Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:
Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.
Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.
In other news and commentary:
Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.
It’s not particularly Halloweenish–though The Hobbit certainly has its creepy moments–but perhaps owing to the upcoming first The Hobbit film, Tolkien seems to be in the news a lot. This week, we’ve got Buy Cheap Viagra Onlineilynews.com/blogs/pageviews/2012/10/harpercollins-to-publish-jrr-tolkien-epic-poem-next-year”>HarperCollins announcing publication of a never-before-published epic poem by the good professor, USA Today weighs in on why we still love The Hobbit, Blastr has 17 little known facts about Tolkien and his work (did you know he was briefly kidnapped as a baby? I didn’t), Warner Bros. is creating a couple of free online Hobbit games, and a man from Bainbridge Island, WA, not far from where yours truly lives, has built a Hobbit-like house.
On that last note: whimsy, often very enjoyable whimsy, appears to be making the rounds. Example A: Introvert fairy tales. Also, The Weather Channel thought it would be fun to start naming winter storms, and especially fun to use mythological names–which include Draco, Luna, and Gandolf (yes, spelled that way; named after a different fantasy character, apparently, but their chosen namesake is hardly the one everyone will think of.) Author Shannon Hale recently hosted a competition looking for the best pictures of boys reading ‘girl books’ and got an enthusiastic and rather adorable response. A very well-done Simon and Garfunkel filk on Battlestar Galactica has hit the interwebs: The Sound of Cylons. And I find myself wondering whether this customer is unusually uninhibited, or if she just lost a bet.
Meanwhile, Rowling claims her next book will be for children, and English professor Ben Yagoda credits her with introducing a lot of British words and phrases into American common speech. (I know I use “nicked” and “mental”, “ginger” and “snog”, and occasionally even “effing.” Don’t you?)
It takes some doing to beat Harry Potter in any form of sales record, but this week, Amazon reported that the Hunger Games trilogy “has suppl
anted Harry Potter as the best-selling series of all time on the website.” (Link and quote from EW’s Shelf Life.) Said Blogengamot member Arabella when forwarding this link, “That’s what JK gets for not releasing to ebook sooner and on Amazon.” Straight-up truth, there. Amazon’s figures include ebook sales, but Amazon has never been allowed to sell the digitized Potter books.
Amazon has more to offer literary fans this week, with a book of essays by YA authors on the Hunger Games books. This anthology can be augmented with a booster pack, which includes essays on the movies. Also, Twilight fans may be interested in Joel and Ella Emmett’s Twilight for Life: Finding Meaning in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight–and in Life.
And in other news:
The International Reading Association’s Engage site has posted a fascinating interview with Shannon Hale, covering some topics of likely interest to the Pub. For instance, here’s Ms. Hale on getting young boys to read about girls:
cheapest cialis>It’s not Halloween, but apparently it’s a bit of a week for vampire news anyhow–although the story of Kristen Stewart having cheated on Robert Pattinson is more like sordid vampire gossip, and you’ll also find people around here who will argue that the word vampire doesn’t properly apply. Anyway, less sordidly and perhaps more vampirically, MSNBC has the news that Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been cast as Dracula in an upcoming NBC series. What I find funny, however, is that they claim this:
“In the world of “Twilight” and “True Blood” and all the contemporized stories, we thought we’d go back to the original”
…but then, the plot summary reads like this:
The series, which bypassed the traditional pilot stage, takes place in the 1890s and finds Dracula living a double life in London as an American businessman interested in bringing modern science to Victorian society. His true plan to exact revenge on those who burdened him centuries ago, however, is derailed when he falls in love with a woman who seems to be his reincarnated wife.
I’ve read Dracula, and I don’t remember any of that.