Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Me, Oh My

I might be a bit quiet over the next week as I prepare for my viva, but if I find the time I'll update about books and films and things.

I finished another thing on Sunday! After playing for a bit on Saturday afternoon too (ah, what a mis-spent youth) I settled down on Sunday afternoon to complete my replay of Resident Evil 4. This was one of those "because it's fun" things, and boy was it fun. Having played the game a few times before it was quite strange just how surprising the twists and turns of the plot and gameplay still were. There were so many times where I stopped and thought, "Did that happen last time?" and "But I thought that happened later!"

Resident Evil 4 is the only Resident Evil game that I've actually completed; I used to own "Resident Evil: Code Veronica X" but got about halfway through and decided that it wasn't for me (OK, so it belongs to the genre of "survival horror" but does it have to be quite so difficult right from the start???). The story of RE4 doesn't end on a cliffhanger as such, but it does leave things well open for future games (the forthcoming/delayed Resident Evil 5 for example). Thinking about what happens to the protagonists after the game has made me wonder about whether or not I might pick RE4 as the launch point for one of the pieces of fan fiction I'll write as part of 101/1001.

(aside #1: I have written a few short pieces of fan fiction before... They were very short though, barely a beginning, middle and an end)

(aside #2: I often wonder about what happens to characters after the end of a book or a film or a game... Part of me is convinced that a secondary character from my first novel is off doing other things now, while the protagonists live happily ever after...)

Yesterday I finished "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" and all I can really say about it is that you should definitely go and read it. Even if you would never normally read a detective story, you should read it. It is brilliant from start to finish, and has some absolutely blinding pieces of dialogue.

While I wait for Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" to arrive from Amazon, I am re-reading "Virtual Light" by William Gibson (and I may end up re-reading the whole trilogy that it belongs to before I take up "The Road"). I was thinking of going to see "Iron Man" with my mum yesterday, as she has free cinema tickets and hasn't been to the cinema in ages, but in the end because the weather was pretty bad we decided to stay in and ended up watching "The Last King of Scotland".

As a family we watched Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd" on Saturday night: opinion was split right down the middle; me and one of my sister's really enjoyed it (I love a good musical), while my mum and youngest sister didn't like it at all.

I've got no other news for now! I'm collecting flash fiction ideas from all over, but not writing... Oh dear. Maybe when the viva is out of the way I'll be able to focus more...

More soon.

Friday, 23 May 2008

"No time for love, Doctor Jones..."

There's nothing quite like skipping out for the afternoon to go to the cinema. It's slightly disorienting, especially if you're like me, someone who finds themselves able to get absorbed in a film to quite a degree. To walk back out into sunlight, and suddenly find that no, you're not in South America with Indiana Jones, you're in Liverpool and you have things to collect from the office... Well, it's a little disappointing.

Unlike "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" which is pretty darn good. It's not quite up to level of the previous Indiana Jones films; I can't quite put my finger on it, it's possibly just because I like those three films so much. It's definitely not that Harrison Ford is too old for the role as some had suggested; he's still Indiana Jones, no doubt about it, and the film is a really good action-comedy. Perhaps the humour just doesn't have the same edge that it does in the earlier films. Perhaps in some places it's just a little too knowing with some of the references to the earlier films. Personally I think it's that some of the action sequences are too over the top, too 21st century and lacking in the reality that the earlier films had - but even then the action sequences in the new film are great fun to watch.

At the end of the day, this could have been a huge letdown, but it's not. While it lacks for something that the earlier films had it doesn't disappoint as a great summer action film.

Right, now, hopefully I can get my stuff together in the next half hour and head for home. Long weekend time; have to get some viva preparation done (I'm defending my thesis in just over a week!) and will be spending a bit of time this weekend working on 101/1001 goals.

Oh, and I've just started reading "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon, and so far I'm liking it a lot.

Be good people! More soon.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Quick post on a Thursday

Have just updated with my "Books and Films" post; I'll be updating this as and when I read books or watch films towards my goals.

What a busy day! Have applied for two jobs today, and will hopefully find out soon whether or not I'm being considered for them. Both are university level teaching positions (no research involved, so not true lectureships), and one of them is a bit of a dream job I have to say. Watch this space...

Think that I might take the day off tomorrow, treat myself to go and see the new Indiana Jones film! It's a three day weekend here in the UK anyway, so extending it to four days sounds great. That said, I'd still have to spend some of the time preparing for my viva which is quite soon and getting closer all the time!

(well, d'uh, of course it's getting closer...)

More soon!

Books and Films

(last updated February 14th 2010)

- thing number 68 - complete! Continuous list now!
1. "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
2. "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
3. "Matter" by Iain M. Banks
4. "The Children of Húrin" by J. R. R. Tolkien
5. "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy
6. "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë
7. "Aesop's Fables" by Aesop
8. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon
9. "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow (can be downloaded freely from here)
10. "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
11. "Live And Let Die" by Ian Fleming
12. "Moonraker" by Ian Fleming
13. "Diamonds Are Forever" by Ian Fleming
14. "From Russia With Love" by Ian Fleming
15. "The Execution Channel" by Ken Macleod
16. "Interworld" by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
17. "Join Me" by Danny Wallace
18. "Yes Man" by Danny Wallace
19. "Infected" by Scott Sigler
20. "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome
21. "The Search for the Dice Man" by Luke Rhinehart
22. "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins
23. "Happyslapped by a Jellyfish" by Karl Pilkington
24. "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall
25. "Crooked Little Vein" by Warren Ellis
26. "Spook Country" by William Gibson
27. "Drive Thru America" by Sean Condon
28. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
29. "Physics of the Impossible" by Michio Kaku
30. "Bring the Jubilee" by Ward Moore
31. "Accelerando" by Charles Stross
32. "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe
33. "V For Vendetta" by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
34. "Content" by Cory Doctorow (can be downloaded freely from here)
35. "The Ringmaster's Daughter" by Jostein Gaarder
36. "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons
37. "Batman: The Long Halloween" by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
38. "Arkham Asylum" by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean
39. "Super Crunchers" by Ian Ayres
40. "Maus" by Art Spiegelman
41. "Nova Swing" by M. John Harrison
42. "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel
43. "The Temporal Void" by Peter F. Hamilton
44. "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman
45. "Epileptic" by David B.
46. "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein
47. "The Atrocity Archive" by Charles Stross
48. "Was" by Geoff Ryman
49. "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut
50. "Halting State" by Charles Stross
51. "World War Z" by Max Brooks
52. "Wrong About Japan" by Peter Carey
53. "Year's Best SF 13" edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
54. "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell
55. "House of Suns" by Alastair Reynolds
56. "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson
57. "Pride of Baghdad" by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
58. "Five Little Pigs" by Agatha Christie
59. "Something's Down There" by Mickey Spillane
60. "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman
61. "Saturn's Children" by Charles Stross
62. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Arthur Conan Doyle
63. "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life" by Bryan Lee O'Malley
64. "The Shack" by William Paul Young
65. "The Man Who Smiled" by Henning Mankell
66. "End of the World Blues" by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
67. "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" by Bryan Lee O'Malley
68. "Dr. No" by Ian Fleming
69. "Every Last Drop" by Charlie Huston
70. "The Club of Queer Trades" by G.K. Chesterton
71. "Goldfinger" by Ian Fleming
72. "Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom" by Cory Doctorow (can be freely downloaded from here)
73. "Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness" by Bryan Lee O' Malley
74. "The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Volume Three" edited by George Mann
75. "Anthropology and a hundred other stories" by Dan Rhodes
76. "For Your Eyes Only" by Ian Fleming
77. "Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together" by Bryan Lee O'Malley
78. "Scott Pilgrim Versus The Universe" by Bryan Lee O'Malley
79. "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
80. "American Unchained" by Dave Gorman
81. "Eastern Standard Tribe" by Cory Doctorow (can be freely downloaded from here)
82. "Ghost In The Shell 1.5: Human Error Processor" by Masamune Shirow
83. "Year's Best SF 9" edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
84. "The Graduate" by Charles Webb
85. "Friends Like These" by Danny Wallace
86. "A Scientific Romance" by Ronald Wright
87. "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer
88. "The Baby Jesus Butt Plug" by Carlton Mellick III
89. "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyer
90. "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer
91. "The Jennifer Morgue" by Charles Stross
92. "We Think Therefore We Are" edited by Peter Crowther
93. "The Continental Op" by Dashiell Hammett
94. "Deception Point" by Dan Brown
95. "Faceless Killers" by Henning Mankell
96. "The Enemy" by Charlie Higson
97. "Six Thinking Hats" by Edward De Bono
98. "Miss Wyoming" by Douglas Coupland
99. "Polystom" by Adam Roberts
100. "The Final Solution" by Michael Chabon
101. "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer
102. "Dawn of the Dumb" by Charlie Brooker

Re-reads (30/50) - thing number 69
1. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
2. "The Player of Games" by Iain M. Banks
3. "Virtual Light" by William Gibson
4. "Idoru" by William Gibson
5. "All Tomorrow's Parties" by William Gibson
6. "Blood Music" by Greg Bear
7. "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson
8. "Casino Royale" by Ian Fleming
9. "The Great Outdoor Fight" by Chris Onstad
10. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. "George's Marvellous Medicine" by Roald Dahl
12. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl
13. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde
14. "The Magician's Nephew" by C. S. Lewis
15. "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis
16. "The Horse and His Boy" by C. S. Lewis
17. "Prince Caspian" by C. S. Lewis
18. "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" by C. S. Lewis
19. "The Silver Chair" by C. S. Lewis
20. "The Last Battle" by C. S. Lewis
21. "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart
22. "Use Of Weapons" by Iain M. Banks
23. "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow
24. "Jpod" by Douglas Coupland
25. "Microserfs" by Douglas Coupland
26. "Excession" by Iain M. Banks
27. "Crooked Little Vein" by Warren Ellis
28. "Glasshouse" by Charles Stross
29. "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4" by Sue Townsend
30. "The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole" by Sue Townsend

Films at the cinema - thing number 70 - complete! Continuous list now!
1. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - 23/05/2008
2. "Iron Man" - 31/05/2008
3. "The Incredible Hulk" - 20/06/2008
4. "Wanted" - 30/06/2008
5. "The Dark Knight" - 23/07/2008
6. "WALL-E" - 01/08/2008
7. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" - 15/08/2008
8. "Tropic Thunder" - 22/09/2008
9. "Burn After Reading" - 21/10/2008
10. "Quantum of Solace" - 04/11/2008
11. "Waltz With Bashir" - 21/11/2008
12. "Changeling" - 02/12/2008
13. "Far North" - 30/12/2008
14. "Watchmen" - 13/03/2009
15. "Coraline" - 03/05/2009
16. "Star Trek" - 09/05/2009, 15/05/2009
17. "Terminator Salvation" - 07/06/2009
18. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" - 19/06/2009
19. "The Hangover" - 01/07/2009
20. "Bruno"
21. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
22. "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra" - 09/08/2009
23. "The Time Traveler's Wife" - 20/08/2009
24. "Inglourious Basterds" - 05/09/2009
25. "District 9" - 07/09/2009
26. "The Ugly Truth"
27. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
28. "The Taking of Pelham 123"
29. "Up" - 10/09/2009
30. "Zombieland"
31. "A Christmas Carol"
32. "New Moon" - 22/11/2009
33. "Nativity!" - 13/12/2009
34. "Avatar" - 20/12/2009
35. "Sherlock Holmes"
36. "The Road" - 18/01/2010
37. "Daybreakers" - 30/01/2010
38. "The Wolfman" - 13/02/2010
39. "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" - 14/02/2010

Classic Films (11/25) - thing number 71
1. "My Neighbor Totoro" - 25/05/2008
2. "Copland" - 19/10/2008
3. "No Country for Old Men" - 13/2/2009
4. "The Maltese Falcon" - 20/3/2009
5. "Citizen Kane" - 21/3/2009
6. "Tron" - 3/4/2009
7. "Casablanca" - 17/4/2009
8. "Breakfast At Tiffany's" - 08/06/2009
9. "Scrooged" - 13/11/2009
10. "The Postman Always Rings Twice" - 30/12/2009
11. "A Kiss Before Dying" - 02/01/2010

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Where Does The Time Go?

I've had a busy few days! I wish I could say that it had wholly been in the service of achieving more of my 101 goals, but alas, life steps in. Not that that's a bad thing in itself, as some of these things have been good too (and things in life can be good even though they are not part of 101/1001 of course).


I've read another book, Wuthering Heights, which was... different. It wasn't the great romance that I had understood it to be, although it was a romance; I enjoyed it, but not as much as Jane Eyre.

I started my replay of Resident Evil 4; it's a game I really love, and I'm glad that 101/1001 gives me a reason to replay it through to completion. The style of storytelling in the game reminds me of 24 - with constant twists and turns - though the story itself probably could not be further from 24... Mind, with the ever escalating "world in peril" storylines of 24, is it too much to think that Jack Bauer will end up protecting LA from parasite-infected crazies or zombies? Resident Evil 4's heady mix of gunplay, puzzle solving, monsters and eerie atmosphere makes it a winner in my book!

I've still not finished a piece of flash fiction to my satisfaction, but I've been working on them; I have three pieces that are at various stages of completion, and a few more that I'm just thinking about at the moment. I'd read the definition of flash fiction before I settled on writing 101 pieces as one of my challenges, but it had completely slipped my mind just how few words one must tell a story in. I think that this is going to be quite a difficult challenge in some respects, but it's one that I'm looking forward to achieving and I think I'll have a lot of fun whilst I do it.

Last week while I was invigilating I was able to start work on some of the maths challenges; I won't go in to that right now, as it's a bit fiddly. It's not difficult (yes, I have in mind that I'm going to teach you all some maths before the 1001 days are out) but would require a bit of explanation that I won't go into at this point.

I was hoping that I might book myself a little holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon to see a production of Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company at some point this summer, but it seems that every performance of the whole run is sold out! There's still plenty of time to go and see a Shakespeare play, but I really did want to see David Tennant as Hamlet...

In other news, I've finished invigilating exams now, which is good as it leaves me more time to prepare for my viva (yay...) and apply for jobs (yaaaay...). Am working on two applications to hand in for university teaching jobs, and these have to be in by Friday. Hoping to get them sorted out tomorrow, as then I can take the afternoon off on Thursday to go and see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull!

And some time this coming weekend, which is a long bank holiday weekend, I need to sit down and write a letter to a friend. I might do some postcards at the same time...

...and then let me tell you about the Spider...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

We Have The Technology

I'm writing this from the laptop; invigilating exams has meant that there has been little point in having it with me so far this week, but since I didn't have an exam to cover today I thought I would bring it with me and get some software installed!

It took me a long time to connect to the university's wireless network, but finally I did it. Now I'm just waiting for various things to download and install; thankfully the connection is pretty good, and so is the laptop, so it's all going quite smoothly. Have downloaded Firefox and Acrobat Reader (neither of which came on the laptop - Acrobat did, but was a few versions previous), updated Windows Defender and tried to update the preloaded antivirus, but it was a bit funny about doing that because it is a 90 day trial version. I've ordered some other stuff, and that should come soon, so will probably just leave it until then.

Have been a little out of sorts over the last few days, not because of 101/1001, but mainly through thinking about the future (jobs, defending my thesis etc). Some friends have suggested that I should take a holiday, or at least book one, but in the absence of a current passport it leaves me with a UK holiday as the only option - not that I don't want to go on holiday in the UK, but I'm just very excited about travelling abroad. I guess the real thing that is holding me back is precisely the thing that I need to escape from, i.e., uncertainty about the future! Worry about what might happen and possibilities of job interviews and jobs has meant that I've put off booking a break just in case something comes up. My friend has kind of talked me out of that mindset this morning, but am still having trouble coming around to it I think...

Oh well. At least I have shiny toys to play with! And write on! Have kept up with making notes and getting things down for these pieces of flash fiction I've been working on. While I don't want to commit myself just yet, and I haven't decided on titles, I think that the first two pieces will be quite different from each other, one about "The Lying Sister" and one telling a tale of "The Worldspider"...

For a long time I've had problems with using ideas in different ways, because I've had this thinking that when something is written then it is written and fixed, you know, "I can't take those toys out and play with them again later" - which couldn't be further from the truth really! While I've known for a long time about writers taking stalled novels and turning them into film scripts, or failed comics and turning them into short stories, it didn't really hit me until I was reading the commentary contained with "The Children of Húrin" and Christopher Tolkien writes about how many different versions and formats the story had been through while his father was working on it; it's totally OK for an author to take their creations and do different things with them - one doesn't have to be perfect the first time around either.

As obvious as it sounds (and is!), it's something that I've only just really realised, and I'm still only just accepting.

More soon!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Weekend

So, in terms of achieving goals, this was a very productive weekend! I feel like I've cheated slightly, since all I had to do to get some of them done was buy stuff, but still...

After leaving uni on Friday evening I bought a laptop! I've been thinking about getting one for a long time, something portable that I could write on basically, but also something that had a bit of power under the hood so that I could run some other creative programs as well (Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements mostly). While I was originally leaning towards a Dell machine, in the end I decided to go with this lovely little number; the Dell machine would have been another £200 without a warranty, and the only thing it really offered was a slightly more powerful processor and a slightly smaller screen. 14.1" is portable enough for my needs.

The money I saved on the laptop then meant that I could indulge another of my "purchase" goals, and on Saturday I picked up a Scrabble set and dictionary. Of course, for the rest of the weekend my family said they were too busy to play, so I haven't played with it yet...

On Sunday I used a mud mask on my face (goal 82, one out of thirty-two), which made my face feel incredibly smooth on Monday. Bit stubbly now, so can't feel it as much, but my skin is actually quite clear.

Let's see, over the weekend I finished "The Player Of Games," and picked up "No Country for Old Men" in a charity shop for the bargain price of £1.25. I finished that on the train this morning, and in my morning invigilation I started reading "Wuthering Heights." Am only four or five chapters in, but it's pretty good so far.

"No Country for Old Men" was a good read. I really liked the style in which it was written. The dialogue was good, and the way that that was set out (without punctuation, and at times with really clipped sentences) added to the whole mood of the book. I didn't see the film when it was at the cinema a few months ago, but I think that I'll catch it sooner or later on DVD.

I've read "The Player Of Games" before, but it was just a complete joy to re-read. Everything about the far-future universe (well, depending on your definition of "far" I guess) that the Culture live in makes for interesting reading, and sometimes understanding the motivations of these people whose lives are so far removed from our own makes you stop and think about what kind of world you live in now - just as the titular character struggles to understand the 'barbaric' society that he travels to in order to play their great game.

I'm going to start a separate page to keep track of the books and films, and I'll put a link to that in the sidebar. Might be going to the cinema tomorrow night with a friend, but the choice is quite narrow ("Iron Man" or "Speed Racer", neither of which have had the reviews I think they were hoping for). Looking forward to Indiana Jones in a week or so, but it's still "The Dark Knight" that I'm most looking forward to this summer...

Oh, and I started writing some flash fiction! When will I post some? Soon, very soon I hope...

Friday, 9 May 2008

Another goal done!

I'm thinking that maybe I was too easy on myself with my Scrabble goals; as I mentioned a few days ago, I thought I was on track to complete thing number 56, getting more than 350 points in a game of Scrabble. While technically a few days ago I could claim that that was true (it was inevitable at that point) I decided to hold off until the game was complete. Which it now is!I got to a point where I knew I couldn't really play the tiles I had left, and though I was still over the 350 point target I wanted to maximise what I had; thus I had to play a little craftily, balancing points I was earning against the points I was going to lose because I couldn't shift the V I had left anywhere. The N in "AN" and "ANA" towards the top left was my final play, earning me plenty to offset the 7 points I lost from having the V and C.

(whereas if I had played CON in the bottom middle I would have only lost four points from the V, but only earned 5 from CON, giving me a net gain of 1 point... Get it?)

So two down and not even a month in. Hooray for me! he says with his tongue firmly in cheek.

Yesterday I read "The Children of Húrin" by J. R. R. Tolkien (yes, in the day... The exam I was invigilating was very boring, and I finished the work I wanted to do more quickly than I anticipated) and I'll write about that soon, possibly over the weekend. On the train on the way in this morning I started re-reading "The Player Of Games" by Iain M. Banks; I guess reading "Matter" earlier this week really put me in the mood to read stories about the Culture.

I'm going to force myself to sit down and write some flash fiction this weekend too; I have been far too lax about it all, 101 pieces of short fiction is a huge amount of writing over the next few years, never mind everything else I want to get done. I have some ideas, and in reading through some of the notes/appendices in "The Children of Húrin" I have been reminded that one does not have to get something exactly right first time when writing. Things evolve, things morph and a short story can become something else.

Too often I put off writing something because I think "No wait, that would be a good novel, I shouldn't use that there," or "But I like this character, I want them to do other stuff, not just be trapped on the ark ship with the space zombies"... At least for a little while, I'm going to try my hand at a bit of science fiction; I read a lot of science fiction, but I very rarely write any, so this is going to be interesting.

(neither of my NaNoWriMo novels from the last few years have been sci-fi, although the first one was definitely a fantasy story)

And maybe I'll be doing my writing on a laptop... Decisions, decisions, decisions... (and shiny!)

So yeah, things are moving forwards. I'll try and post something by email about "The Children of Húrin" over the weekend, and early next week I'm going to start a separate page which will keep a running list of all the books that I've read over the course of 101/1001.

Right now, I have to rush a few emails off, am invigilating another exam in less than an hour!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Three Haiku

The curtains have closed,
And not two minutes later,
The phones are ringing.

The box is so small;
The bearers don't have to strain
On that final march.

my heart is pounding,
head throbs, pulsing on the left
and I can't quite breathe...

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What's the 'Matter'?

Iain M. Banks' latest Culture novel, "Matter", is quite different from his other Culture books. But then, they're all quite different from each other, so in that respect it's quite similar to his earlier works...

The concepts that he comes up with (layered worlds, intelligent clouds, hierarchies of meta-civilisatrions) always dazzle, and never get in the way of interesting stories, never drown out the three dimensional characters that inhabit the worlds (and things other than worlds) where his tales take place.

It's a nice break having just recovered from reading American Psycho... Am stunned from the comment that Matt left me, about having read it when he was 16. It was a good book, but just too grisly for me in places.

I wrote some haiku down at the weekend, and will put them up tomorrow. I'm also very close to completing my other main Scrabble challenge; final turns of a game with a friend over Scrabulous, and technically I can't not score over 350 now, but just want to hold off until it's finalised!

I'm going to hold off on entering the SFX Pulp Idol competition this year, and work on some stories (along with the other flash fiction I'll be writing) over the next year and enter then. I just realised that I really didn't have time to commit to an entry for this year, and thought it would be rushed if I did send anything in. Next year SFX, next year!

It's exam invigilation time, so along with reading through my thesis to prepare for my viva, I'll be reading some novels... "Matter" starts the week, followed by either "The Children of Húrin" or "Wuthering Heights"...

Sunday, 4 May 2008

American Psych-o-o-OH!!!

I've not read anything by Bret Easton Ellis before, but I have seen the film of American Psycho, and that might be a good thing; I quite like the film (particularly Christian Bale's performance), and I'm not sure that I would have watched the film had I read the book first.

This isn't because the book is bad, because in terms of the way that the protagonist describes the people around him, and his passions for clothes and eating out, he makes for an interesting character; what starts as just obsessive behaviour turns increasingly dark, and that's where my enjoyment started to level off. I read The Silence Of The Lambs in my early teenage years, but that was nothing to the depraved actions of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. In places, the descriptions of dismemberment and cruelty where so gory that my stomach was flipping all over the place. On more than one occasion I had to close the book and take a breath before carrying on.

The violence in the film is nothing compared to the picture of depravity given in the book, and while I enjoyed the themes and reading about the obsessions that Bateman shares with his colleagues over clothes, business cards and the best places to eat, the sheer intensity of his murderous tastes and how they were described took away from my enjoyment.

The next book for me will be 'Matter', the new Culture novel by Iain M. Banks. In fact, I'm going to start it now.

More soon.