Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book tag

Ian tagged me on this one, and while I don't always respond to tags (OM is notorious for sending me chain mail) this one is fun. Also, just because I can, I'm using favourite book and comic book. I have lots and lots of both and way too many favourites…

1. One Book That Changed My Life
I think it would be "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke. It was the first "adult" novel I read when I was about 10-12 years old. I was just enthralled with the book and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the end meant because it wasn't "Happily ever after". It was the first time I realized that science fiction, at its best, is far more than big action sequences, aliens and space ships trying to blow each other up (ie. Star Wars).

The one comic book that changed by life was "The Anatomy Lesson" from #21 of Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore. Which might sound silly, but 25 years later it remains a masterpiece on the level of Edgar Allan Poe in terms of crafting a truly scary and disturbing story. It was the first time I realized that comics could be more than guys in tights beating each other up.

2. One Book I Have Read More Than Once
"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Yes, maybe it should be some great piece of literature. But I've lost one copy of this book from lending it out so much and had another destroyed from over-reading. I'm on my third copy. Fifteen years after it came out it remains one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Comic book wise I'm going with "The Complete Frank Miller Batman" which contains two of the best Batman stories ever written – "Year One" and "The Dark Knight Returns." It laid the ground work for every cinematic version of Batman since 1988. Except for the horrific "Batman and Robin" which was inspired by Joel Shumacher's wallet not having enough cash in it so he decided to sell his soul to toy companies.

3. One Book I Would Want On A Desert Island
So here's the rub, would I pick a book that everyone tells me I should read just so I'm finally forced to go through it out of sheer boredom, or something I genuinely love? Because the only time I was able to get through the terrible "The Shipping News", which everyone told me I had to read, was when I was in South Korea and desperate for anything written in English.

So if it's the former, I'd go with "Lord of the Rings" in the hope I might find out why people love this book and I've been bored into a coma within 10 pages. If it's the later, then I would pick the "Complete Short Stories of Arthur C. Clarke." And yes, the "SAS Survival Guide" might be more useful, but I'm going with the assumption someone is going to rescue me before starvations sets in.

The comic book would be "Absolute Watchmen" by Alan Moore. Given enough time I might finally figure out all the narrative tricks he used in completing what Time Magazine called one of the 100 greatest novels of the 20 th century.

4. One Book That Made Me Laugh
I already used "Good Omens", so instead I'll use "Bloodsucking Fiends" by Christopher Moore. Almost anything by Moore is funny (his funniest idea is still "The Stupidest Angel" about the Christmas Angel accidentally unleashing a plague of zombies on Christmas Eve who chant "First we feast, then IKEA.", but it's more of a novella than a full book), but this was his first book, which I picked up on a lark and was floored by how funny it was.

Comic book – "The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius" by Judd Winick. A foul mouth 10-year-old, who just happens to be the smartest person on the planet, and his well meaning, not so bright, hormonally over-charged best friend and the weirdness that they get involved in. I've laughed so hard while reading this on public transportation that I was unable to explain why a comic was doing this to me. Find it, seriously.

5. One Book That Made Me Cry
A tough one. Not because I'm so macho that I don't cry, just having a hard time remembering one. I think I got upset several times while reading "Shake Hands With The Devil" by Romeo Dallaire. The poor bastard.

Comic Book - "Maus" by Art Spiegelman. The story of a Holocaust survivor as told to his son. However, both are portrayed as mice while the Nazis are portrayed as cats. It sounds stupid, but it's a masterpiece and is at least as emotionally powerful as "Schindler's List." It also won the Pulitzer Prize, the only graphic novel to do so.

6. Two Books I Wish Had Been Written
"Craig, this is how you write a novel and become rich"

"Final Foundation" by Isaac Asimov.

Comic Book – "Barry Ween: Boy Genius in Space" by Judd Winick.

7. One Book I Wish Had Never Been Written
"Lure of the Labrador Wild", which a high school English teacher once described to me as "like reading Revelations backwards". Not entirely sure what that means, but it was said in a context that indicated it was horrible. And it is. Part of my problem with high school English is far too often terrible books are selected. And really, if you ever want some of these kids to read again, let alone pick up another novel, this book should be banned from the Newfoundland curriculum. Just a dreadfully dry, dull, boring book. I understand it's still being taught. May God have mercy on their souls…

I'm not especially proud of that "Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla" comic I bought back in the day, but there has been much worse. Probably Todd McFarlene's "Spawn" because it was a mediocre comic that had plenty of dramatic, and not always positive, impacts on the comic industry and many of its professional.

8. One Book I Am Currently Reading
"Two Trains Running" by Andrew Vachss. "The Custodian of Paradise" by Wayne Johnson is up next. Oh, I don't know if "Lonely Planet: Costa Rica " counts.

Comic Book – Just finished rereading "300" by Frank Miller. Waiting for Ed Brubaker's run on "Captain America" to arrive from Chapters.

9. One Book I've Been Meaning to Read
I have bookshelves full of books I've been meaning to read. Probably "A Crack in the Edge of the World" by Simon Winchester, which is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Meant to read it before going on the big trip. Ah well…

Comic – "Fell" by Warren Ellis. I'm a big Ellis fan and have most of his collections. However, Fell isn't out in it yet and might not be for some time, which is a pity.

As for who I want to see respond to this – OM, Mireille and Helmut.


colette said...

Lure of the Labrador Wild--it wasn't on the curriculum when I was in high school and I've never read it. If you can find it, try Mina Hubbard's diary of her trip across Labrador following in her husband's footsteps. There is some scholarly angst and kerfluffle going on now about the outright lies and self aggrandizement that went on in "Lure".

WJM said...

And really, if you ever want some of these kids to read again, let alone pick up another novel,

If you want them to pick up another novel, you'd have to start with a novel.

LotLW is not a novel.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, I haven't had time to blog this week, but I'm still readin'.

Guess you're gonna drag me back to the blogging board, Craig.

bagwatts said...

I noticed all the heavyweight legends of literature are left out. You know a few I'm sure: Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Orwell, H.G. Wells, Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Joyce and even Homer. Anyone heard of these people? Oh, maybe not. I don't think they had tea with batman in Labrador, wild or not. These were on my highschool reading list. My favourites: J.D. Salinger and Sylvia Plath. Plath had a facility with language that, to me, is unparalelled. Brilliant. I like real books without the pictures. I Like to use my mind. After all, that's what it's for or so I've read.

towniebastard said...

Can I assume by the unjustifed arrogance that "anonymous" has grown a pair and decided to reveal itself? At least I hope so. It's kind of depressing to think that two gits with this level of arrogrance could visit my humble blog in such a short span.

I'm certainly not going to defend my taste in reading material. It's what I like, it's what gives me pleasure. That's why people read.

If it gives you pleasure to think yourself superior to everyone else and shoot off your mouth, go crazy. Just do it elsewhere. Preferably by yourself.

Then again, I suspect the last sentence is likely redundent.

towniebastard said...

Oh WJM, you're right. LotLW isn't a novel. It's a book and there is a difference. However, can we agree that it's not very good?

bagwatts said...

As much as I'd like to make you happy and tell you that I'm anon, I can't, because I'm not. One thing I've never been, is anonymous. Unfortunately. Superior? No, not in anything except one area: I know what a turn signal is on a car and I know how it's used. Other than that, I'm totally ignorant. I feel sad that you have such a thin skin for such an ( and these are YOUR words ) 'arrogant' person. I will say this, you piqued my curiosity and I read anons comments and ya know, if you were a heart surgeon, one would expect you to know how to do heart surgery or if you were a mechanic to be able to fix a car, therefore, if you are a writer, it follows that you should be able to SPELL. I think anon pushed your buttons and you are embarrassed. Oh well, now you are like the rest of us 'gits'. Imperfect.

Mireille Sampson said...

Cheer up, Craig! If you were such an uninteresting writer why would the poncey tool (plagarized from Mercer 'cause he's just so fucking cool) keep coming back to your page? Your writing is exactly what you set out to make it: entertaining.

Last book I read: The Mission Song by John Le Carre, only the very best in cloak-and-daggar. Often, the books I buy are just for the pictures - really, the text that accompanies colour plates of historic art tends to be tedious to the point of sleep remedy.

LotLW is evil and our English teacher apologized for making us read it, he really didn't want to...imagine, he's had to read it over and over again until he retired. Poor bastard.

Johnth said...

Now, oddly enough, I liked "Lure of the Labrador Wild." There's just something about the book that captures the o'erweening arrogance and sheer stupidity that was Leonidas Hubbard. Maybe it's because I like reading diaries? Maybe I'm just diseased. I'm the only person I've ever met who actually liked it, so maybe it's just me.

That said, I liked "Great Heart", the same story, retold, much better.

vickyth said...

This is one of those places where John and I differ. LotLW is given a grudging place on our shelves. I tolerate his strange tastes and he , in turn, doesn't mock me for actually having once liked the Stone Angel (I was in a depressed hyper-feminist period) and having Michael Ondaatje (sp?) kciking around here and there.

For the record, Sylvia Plath drives me mad. Why would a person want to go through life feeling so wretched all the time? Her use of language is good, but man, if I read her consistently, I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning. Ted Huge's stuff as a complete flip-flop from hers. Very interesting how spouses differ. But that's just my taste and thank heavens we all have different ideas about what's good. Be a pretty boring world if we were homogenous.

vickyth said...

Okay, just reread my last comment. I have no way of knowing whether he was "Ted Huge" or not. That was a typo and should have read "Ted Hughes". Must not blog before third cup of coffee.

towniebastard said...

Mireille, I always forget that no matter how terrible it is to read that book, having to teach something you hate for decades is probably a far worse torture.

And Vicky, spouses always have reading material that drives their mate insane. I still recall the start horror that was on Cathy's face the first time she saw my comic book collection. Fortunately, we had been going out for a bit so she couldn't bail immediately.

I, on the other hand, tend to roll my eyes a bit at the Laurell K. Hamilton. It all balances out.

Melanie said...

What a fun game! This is a much better questionnaire than those other horrible emails you normally get.

I'm going to send this to everyone I know - thanks.