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Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

By Bob Chrisman


Yesterday evening as I sat in my favorite coffee shop and drank my French press of Irish Breakfast tea, I finished Twilight, Book One of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer.

In August when I decided to read the series as a result of the red Ravine post My Kid Got Bit By Stephenie Meyer, the library waiting lists for each book spanned anywhere from 18 days to over three months. I placed reserves on all of them, including her new book for adults, and waited.

Fate ordained that I would read Books Two through Four first and then receive Book One. (Not as bad as my experience with Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, where I read the series in reverse order—kind of like a life review of the characters.) In the case of the Twilight Series, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t known how the tale began because each book told a complete and fascinating story.

Sometimes I read long into the night, well past my bedtime. After I finished New Moon (Book Two and the first book that arrived from the library) Meyer had transformed this 56-year-old, full-figured white guy from Missouri, not into a vampire but into a fan. (I still laugh thinking that ybonesy advised me when I told her I was going to read the series, “…just remember it’s written for young adults.” Maybe I should listen to the people who tell me to grow up.)

The stories are classic vampire/werewolf tales, but with enough differences and twists to make them new and refreshing. These vampires can be out in the sun (sort of). They live in the Pacific Northwest, where the sun rarely shines (something I knew to be true for years despite my friends in Washington and Oregon who insist, “But the sun was shining yesterday before you arrived”).

Some of the vampires don’t kill humans to drink their blood—for ethical reasons. The werewolves aren’t really werewolves (but I can’t tell you what they are, since that information doesn’t come out until the final book, Breaking Dawn). They don’t morph into hot-blooded killers only during the full moon and you can’t kill them with silver bullets.

Most impressive, these books are not small. Breaking Dawn is almost 800 pages long. The fact that Ms. Meyer has written books that require an attention span of greater than 15 minutes and that teenagers have read them impresses me beyond words. This woman has lit a fire under her readers, which is now spreading to adults who typically won’t read “young adult” fiction. (My name, by the way, has inched close to the top of the reserved list at my local library for her book targeted to adults, The Host.)

I would have moved blissfully through the world without the knowledge of Stephenie Meyer or the main characters in the Twilight Series books—Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and Isabella (Bella) Swan—had I ignored the post on red Ravine, but my life would lack a certain richness that these books brought to me. A good story offers more rewards than I can sometimes imagine, and these are good stories. Not once did I feel like I was reading young adult fiction.

If you love vampire stories, read these books. Try to read them in order—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn—but if that’s not possible, just know that you can start anywhere in the series and not be lost (slightly confused for a short time, maybe, but not lost). You will not be sorry.

Once you’re done, tell me, Are you an Edward or a Jacob fan? You can only pick one.



Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer whose pieces Hands, Growing Older, and Goat Ranch have all appeared in red Ravine.

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Raise your hand if you or someone you know is hooked on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series of books. Chances are there are lots of hands in the air out there.

My twelve-year-old daughter got her copy of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in the series, at a midnight release party last Saturday. She and her friends opted for independent bookstore Bookworks’ gathering, which included costume contests, psychic readings, and book giveaways.

Dee dressed in book cover theme colors of red, white, and black. She wore a red ribbon (from Eclipse, Book Three) on her leg, a red-and-white flower (from New Moon, Book Two) in her hair, and an apple (Twilight, Book One) tied to her belt. Had she found one, she’d have carried a chess piece (Breaking Dawn) too. 


     


Big disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the Twilight series books. However, I did hear all about them last school year on the days when I drove carpool for four mid-school-aged girls.

I learned about Isabella (Bella), the klutzy yet “normal” (which is to say, non-vampire and non-werewolf) girl, and Edward, the “vegetarian” (non-human-blood-sucking) vampire who loves her but also lusts for her blood. I learned there’s also a werewolf in the mix, Jacob, who becomes Bella’s good friend and eventual romantic rival to Edward.

I also found out that one girl in the carpool couldn’t stand the idea of Bella and Jacob together, whereas the other three were at least open to the idea. And I heard about all the funny things you discover when talking about books with friends: how they each envisioned Bella to look, how they all mispronounced certain place names, and just how excited they were about this series and the movie being made of the first book. (Release date: December 12. We’ll buy tickets in advance.)

But there was a lot I didn’t find out, such as the basic plot of the story, what moved it forward, and whether the writing is truly good (I think it must be; these kids are savvy readers). Especially after seeing Dee’s enthusiasm this past weekend, I’m left with an honest-to-goodness curiosity about the books myself.


Funny, Jim’s also cued in (now that he’s clued in) to the phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer. He pointed out this past weekend that her new book for adults, The Host, landed on the New York Times Bestseller list recently. And every other day, it seems, he is showing me yet another article about Meyer and Breaking Dawn.

The last such find, which appeared in the August 11 issue of Business Week, focused on how the series’ word-of-mouth success has come about because of Meyer’s unusual (for a blockbuster author) engagement with readers at book-signings and on social networking sites, her acting upon fan input (such as hosting a Twilight prom after a reader suggested it), and the way she has outwardly encouraged her fans to create related websites. For example, Twilight Lexicon was started with Meyer’s knowledge and blessing as a way to organize the books’ facts. It has since expanded to include a blog and a store, and is now one of the most popular places for kindred spirits to gather and converse.

Other articles highlight equally unusual aspects of the series and/or author: mother-daughter bonding over the series (Newsweek); increased tourism in the town of Forks, WA (Seattle Times), where Bella moves and her odyssey begins; and reactions to Meyer from the Church of Latter Day Saints, as the 34-year-old mother of three happens to be Mormon (Observer).

By now, Dee and her friends know who won over Bella. For some strange reason, I’m rooting for the werewolf. I’ll be in the dark until Saturday, though, when we pick up Dee from summer camp. I have a feeling we’ll hear all about Edward and Jacob and Bella on the drive home.

I also have a feeling that I might be part-way through Book One by then.



        



-Related to post Book Talk – Do You Let Yourself Read?

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The 6 Faces Of Dylan, Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The 6 Faces Of Dylan, Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, Uptown Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Buttered popcorn in hand, I viewed I’m Not There at the Uptown Theater a few weeks ago. I have to admit, when my friends and I plopped down in the Uptown’s long-ago upholstered, vintage seats, we had no idea what to expect.

I wasn’t disappointed. The Todd Haynes film is a riddle inside a Cate Blanchett enigma. Playing Jude, the Thin, Wild Mercury Bob, she’s one of the best parts of the whole film, right down to her classic 1965 polka dot shirt. Her flavorful and juicy depiction of Dylan brought to mind one of my favorite scenes from the D. A. Pennebaker film, Don’t Look Back (a documentary on Bob Dylan’s tour of England in 1965).

Even if you aren’t a Dylan fan, rent this film. It captures the strange unrest and tension between (and within) 60’s counterculture and what was then considered The Establishment (aka The Man). (Yes, that’s Ginsberg in the background.)


Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues clip from the 1965 D.A. Pennebaker film, Don’t Look Back (posted by JG2000 on YouTube)


But I digress.

Other heavy hitters in I’m Not There? (The Rolling Stone character guide lays it out for you.) Richard Gere as a kind of Billy the Kid in The Drifter’s Escape. Marcus Carl Franklin as the 11-year-old Woody, Bound For Glory. Christian Bale as Jack, the protest singer, and Pastor John, the evangelical minister in You Gotta Serve Somebody. Heath Ledger portrays Jack in the Dylan period near and dear to my heart – the Tangled Up In Blue, Blood On The Tracks era. And finally, the least understood, Ben Whishaw as Arthur, the Poet, Jokerman, and Thief.

Confused? Not half as much as you will be when you watch this film. Even diehard fans will do a few doubletakes. The film is chock full of symbolism and references to the life and times of Bob Dylan. The Woody Guthrie scene was moving. I laughed out loud at Cate Blanchett’s romp on the hill with the Beatles. And her encounters with Allen Ginsberg (played by David Cross) are worth the $8.50 ticket.

Dylan Days - Zimmy's Magnet, Hibbing, Minnesota, Summers 2005, 2006,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  I’m not a hardcore Dylan fan, more of a convert. It seems I have always dated, studied under, and partnered with women who love Dylan.  But Blood On The Tracks is one of my all-time Top 10 albums. And I wouldn’t trade the last two summers of Dylan Days in Hibbing, Minnesota for the world.

Dylan Days unfolds in Hibbing every year, complete with a bus tour, battle of the bands (at Zimmy’s), walk-through of his childhood home, and every Dylan book imaginable at the independent bookstore, Howard Street Booksellers. There’s a screening of the Mary Feidt/Natalie Goldberg film, Tangled Up In Bob. And at our last Dylan Days, Liz and I saw the original Minnesota Blood On The Tracks band perform on the same Hibbing High School stage where Dylan got his start.

Dylan is a poet’s poet. He has stolen a corner of my heart. Not only for his prolific writing, but for all he has endured – the legend he has become. He’s another of those misunderstood rebels, like James Dean and Kerouac, who’s gotten under my skin.

You’ll find I’m Not There playing at an independent theater in the artsy section of town; judge the 135 minute film for yourself. If you’re not a Dylan fan, I guarantee you’ll leave shaking your head. If you are a Dylan fan, you’ll still leave scratching it. Then you’ll go out to Sebastian Joe’s for ice cream and talk about the symbolism you did get, vowing to see it again for all that you missed.

I don’t want to spoil the fun by inserting the trailer. Instead, I’m going to wrap this up with another YouTube clip that shows Dylan at his best – romping with Allen Ginsberg.


Bob Dylan & Allen Ginsberg from the 1978 film, Renaldo and Clara, music Not Dark Yet from Time Out of Mind (posted by chimeman on YouTube – if you click on his link, you can see a ton more Dylan clips)



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, December 6th, 2007

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