_On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft_

Stephen King writes books that a lot of people like. I mean, A LOT of people like his books.

I am not one of them. Can’t stand horror. Not it a snide “that’s so low-brow” kind of way. More in a “Oh my god, I will never close my eyes again” kind of way. So, I’ve avoided Stephen King books the way some people avoid battery acid. I know what they will do to me.

This book, however, I sought out and enjoyed. King was writing about how to write. That subject can be scary too, but in a totally different way.

He has some good things to say, starting with what started him off and moving on to more technical issues.

I think I might have gotten more out of the story if I were familiar with his works, but even so, I got plenty enough out. He was fairly personal, talking about his young life and influences, and even exposing his drug and alcohol addiction.

He gave out some good advice: Don’t use adverbs, especially ‘zestfully.’ Interesting. And he even gave some real nuts and bolts, like specific magazines and books to check out if you want to be a writer.

I will say one thing, though. I listened to a recording of this book, and that was great. I got to hear King’s memories and thoughts in his own voice with his own rhythm and cadence.
The man has the strangest way of pronouncing the sound “L” that I have ever heard in my life. He closes his throat around it. And as much as I was interested in the last bit of the book, when he got into some very practical advice, I STILL wanted to strangle him for that weird gutteral “L.”

Go get the book. READ it, and you will be glad you did.

_Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships_

Shanower took the Illiad and made it, or at least the first part of it, into a graphic novel. I love the heroic epic, and comic book format is a perfect medium to use for its re-interpretation.

I confess, I’ve started the Illiad, but not finished it. I know the story, but I’m shaky on some of the details. Really, the poetic language of the original can obscure some of the more prosaic details.

Also, the different Gods require interpretation. Maybe the Greek listeners knew who everyone was and what their ‘powers’ were, but had a little trouble keeping the dieties sorted out.

This novel was great in showing the action of the story. Naturally, the incredible beauty of the poetry can’t be shown to the same advantage in a comic book. But Shanower wasn’t trying to go there. He has a huge Bibliography in the back, which impressed me. I feel pretty confident that he stayed true to the facts.

I could already tell the he had kept to the characters of the people. Oddyseus had the arrogant and sales-pitch kind of conversational skills i remember from the original. Achilles and his mother interacted on their comic cell the same way they did in the stanzas.

Also, Shanower pointed out some of the political implications I had missed. Somehow, I hadn’t realized that Troy was such an important trade route. It made more sense that the battle be fought from political and monetary reasons than just that Helen was such a hottie.

The drawings were wonderful, too. The decorations and clothing of the people were interesting to see. Also, Shanower employed a range of graphical devices for his storytelling that kept things very interesting. He uses his drawing in ‘shots’ like a movie camera, sometimes. It gives a greater perspective.

This is a worthwhile book.