Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I'm Reading: Sarris, Kael, Fenwick, Rex

Over the past week, besides my normal weekly comic book reading (and we all know that I read a lot of those) and besides the books I'm teaching in school right now (Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, for the record), I've been reading:

The American Cinema, by Andrew Sarris

I Lost it at the Movies, by Pauline Kael

Hall of Best Knowledge, by Ray Fenwick

The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex

I dug out copies of the Sarris and Kael books to remind myself what good criticism reads like, because I've been reading and writing too many bland comic book reviews. And it's fun to see Sarris and Kael go at each other in their writing. By the way, Kael absolutely blows Sarris out of the water with her prose, and her attack on the auteur theory is far more effective than Sarris's lame defense of it (even though, after the 1970s age of the director, most people have kind of internalized the auteur theory anyway).

Fenwick's book is fun, but slight, and it's really just the kind of book that would be fun if you bought it as a B&N remainder copy or something. It's not nearly as good as Fenwick's Mome contributions, and it's not worth the $20 cover price.

Rex's children's novel is something that I'm reading with my son, and it's a massive tome (over 400 pages) about an alien invasion gone wrong. Kind of like Secret Invasion, but written with style.

What are YOU reading?


Wagner said...

I am currently reading The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher an ovel of Sheffield England in the 70's and the Outlaw Nation trade.

monitor. said...

I'm pouring through Delillo's Americana, Eyewitness Travel: Mexico, Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas and Tyler Page's Nothing Better. This is turning out to be a good month. Pnin seems interesting. I'll definitely grab a copy of that soon. Thanks!

monitor. said...

All on top of my pull, of course.

Ben Villarreal said...

I'm circulating between these, comics, magazines, and video games:
* Absolute Watchmen by Alan Moore (because I've never read the Absolute version!);
* Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan (because I loved the movie, and I'm doing on a piece on them for my university's student paper);
* The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz (because a publisher I've ordered textbooks from randomly mailed me a copy);
* 75 Readings Across the Curriculum by Chris Anson (because it's my Freshman Comp. 1 classes' textbook).
Just out of curiosity, what/where do you teach those books (I'm a big fan of Huck Finn)?

Justin said...

Today I finished the Dec. 2008 issue of F&SF and read much of the latest Fables trade.

Next up is Jeffrey Ford's The Physiognomy.

The Rex book sounds interesting.

Lieutenant Ken Frankenstein said...

Right now I'm reading the Grant Morrison favorite, "The Illuminatus! Trilogy" by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Pretty wild stuff, so far.

Mike Phillips said...

Dune. I never got around to it until now. It's pretty great so far...

Kris Krause said...

Absolute Sandman Vol. 4 by Neil Gaiman (you know, that obscure British guy)

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

I also rotate between several short story collections and read a story out of one of them every now and then when I'm in the mood for short story. In my experience, it's better to read collections that way than to read several by the same author in a row.

Good to see you're teaching Nabokov. Despite many professors I had professing their admiration for his work, I had to go outside of my classes to read his work and I'm glad I did.

Molly said...

I'm kind of proud of myself for all the reading I've done lately; I looove having a bookstore within walking distance. In the last week I've read: "From Doon with Death" by Ruth Rendell (short, enjoyable, mostly forgettable Inspector Wexford mystery); "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink (pretty good but somewhat disappointing, too dispassionate and could have stood to be either much longer or much shorter; I want to see the movie, though); "The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta (very very good although ended somewhat abruptly, made me want to run out and read "Election" and "Little Children" right away) and "Thank You For Smoking" by Christopher Buckley (excellent and reminded me that I own the movie and should watch it again; also reminded me that I have a massive crush on Aaron Eckhart). I'm also in the process of reading all the Kinsey Millhone books by Sue Grafton ("A is for Alibi," "B is for Burglar" etc.); I currently have an order in at Chapters for "G is for Gumshoe." I really like this series and would recommend it to anyone, they don't require tons of mental effort but aren't brain-dead either and have a very likeable and engaging protagonist.

Well that got long.

Tucker Stone said...

God, both those Sarris and Kael books are fantastic. Really great, great books. You should put up a post on your favorite portions, something like that. And if you're still hurting for more, get that American Film Criticism collection that came out sometime in the last year--the really big paperback that goes back 80 years. It's a demon, real fun shit.

Timothy Callahan said...

I do have that film crit anthology. Yes, indeed.