May We Suggest ...
I don't write humor per se, but I like to use humor to make my points. The key is to develop the habit of always having your antenna up to catch the comedy around you. Your Seventh Sense; How To Think Like a Comedian, by Karyn Ruth White and Jay Arthur, combines art and neuro-linguistic science to provide good ideas for tuning the antenna.
I've been enjoying a double dose of Alan Arkin. I thought he delivered one of his finest movie roles ever as the X-rated grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine, an offbeat story about a chubby pre-teen who dreams of competing in a junior beauty pageant. And Folk Era Records has a collection of Arkin's work in an earlier incarnation as a member of the groundbreaking 1950s folk group, The Tarriers. The CD by that title includes the group's first album, plus a bunch of live and bonus tracks.
My wife and I traveled overseas this summer and while discussing books with her British cousin received an excellent recommendation. Toast, the story of a boy's hunger, by British author Nigel Slater, is an autobiographical journey though the author's childhood expressed though a series of flash works featuring the food of his youth and the associated memories. It's honest, well written, and very bittersweet. (I bought a copy in Sheffield and it saved our marriage on the return flight home)
One of my favorite discoveries this summer is These Streets, an album by a young Scottish singer/songwriter with an Italian name and a raspy, soulful, engaging voice — Paolo Nutini.
Catchy tunes and witty lyrics make any album by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers a pleasure to listen to, and their latest, No More Beautiful World, is no exception. Put it on, kick back, and enjoy the last days of summer. And if you get a chance to see them live, don't miss it — they have energy to spare and a deep appreciation for their fans.
You can't find this on Amazon, but if you're looking for the best short fiction being published today, treat yourself to a subscription to One Story. About every three weeks, you'll receive an envelope containing — you guessed it — one fantastic story.
Although we don't usually recommend writing books, the only book I've had time to read this summer is Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. What I liked most about this book is that it's extremely concise and well organized. It also sparks a lot of story ideas, by teaching you to look at a story &mdash regardless of length — as a sum of its parts. I could easily see this becoming a dice game that writers could use for exercises.
If you haven't already seen them, I have some great summer movies for you to consider:
300, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. In an ironic touch, the graphic novel was inspired by an earlier film, The 300 Spartans. Although many dramatic touches have been added to 300, the story is told in a fairly accurate way (not to mention that Gerard Butler and David Wenham are very pumped).
Many of the reviews I read about Pan's Labyrinth led me to believe it was a fairy tale. It's anything but, actually, and a bittersweet story about a young girl's struggle to escape her miserable real-life existence while trying to keep her fantasy life in check. I highly recommend it.