions un-compelling. Did not finish.
The HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins – Did not finish.
The CLASSMATE MURDERS by Bob Moats – Did not finish.
BEL CANTO by Anne Patchett – Did not finish.