Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Review: Gatsby

The latest movie release entitled Gatsby as everyone knows is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel entitled The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby received mixed reviews in 1925 and sold poorly. Gatsby the film has certainly received mixed reviews. I don't know how it's doing at the box office, but it certainly left me with mixed feelings.

I really don't know how to react to this film. It struck me mostly as a cautionary fairy tale about decadence and idealism. It all seemed rather superficial to me--the characters, the storyline, and, yes, even the decadence and Gatsby's obsession with beautiful Daisy Buchanan. A loud, flashy surreal fairy tale. (It's also available in 3D, if you care.)

I went and pulled The Great Gatsby off my book shelf. I must have read it eons ago, but for whatever reason, it didn't even leave a faint memory with me. I picked up the book and skimmed its pages. It's a slim book--barely 150 pages, but it reads well. The dialog is strong and I like the narrator's voice (Nick Carraway) much better than the onscreen version. Perhaps that's why The Great Gatsby now sells 500,000 copies annually. Overall, the novel seems more powerful and real than the film with all its noisy high life and expensive homes and cars. In fact, the film made me restless and ready to depart. The one thing that kept me there was Leonardo DiCaprio. He's an outstanding actor and he was able to infuse life into a story that just didn't work. I did have to overlook his too often repeated phrase "old sport." Maybe that's just circa 1925, but in 2013, it's a little annoying.

So you decide. If this was meant to be a morality tale, it didn't hit the mark. Everything about it was too superficial. If it was intended to wow you with sound and sight, maybe. Gatsby just feels so much less than it could have been in my opinion. But now maybe I'll reread the novel.

5 comments:

  1. Nice movie review. Great Gatsby has been on the 11th grade reading list in California for a while, but I don't remember if I read it or not. I might have, and always associated it with boring.

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  4. Hello Linda.

    Well, GG is very much a tale of the superficiality of 1920's America and the unattainability of the American Dream, so if this is what the film portrays, it is honest to F Scott F's book. It is still being studied in schools -- I teach it every year -- and if Baz Luhrmann followed the themes of the book he will have done well. Of course, now schools are studying it to find the timeless themes that relate to the modern era and in this time of fiscal restraint, it is a cautionary/moralistic tale for sure. It would be nice if hedonism was a thing of the past, but sadly, there are still some who live this way if they can afford to or not. And Gatsby's language was peppered with 'Old sport', so Luhrmann would have had no choice but to have Leonardo mouthing this expression. The narrator in the book, Nick, always brings up mixed emotions, so I imagine he will in the film too.

    Even though filmed in Oz, we still have to wait till May 30th to see it. I, for one, can't wait.

    Sorry to wax eloquent/ineloquent, but you're talking about one of my favourite books and what I'm sure will be one of my favourite film remakes.

    Denise

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    Replies
    1. I have a feeling that those that loved the book, may not be as fond of the movie. Guess that's often the case. As far as superficiality is concerned, I was referring to the superficial way that superficiality is dealt with in this movie. I think the book provides a more complex view.

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