Posts Tagged ‘michael chabon’

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Rivals, Week 2 Power Rankings

“Tyrie’s terrible at this game….He’s not gonna help me at all.” —Davis

 

“There’s me and everyone’s revolving around me. And everybody’s thinking: What are we going to do about this kid?” —C.T.

 

Somewhere, the MTV executive who thought up the concept for Rivals is laughing maniacally. In episode two, everything is going according to plan: Some of the pairs are being drawn closer together, and others are being torn apart at the seams. We have couples forming and fights breaking out. And C.T. is building an air of invincibility while simultaneously drawing the ire of the rest of the cast. Mwahahahahaha!

We began the episode with a simple prank: Kenny, Johnny, Evan, and Wes lift a giant sculpture of a swan from their yard and leave it in Mandi’s bed. They seem to think this is the funniest thing that anybody’s ever done. Mandi doesn’t know what to do, but luckily her new beau is C.T., and he’s a monster. He lifts the swan—which required four people to lift it the first time—by himself and carries it back outside.

Even in a show like The Challenge, where people are loathe to admit their own weaknesses or inferiorities, everyone seems scared of C.T. Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Literature, Part I

In addition to our Aught-themed Sunday Book Review, which we began last week, NPI is presenting a more general look at fiction of the decade in which we look quickly and some of the most significant works of literature published during this decade. This is Part I of a two-part series.

2666 — Roberto Bolaño

 The epic of the Aughts (so long as we’re not counting The Wire), 2666 affords Bolaño the posthumous chance to opine on death in all its forms: from the corporeal to the metaphysical. His characters are deep even when they are fleeting, and his style (in Natasha Wimmer’s translation) ranges from florid to hard-boiled. In contemplating his own legacy, Bolaño pretty much ensured it. 

–Tim

 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay — Michael Chabon

I’ve already expanded on my high opinion of Michael Chabon’s novel about the Golden Age of Comic Books; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay presents a compelling portrait of what it’s like to create fantasies in an era of global turmoil—a particularly resonant story of the Aughts, even if Chabon’s novel came out in 2000. While he deals with themes like evil and fantasy, however, Chabon is adept at depicting a rich setting of New York City in the 1930s.

— John S

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Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures

In keeping with NPI’s December theme of Aught Lang Syne, this month’s Sunday Book Reviews will cover some of the most important works of literature to come out this decade. Today we’re starting with Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

What is the appeal of superheroes? As this decade’s onslaught of superhero movies* has proved, simply investing someone or something with incredible abilities does not suffice to make a compelling story. And yet so many people are preternaturally drawn to these stories, like a moth to a flame.

*For the record this decade has seen three Spiderman movies, four X-Men, two Batmans, two Fantastic Fours, one Superman, two Hulks, one Iron Man….Am I forgetting some? Oh yeah, two Hellboys, Daredevil, Catwoman, Elektra, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and, if you want to count them, two Blade sequels.

In Michael Chabon’s modern classic, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, he provides something of an explanation. Early in the novel, when the titular “heroes” are struggling to come up with a superhero to launch their new comic book business, they realize the futility of trying to come up with an irresistible gimmick for the hero. As Sammy Clay, the brains of the operation, puts it:

“No matter what we come up with, and how we dress him, some other character with the same shtick, with same style of boots and the same little doodad on his chest, is already out there, or is coming out tomorrow, or is going to be knocked off from our guy inside a week and a half…How? is not the question. What? is not the question….The question is why…What is the why?”

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The Final Solution and the Problem of Expectations

Since the opening paragraphs of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”—considered by most to be the first English detective story—the genre has been about expectations. Poe practically wrote the formula at the start of his short story, outlining the logical capabilities and ratiocination of his detective, C. Auguste Dupin. Poe and later practitioners of the genre quickly established a basic pattern: damsel presents case to shrewd, all-knowing yet uncommunicative detective; detective investigates, but reveals little; detective’s friend narrates from a certain distance, guessing what’s going through the head of the brilliant detective; detective reveals all in a climactic scene that often includes some trickery and more action.

It’s a tried and true formula—one that sells despite its redundancy.

At the same time, the best detective stories are the ones that both play into and off of this pattern. What lifts The Hound of the Baskervilles above Arthur Conan Doyle’s other novels—and indeed, just about any other Sherlock Holmes short story—was its premeditated arrangement of suspects. For once, Holmes wasn’t dragging in a heretofore unknown cab driver and presenting him to the reader, sans explanation, as the murderer. Agatha Christie takes the genre a step further by playing with the narrative in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and by eliminating the detective altogether in And Then There Were None. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler straddled the line between detective fiction and flat-out thriller with their complex cases and steel-headed Sam Spades and Philip Marlowes, respectively. A contemporary novel such as Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time works because it places the houndstooth hat on the able head of a 15-year old boy with autism.

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