Outside the Frame

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Archive for the ‘Novels’ Category

On the eve of Watchmen

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With only one week to go before the release of Watchmen in cinemas across the globe it is definitely time to get excited, very excited. 

By all  accounts from those who have seen the early previews, the film lives up to expectations. With it being possibly being the most anticipated film adaptation of a comic ever, especially amongst hardcore fanboys, the anticipation of whether it will live up to the legendary graphic novel of industry-god Alan Moore has been felt by fans and the film’s creators alike. At this point, things are looking good. Just by reading any interview with Zack Snyder (director of 300 and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead), you certainly get the feeling that he is a true fan of the source material and that this film is a labour of love. 

For more tangible evidence that the film is in good hands, just check out the all promotional stuff that is available online. The official website http://watchmenmovie.warnerbros.com/ is full of posters, videos and other cool shit that makes you wish you were watching the movie right now damn it! Make sure to visit the site of The New Frontiersmen, based on the fictional right-wing newspaper from Moore’s novel, as it is full of really interesting viral-style articles and other media based on the world of Watchmen.

Who will be watching the Watchmen next week? Well I am for sure, and I guess a whole lot of other people will be too. Will you?

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Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 26 February, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Novel Review: On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft

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Stephen King is one of the most popular and prolific writers working today. While not without detractors, he remains a leading figure in fiction writing, especially within the horror genre. Novels like The Stand, Cujo, Salem’s Lot and Carrie are widely known throughout the world, and his epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower, has a massive following. Furthermore, many of his novels have been turned into films, and comic book adaptations of The Stand and The Dark Tower are currently in production. Commercially he is one of the most successful novelists alive today.

With all of these accolades, King is undoubtedly in a prime position to have something to say on the craft of writing. And it is with his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, that he has decided to pass on some of his thoughts on what makes a writer, or more specifically, what makes a good writer.

The tack he has taken with this book is an inspired one. Writing is very different to economics or maths; it is not an exact science. And On Writing is certainly no textbook. One of the main points made by King is that writing is a craft, and in that craft the writer shapes the story. So each and every story is ultimately dependant on the personal life experience of their creator, the writer. To get this point across in practical terms, King dedicates a big portion at the beginning of the book to a kind of biographical history of his own life, which he aptly entitles “CV”.

With a cheeky comedic touch, King tells the tale of his life with brutal but admiral honesty in a way that is genuinely interesting as well as entertaining. From his humble childhood in a lower-middle class, single-parent family to his early adulthood trying to support a family with two kids living in a trailer park, King paints a vivid picture of the many ups and downs of his life. What the reader ends up with, is an understanding of these struggles and joys in King’s life, which shaped what kind of writer he is, and thus the stories themselves.

But the book is not all biographical story-time; King is full of practical advice as well. Instead of trying to bombard the reader with boring rules and stiff diagrams, the bulk of the book is filled with real and solid advice as to what does and does not work in the journey to write a story. With examples from his own work, as well as from other authors, King illustrates many of the do’s and don’ts of writing, all in clear language. He adopts the tone of a helpful uncle giving advice, rather than a lecturer standing at the front of a classroom, and so his teaching is very accessible.

King stresses the point that writing is above all a very personal undertaking, and that any attempt to try and teach the craft in conventional ways is useless. This is why he has written On Writing as more of a rough guide to how he became a good writer, not how you can become one. Without too many rules but filled with helpful advice, On Writing has come out as an insightful and above all useful book on the craft of writing. 

Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 20 November, 2008 at 12:43 pm

3rd issues of Stephen King’s Treachery and Captain Trips comics out now

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The third issues of both The Dark Tower: Treachery and The Stand: Captain Trips were released last week. Both series of comics are fantastic comic book adaptations set in the worlds of two of Stephen King’s most loved novels and well worth a look.

Treachery is the third series of a planned five covering the early years of Roland Deschain, the hero of The Dark Tower series of novels. 

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And Captain Trips is the first of a planned six covering the epic novel, The Stand.

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More info found  at:

http://www.marvel.com/comics/dark_tower/

http://www.marvel.com/comics/The_Stand/

http://www.stephenking.com/

Written by Dale Weber

Monday, 17 November, 2008 at 6:13 pm

A Game of Thrones pilot a go!

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The latest news on the television series adaptation of A Game of Thrones has been announced by George R. R. Martin on his website. And what great news it is: HBO have given the go ahead for a pilot to produced. As always the production of a whole season depends on how well the pilot goes. So to quote the great man himself, “let’s all hope the pilot will kick serious ass.” 

Here is the link to the official announcement from George himself:

http://grrm.livejournal.com/58155.html

Written by Dale Weber

Monday, 17 November, 2008 at 5:30 pm

THE WORD

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To tie in with this week’s review of the Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero, we have two passages from that very novel for this installment of THE WORD.

Easton Ellis’s first novel, Less Than Zero, tells the story of Clay, a college student on America’s east coast who returns home to Los Angeles over the winter break. The novel explores the nihilistic and debauched lifestyles of the young children of the rich Hollywood elite. Clay is troubled throughout the novel by the world around him but is apathetic in trying to separate himself from his peers. 

The first comes form a conversation between Clay and his ex-girlfriend after they sleep together:

 

I button up my jeans and turn to leave.
“Clay?”
“Yeah, Blair.”
“If I don’t see you before Christmas,” she stops. “Have a good one”.
I look at her a moment. “Hey, you too.”
She picks up the stuffed black cat and strokes its head.
I step out the door and start to close it.
“Clay?” she whispers loudly.
I stop but don’t turn around. “Yeah?”
“Nothing.”

 

And another, as Clay and his dealer Rip are taking a drive:

 

“Where are we going?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Just driving.”
“But this road doesn’t go anywhere,” I told him.
“That doesn’t matter.”
“What does?” I asked, after a little while.
“Just that we’re on it, dude,” he said.

 

From the novel Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis.

Written by Dale Weber

Friday, 17 October, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Novel Review: Less Than Zero

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“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles”. These are the opening words to Bret Easton Ellis’s Debut novel Less Than Zero, and with them sets up the atmosphere for the rest of the story. According to Ellis, through his narrator Clay, Los Angeles in the mid-eighties was a Mecca for a generation of vacuous, nihilistic, but very tanned, young men and women. The children of the players of Hollywood, these youths have way too much expendable cash to spend and even more time to spend it. Clay, and all those who inhabit his world, lead empty and meaningless lives, with all the money in the world but no real currency in life. They have parties together, frequent clubs together, get tanned together and snort drugs together, but never truly interact with each other. Their lives are, in the end, a whole bunch of nothing; less than zero. No wonder they are afraid to merge.

The narrative of Less Than Zero follows Clay, who has returned home to Los Angeles from college somewhere on the East Coast for a month over the Christmas break. Calling Clay the protagonist of the story would be quite an overstatement. Yes, it is through his eyes that we follow the story, but he hardly drives the narrative. He merely exists, barely, in this hazy world of sex, drugs and parties. All the while he is back at home Clay partakes in all the debauched activities of his peers, but it seems merely a way to pass the time. He seems rather disturbed and sickened by the lifestyles of his friends and family but does nothing to separate himself from this world. For the most part Clay is rather amoral about anything and everything, but at times he displays some form of morality, at least in comparison to his friends. Of course when your friends engage in some particularly horrifying acts, any act of opposition would be moral.

For a debut novel, Less Than Zero is certainly impressive. Shocking, disconcerting, filled with sexual deviance and amoral lifestyles, yet oddly thoughtful, Bret Easton Ellis portrays a world that seems horrifyingly real. Undoubtedly quite a bit exaggerated in depicting the L.A. of the eighties, surely no-one can be this empty and hollow, it does manage to capture a snapshot of the social deviance that comes along with a city so saturated with consumerism and celebrity.

The novel however does feel a little flat at times. The lack of a real narrative arc or of anything really significant happening may leave a reader feeling a little bit empty. Clearly that is the point. But while he perfectly illustrates the meaningless and emotionally barren lives of these young L.A. “zombies”, Easton Ellis leaves the story itself a little barren. We do feel just as disconcerted as Clay by the world he inhabits, and along with him, yearn for something more, something real, something alive. And although Easton Ellis obviously intends for us to feel the way same way as Clay, at times this does leave the reader a little lost.

 Lacking the punch and wit of his later novels, Less Than Zero is still a remarkable read. To say that one will get enjoyment out of it is perhaps the wrong word to use. Rather you will be unnerved, shocked, and a little bit disturbed, but also fascinated and enthralled. While the lives of Clay and his friends may be less than zero, the book is far more than that. 

Written by Dale Weber

Friday, 17 October, 2008 at 11:33 am

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A Game of Thrones a step closer to hitting television screens

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While this is a couple weeks late it still deserves a big mention. A Game of Thrones, the first novel in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, has moved a step close to appearing on a television screen near you. According to Martin’s Not-A-Blog, HBO have purchased the rights to A Game of Thrones, and this means that we could POSSIBLY see the book turned into a television series. Information from a variety of sources on the web suggests that if this adaptation does come to fruition that we will see the whole series on TV screens with each novel covering one season. As A Song of Ice and Fire will eventually comprise seven novels (George is currently writing the fifth one), this means that we will have seven whole seasons to enjoy!

As George is quick to point out in his announcement, just because HBO now own the option to the novel does not mean that it will actually happen, and that we should not get excited. But how could you not? A Song of Ice and Fire is an absolutely fantastic series and while screen adaptations of books should often be viewed with trepidation, HBO has produced some really great television including The Sopranos, enough said. So lets all cross fingers that everything works out and hopefully before to long we will see the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and all the other brilliant characters of ASOIAF (especially The Hound) on our screens.

For more info check out Martin’s website at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

Written by Dale Weber

Wednesday, 1 October, 2008 at 8:32 pm