Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Time Sinks

Choicest links of the day:

Crunks '05 -- the choicest media corrections of the year

Lostpedia -- the "Lost" wiki. Don't get them started about the numbers.

Monday, December 12, 2005

When Giants Walked the Earth

Here's a good, old interview with John D. MacDonald by Ed Gorman. One quote jumped out at me:

I had four months of terminal leave pay at lieutenant colonel rates starting in September of 1945, ending in January 1946. I wrote eight hundred thousand words of short stories in those four months, tried to keep thirty of them in the mail at all times, slept about six hours a night and lost twenty pounds.
800,000 in four months! Holy crap!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Trilogy in Translation

Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia" is slated for a Moscow premiere in 2007.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

An Odd Stoppard Anecdote

One of Tom Stoppard's former journalistic colleagues has written a memoir that contains a strange story about Stoppard dressing up as Father Christmas and engaging in "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" repartee.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bad Covers

The more I look at Kage Baker's fine new novel, "The Children of the Company," the more disheartened I am by its cover art. Tell me, why is Patrick Stewart's disembodied head hovering above the swarthy, berobed gentleman? (You can tell this is the future, because all the buildings lack square edges.) This illustration gives no hint of the historical sweep of Baker's funny and suspenseful tale.

Compare it with the cover of her "Black Projects, White Knights," from Golden Gryphon.

Which would you be more likely to pick up?

In my capacity as a book reviewer, I see a lot of bad cover art, not always from small publishers who can't afford better. Below are two of my recent favorites, both featuring giant reptiles. I kind of like the evil iguana with the glowing green orb. He's really choking the bejeesus of that poor guy, isn't he? But the snake sitting on the throne? Why would a snake, albeit a presumably royal one, want a throne? And what does he do with the mirror? Check for food stuck in his forked tongue?

I know nothing about the quality of either of these books. They both could be masterpieces, I suppose. But those covers, man, they just don't do them any favors.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Baker, Priest, Carroll and Powell

Yesterday, The San Francisco Chronicle ran my review of new books by Kage Baker, Cherie Priest, Jonathan Carroll and comics creator Eric Powell.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Best

Yesterday The Chronicle ran my list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2005.

And while we're on the subject of superlatives, it's distressing how the best comedy on television can be canceled while "The War at Home," "Yes, Dear," "Joey" and "According to Jim" are still stinking up the airwaves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kinder Words from The Sun and Newsday

Itamar Moses's "Bach at Leipzig" fares better in reviews from The New York Sun and Newsday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Even Proteges Get Panned

Neither The Miami Herald or The New York Times are loving "Bach at Leipzig," the new play written by Itamar Moses and championed by Tom Stoppard. (Registration req. Or visit bugmenot.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Singularly Unperceptive Review

From an iScotland review of "The Real Thing":

The play had some very funny moments but without a detailed knowledge of literature and the arts, some of the gags can go right over your head!

Yeah, that'll happen.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thinking Woman's Crumpet?

Tom Conti is getting ready to star in Stoppard's "The Real Thing."

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Times Asks, The Next Stoppard?

For the second time in a month, The New York Times has mentioned Tom Stoppard and young playwright Itamar Moses in the same article. Moses' "Bach at Leipzig" certainly sounds Stoppardian. And apparently the two writers are mutual admirers.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Though Really Weary of Eggers and His Ilk...

The September issue of The Believer features a substantial interview with Tom Stoppard. Here's a teaser for the full article. It's also available in "The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another Unfavorable Review

The International Herald Tribune doesn't have much nice to say about Stoppard's "Heroes."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fear and Loathing in Woody Creek

It can't have been easy being Hunter S. Thompson's wife. And it doesn't sound as if being his widow is any easier.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Boats Against the Current

Sometimes it sure seems like I'm living in a Philip K. Dick novel.

If anyone had asked me a week ago whether I had ever read "The Great Gatsby," I would have unhesitatingly answered in the affirmative. Sure, sure -- Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jay, Long Island, American Dream, the optometrist's sign, the garage owner with the gun, boats against the current borne ceaselessly into the past. I know the drill. I definitely had to read Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" in high school, but I remember reading "Gatsby" on my own initiative during college, probably during a summer vacation when I was working horrible hours for the U.S. Postal Service.

So why, as I read "Gatsby" this week, did it seem familar in outline but completely new in most of its particulars? Granted, it has to have 25 years since I last picked it up, but shouldn't I have recognized more from it -- Owl-Eyes, James Gatz's befuddled father, the queasy depiction of the Jewish gangster? Why did the novel seem like a completely fresh reading experience?

Have I been fooling myself all these years and never read more of "Gatsby" than the Mad Magazine parody of the ill-fated movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow? What other books am I deluded about?

Stoppard Fails to Rescue Dull `Heroes' in London

The production of Stoppard's new translation fails to impress David Benedict of Bloomberg.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sir Tom in the Doghouse

Translation is a tricky business. When Sir Tom Stoppard agreed to adapt Gérald Sibleyras's "Le Vent des peupliers" for a starry West End opening, the first problem was the title. -- From The Telegraph

That's a Perfectly Cromulent Word

This has been making the rounds, but I can't help but blog it myself: A Dictionary of Made-up Words from The Simpsons."

Also, The Royal Court Theatre has announced that it will produce "Rock 'n Roll," a new play by Tom Stoppard, to be directed by Trevor Nunn.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Birthday Party

Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize on this 75th birthday. Tom Stoppard, among others, wished him well.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Paolini, Gaiman, Butler

My Chronicle review of "Eldest," "Anansi Boys" and "Fledgling."

Two out of three ain't bad.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Clean Slate

Gradually, it will grow...