if I ruled the world, I’d free all my sons

This media blow breaks in over all TV channels to broadcast its demands:

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: I would have reviewed this sooner, but I couldn’t watch it for more than 5 minutes without getting bored and doing something else. None of the people involved can sing very well, Fillion perhaps worst of all. Whedon, for reasons obscure to me, ditches his strongest suit – creative storylines – for a paint-by-numbers tale of Love conflicting with Goals, and which will win? Blah.

There’s good stuff there, don’t get me wrong. Whedon has great comic instincts – like when Captain Hammer “saves” the love interest by throwing her into a pile of garbage. That was hilarious. A great throw-away (no pun intended) gag. Now don’t dwell on it for the next two minutes.

Sorry for not being more impressed by Whedon’s amateur efforts, Internet, but I know people who produce things just as clever without the benefit of Neil Patrick Harris.

Persepolis: Brilliantly realized. A better picture of growing up female in Iran – especially Iran during the 1979 Revolution – would be hard to find.

Scotland, PA: Cute and quirky but not much else; a stocking stuffer of a movie. A lot of the plot, particularly the last ten minutes, feels like the author had a checklist of Macbeth tropes to hit rather than a story to tell*. But it’s certainly funny.

Downtown Owl: Ten minutes after the bar closes and the bouncers usher everyone out, an entertaining drunk bums a cigarette off you. He begins to launch into this colorful story about people you’ve never met but who sound fascinating. The story’s not going anywhere but it’s a funny slice-of-life. Suddenly, a black-and-white rolls up, sirens howling, and two cops spring out and force the drunk into the backseat. They take off without a word. Downtown Owl is a similar experience.

This feels like the kind of novel I could have written four years ago – and in fact, it begins very similarly to a failed draft somewhere on my hard drive**. As such, I can’t quite hate this book, like so many people hate Chuck Klosterman, but I have a hard time respecting it. Klosterman’s got a gift for inventive description and the witty turn of phrase, but I don’t know if you can build a novel on those strengths alone. He dances between “clever” and “too clever” and lands on unsteady footing.

As far as novels go in the Man vs. Nature genre – and by “Nature” I mean cruel, capricious fate, although weather plays a part here – Downtown Owl gets nothing wrong, though it doesn’t exactly cut a new trail. You will laugh more than you did at Slaughterhouse-Five or The Stranger, but won’t end up any wiser or feeling much different. It’s all naturalist and absurdist portraits of small-town life, until suddenly there’s a shocker of a climax, and then no denouement whatsoever.

* Also: Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth.

** I don’t mean this to be as dismissive as it sounds. Klosterman has been on the New York Times Bestseller list and I have not; clearly he’s doing something right.


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