Sunday, January 29, 2012

Too Close for Comfort


Tales of the near future often involve dystopian shenanigans of the Orwellian variety. Capitalism in its most extreme form has oppressed the 99% and turned them into GDP generating cogs in some great fascist machine and blah, blah, blah. Gary Shteyngart, the brilliant satirical author behind Absurdistan has penned something a lot more frightening with Super Sad True Love Story. He has a written a story of the future that feels like it could take place next week. A story that feels true, set in a future that probably will occur if our leaders continue to steer the ship down this ever narrowing strait of corporate greed.

China is now the superpower the United States once was with the yen-pegged dollar the only currency of value. Most communication between people takes place via  àpparat (the logical next step in ``smart`` phone technology) making the need to ```verbal`` other people obsolete and moving civilization further down the road to man as an island that John Donne warned us was not a very happy state of existence.

There is also a love story tucked in here somewhere, but I was to busy being terrified by Shteyngart`s vision of the future to really notice. Many critics praised this book for its satirical humor but I would like to praise it for something else entirely: It just might be the scariest piece of fiction since Stephen King introduced us to Pennywise the clown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Open Letter to the Coen Brothers

Dear Joel and Ethan,

I hope I'm not being presumptuous when I say you guys seem pretty preoccupied with the western genre lately. Not that I'm complaining, it's a fantastic playground rich with great story opportunities. Men were men and women were the plot devices that made them do manly things. Life and whiskey were cheap and a well-oiled Colt Peacemaker was the iPhone of the day.

Gentlemen, here is your next movie:

 It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, came in a close second for the Giller Prize and is on just about every top 10 list of must-read books for 2011. Imagine No Country for Old Men told entirely from the perspective of Anton Chigurh. Now imagine that he is a gun-for-hire at the turn of the century with a brother who is even more ruthless and coldblooded than he is. It is the sad tale of a man yearning for a redemption that will forever be denied him. It's got plenty of morbid humor and some of that casual violence as social commentary that has become your trademark.

I'm sure whatever your working on now can be put on hold for a while. You'll thank me when the awards start rolling in.

Sincerely,

Michael Ward

P.S. "A Serious Man"....What the hell were you thinking?!?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Less Ready. More Writey



Hard to believe I haven't written a thing in this cyberspace since July. Summer packed it's beach bag and left town, fall rendered the trees naked and the Christmas spirit is nothing more than an enlarged Visa balance and stale eggnog hangover.

I have read many wonderful books in the intervening time. In fact, I have been so busy reading great books, I've had no time to blog about them. Having a 2-year-old toddler who is too smart for her own good and criminally cute doesn't help much either. A few significant changes in my life have made my schedule more manageable, so I think it's a good time to renew my commitment to writing regularly. This is not, I repeat: NOT a new year's resolution. I prefer to think of it as one small step on the long road of self rediscovery.

Stay tuned for some great reading suggestions for the long dark days of winter. Here's a little taste to get you started:


The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway is a funny, dark, kung-fu adventure that not only pulls out all the stops, but lights them on fire and pees them out. It takes place in the worst kind of Dystopian future where the only defense against the looming end of the world seems to be a sharp, British sense of humor and the best plot twist I've seen since the days of Fight Club and The Sixth Sense.