As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, I’m back in school, so I feel like it’s my duty to share some awesome learning with you. After the piracy debate broke out between Evan and Gordon a little while back I settled on the perfect topic: how piracy saved American literature. Or, as we have been learning in my Canadian Literature class, how British Imperialism screwed over early Canadian writers. Quick, name 5 great Canadian writers! If you are anything like me you probably weren’t able to think up more than one or two. There are a lot more than that, by the way, you just have to look a little harder… and not necessarily in Canada.
To my everlasting shame as a Canadian, Margaret Atwood was actually the only author I could think of when asked this question.
Now I know that there’s a certain degree of irony attached to this post. Just now you read my question on why people don’t read anymore. I’m not really talking about reading in the the sense of skimming the occasional article online, though. Before anyone tries to point it out- yeah, I’m aware that the medium for communication has shifted a lot since video is now accessible to pretty much everyone.
I’m talking about books, people. When did we stop reading books?
I would go bankrupt buying books with gifs for illustrations…
I can’t count how many times I’ve been reading a book in public and people act as if I’ve started cleaning a black-powder musket.
As luck would have it, just as I was perusing the AV Club’s various articles on the US networks’ fall programming, regular CWR reader/my friend Marilyn brought a certain issue to my attention.
This fall CBS will be bringing the series Intelligence to the small screen [not to be confused with the CBC series of the same name that aired in 2005]. The following is the trailer, which I only saw half a minute of earlier because it failed to grab my attention:
GORDON:Ladies and gentlemen, because we are men of our word, today’s Evan and Gordon discussion will be based off a suggestion left by you, the readers.
Specifically, Joe Chinn, who asked us to talk about rest and leisure time in this crazy modern world.EVAN: The irony is not lost on me, as I embark on a forty-five minute chat at around 11:15 pm with work the following the morning.
GORDON: So I’m guessing we’re stating right off the bat that we don’t have enough hours in the day?
GORDON: Ladies, gentlemen, voices I hear in my head during the dark, long hours of the night, we’re going to deviate from our past record of discussing television to talk about creating a new literary genre.
EVAN: Which is a daunting task, to say the least. I mean, genres have gotten ridiculously specific as of late. There’s a “gay horror” genre now. It’s not something to spook homophobes, it’s literally horror fiction for homosexuals.
GORDON: There are so many terrible, ignorant jokes I wanna make right now, but I’m not going to. But I agree- we can’t just slap two genres together. Poe is credited with inventing the deective novel- is there a particular profession that hasn’t really been explored much?
EVAN: Hm . . . Everything dramatic and even slightly connected to death is out. That includes forensic scientists, doctors or any sort, lawyers, etc. And the thing is, a genre that revolves around a profession requires an exciting one.
GORDON: Would it count if we revived the explorer/exploration novel?
EVAN: Not if the title of this post is “Evan and Gordon Talk: New Lit. Genre.”
GORDON: Touché. Here’s an idea: a “Nietzschean” novel.
EVAN: Go on-
GORDON: Well, to brutally simplify the philosophy, the only “bad guys” are the people who aren’t doing anything. Otherwise it’s more like an epic tale of colliding forces all of whom technically could be the protagonists and antagonists.
EVAN: That’s an interesting direction, but I suppose my issue is how alternatingly broad and specific it is- So in these novels you’re proposing, the only villains are the idle?
GORDON: the idle, the apathetic, those trapped by their antiquated sense of morality, and those enslaved to their brute instincts and empty rationality.
EVAN: I suppose it works, but have difficulty seeing it as the header to a shelf in a bookstore. Which is sort of what I was envisioning we would do in creating our new genre.
GORDON: Huh. What’s your idea?
EVAN: Well, this isn’t my idea, but I recently came across this brilliant new novel put together by Ryan North, creator of the webcomic Quantz.
GORDON: Huh. If we’re going down that track, how about a novel written in such a way where you can rip out certain sections, rearrange ‘em, and wind up with a completely different story?
EVAN: It would work, but sounds exceedingly difficult to pull off. I’m trying to think of how exactly one would go about writing one . . .
I think, keeping in discussing literature, we could devise a new medium of sorts- it would be a marriage of the graphic novel and the traditional novel. Heavy on both text and imagery, a seamless integration that showcases both the artist and the author.
GORDON: That’s sounds like your average Alan Moore book.
EVAN:The Watchmen comes close to it, but it’s ultimately still a graphic novel which prioritizes that sort of storytelling over the bits of prose sandwiched in between the panels.
How about we look at steampunk, and see if we can branch out from it? That seems to be the newest sort of genre out there nowadays.
GORDON: Fair enough. I’m just struggling to figure out an era of technology to “punk.” After all, steam power was really the first major leap in technology.
EVAN: And “cyberpunk” is already a thing as well.
GORDON: This is true. But what else is there? Modern tech? “Modpunk”?
EVAN: Well, we don’t necessarily need to “punk” something. We just need to look at what makes/made steampunk so popular and work off of that-
GORDON: It’s the art, the world, the fancy suits. But yeah, it’s the rich world that’s created; it appeals to us.
EVAN: It’s also a union of history junkies and the sci-fi/fantasy crowd, I think that’s a pretty large aspect of it.
Are there two sort of interest groups that we can intertwine? I mean, it’s already been done with horror and romance, long before Stephenie Meyers ever came along.
GORDON: Huh. I’ll admit, I’m having trouble trying to think of one that hasn’t already been covered. As of yet, I think my Nietzschean idea was the strongest lead we yet have.
What if went down that route? Trying to twist philosophies into narratives- the allegory of the cave would make a good story.
EVAN: I think the main issue is how broad it could get- though I suppose it could just be “Philosophical Fiction.” That I could see in a bookstore.
GORDON: That’d be cool. I mean, it all appeals to the questions and struggles we already have. Yet barring Rand (may raccoons urinate on her grave) and LeGuin, I can’t think of any explicitly “philosophical” novels.
EVAN: That may speak for their effectiveness/popularity.
I was thinking about taking a genre that’s immensely popular to this day, and smashing it together with another one. Self-help books.
EVAN: People eat ‘em up.
GORDON: I’m just imagining a really sarcastic self-help book.
EVAN: Comedy and self-help has probably been done . . . hm . . . I would love to see a whole line of books that masqueraded as self-help books that you could gift to the naive.
GORDON: Heh, that’d be cool.
EVAN: They’d be excessively over the top, but just believable enough for people to [literally] buy them.
GORDON: That’d be funny, but it’s really not a genre.
EVAN: I think if self-help books are a genre then fake self-help books would be as well.
GORDON: It’s really more of a gag.
EVAN: Yeah, I suppose you really couldn’t have that many of them.
How about an exaggeration of the choose your own adventure book?
GORDON: Like forcing you to branch out into multiple novels?
EVAN: Ooh, that’s an idea! So your choices would determine what novels you get next; that’s brilliant.
GORDON: Ain’t it? You’re welcome, America.
EVAN: And Canada. And the world. Let’s open up our borders here.
GORDON: Except Luxembourg. **** you guys.
EVAN: You don’t even know anyone from Luxembourg.
GORDON: Exactly- what makes ‘em think they’re so good they don’t talk to me?
EVAN: We are going to lose the viewership of an entire country because of you.
GORDON: Boo hoo.
EVAN: All . . . possibly one of them.
GORDON: Hey, Luxembourg! Andorra called, they want their quaint charm and history back!
EVAN: And with the slamming of an entire nation done, and with a few very decent ideas about exciting places literature could go, we should look forward to what we talk about next-
GORDON: New film style?
EVAN: Seems like we’d be following very closely the same sort of conversation. Not to mention really most of what can be done has been done.
GORDON: This is true.
EVAN: Hm . . . How about . . . nerd culture, just in general- The Big Bang Theory, the current conversation about “nerd girls,” the whole shebang.
GORDON: Sure thing.
EVAN: Okay, that fully wraps up our time. Say good-bye to the nice people, Gordon.
GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen devoted readers and people who found our blog by googling “dokata fanning playboy.” We’re were to have a frank and open discussion about “The Walking Dead,” both the critically acclaimed television series and Robert Kirkman comic books of the same name.
EVAN: I’d like to issue a fair warning to those who haven’t read the comic series or caught up on the show that there will be SPOILERS. You have been duly warned.
GORDON: Indeed. I’d like to kick things off by talking a bit about how the books and the television series differ, and whether or not that’s a good thing.
EVAN: I think there’s a firm answer there. The show differs a lot from the books, and that’s definitely a good thing.
GORDON: How so?
EVAN: Sticking to the book means that there aren’t any surprises for loyal fans of the series, and keeps them guessing. Furthermore, it allows AMC and others involved to play a little bit more loosely with the way the show is going, without feeling too tied down.
GORDON: I thought about that.
GORDON: At the same time, I feel there’s definitely a lot lacking from the series as a result of their pretty strong (and ever increasing) departure from the source material. Take some of the deaths, like Dale’s and Shane’s, for example. It’s like knowing you’re gonna go get Chinese food versus being surprised that you get some potato chips with your nasty sandwich.
EVAN: I agree. Both deaths were undeniably very well-written and powerful moments. I just think there’s something to be said for not being slavishly dedicated to one vision of the show.
And as far as Dale’s death is concerned, I can easily see his key line being spoken by some other character some ways down the road.
GORDON: I guess my point is that while the show does keep you on your toes, the changes it makes are typically just less impressive than the story itself. I think loyal fans of the series would be just as cool seeing a faithful show as one that goes its own way.
I mean, look at it this way: The books are dark. Really dark. I’m talking Laurie’s comic-book ending dark. It pushed the envelope in ways I just have yet to see the show do. That was a lot of the charm of the books- how unflinching it was. I’m just not getting that same power with the show’s spin.
EVAN: It’s obvious that fans are going to want a show that is as close to what they originally experienced in the comics as possible. I also agree that the comics are undeniably better than the show.
My point is that I think the deviation is good and realistic. Having the Governor both physically and sexually assault Michonne is probably not something we’re going to see. Neither did I think we were going to be witness to a woman and her baby being brutally gunned down.
The writing is weaker, but I don’t think that faults the direction to not stick to the book, it faults the current writers.
GORDON: Interesting, but it seems that the logical solution to that is to try to get closer to the hard-hitting story the books gave us. Here’s what I’m hearing from you:
“The books are objectively better, but the fault is with the show’s poor writing.”
Seems like you either just start trying to write a better zombie story while trying to stay within sight of the original material and characters (which kind of kills the point), or just stick to the material to begin with.
EVAN: I don’t think they’re not trying to write better stories. I’m saying they’re not succeeding. I don’t think they set out to do a bad job.
GORDON: Fair enough. So what needs to be done then?
EVAN: As with most forms of media taking into account constant feedback from fans and acknowledging their mistakes. Season 2 at the farm really dragged on, and was low on the zombie killing. At the very least, this season has given us plenty of “walker”-eviscerating action.
GORDON: No argument there . . . no complaint either. But I don’t think it’s a solution; just something to help ease the need for something more.
EVAN: You do get that not everything in the comics can make it on TV, though, right?
GORDON: Of course. And I wasn’t going to say that. I mean, ever since the season began, I’ve been like: “How the **** are they going to show a baby being shot on national television?”
The rest I could imagine, but not that.
EVAN: Okay, how about we move on to something most fans of the AMC show can relate to: How horrible Andrea is all the time always.
GORDON: That bugs me. I like Andrea. Andrea gets it.
EVAN: Andrea is horrible. Andrea almost shot Daryl in the face. Because she couldn’t listen to people telling her to hold the **** up.
GORDON: That was messed up. But otherwise, I think the criticism of her is all just BS.
I mean, everyone’s like, “Gah- I hate Andrea! Why can’t she see that the Governor is evil?”
And I’m like: ”Please. If you had survived as long as she had, which you wouldn’t, you would be groveling at the man’s feet for a bowl of warm soup, let alone a flippin’ suburban paradise free from living corpses.”
EVAN: She only survived because of Michonne, who I don’t like all that much at the moment. And for the most part, I agree with you about the Governor not being a bad dude.
GORDON: Let’s not turn this into my twisted/completely reasonable sense of morality. What I think the show is really lacking is the eeriness. You got that in the first season, when Rick was on his own, that feeling of isolation. Upping the action doesn’t solve that problem, especially as more an more characters come in.
EVAN: What I really want to see is the whole idea, which has been communicated but could be better, that it’s not the zombies you’re afraid of, it’s the people. Two kids die, and everyone things it’s the huge black dude who did it. Turns out it’s the mild-mannered white guy who decapitated these two little girls.
GORDON: Very unexpected. Dang, there was so much good stuff there that we’ll never get to see. . .
EVAN: The theme of the books, if I could sum it up in three words, is “People Are Monsters.” I think that’s really what needs to come out of AMC’s Sunday evenings.
GORDON: I agree completely.
EVAN: We’ve got a little bit of time, do you want to share with the nice people why, barring slaughtering a few US Army men, the Governor’s not such a mustachio-twirling villain?
GORDON: In their defense, that version was pretty over-the-top; like a living Snidely Whiplash.
EVAN: In the books, you mean?
EVAN: What I meant, though, is that as you said people are yelling at their screens, crying “Andrea you dumb blonde, can’t you see you’re making out with the devil?”
GORDON: They are, and without cause (barring knowledge from the book). I mean, people suspect because they’re the audience and can see the big picture. But if we’re talking realistically, they would be more eager than Andrea. I’m just saying the criticism of Andrea as being blind is utter nonsense.
EVAN: And furthermore, what has he done to have anyone assume he’s a bad dude? Taken away their weapons in a peaceful town. Shown them tons of hospitality. If anything, we’d all be telling Michonne to chill the eff out and stop glaring at everyone/thing.
GORDON: Exactly. People need to chill out.
EVAN: And, even though I’m sure we could’ve gone on for another hour, that just about concludes our time. Any topics you have in mind for next week? Probably not something television-related, to avoid the hat trick.
GORDON: True. Let’s talk about food. Let’s hypothesize the greatest food show of all time.