Saturday, June 14, 2008

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

Anyone who knows me knows I occasionally read young adult books simply for the pleasure of seeing what is out there. I am more disappointed than not but I trusted that Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks would be one of my better experiences because I have confidence in the publishing house that distributed his book in the US.

As usual with young adult books, I breezed through it and grew increasingly frustrated with two things. One, I found it highly coincidental bordering on the ridiculous. Two, I found it all unbelievably predictable. And that should be where this book review would end, with my complaining about the quality of young adult literature and how writing a novel that is both too convenient and predictable is insulting to young adult readers.

It would except after I closed the book and thought about it I realized that it probably wouldn't be predictable to a young adult reader. Brooks very cleverly (and obviously not overtly) draws on a literary tradition that is most often seen in movies. What's more, he does so to good effect. That I have been exposed to this tradition explains how I would feel frustrated with the plot's precitability but someone who has not been exposed would likely find the plot twists pleasantly surprising. To say more would give too much away. But like a wine that surprises with an aromatic aftertaste, Martyn Pig definitely sneaked up on me and a couple of days later I realized that this is really a very good book and not the least bit insulting to a young adult reader.

Unless, of course, that young adult reader likes the same movies I do. Then I would say they will find it as unsurprising as I did.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Quote, Poll, and Woo Woo

Quote of the Week
I have learned silence from the talkative,
tolerance from the intolerant,
and kindness from the unkind.
I should not be ungrateful to those teachers.
Kahlil Gibran

The poll in my blog is also up and running in one other location and right now I have a three way tie. I'm thinking of combining the results from the December poll with the results from this poll to get a result. I only had three votes for two things in December so it was 2:1 for Buddhism which is why so much of my reading has been focused on Buddhism. However, with a three way tie I have a dilemma and I don't think I will get any more votes so the only other choice I have is to merge the results from last time with this time and use that to break the tie.

I have determined that Snowdoll has a split personality. First there is Snowdoll. She is the Princess Licky Face. She is the snuggle puppy. She is the one who stretches herself into a full cobra pose and twists herself with excitement when she knows we have a treat in our hands.

Then there's Woo Woo. Woo Woo is the one who barks to let us know she needs to go outside . . . in the middle of the night when I am in a deep sleep full of dreamy loveliness. She is the one who, when I am cleaning in the kitchen, will sneak off into the great room and not tell me she needs to go outside. I figure there must be a split personality involved because Woo Woo will sneak off and do her business on the carpet and then Snowdoll will walk slowly into the bathroom and put herself into Time Out because she knows she isn't supposed to do these things inside.

I mean, how else can you explain her eagerness to wake us up from a dream and not tell us when we are already wide awake and able to take her outside? It also explains why she can plop herself down in the most unladylike way (clearly a Woo Woo trait) and get all prissy about walking outside when the grass is wet with dew.

Yes, there is nothing quite like being woken up at 4am and having her step out onto the grass only to immediately want to turn around and go back inside where the ground is dry. And I am convinced there must be a split personality because this same dog that will not go outside if it is raining without being forced to do so will eagerly dig in her water bowl for an ice cube, pouncing both paws into the water and splashing it all over. And why? She still ends up dunking her nose and muzzle into the water to get the ice cube. It isn't like her splooshing the water around is going to make the ice cube stand still!!!

I mean look at this! Snowdoll wouldn never do this to me. She would never run so fast and suddenly as to slam my arm into the door frame, scraping my skin, and causing me to bruise. Now Woo Woo . . . she would definitely do something like that.

I tried to get a picture of Snowdoll, curled up under the desk chair, her paws crossed around the chair leg, her lower leg curled above chair leg and the upper leg curled under it. Unfortunately, Woo Woo got distracted by the camera and I didn't get the adorable picture I had hoped to get. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Which Masterpiece Theater is So Disappointing

In the past few weeks I have been twice disappointed with Masterpiece Theater Classics. I missed a third opportunity to be disappointed when a friend of mine called just as the program was starting to talk about her ex husband, her son, and I ended up listening to her and not watching the show. But I am not sure that I mind, judging from what I have caught. I was delighted to see that A Room With a View was scheduled. Excited by the prospect of seeing another film version of a novel I adore, I eagerly nestled down to watch the program. About halfway through I wondered why PBS didn’t just air the Merchant Ivory version, with Helena Bonham Carter, because it is such a lovely interpretation. It was not until the program was nearly over that I realized the ending of this “new” version was different from the novel’s. If the new ending had added anything of relevance to the story, I would not have necessarily minded. However, the new ending had little to do with the overall theme of the story and added an unnecessary pathos. (As it turns out, this “new” version actually was filmed prior to the Merchant Ivory movie.) This did not, however, dissuade me from catching Henry VIII when it aired. I was especially excited that Helena Bonham Carter was playing Anne Boleyn and managed to bite down my frustration that once again Catherine of Aragorn was getting short shrift. And I wanted to enjoy what I was watching. However, I quickly grew frustrated with the presumably clever camera work which I merely found annoying and I kept remembering the wonderful Masterpiece Theater production The Six Wives of Henry VIII which PBS aired sometime in the 70s. Why bother condensing such a wonderful story to two episodes? Why bother filming something new when you already have, in your archives, something superior? I guess this goes to show you: New is not necessarily better.