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12 November 2011 @ 03:07 pm
#26 - #33  
Working in a peripheral hospital = tenth ring of hell. SO. TIRED.

On Writing, Stephen King

The first half of this book is probably only of interest to those who are bone fide fans of King's and/or are deeply interested in the life stories of writers. The second half was a relief. King spoke at length about how he writes from intuition and doesn't plot. It's always nice to see things you recognise from your own writing. Terry Pratchett said his ideas come from the better writer who lives in his head at night; King feels the stories are fossils that you have to uncover as you write. All this makes sense to me. I don't know how it stands up to other how-to guides in the genre, but because it's Stephen King writing it, I read it, and am far more inclined to give it credence.

The Real Thing, Tom Stoppard

This was ... not a Stoppard masterpiece, let's just say that. It was entertaining and had some interesting things to say about fidelity versus marriage, but perhaps it would have worked better as prose.

The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare

I did the Right Thing and saw a live-action version of this before I read it. (Only by chance, I might add; it's not like Shakespearean theatre companies are lining up to tour the backwaters of Ireland for our education and entertainment.) I was surprised at how much I understood after five or ten minutes of listening in bewilderment; it sunk in, or something, and that was that.

Leaving aside that this is a Play by Shakespeare ! ! !, it was ... pretty damn stupid, when you get right down to it. Oh dear, crazed king Leontes is so consumed by jealousy he puts his wife on trial; yeah, great, but could at least have seen some of his suspicions being fostered first? He literally sees his wife having a chat with his mate Polixenes in front of him and goes apeshit. It's a pretty flimsy premise, is all I'm saying. And as for the big reveal at the end - WTF. WTFFFFF. Was Hermione dead? Is it magic? Was she just chilling with Paulina all that time and playing the ultimate prank? WHAT?

And don't even get me started on the 'as you know Bob' exchange that we got instead of a proper denoument. Couldn't we have cut, oh, ALL of Autolycus' screen time in exchange for ACTUALLY SEEING PLOT?

Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw

For some reason, my (Penguin) version of this contains no apostrophes. NONE. WHY IS THIS. Anyone care to explain?

This Eliza is UNBEARABLY IRRITATING. What is UP with the 'awoowwoowww' sound effects? Who ever makes that noise?! I was amused by Shaw's codicil at the end, explaining in great detail why Eliza and Higgins did NOT get together, but you know what? If you couldn't bear that out in the story itself, if you spent the rest of yor life refuting what people easily picked up in the subtext of what you wrote ... maybe you wrote it wrong? Just sayin'. (Eliza/Higgins forever!)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennesse Williams

As I come to the end of this set of plays, I must reflect that there's something very odd about playwriting as a linguistic art. Books are books, and films attempt to imitate life from what I've seen of them. But plays! Plays! They just stand around and recite speeches. I guess the point is to NOT be naturalistic if you can possibly help it. Or maybe they really are meant to be watched and not read, which is a shame, because when am I ever going to see any of these performed? Never.

I liked the story of Cat and all the characters, I just thought all their dialogue came across as stilted and histrionic. Oh well. f

The Lady's Not For Burning, Christopher Fry

Oh! This was so wonderful. Every line was a gem. Of course, that meant I got slightly blinded by the constant glitter.

ALIZON Our father
God moved many lives to show you to me.
I think that is the way it must have happened.
It was complicated, but very kind.


Of course, it did suffer from the plague of plays - that is, everyone who fell in love did so in the space of five minutes. But what a fall!

A Summer to Remember, Mary Balough

I do not think Regency romances should have sex in them. This deeply-held conviction of mine has only been strengthened by reading so many Regency romances with sex in them, and thus having a moderately bad experience turned into a dreadful one.

This is basically the story of how a 'frigid' woman gets cured with the magical power of a dick. And yes. The author did actually use the word 'frigid', which I'm pretty damn sure was not contemporary in 1815. I won't even go into how this book was a triumph of mediocrity, badly-considered names and wet-tissue thin plot. I'll just leave you with 'frigid' and all the damaging insult that implies.
 
 
 
cleodoxa: foxcleodoxa on November 13th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
I'm pretty pro-Shakespeare but I don't plan to read The Winter's Tale anytime soon because the plot does indeed seem pretty irritating. It seems a shame that that was the one available.

Regarding plays and non-naturalistic speeches, I actually think it's interesting that people quite frequently come out with stuff that would constitute three or four pages of printed play. It's just all so circular and filled with, well, fillers, that it seems like less. More modern plays tend to try to sound a lot more naturalistic, I think, but there's definitely still a "this is how people would talk if they talked better and said eloquently exactly what they mean" thing going on. Sometimes things sound histrionic and over-intense, at least to some tastes, because of the necessity to concentrate everything down. I would argue that both films and books do the same "naturalistic, but neater" thing in their own way. I haven't seen that many plays in performance myself, so I never quite like it when people are all "Oh, yes, you absolutely must see it, reading is nothing in comparison!" but unfortunately some plays do suddenly come to life when you hear them spoken. I suppose there's always tapes and film to help if you're really dedicated to Understanding the Playwright's Art.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: collapsingnight: guitar tshirtscoradh on December 10th, 2011 09:52 am (UTC)
I re-watched A Midsummer Night's Dream during this bout of Shakespearean holiness and it was a lot of fun. I get what you're saying and I always think that's the point of books, at least, to replay scenarios the way they'd run if you got time to script them beforehand. But with films you have a lot to play with, shots and cameras and sound etc, that plays don't have. I think you need a lot of talking to fill up the stage - whereas you can, and do, have short films with no dialogue at all - and that contributes to the over-stylistic feeling.
Lullaby in my handtodaythesamesky on November 13th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
I love On Writing! I love Bird by Bird, also-- it's similarly... comforting, I guess? I'm not a very outline-y writer, so reading it made me happy too!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: anumberonme lighted pathscoradh on December 10th, 2011 09:50 am (UTC)
I always thought I was Doin It Rong by just going with the flow, so it is reassuring to realise that's okay too. :D