Friday, 16 December 2011

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I keep giving conservative cultural criticism a chance, and I keep getting burned. This post is about a book review I do not understand, but as it appeals to conservatives and I've committed myself to trying to understand conservatives, I'm going to try to make sense of it. Those who are familiar with [Stephen Hunter] will understand, and those who are not–well, what are you doing reading a book review by me when there is writing out there carved by a master? The man carves his books? A little Old Testament for my taste, but to each his own. “Soft Target” is the new Hunter thriller that takes place in a thriller writer’s fantasy land: America, the Mall. Appropriately, it combines the two things America loves the most: shopping and violence. If I wrote that the author of this review would number me among the terrorists. That said, the fact that he puts quotation marks around the title can only mean he aspires to write for the New Yorker, which is fortuitous given his obvious hatred of America. (He doesn't even mention Jesus among America's favorite things, which means he's obviously at war with Christmas.) Ray Cruz is Hunter’s new John Wayne ... The novel fleshes out so many characters and tells the story in such a thorough way that Tarantino would be jealous. The best advice about what books to read comes from people who only watch movies. Hunter’s greatest gift is his style, his prose. He’s been called the “populist Faulkner” and for good reason. I have no idea what that means. Perhaps the sentences that follow that one will illuminate. He’s no Vince Flynn and he’s no Tom Clancy. His characters inhabit a harsh world that is unforgiving and follows no set code of good wins over evil. His characters inhabit a place called reality where Hunter’s simple yet delicate and violent prose comes alive. His heroes are not perfect and his villains are never black and white. Nothing about prose there. Maybe further on in the review? Hunter’s novels also appeal because of their visual style, and this one is no different ... He feeds us the exact images and verbs our inner beasts need to gobble up in order to be completely consumed by the story. Hunter has perfected the craft of the thriller by keeping his prose simple a la Hemingway and giving us the details other writers shy away from, all while providing these in the context of a visually striking world only a man who reviewed films for decades could give us. This book is like a movie! You should watch it in your brain! It's like Hemingway only also Faulknerian! They were both writers I am name-dropping!
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Prove your love, you've got to prove your love... As those of you on Facebook already know, I'm in a situation similar to the Great Library Entanglement of October 2007. Point being, a number of you have written asking why I haven't been blogging more frequently, and the short answer is that I haven't really had a computer for the past two months. I've got a laptop that can't open documents and was birthday gifted a Kindle which, also, can't open documents (much less display the visuals I need to do my work on, you know, visual rhetoric). So I'm going to take the patented Goldstein route of utter classnesses and ask for some help. If the university un-pays me as planned, I won't be able to afford a new computer for at least another few months. So if you'd like to see me back blogging sooner — that is, if you value what I write and want to read more of it — chip in and help my legs find some feet to stand on. I'm already headless, after all. Here's a donation button, if you'd like to pitch in, just send it to scotterickaufman (at) gmail (dot) com: *Especially if you're a fan of any of these posts, which are labor- and resource-intensive to write. I just need the tools of my trade, basically: Films: Batman Begins (classic horror) - Christopher Nolan Blow-Up (I) - Michelangelo Antonioni Blow-Up (II)- Michelangelo Antonioni The Dark Knight (I) - Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight (II) - Christopher Nolan Fight Club - David Fincher Ghost World - Terry Zwigof Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - Hayao Miyazaki Superman - Richard Donner Superman Returns - Bryan Singer 30 Days of Night - David Slade Television Shows: Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Ember Island Players" Buffy the Vampire Slayer - "Hush" Doctor Who - "Time of Angels" Doctor Who - "The Eleventh Hour" Mad Men - "The Grown-Ups" Mad Men - "Shut the Door. Have a seat." Mad Men (I) - "The Rejected" Mad Men (II) - "The Rejected" Mad Men (I) - "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" Mad Men (II) - "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" Mad Men (I) - "The Suitcase" Mad Men (II) - "The Suitcase" The Walking Dead - "Days Gone Bye" Comics: American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang Blankets - Craig Thompson Fun Home - Alison Bechdel Ghost World - Daniel Clowes Kick-Ass (I) - Mark Millar Kick-Ass (II) - Mark Millar Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth - Warren Ellis 30 Days of Night - Steve Niles The Walking Dead (word-specific panels) The Walking Dead (picture-specific panels) - Robert Kirkman Watchmen (panel construction) (I) - Alan Moore Watchmen (panel construction) (II) - Alan Moore Watchmen (responsible film criticism) - Anthony Lane Watchmen (unfilmable film filmed) - Zak Snyder vs. Alan Moore Watchmen (students as murderers) - Alan Moore Watchmen (Dr. Manhattan as a figure of the reader) - Alan Moore

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