Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mark's Bookshelf 10.15.2009

I was trying to hold off on this until I finished Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, but, frankly, I'm doing my best to savor that book. I only get new Chabon about once a year, and I feel I must sip it like fine wine, taking my sweet time with each essay and concept that he puts before me. I find so many life touchstones that Mr. Chabon and I have shared, it's like talking with an old friend. A friend who's a little further along his journey to manhood than I. Great read so far.

Basically, this'll be a quick trip through the last few books I've read. I used to be a voracious reader, especailly in High School. Sure, it was almost all Star Trek novels, and various other crappy tie-in publications, but I'd tear through them like nobody's business.

As time passed, College and theatre tended to suck up my time. I got into a real mindset where, when trying to learn lines I won't/can't read ANYTHING else. It makes me sad, but I also feel I have to focus on the material I have to learn. I've been blessed to be pretty busy with shows for the past few years, reading has suffered.

I've also become much more into non-fiction. Who knew?

Bone by Jeff Smith

I'd Read Smith's SHAZAM!-The Monster Society of Evil, and been very taken with his use of CC Beck's Captain Marvel. There was a true sense of whimsy merged with real dread and big-time stakes. Bone was his masterpiece, acknowledged by pretty much every critic of the graphic novel/comic book form.

Yet, I had never read it.

What a fool I was.

WhenI got the complete version for my birthday, I began to tackle it. It took time, the full story is 1300+ pages. This is an amazing adventure that Smith has created for us. The characters are incredibly sharp and charming, and he imagines a world that feels as real as any great fantasy creation. (It's right up there with Tolkein's Middle-Earth, for me.) To describe the story....Imagine Mickey Mouse (Fone Bone), Daffy Duck (Phoney Bone) and Goofy (Happy Bone - those are the closest correlations I can figure) were dropped into the middle of Lord of the Rings. The work rings with loving homage to Carl Barks and Walt Kelly, and the antics of the Bone cousins (especially greed-motivated Phoncible [Phoney] Bone - an AMAZING creation) are truly amusing and touching (Fone's unrequited love for Thorn, the girl they meet, is truly heartbreaking)

This is a fantastic read for all ages, and something I know I will revisit sometime in the future. I'm happy to have this where I can get to it whenever I want.

The View From the Bridge by Nicholas Meyer

Nicholas Meyer, for those who don't know was the director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, he also co-wrote Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, as well as working on the scripts for the two he directed. He came into the franchise not as a fan, but as a guy who wanted to direct movies, and got the opportunity to do so with a franchise that had stumbled a bit on the first time out the gate.

Nick Meyer is a very smart man, and a kind of person that I can imagine would be a tremendous dinner companion. A director, a screenwriter and a novelist, so you can be assure he actually wrote this book. He maintains a really terrific, conversational tone, and a very clear view of his successes and failures. The man just knows how to spin a tale, and make you excited to hear how it all turns out. Top that off with the fact that it seems he has no ill will toward anyone. He's honest about disagreements, but you can see that, with time, he's seen how little those disagreements actually mattered.

It's a short, breezy read, and not just concerned with his Trek experiences. Much better than some of the books by the cast members.

Along those lines....

Star Trek Memories by William Shatner and Kris Kreski

This is a new printing of a book that came out in the early 90's, I believe. When I first got it, and it's now out-of-print sequel, Star Trek Movie Memories, I remember really enjoying "Shatners" breezy style. The whole thing's from his point of view, and it should be. Giving Bill credit, the "Captain's Epilogue" tackles his relationship with the rest of the cast head-on, with Nichelle Nichols asking him, "don't you want to know why we all hate you?"

Upon the re-reading, my opinion is unchanged. This is a good, fun book, and Shatner goes out of his way to honor people who've kinda been crushed by the Gene Roddenberry myth-making, Like Gene L. Coon, who took over as Producer when Roddenberry wanted less work. There's some ugly stories about pretty much everyone, but there's also a genial goodwill that permiates the book. Shatner knew he's make money on this book, but it doesn't feel like a crass money-grab (a feeling you occasionally got with his later book, Up Till Now). He seems to be enjoying revisiting the good times he had making the series.

One last note...and this may be too obvious to point out. Shatner didn't write this book, Kris Kreski wrote this book, based on extensive interviews with Shatner and the rest of the cast, I'm certain, but Shatner's never written a book in his life. "What about this?" you ask...Folks, every time Shatner gets a new "writing partner," his style changes completely. It's so dissimilar, it's as was written by a different person!

I don't demonize Shatner for this, he always makes sure these folk's names are on the cover with his. He's also kind of admitted the whole thing, that he "discusses ideas" with his partners, and then they go off and write. I also feel, in this particular case, we are getting a lot of Shatner, through the interviews he did.

Great fun for Trek fans. Much, much better than, say, Jimmy Doohan's book.

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