Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A bunch of junk

(in no way connected, other than giving me way too much to think about, or coherently organized).

Salman Rushdie proposes points for a reform movement of Islam, in which he reminds readers that "the people most directly injured by radical Islam are other Muslims." This after his article in response to the London bombings and the debate it sparked.

Julia Alvarez (whose A Cafecito Story is in my to-read stack) on the challenge of post-9/11 fiction.
Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz once commented that "poetry below a certain awareness is not good poetry . . . that we move, that mankind moves in time together and there is a certain awareness of a particular moment below which we shouldn't go because then that poetry is no good." The same can be said of fiction.


The Christian Science Monitor on Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (in which the second half catalogs the 100 books Smiley read for her project, her reasons for choosing them, and her reactions to them).
Non-English majors read to inform themselves. But English majors read because they like to.

There is a sizable third group that ought to be recognized as well. These could be called the ΓΌber-English majors: people who, long after school is done, continue to read exactly the same kinds of books required in lit courses. They are often also book club-participants. For them, hurling themselves into weighty books is a pleasure that is most delightful when shared by others.


Slate's second annual Fall Fiction Week.
The relative irrelevance of plot:
Style is not the surface, as might be assumed, but rather . . . it's plot and event that rest lightly on the surface, while style and language do the hard work of plumbing the depths.

Clive Thompson on the video-game novel.
Cross-branding is nothing new, of course, and in the video-game universe it has a long and wretched pedigree, with movie studios producing howlingly awful films like Super Mario Bros. and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. But even when they sucked, these movies at least seemed like an obvious step, insofar as today's games already closely imitate cinema.

But a novel? When you're in the territory of Jane Austen and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, you're expected to go deeper. You're supposed to probe the internal lives of your characters. And this is where these books become really fascinating: They're like the Us Weekly of the gaming universe.


Of course, it's the wrong way 'round. Novels ought to inspire games — the narrative structure, the opportunities for character and plot development and backstory are perhaps even better suited to this medium than to film.

Some years ago I played Timeline. The game was packaged with the paperback, by Michael Crichton, though I assume the book came first. Later there was a film. They were all crap.

Jane Jensen created games that she later developed into novels. I've not read them, but I love her subject material. (Dante's Equation is on the bedside table.)

Books that would make interesting video games? Codex. Perdido Street Station. Maybe Foucault's Pendulum. The Three Musketeers.

The best headline ever, according to Splinters (and I have to agree):
Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms
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