Friday, September 24, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: What are you reading right now?

From Booking Through Thursday:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Even though I don't really like reading more than one book at a time, I am rocking a few different bookmarks in a few different books right now.

Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home by Gil Reavill. I'm only a few chapters into this and I'm a little surprised in that I assumed it would be more of a reference book as opposed to the type of creative non-fiction that it is. I originally bought this book a few years ago, stuck it on my "writing reference" bookshelf, managed to somehow move it and misplace it a few months ago when I went looking for it again, and just recently found it exactly one book shelf below where I thought I put it in the first place. Aftermath, Inc. follows crime-writer's Reavill's "adventures" with Aftermath, Inc., and while there are some gruesome bits (which don't bother me as much as I'd imagine that might bother some others), it's a fairly straightforward and clean read detailing what Aftermath does and Reavill's journey to understanding crime scene clean-up firsthand.

Return of The Wolf Man by Jeff Rovin. I plan on covering this novel in greater detail elsewhere next month, but for now, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this book! A few years ago, Dark Horse Comics licensed the Universal Monster characters for a line of novels and, quite frankly, they kind of missed the mark (again, more coverage of these novels coming soon, too). After poking around a few message boards, I heard reverant whispers of Return of The Wolf Man, so I dug a bit deeper, and found that the novel was out of print. I've read so many good things about the book, though, I went ahead and starting saving my pennies so I could order a used copy, and I'm so glad I did. As a longtime comic book reader, I'm well accustomed to the idea of "shared universes," and in Return of The Wolf Man, Rovin continues the connection between Universal's Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster character . . . and then further establishes the Invisible Man link teased at the end of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, throws the Gill Man into the mix and hints at the Mummy franchise. In this 1998 paperback, Jeff Rovin pulls a Geoff Johns by not only connecting the Universal Monster franchises, but even addresses any perceived inconsistencies that have crept into the films (why exactly is Larry Talbot transforming into The Wolf Man in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein when he was seemingly cured in House of Dracula?) while capturing the unique voices of these monster characters along the way.

Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques that Ensure a Great First Draft by Laura Whitcomb. I was talking with my friend Casey the other day about writing, and I mentioned that sometimes I regret having read as many how-to writing books as I had growing up. I subscribed to "Writer's Digest" magazine since the late 80s, and I wonder if this has had an adverse impact on my own writing now. I often times find myself getting hung up on the technical aspects of writing, the hows and the whys, worrying more about the business end instead of the creative end. I worry that I get so fixated on all this that I let it stifle me. So why pick up another writing reference book? I read a review of it somewhere online, and it sounded like something that might give me a few pointers, and since I've started work on something brand new novel-wise (and, man, am I excited about THIS one!), I'm hopeful there might be some things I can learn from Laura Whitcomb as I put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. So far, I find myself nodding along to a lot of what Whitcomb recommends in the book; I'll be able to offer a more tangible review once I've finished reading it.

Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M. R. James. I stumbled across the British documentary A Pleasant Terror: The Life and Ghost of M. R. James (dir. Clive Dunn, 1995) quite by accident. I knew who M. R. James was and all, but I wasn't overly familiar with his work. This documentary convinced me that I need to read his short stories. I've not TECHNICALLY started reading this just yet, but it's sitting on my nightstand as I type this, and now that I think about it, I think I'll crack it open tonight!


Casey said...

Ha, nice! I"ll have to do one of these posts, I've got a couple books going right now.

Our writing talk yesterday reminded me I want to pick up a copy of Story by Robert McKee. It's geared towards screen writing, but I hear it translates really well to fiction in general. (

Derek M. Koch said...

I've danced around picking up Story as well . . . !

Matt said...

I've been rereading the Cerebus graphic novels by Dave Sim (do graphic novels count as books?)

Sim turned in to a kind of wacky misogynistic crank by the end of the series and that was definitely reflected in his work, but the earlier books, High Society, Church & State and even Jaka's Story are really amazingly good. What was, at the time, a parody of an extremely polarized and cynically manipulative political system now seems startlingly relevant and almost prescient.

In the "real book" reading department I'm probably going to be picking up The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I'm a sucker for high fantasy.

Rod Barnett said...

I share your love of RETURN OF THE WOLFMAN and was happy to hear you touch on the Universal novels of recent years in the Plan D Countdown podcasts. I read Paul Di Fillipo's Creature novel this past October and liked it very much as well but allow me to warn you away from Friedman's sad Wolfman book 'Hunter's Moon'. It stinks to high heaven (or heaving). Its first mistake is to ignore the sequel Wolfman films and pretend they didn't occur. Wrong approach for your intended audience, buddy.

And I can highly recommend any M. R. James stories. If you'd like to check out the earliest radio adaptation of Casting the Runes I've posted it on my blog--

Good stuff!