June 28, 2010 |
Put down that dragon tattoo girl. Stop catching up with Bree Tanner. You don't need any help from Kathryn Stockett. Forget about the latest from Scott Turow or David Mitchell or Charlaine Harris or Paul Auster or Rick Riordan or Stephen King. Novels are over. Fiction is dead. Here we go again. Every few years someone declares fiction dead, despite all evidence to the contrary. This time, it's Lee Siegel in the New York Observer, reacting to the New Yorker's recent issue announcing the 20 best American novelists younger than 40. Siegel flogs a tired horse, arguing that fiction is less central to the culture than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, and not as good.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 4, 2013 |
Remember when that Simi Valley pastor caused a minor stir when he tweeted that Costco had labeled the Bible fiction ? And how Fox Nation tried, but just couldn't make the simple error into another faux cause for outrage? Costco said its distributor made the mistake, and vowed never to mislabel the Good Book again, which pretty much put an end to the kerfuffle. But a few days later, I got an email from Jennifer Sjoberg, who shops at the Costco in Fresno. "Personally, I think the Bible is fiction," Sjoberg told me. But she was incensed that the store had the nerve to apply the fiction label to Solomon Northup's memoir “12 Years a Slave,” which she bought for her son who is studying slavery and the Civil War. That literary work, of course, is the true tale of a free black man who was sold into slavery and the inspiration for Steve McQueen's justly lauded new film of the same name.
December 15, 2011 |
'50/50" was the first feature script I ever wrote. The reason? When it came to writing, there was nothing exceptional about any of my ideas. I'd always aspired to write movies like the very ones that inspired me: "The Apartment," "Harry and Tonto," "Harold and Maude. " Comedies that are not only funny, they're tragic and they're human. But those movies are experiential meditations, and when I was in my early 20s, the only thing I knew to write about was what it's like to be single, horny and terrified of women.
June 14, 2004
Re "Film and Election Politics Cross in 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' " June 11: Unconcerned about public reaction to Michael Moore's admittedly biased movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel is quoted as saying, "Voters know fact from fiction coming from Hollywood." The question is, come November, will they know fact from fiction coming from Washington? Rick Mittleman Palm Desert
April 18, 2010 |
Nothing Happened and Then It Did A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction Jake Silverstein W.W. Norton: 232 pp., $23.95 People who know Jake Silverstein may be surprised to discover upon reading "Nothing Happened and Then It Did" that he helped find pirate booty in a Louisiana bayou, competed in a poetry competition, spent days with a Mexican American businessman working on a story that he had no hope of ever writing and once...
January 18, 2004
Re Marshall Herskovitz's letter on Manohla Dargis' piece on historical accuracy in films (Letters, Jan. 11): All fiction is not "lies." One of the purposes of imaginative literature is to illuminate life, to tell truths. The films in question clearly aspire to such things. And politics and history are part and parcel of the stories they seek to tell. It's the job of the critic to note when they come up short, as well as when they succeed. "Muddling through" these films is exactly the problem.
September 12, 2013 |
Chances are good that Harry Dean Stanton, the prolific character actor with the face of a backwoods prophet, will be the subject of a straightforward career-retrospective documentary someday. For now we have something that's more in tune with the man: Sophie Huber's lyrical and enigmatic portrait, "Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction. " At the film's heart is a fitful conversation that unfolds like a string of koans, epigrams, jokes and silences. And songs. A reluctant interviewee with no interest in biographical facts, Stanton would rather sing than yak. The unrepentant loner says he's "not psychologically wired for institutions"; nonetheless, within the moviemaking system he's amassed 200-plus film credits and counting.
February 2, 1986 |
The special-effects character played by Bryan Brown in "F/X" has worked on some odd-sounding movies--like "Vermin From Venus," "I Dismember Mama" and "Rock-a-Die Baby." Frighteningly, two of those gruesome titles aren't fictional. According to director Robert Mandel, Thomas Pope, who worked on a revision of the "F/X" script, slipped in the nod to "Rock-a-Die-Baby." It's a blast from Pope's past (he wrote it) that was filmed in 1975.
July 26, 1987 |
Spies are statements of our national loyalty. --Spy novelist John le Carre James Bond has a new face. He's mean and lethal in the spirit of the early Bond films and original Ian Fleming novels. In "The Living Daylights," he comes up against international arms merchants, a phony KGB defector and an intricate political money-laundering operation that takes him around the world. It's wonderful fantasy . . . or is it? The plot of the new Bond sounds suspiciously like today's headlines.
February 15, 2013 |
There's a subtle arc to Jim Gavin's first book, "Middle Men" (Simon & Schuster: 224 pp., $23). Gathering seven stories largely set in Southern California, it opens with a high school basketball player and ends with Marty Costello, a plumbing supply salesman who "averages 50,000 miles per year, vast territories, circles of latitude, Inglewood to Barstow, sailing across SoCal, all day every day. " In between, we meet men of different ages, from Costello's...