Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More El More

I just read Elmore Leonard's Be Cool which is a sequel to the fabulous Get Shorty.  Near the beginning Chili Palmer, talking about the movie sequel to Get Leo (Get Lost) says that the sequels are never as good as the original.  Unfortunately, it sets the tone for this book, which is a meandering novel about using and manipulating life to make a movie (kind of like writing a novel about using life and manipulating life to make a movie).  Along the way we meet US mobsters, bad-assed rappers, a gay Samoan body guard, Russian mobsters, star-starved women, and any number of LA entertainment industry characters.  It's a fun romp, if not a bit depressing, because the realization that talent doesn't really matter all that much is probably true. (A top music business CEO tells Chili that most of the women who do toothpaste ads can sing better than the stars.)  Anyway, the end result is that Chili hands the whole thing to a screenwriter and hopes that he/she can turn it into something.  Elmore Leonard did not.  He published it as is.  But of course because it's Elmore, and he's even cooler than Chili Palmer, it's worth the time.

Over or Under?

Ever wonder what the characteristics of people who take their toilet paper from under rather than over were?
I thought not, but here they are anyway, courtesy of Hunch.com.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Olives, Anyone?

Olive Kitteridge is a stunning book.  Simply and beautifully written; complex in its simplicity, the novel is a collection of interwoven short stories, a form that if not birthed, was certainly given identity by Louis Erdich with Love Medicine.  Olive is not a likeable woman.  She is intolerant and speaks her intolerance, alienating her son and many others.  As Olive states, “And I am essentially a peasant.  I have the strong passions and prejudices of a peasant.”  But she is far richer in character than this, and to paraphrase a New York Times book reviewer commented, the gravitational pull that anchors the various stories in the novel.  The novel will shock you, amuse you, stun, marvel  and nearly devastate you, often within a few pages.  Set in contemporary Maine, Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer for this work.  And she damn well deserves it.