Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

DFW, Blindness, Crossword

I finally finished you-know-whom's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. I'm not sure why it took me so long to finish, it's an excellent book, i was laughing right up thru the very last paragraph.

Sarah handed me Blindness by Josè Saramago, translated from the Portuguese. She said that it's a really good book but i might not like it because it's so depressing, which is always enticing so i'm looking forward to it. It won the Nobel Prize in 1998. The Boston Globe has a blurb on the *front* cover which reads "A shattering work by a literary master". - I thought 'shattering' had been outlawed from book-cover-blurb use ?

I spent several hours yesterday making a Crossword puzzle. Have you ever tried to make a crossword ? It's incredibly difficult*. Even using such phenomenal resources as oneacross.com and onelook.com, which allow you to search for all words matching a given pattern (eg at onelook, "*nz?l" will get you a list containing benzyl, hanzel, and if it were a famous word, elenzil) it's still really tough. So basically my crossword is going to have a lot of clues like "A greek prophecy dispenser, misspelt", and tons of acronyms. But still, it's fun. At 17x17 i think this is the largest one i've ever made, and i think it has the fewest black squares too. I'll post it here once the clues are ready.

* The real difficulty is in maintaining symmetry in the black squares. If that weren't a requirement, it'd be relatively straight-forward. I've looked at various crossword-making softwares out there, but they're not so great. The main problem is the wordlists. Even if they've got immense wordlists (which they don't), you're still not choosing the words yourself. How folks made crosswords back before not only there was oneacross but before computers is entirely astounding to me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

so i've been reading (slowly) The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.

Comic book fans: forgive me, i'm not well versed in the field.

it's sort of a historical fiction documenting the arc of a comic-book team which i think is meant to be sort of an amalgum of the authors of Batman and Art Spiegelman, author of the famous Maus.

In any event,
it's the WWII story of an american jewish boy and his czech cousin who comes over as a refugee. really it's the story of the cousin, who actually does have amazing adventures, whilst the american cousin more or less hangs around the fringes.

It's a good book. It's fun. Especially if you're not too much of a stickler for thematic um cohesion.

It's not however a great book, and i'm surprised it won the Pulitzer. Maybe i'm missing something in the reading. My gripe here is that it seems to me that Chabon started out w/ just a plain idea for writing a historical fiction history of Spiegelman, and that was well and good, but he (Chabon) felt maybe it needed some thickening up, so he introduced the American Cousin, and then it needed some more thickening up, so he added in homosexuality, vigilante justice/terrorism, coming of age, marriages of convenience, random items of heartbreak, and, weirdly, antarctica.
These are all noble themes, but somehow they just seem like filler in this book.

On the plus side, reading the book and the new issue of Kevin Carhart et al's Mmmm, oooh! inspired me to draw another short comic for the next issue of Mmmm, oooh! so i'm pretty grateful to it for that.

In other news,
i weirdly found myself skipping a booksigning/talk by David Foster Wallace a couple days ago. What's becoming of my inner sycophant ? It's a damned tragedy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

king kong

i heard somewhere that the new king kong was pretty good, so Michelle and i went to go see it, but it's really awful. really, really awful awful awful. 'nuff said.