Friday, February 10, 2012

Shutter the Front Door

Title: Shutter Island  (graphic novel adaptation)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Illustrator: Christian de Metter
Bookmark: seriously? it's a graphic novel.  I set it down once with a pen between the pages, then I finished doing the dishes and read the rest.

I noticed this on the shelf behind me while I was busy stealing the library's wifi the other day, and decided to pull it because I was too cheap to see the movie.  It wasn't until I got home that I realized the movie was not based upon the graphic novel, but that they were both based upon one of those books with lots of words and no pictures.

That other book might have been a better choice.

I don't always get the point of graphic novels.  I read the two which formed the basis for the Surrogates movie (I never posted them.  Sue me.), and while the story seemed kind of interesting, the art looked choppy.  It was kind of hard to view.  Hard enough that I read all the text, and glanced at the images enough to give me some idea of where the speakers were (it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the scratchy lines of one character from the scratchy lines for another, so if they didn't address one another by name, I wasn't always certain who I was reading).  I found that I had to remind myself that I was reading a graphic novel, and I missed the point of that if I never looked at the graphics, so I'd go back a few pages, glance at the art, and then go back to just reading the text.  I had that problem with Shutter Island, too--the two main characters wore identical clothing, so I could only distinguish them when they took off their hats, and that wasn't often.  Most of the time, it was in such a dark space that I still couldn't tell who it was.  And without the pictures to explain what was happening, the plot is even harder to follow.  I would have been better off with a wall of text to explain things.

My best effort:

US Marshall Ted Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule take the ferry to Shutter Island just before a hurricane hits to try to find a woman who has somehow escaped the mental facility which is isolated there.  The facility houses criminally insane and dangerous people.  During the course of four or five days, Ted becomes obsessed with cracking a strange numeric code left by the woman and finding the mysterious Patient 67 to which the code alludes.  The hurricane isolates them from the mainland, shuts down communication, and plays hell with their power.  The hospital staff seem to be hiding something, he has strange dreams which seem to lead him closer to the truth, and rock piles on the island's beaches seem to spell out a message from the missing woman in the same code he found in her notebook.  Pretty reachy.

If you've seen the movie, then you probably know the rest.  Maybe you can explain it to me.  Maybe I'll get the real book and have another go at this.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by reyn at 7:26 PM


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

you and me and Smelly makes three

Title: Very Hard Choices
Author: Spider Robinson
Bookmark: that business card, again.  It was handy.

A few months ago, I started an office library.  People could bring in books they owned, add a Post-it with their name, and drop them on a shelf for anyone to access.  Knowing how some people treat books (curling the covers of paperbacks, dribbling food in them, smashing bugs between pages--I even know someone who used to read in the shower.  Appalling.), I was hesitant to involve books which were important to me, but I sent a cautionary email about handling other people's stuff, and the project has gone pretty well.  It gets less use now that someone has claimed that room as an office and moved all the books to a bottom shelf, hidden behind his desk, but I still managed to find a book with the coolest author name ever.  I would have read it just for that.  As it turns out, there's plenty of reason to read a Spider Robinson book.

Sure, his politics are all through it, but there are great lines (even paragraphs) comparing the US and Canada, and sentences which simultaneously mock and laud our neighbors to the north.  The book can be both hilarious and terrifying, and despite the fact that it's a sequel, I had convinced myself while reading that it only seemed that way.  The story is so complete on its own that it doesn't need something else to lead into it, although I admit that I spent most of my time wishing I knew the story to which they kept alluding, because it seemed even more wrenching than Very Hard Choices.

Russel Walker, a reclusive national columnist, was college roommates with Zandor "Smelly" Zudenigo.  Smelly never bathed, and is described as looking like the Michelin Man with a childlike version of Winston Churchill's head.  Oh, and he's a telepath.  But Walker doesn't learn that until the previous book, when Smelly comes to him for help after discovering that a very bad man is planning to do very horrible things to a completely innocent family.  They enlist the help of police constable Nika Mandic to stop the bad guy.

This book covers what happens next, after the bad guy is no longer a problem, but a new bad guy appears on the scene, and he wants Smelly (usually referred to as "Zudie" in this book, because his island hermitage, far away from the noise of other minds, allows him to have a more conventional hygiene schedule, as he had previously used the stench to keep people away while protecting his secret mental powers).  Russel, Nika, and Russel's son Jesse must deal with the mysterious agent tracking them across the island of Heron Rock, contact the elusive Zudie, and figure out what to do to protect themselves and each other.  The whole book (except for a couple obligatory flashbacks) takes place over one night.  It's excellent, even if the ending is a bit pat.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by reyn at 10:59 AM