Jennifer Astle

July 26, 2009

God Loves Carrie Prejean Enough to Give Her a Book Deal

miss-california-carrie-prejeanIt seems as though another pre-packaged celebrity is going to to stretch out her fifteen minutes of fame by penning a memoir about the trials and tribulations being a 22 year old, heterosexual, rich, white, blonde, beauty pageant winner.  Move on Anne Frank, Carrie Prejan has a story to tell.

You will have to excuse the rehashing of what may seem like old news.  There are just some things that feel like they must have been a bad dream, and thus take a little longer to sink into reality.  See, I expected a Sarah Palin memoir.  Not only did I expect it, I saw it coming from a mile away, and although it pains me to say it; she actually has an experience worth writing about (although everyone knows she won’t actually be writing the book).

Wait, it gets better.  Prejean’s book is to be titled Still Standing.  No, it’s not a reference to her ability to walk in three inch heels while simultaneously sucking in her stomach, and throwing out her chest and ass, all served with a smile.  Apparently, Prejean is an ingenue, a rebel in the culture wars against the evil and corrupt conspiracies of the liberal elite who took her down and dethroned her because she stood up for her beliefs in “opposite marriage”.  Worth the ability to be that articulate in her arguments, you can be sure to expect a literary masterpiece. You can also be sure that that picture of Prejean will likely be the cover.  It’s the only one where she’s safe from the wind, and dishonest photographers.

I’m really starting to get tired of this shit.  Anyone else?

It’s like she is trying to use the title to convey the same message as  Elizabeth Edward’s book, Resilience, but didn’t quite have the vocabulary, and so Still Standing is born.  The only hope is that Still Standing will be still be standing on book shelves long after this bastardization of literature is released, leaving a little less room in the industry for someone who can actually speak, let alone write.

Is this a sign of the culture to come?  How have we become less jaded about the information and entertainment that is fed to us?  “Less advanced” civilizations have produced the Sphinx, the Mona Lisa, the Bible even, and the best we can do is Rock of Love and Carrie Prejean, wronged beauty queen.  Is it a product of our world so full of war and weapons that we must sugar coat our entertainment and have it force-fed to us, or do people actually like this crap?

July 24, 2009

Book Review: The Angel’s Game By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

51nBUKGP-YL._SL500_AA240_I picked up The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon last week after a colleague recommended it, and settled in, somewhat skeptically, to give a new writer (by new, I mean one I had not read previously) a fair shot.  It had been described to me as a dark mystery by a writer who Stephen King recently raved about.  And as one of King’s Constant Readers, I trust his word more than I’d trust that of any clergyman.

I was not disappointed.

Zafon brought me down the familiar road of writers writing about writing, and into early 1900’s Barcelona and the life of David Martin.  Martin is a young boy working at a local paper, The Voice of Industry.  His early writing career is bestowed upon him by a young, charismatic benefactor who has a soft spot for the budding storyteller.

Later in his career, Martin enjoys enormous success writing trashy horror stories for an even trashier publication, run by sleazy publishers.  Writing under a pseudonym, Martin begins to dream about writing under his own name, and thus enjoying his success in his own right, a dream that his already successful (although a horrible writer) benefactor shares.  Thus begins Martin’s descent into darkness as a mysterious French publisher makes him an offer worth his soul.

On the surface, this is a typical story based on the competing notions of good and evil, light and dark, God and The Devil.  Zafon constructs the story in such a way that, beyond the title, there is little mention of God, and yet, one feels that there is an omnipotent force pulling the strings in the lives of David and those who are acquainted with him.  Yet, it is much more than that.  It steps further, leaving the reader questioning who is “good” and who is “evil”, and if in fact, they aren’t one and the same.

Underneath, if you look closely through the eyes of a young, struggling writer, you see a play on the insecurities of a writer who can gain thousands of readers under a ghost name (more than one, in fact), and yet cannot sell a single copy under his own.  It plays directly into the notion of literary publication being tantamount to immortality, shows exactly how desperate a writer can get, and delves into both the magic and consequence of a writer’s craft.  Much the same way that King attributes a power of their own to his characters, Zafon brings Martin, and what he writes to life.

When I closed the cover and replaced the sleeve I was left with two resounding thoughts; 1) Would I sell my soul to be published? and 2) I must visit Barcelona, and remember to bring a pen.

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