Writing

Archive of posts about Category: Books

Shark Drunk

I loved Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean, a book about two friends hunting a Greenland Shark in northern Norway.

It goes into many interesting places: history, Norwegian culture, the nature of male friendship, and the immense and mysterious world that lies below the sea. ...continue reading...

The days of small things

I resolved to see the world with my own eager eyes. So I ran away from home, and in this way made an early acquaintance with the corrugated side of life.

I joined a small circus, and soon learned to conduct the Punch and Judy show, to do a ventriloquial act, and to play town clown on the bars — “gol darn it.” I also doubled in brass — that is, I beat the cymbals. I here gained the experiences that possibly ripened me into the world’s Handcuff King and Prison Breaker — a title which i have justly earned. ...continue reading...

Exhilaration comes from naming the unnamable and hearing it named

I’m moving again and it’s time to go through books that are good enough for me to mark up but not good enough to haul into storage while I figure out where I’m going to land.

Going through The Last Self-Help Book, I found some passages that I highlighted a few months ago and now I’m wondering if Walker read Bohm because there are a lot of similarities in the way they talk about art and science describing the world as it is: ...continue reading...

The worst sin a filmmaker can make

This morning I went to a cafe to work on the script. The directing part of the script. I read through my old notes on Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies, an excellent book on directing. The main thesis of the book is that every movie has a theme, a central principle, truth, or message.

That theme guides all other choices. Once you have that theme, it’s easier to make your decisions and answer questions.

I spent about three hours thinking through the theme and how I want the camera to move and what do to with framing, the key moments of the film, the tone, and the rhythm. The rhythm is so important to me and I’ve learned from experience not to leave this to the editing room because there’s only so much you can do with cutting.

The movie is dialogue-heavy so it needs to feel in motion and to move forward at all times, so as not to get stuck in the single location.

And I leafed through my dog-eared copy of Werner Herzog’s book, A Guide for the Perplexed, which I love dearly.

When he’s not talking about being shot in the stomach or bamboozling border agents, he says things like:

The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. ...continue reading...

“We are driven back to the ‘blood’, the thriller”

I found this Graham Green quote in one of Pauline Kael’s reviews in The Age of Movies, my first encounter with Kael after I stumbled upon it in Powell’s Books in Portland:

“The cinema,” Greene said, “has always developed by means of a certain low cunning…. We are driven back to the ‘blood,’ the thriller…. We have to… dive below the polite level, to something nearer to the common life…. And when we have attained to a a more popular drama, even if it is in the simplest terms of blood on a garage floor (‘There lay Duncan laced in his golden blood’), the scream of cars in flight, all the old excitements at their simplest and most sure-fire, then we can begin–secretly, with low cunning–to develop our poetic drama.” ...continue reading...

I started to wonder what I was doing there

I found this line in Michel Houllebecq’s Submission:

I started to wonder what I was doing there. This very basic question can occur to anyone, anywhere, at any moment in his life, but there’s no denying that the solitary traveler is especially vulnerable. ...continue reading...

Only people who don’t give a damn have style

Canseco has been described as a charmer and a clown, but in fact he is a rogue, a genuine one, and genuine rogues are rare, inside baseball and out. It’s not enough to flout the law, to be a rogue–break promises, shirk responsibilities, cheat–you must also, at least some of the time, and with the same abandon, do your best, play by the rules, keep faith with your creditors and dependents, obey orders, throw out the runner at home plate with a dead strike from deep right field. Above all, you must do these things, as you do their opposites, for no particular reason, because you feel like it or do not, because nothing matters, and everything’s a joke, and nobody knows anything, and most of all, as Rhett Butler once codified for rogues everywhere, because you do not give a damn ...continue reading...

Fiction is the truth, fool!

You should never just read for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior; or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for God’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid. ...continue reading...

My days become dreamlike

At its best, my system gives me a smoother living experience. My days become dreamlike, no edges anywhere, none of the snags and snafus that life is so famous for. After days and days alone it gets silky to the point where I can’t even feel myself anymore, it’s as if I don’t exist. ...continue reading...

Stephen King’s “On Writing”

I love books about writing. I think for me they serve as sort of a moral support to keep me going. I don’t know that they’re particularly informative or can really teach you to be a better writer, at least if you’re not writing a lot already.

Anyway, I’m reading On Writing by Stephen King now. Actually, I’m listening to the audiobook. It’s a really good read (listen?) even though it’s geared more towards novelists and it had a lot of his personal history, which I wasn’t really expecting. Part memoir, part discussion of the craft. And I haven’t read many of his books either.

Anyway, I’m not going to review the book or anything. But there was one passage that made me laugh, where he says something like “every writer remembers the first time they put a book down because they just can’t stand to read it.” And that reminded me of the first time I did that.

I was in a hostel in Lisbon, Portugal and somehow I had acquired a John Grisham novel. Not one of the more well-known ones. I have no idea which one it was, this was maybe 13 years ago. And I remember being hungover in this hostel and having absolutely nothing else to read and just trying to slog through it but the plot was so emotionally manipulative and the dialogue was so awful that it would make me anxious whenever someone was about to speak.

And I just had to stop reading it, even though it meant having nothing else to read except for the weird rantings on the side of my bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap, which is not really a good read per se but can occupy your mind because the writing is so convoluted and hard to decipher.

I had read John Grisham in high school and remembered liking the stories so I thought maybe I just grew out of them? Or maybe this one was just a bad apple. I don’t know. Later on in the trip I stumbled upon The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy and boy was that good travel book because it sucked me in and was like 900 pages. And even though the writing wasn’t Dostoevsky or anything, it was good enough to not want to throw the book out the window and make it through.





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