On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

May 9, 2010

Review by Gabriel

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

When I was a kid, probably around 9 or 10, I was obsessed with the telemovie of Stephen King’s It.  I recorded it straight from TV, with my thumb poised over the pause button so I could cut out all the ads.  I watched the tape so many times that the whole movie looked like it took place in a snowstorm, especially the scene where Bill Denborough slingshots a silver marble into Pennywise the Clown’s head.  At school, I made an It club, and suddenly thought stutters and Ventolin puffers were cool.  I don’t know what it says about me that I was obsessed with a movie about an evil shape-shifting clown that killed children, but that’s how it was.

To become the school/world authority on all things It, I also bought the 1000 plus page monster of a novel.  I gave it my best shot, but there were just too many descriptions and boring stuff about adults for me to make it much further than twenty pages.

It wasn’t until a good ten years later that I finally got around to reading the novel.  It was a little different from my beloved childhood telemovie.  The basic plot was the same, but there were also astral tongue biting duels, kids having group sex and a cosmic turtle.  I remember finding it readable and enjoyable, but not being overly impressed.  Around the same time, I read The Stand, another King epic.  Now, I generally like the idea of apocalyptic novels, but The Stand turned me off with its overt religiousness and its bland, cliché interpretation of evil.

All of which is a long-winded, self indulgent way of saying I have a long history with King, but I’m not a big fan of his fiction.  I am, however, a huge fan of this book, On Writing. Read the rest of this entry »


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

January 24, 2010

Review by Gabriel

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Before Murakami became a full-time writer, he was running a jazz bar in Tokyo.  While working long hours, he managed to have two novels published, and achieved some critical success and recognition.  Not the type to do things by halves, he decided to sell his business to devote himself to writing full time.

At this time, he also took up running to keep fit, a habit he maintains to this day.  But he doesn’t just run – he runs marathons.  He runs for around three hours a day, between one hundred and fifty and two hundred miles a month.  He competes in at least one marathon a year, and also trains for triathlons.  As I said, he’s not the type to do things by halves.   Read the rest of this entry »


The Elements of Style – by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White

October 8, 2009

review by Gabriel

In the introduction to The Elements of Style, E B White provides a wonderful image of his former English tutor, William Strunk, standing before his class and dictating, “Rule Seventeen!  Omit needless words!  Omit needless words!  Omit needless words!”  It was an image that stayed with me while I read this writing guide, and every time I came across an uncompromising order on the use of commas, or a withering criticism of those who trespass against the rules of language, I imagined a curmudgeonly old English professor waggling his finger at me.  The important thing to note, however, is that he’s a curmudgeonly old English professor who knows what he’s talking about.

Read the rest of this entry »