Author: Ian

The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis (1955)

After finishing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I decided to give the rest of the series a try—plus I found a cheap set of the other Narnia books at Salvation Army.  The Magician’s Nephew is Lewis’s prequel, with a Genesis-type story that tells how Narnia came to be, with more than a few Biblical allusions.  Though the first half is genuinely solid children’s lit (magic rings, a lost world, childhood observations, etc.), the creation scenes go on for far too long.  Still, it’s worth reading for the London sections and the introduction of the White Witch.

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October Novel Progress Update!

It’s been a busy month, but not for novel-writing.

When I last posted about my progress on my new novel I was getting back into the game after a 3 month hiatus brought on mostly by my new job and recent move.  Taking a break from writing helped me get a lot of stuff taken care of, but after so many weeks away I realized I had to get back to the novel or else I risked becoming even more disconnected from it than I already was—and that wasn’t a good thing. Continue reading »

The Wanting Seed, by Anthony Burgess (1962)

In a vastly overpopulated future, London’s Ministry of Infertility coerces the populace to either stop having children or take up with your own sex.  Though the concept has tremendous potential, Burgess seems more interested in his theories of overpopulation and cycles of government than in the plot, which merely serves as a vehicle for his ideas—as thought-provoking as they are, the book itself is a bit of a slog.  Its 1960s treatment of homosexuality is also downright insulting today, combined with a few cringeworthy thoughts on race.  Better to read A Clockwork Orange and leave this one buried.

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What Would You Do With an Extra 10 Hours a Week?

Answer: A lot.

I read an amazing article once (which unfortunately I haven’t been able to find again, but here’s a similar one) about how back in the 1900s or so after the Industrial Revolution had changed the way we live, people were optimistic that technology would continue to make our lives more convenient as time went on.  People believed that all these awesome new gas-powered cars and factories would reduce the overall amount of work that needed doing, and that the newly reduced workloads would be passed down to the workers.  Because machines and automation would be doing so much of the work, people Continue reading »

A Girl on the Shore, by Inio Asano (2011)

A ninth-grade girl wanders distraught after a subpar encounter with the class playboy, then seeks solace with another guy who likes her and a shit-ton of graphic middle-school sex ensues.

I’m not kidding—this manga isn’t for the squeamish, since there’s A LOT of sex here shown in close-up, and just when you think it can’t go any farther, it does.  In terms of story, Koume and Isobe’s relationship shows a lot about first love, disenchantment, and searching for something you can’t quite describe, and their confused realizations keep you guessing until the end, with stirring results.

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The Day Job Life à la Clark Kent

I think a lot about how certain stories stick around through the generations because they reveal universal truths: Romeo and Juliet says a lot about first love, Gulliver’s Travels satirizes mankind’s stupidities, and 1984 explores totalitarian societies across all time (hence the novel’s sudden spike in sales after Trump’s election).

The best superhero stories do the same thing.

I have a friend who can school me in all things Batman and comic book hero-related (Hi Dan), but today I want to talk specifically about Superman, the precursor of them all.  Or, as this entry’s title suggests, I want to talk about Clark Kent. Continue reading »

Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown, by Jill McCabe Johnson (2017)

Johnson’s poems hit that sweet spot of being approachable yet challenging, not too simple, yet not too arcane.  The opening section was written during her walking trek through France in the days leading up to the 2015 Paris attacks and captures both the country’s historic character and the ideological ugliness behind ISIS, including its abominable treatment of women (which tends not to get as much coverage).  The collection’s other poems convey images of loss, humiliation, and conflicts with loved ones in moments that quietly ask for our reflections, along with a few plays on words to break the rhythm.

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Jill McCabe Johnson’s website

Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown at Finishing Line Press

What Happened When I Went to Work on 2 Hours of Sleep

Let’s get one thing straight: I love sleep.

Every day, at least once a day, I think about how great it would be to just lay down and go to sleep, or even just take a quick nap.  On the weekends I try to sleep in at least one day until 9:00 or so (usually on Saturday, since that’s my no-work day) and go to bed early one night so I can get caught up, since sleep debts can have some pretty nasty effects if you’re not careful.  My favorite time to sleep is on cold winter nights, covered in extra blankets, and I sleep a lot better Continue reading »

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie (1911)

Another children’s classic I never actually read as a kid, the original Peter Pan holds up solidly in its story, characters, and playful writing style, but not in its cringeworthy turn-of-the-century descriptions of Native Americans. Barrie also inserts some distinct undertones for careful readers, such as the rivalry between Wendy and Tinkerbell for the clueless pre-pubescent Peter, the Darling parents’ obsession with doing everything society expects of them, and Hook’s being a former prep school kid, along with an epilogue (left out of the Disney version) that explores what it really means to outgrow the carefree adventures of youth.

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Last Words, by George Carlin (with Tony Hendra, 2009)

Carlin’s posthumous memoir (based on a decade of conversations with co-author Hendra) covers his New York childhood, his humdrum ‘60s comedy, his departure into gritty realism (“Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV”), his cocaine addiction, and finally his move toward satirizing politics and society.  This was my first real foray into Carlin’s work, and it proved a solid start—many of his most famous pieces are transcribed with commentary, and his biting, thoughtful voice is always present.  I was most drawn to his reflections about leaving the mainstream to find his real voice—undoubtedly the strongest section.

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You Have to Find the Value in Your Work

I think a lot about where confidence comes from, and why sometimes I’m absolutely full of confidence about the work I’m doing (creative work, Day Job work, and everything else) while other times everything I’m working toward feels meaningless.

It’s amazing how quickly these two mindsets can switch back and forth in the same week, or even the same day, even when nothing’s really changed.  I’m still the same person, I still have the same job, I’m still working on the same novel, and I’m still trying to get my writing out there in the same ways.  Big successes usually deliver equally large boosts of confidence, while rejections usually set me back more than I care to admit.  But most of the time, though, there’s Continue reading »