Monday, April 20, 2009

SLJ BoB: Octavian Sends Twain Home.

Judge Tim Wynne-Jones has to choose between The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves and The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West.


My guess is the Judge selected Octavian because it has the longer title. Now it's time to go play some video games, read books as if they were movies, and twitter.

OK, so for those of you who clicked through and read the whole thing, you've seen what parts of the Judge's opinion grabbed my interest:

The Kingdom on the Waves is dense, grand, epic in terms of its scope and virtue. And yes, it’s a marathon to read, by today’s standards, but that’s why it’s a book, rather than, let’s say a video game or a tweet. Books are what we turn to for the heavy lifting!

Much of what we read nowadays is written, however unconsciously, in the grammar of film. We have come to expect jump cuts and cross cuts, reaction shots, montages and fade-outs. We have incorporated so much of this storytelling technique into contemporary fiction writing that we’re not used to the density of a book like The Kingdom on the Waves.


No doubt about it, Octavian is an impressive work of fiction. But having reread the Judge's opinion a few times, I'm still not sure why the movie/video game/twitter bit is included. Yes, we often want to tell others who don't like a book the way we do, "hey, you're reading it wrong"; but this has an added twist of saying WHY the reader is doing it wrong. Hey, at least the Judge didn't slam TV and blogging! And I love the idea of M.T. Anderson thinking, "I have this great idea and it could be a video game or a book.... video game or a book...".

I cannot wait to see whether Octavian goes against Chains or Tender Morsels in the next round.

BTW, for the first round, I was right for six and wrong for two; and my pick for "ultimate winner" is still in the running.

Now, off to catch up on The Real Housewives of New York City and wonder if I can get my hands on a review copy of Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting by Bethenny Frankel.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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