Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anticipation Blues

I just got word from andrew that he managed to get a copy of Joe Hill's The Heart-Shaped Box and the fact that it's out now is annoying the hell out of me.

FYI, Hill is the son of Stephen King and his 'hidden' identity had supposedly been one of the worst-kept secrets in the horror writers' community. Imagine that, you're the son of the King of Horror Writers and you want to write horror: how the heck are you going to get out of your father's shadow? (This is not deja vu as I've talked about how hard it was to get a copy of his story collection here.)

So I had the Powerbooks Greenbelt branch reserve a copy for me a week ago-- together with a copy of Hal Duncan's Ink-- and they promised they'd let me know once the books come in. Then andrew texted me yesterday that he managed to get a copy at their Megamall branch, the last one it seemed. Obviously, that left me wondering: where's my copy?

Annoyed, I called up the Greenbelt branch and they told me: sorry, they don't have their copies yet and that they couldn't do a thing about it. So no book for me.

*sigh* Patience is a virtue I hear.

On the other hand, I once tagged Duncan's first book Vellum as one of the best books I've read and Ink is the sequel/second book in that duology. Well, Fully-Booked Rockwell has trade-paperback copies of this but having been suitably impressed, I'm currently holding out for a hardbound copy of this monster to match my copy of the first book. Why settle for the expense? I'm a geek in that sense of the word when one has suitable expertise in a particular field (whether books, shooting guns, or esoteric knowledge like aliens landing on Earth), one does not stint on the small stuff.

In other news, I managed to catch 300 at the moviehouse earlier in the week and it was less than 'glorious' for me despite praise from friends and reviews. I suppose it was because I managed to finish Steven Pressfield's quite satisfying book on the subject matter, The Gates of Fire, before I watched the movie. Knowing the details on the Spartans' holding action against the million-strong Persians makes any Hollywood movie pale in comparison-- even if it's based on the well-received comic book by Frank Miller (and despite the movie's fantastic re-imagining of the event).

Or maybe it's because my rather high expectations of the movie based on this quite moving trailer. Funny enough, I had a sense that I could be expecting too much from the movie but despite this-- and despite this rather scathing movie review by Nick Mamatas-- I thought I could handle it. But I suppose the kicker that had me disgruntled by the end of the movie was the narrator's rather overlong declamation at the end of the movie. Geez, man, get over it and get on with the Battle of Plataea!

(On an additional note, skinny passed on this NYT review by Neil Stephenson, which more or less encapsulates how I feel about the said movie.)


JP said...

I suppose Heat Shaped Box should surface here soon, too - although I really must wait until pay day before I even go and check.

I suppose we fall into opposite camps on Duncan.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

yeah, 300 rules!

oops. was that not what you were saying?

i'd have to take the middle ground on Duncan...some interesting spins on what literature can do with reality i suppose, but done with uber-dense prose in the wrong way. and i generally have nothing against the F-word (Southpark rules! for instance), but the way Duncan falls back on it makes me want to go 'golly and gee and willickers, Mr Duncan'; but as i haven't finished the book, i can't really take a stand on this.

except that i won't be going back to it anytime soon.

banzai cat said...

jp: Heh I know what you mean, especially since I'm willing to get hardbound copy (something I don't usually do).

On Duncan, yeah, I was about you. :-D

skinny: re 300, well yea and nay. ;-) But at least it's fun nowadays to go around shouting "This is Sparta!" and "Tonight we dine in hell!"

Pop culture reference is always fun, especially when one gets the reference. :-)

Hmmm... uber-dense prose in Duncan's work? How do you define dense prose as say compared to Mervyn Peake?

banzai cat said...

Er, what I meant was 'I was talking about you'. Damn typos...

JP said...

>>'golly and gee and willickers, Mr Duncan'

You certaily have way with words, Skinny. :)

Banzai - Duncan actually has me thinking I need to come out with a reasonable explanation of what sort of density I condone, and what sort I do not, and why. Argh. I'm waiting to see Skinny's thoughts on the matter, like us he favours some dense prose stylists too (Peake in this case, I think, I wouldn't call Harrison dense so much as conceptually rich).

banzai cat said...

I await your explanation also. :-)

(I guess it doesn't cut it, the explanation "I can't explain it but I just don't like it" anymore, eh?)

skinnyblackcladdink said...

it isn't just the density per se, but what creates that density.

a density that results from redundancy (no matter how he expects it to be defused by the premise behind his work), with the remaining gaps filled in with fuckfuckfuck, does not appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities. (to qualify, i don't always mind overusing the f-word as long as it's well contextualized. a quentin tarantino or kevin smith movie, for instance, or southpark...)

also, his wordplay sometimes borders on the ridiculous, which feels inappropriate to the material.

try comparing his with Peake's prose. there's a world of difference. Duncan's prose feels like an adolescent/juvenile *attempt* at what Peake did.

oh, and on yelling 'This is Sparta!', i actually would have more fun watching a bunch of blokes yelling 'Traitor! Traitor!' the way those old toga-party dudes were doing at their little meeting thingy (possibly the silliest mo of the film, to my mind)...or maybe half a dozen guys chewing apples going 'No reason we can't be civilized...'

Der Fuhrer said...

300 was awesome. heheh. never mind that the actual themes of the movie were left and tossed at such a point of hilarity. it was aesthetically pleasing.

the score was freaking great. must get one.heheh.

Der Fuhrer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

I'd have to echo what skinny said.

Perhaps more a sign of shared prejudice or taste than a damning indictment. I'm going to get Ink when it comes out in mmpb and read them back to back and see what I think. And try and work up a hopefully coherent essay about my conclusions. This will take time.

banzai cat said...

skinny: Hmmm, I haven't really tried reading Peake yet so can't compare. However, it does sound funny when an example of contextualization is Southpark. But I get your point. ;-)

Another funny is that I never found Duncan's work as dense. Weird.

fuhrer: Yep, leave your brain at the door and enjoy the show! Though at least it was no Star Wars prequel.

jp: Ah, so you guys have Ink already there? Damn you. :-D

Cyberpunk said...

heart-shaped box got a good review in, i'll be looking for it next time i go to a bookstore...

but i didn't know joe hill was king's son...dang, i envy the guy already...