#BLAThoughtOfTheDay – J.K. Rowling is crying for help

I choose to believe that Fantastic Beasts was more cry for help than actual story. That is the only way I can go on living.

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GABBLER RECOMMENDS: J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is too busy planning future movies to be much good in the present

“But the truer intent of Fantastic Beasts reveals itself as veteran Harry Potter director David Yates continues to swoop the camera like he’s mapping out a blueprint for Universal’s inevitable Fantastic Beasts roller coaster. Once I accepted that I wasn’t watching a movie so much as a marketing opportunity, I could focus my attention on the rest of what Fantastic Beasts had to offer.

And even though those days are largely behind me, I still thought the prospect of having a new Harry Potter canon in my life might spark something like excitement. Surely seeing a full-blown adaptation of Rowling’s slim book of the same name could be interesting, especially when interwoven with the rise of Gellert Grindelwald, the dark wizard who was Voldemort before Voldemort was Voldemort. And if nothing else, surely the adventures of a magical-creature enthusiast careening around 1920s New York City would be exciting.

As it turns out, not so much.

See, Fantastic Beasts isn’t just a whimsical tale of Newt chasing mischievous Nifflers and gelatinous rhinos around the city. It’s not even about the rise of Grindelwald. It’s about setting the stage for four(!) more movies. Almost all of these dozen or so plots end with, “To be continued.”

The result is that none of Fantastic Beasts’ stories truly get a chance to breathe beyond their cursory consideration. Given the fact that the movie’s narratives are so thin they’re practically translucent, it’s a good thing Yates and the Fantastic Beasts CGI team do their damnedest to give us something pretty to look at.”

[Via]

BookTuber Tuesday – Disappointment with Harry Potter & the Cursed Child






“I could have written something better.”

Check out other book vlogs we’ve featured here.

Have a book vlog video you want us to check out? Submit a link below in the comments and it could make the CIRCO blog.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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GABBLER RECOMMENDS: BLA’s Twitter Rant about The Cursed Child

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Indeed, why did J.K. Rowling not think that her screenplay for Fantastic Beasts would be enough to delight readers? We’ve waited this many years for something for her that is “Harry Potter” — that would have been enough. Why would she give up more of her rights and her story to a play that was so sub-par? Did Jack Thorne and John Tiffany blackmail her? Is she trying to prove to us that she isn’t perfect and makes mistakes? That the fanfiction community is her bitch? What?

Also:

Indeed, where is Remus and Tonk’s child? Clearly there were some characters Rowling didn’t allow Jack Thorne to touch.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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GABBLER RECOMMENDS: On ‘The Cursed Child’ as fanfiction, and where the problem really lies by Michal Schick

“This kind of self-awareness is, to varying degrees, inherent in fanfiction. Transformative works are necessarily built on the platform of canon, expanding above it in countless ways. Fanfiction has to be aware of its source, but for a source to be aware of itself requires a very specific (and usually comical) type of art. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, it goes without saying, is not that kind of art.

But of course, it is neither format nor self-reference that fundamentally fill The Cursed Child with That Fanfiction Feeling. Most prominently responsible are the controversial story decisions in The Cursed Child, all of which come about because the play propels itself on the energy of the wrong type of question. Over and over again, with wide-eyed enthusiasm, the play asks “What if?”

What if Harry’s son had polyjuice potion miraculously to hand? What if Voldemort had a child? What if Time-Turner?

“What if” questions are not bad questions, but they are almost always the domain of fanfiction, and for good reason. Within the bounds of an established, canonical tale, storytellers must be judicious in their application of “what if,” because “what if” is not governed by theme, history, or character. “What if” can lead anywhere, and stories that bear the weight of canon cannot afford to go anywhere.

None of these ideas are inherently bad, and none of the audacious ideas in The Cursed Child are inherently bad outside the context of canon. What they are, however, is fundamentally light, unmoored from cannnical responsibility. That’s a beautiful, inspiring thing, but it can also be less than satisfying.

Readers like rules. Modern stock in the concept of “canon” may be riding unnecessarily high, but it appeals to us for a reason. We want our stories to have weight and boundaries; we don’t actually want them to fly off in any direction when we feel safe within the walls of canon. Fanfiction scratches a different itch than official stories do, and when those lines cross, we often feel damned uncomfortable.

That’s certainly how I felt, reading of Voldemort’s unexpected progeny in The Cursed Child. It’s how I felt every time someone yanked out that ridiculous Time-Turner. It’s how I feel now, imagining new characters tramping over a world that had been so definitively bounded by the words “All was well” back in 2007.

I think this is more than the growing pains of change, the mild discomfort we all felt while digesting the latest Harry Potter novel. I believe That Fanfiction Feeling represents a fundamental difference between Rowling’s approach in her novels, and the tact taken by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Rowling’s series was constantly inventive and powerfully imaginative, but also deeply consistent. It was not self-aware; it was loyal to the pulse of themes and characters pounding through a remarkable body of work.

The Cursed Child, however, beats to the drum of “What if?” questions, spinning off into a kaleidoscope of surprising (and to be honest, bizarre) answers. To that end, the story feels like fanfiction; this is not a measure of quality, but a measure of intent. Author-approved or not, The Cursed Child shares the fundamental sensibilities of fanfiction — not of canon.

It is a lesson of The Cursed Child that both good and bad can come from unexpected places. This is just as true of literature. Canon can awe or disappoint, while fan-works can make us groan or move us to tears. As a story hatched from the worlds of canon and fanfiction, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child also does both — and it’s up to each of us to decide if that’s our cup of Polyjuice or not.”

[Via]

 

When readers aren’t in on the joke/art:

‘Literature is full of impostors and noms de plume, from George Eliot to “Robert Galbraith” (aka JK Rowling), but JT LeRoy is something else. George Eliot never did high-end fashion shoots, or received backstage passes to U2 gigs, or was sent Kabbalah books by Madonna. Some see Albert/LeRoy as a fraud on the make, a player exploiting the kindness and credulity of celebrities, care workers and fans; others regard her as a complex, postmodern artist, whose literary talent justified the masquerade. Was this one of the greatest literary hoaxes of the modern age? Or a strategic confidence trick?

“It was a fiction that went way off the page,” says Jeff Feuerzeig, director of new documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story. “It raises the question of where does fiction come from? What is fiction? I found that to be interesting.” Having turned down previous approaches, Albert agreed to tell her story to Feuerzeig, partly on the strength of his 2005 music documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, but also, she told him, “Because you’re a Jew and you came out of punk rock.”

On being told by JT that he’d never had a birthday present, one of them sent her a present for every year of his life, another bought her a new computer, another cancelled his own Christmas on hearing that JT was going out turning tricks. “This person made me feel like if I didn’t talk to them, they were going to kill themselves,” one of them says. The Cult Of JT LeRoy also goes deeper into Albert’s 2007 trial and conviction for fraud, having signed a contract in JT LeRoy’s name rather than her own, then set up a company in the name of her alias

Laura Albert does not see what she did as a lie or a hoax or a masquerade. She refers to her unmasking as “the reveal”. She has made various justifications for her actions in interviews over the years. One is that JT LeRoy was a valid artistic device – “art should confuse”. Another, which she explains to me via email, is that the LeRoy persona was her own, unique form of therapy.

“JT was asbestos gloves to handle material I otherwise could not have touched,” she writes…

That’s Albert’s ultimate defence: the work itself. “I was writing Jeremy’s [JT’s] story and publishing it as fiction, and everyone who was interested got a real live book in their hands,” she writes. “Since the reveal, I’ve heard from more people who understand the need to hide that I had then, how it freed my voice to have someone who wasn’t me. They recognise the felt authenticity of my fiction, the emotional truths.”

The question is whether or not those books have changed now that their author’s own convoluted story has all but eclipsed them. Is there a difference between “honest” fiction and “dishonest” fiction? LeRoy’s books are being reissued to coincide with the release of Feuerzeig’s documentary, so perhaps we’ll see. In the mean time, Laura Albert is currently writing her memoirs. As herself.’

[Via]

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Tweets of the Week: Tits (Paridae)

We’ve run out of bird idioms and lyrics and are resorting to names. Give us some new ones or next week will be “Cock (Chicken).”

J.K. Rowling’s North American Indigenous Magic population “could have been great” – N.K. Jemisin

“That would be for her to have treated American peoples — all of us — with the same respect that she did European. Pretty sure she would never have dreamt of reducing all of Europe’s cultures to “European wizarding tradition”; instead she created Durmstrang and Beauxbatons and so on to capture the unique flavor of each of those cultures. It would’ve taken some work for her to research Navajo stories and pick (or request) some elements from that tradition that weren’t stereotypical or sacred — and then for her to do it again with the Paiutes and again with the Iroquois and so on. But that is work she should’ve done — for the sake of her readers who live those traditions, if not for her own edification as a writer. And how much more delightful could Magic in North America have been if she’d put an ancient, still-thriving Macchu Picchu magic school alongside a brash, newer New York school? How much richer could her history have been if she’d mentioned the ruins of a “lost” school at Cahokia, full of dangerous magical artifacts and the signs of mysterious, hasty abandonment? Or a New Orleanian school founded by Marie Laveau, that practiced real vodoun and was open/known to the locals as a temple — and in the old days as a safe place to plan slave rebellions, a la Congo Square? Or what if she’d mentioned that ancient Death Eater-ish wizards deliberately destroyed the magical school of Hawai’i — but native Hawai’ians are rebuilding it now as Liliuokalani Institute, better than before and open to all?

Sigh. She just shouldn’t have touched North America if she was going to gloss over everything that makes this part of the world what it is — the grotesque along with the sweet. This is who we are, for better or worse. Our history — all Americans’ history — needs respect, not pablum and stereotypes.”

[Via]

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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October Roundup: Fall back an hour for fall

Happy Day of the Dead!

Here’s the main highlights from October for the CIRCO blog:


Jesse Eisenberg talks about the footnote. 

Gabbler recommended some things, especially this. 

Commentary on The Martian came out. 

And we reminisced about Harry Potter here. 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to check out our tweets of the week under the Social Medea tab (because why would you follow us on Twitter if you don’t have to?).  Oh, and THE AUTOMATION Vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero Series is free on Goodreads. Start reading now!

 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Maybe your book will be a better movie/Maybe you should be writing screenplays?

A confession: I didn’t love Andy Weir’s The Martian. Despite all the people telling me at coffee shops/airports/etc. that it was their favorite book, I struggled to get through the prose. (I know, I know…) The story of astronaut Mark Watney and his fully science-enabled quest to stay alive while stranded on Mars was fascinating, but the book’s use of repetitive plot devices and phrasings (“shit,” “holy shit,” and “well, shit” appear regularly) made it a slog. In short, it was fine—I just thought it needed a good edit.

Ridley Scott’s The Martian is that edit. Freed of Watney’s long monologues and Weir’s deep explanations of botany and chemistry, the movie is far more agile than the book. It’s no less compelling and a whole lot more fun. (At one point, I actually spent an evening doing my taxes just to avoid delving into another chapter of The Martian.) Simply put, the movie is better than the book.

And Scott’s not the only one hungry for material. Earlier in Steven Spielberg’s career, the director filmed a mix of scripts he’d been involved with—Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind—and those written by others. (His Jurassic Park was The Martian of its time.) In recent years, he’s steered toward adaptations. His last three films—Lincoln, War Horse, and The Adventures of Tintin—all have been book adaptations of one variety or another. And his next two are adaptations of Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Ernie Cline’s nerd-favorite Ready Player One.

If there’s a future analog to what happened with Weir’s book for The Martian, it could end up being Ready Player One.

Ready Player One, in fact, has a lot in common with The Martian: a good yarn told competently, but not astoundingly. The characters are likable and the worldbuilding is impressive, but frankly, it reads like a movie treatment. (Cline, an admitted ’80s movie obsessive, came to prominence because of his script for Fanboys, a love letter to Star Wars). It’s now up to Spielberg to turn Ready Player One into a story told well.

At Comic-Con International this summer, Cline spoke to me about the adaptation process and said something very interesting. He had written the first two drafts of the RPO script, but told me that “they couldn’t wait to get rid of the guy who wrote the book, because I was too precious about everything.” As the screenplay went through rewrites, it got further from Cline’s original story—and lost a lot of his pop-culture references. Then, as Cline tells it, Spielberg had a meeting with Zak Penn, who was working on the script at the time, and came armed with a copy of the book that had “100 Post-it notes” of things he wanted to re-introduce into the movie. (Penn later told Cline about the meeting.) Spielberg had seen the story, and he knew how to tell it.

Ready Player One was nominally a young-adult title, but not a franchise, and as such is an exception to the recent spate of YA adaptations. However, with the exception of Veronica Roth’s Divergent books, most successful YA adaptations have been qualitatively on par with their literary predecessors: Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were both great stories, well told…

Read the rest. 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Critique My Critique: Lev Grossman and being “Subversive”

“Perhaps if one knows Lev Grossman they will understand the clever joke behind it all, but your reader shouldn’t have to know you in order to understand your intent.”

PINEkindling Wordsmithery

It has been pointed out that these critiques may suggest that I don’t understand what Lev Grossman was doing with The Magicians—that is, writing a “subversive” adult version of children’s high fantasy, in which the terrible realities of our world aren’t hidden, but rather that the “reality” of having magic and the world being magical, would actually not be so full of wonder and awe as it is in Narnia and Harry Potter.

Trust me, I understand. Grossman goes out of his way to hammer you over the head with how depressing and sad he thinks the world actually is. But let me be clear—simply because he was attempting to be subversive in fantasy, does not mean he succeeded. The main character being depressed and the reality of his dreams always being disappointing is not subversion—it’s a misunderstanding of the genre and it’s boring.

First, to be subversive in…

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Tweets of the Week: Bird Brain

Here are our headlines tweets of the week:

[BLA and GB Gabbler (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Happy birthday Fred and George Weasley, the greatest #aprilfools

There’s a post about the top 10 twins in children’s books over at The Guardian. Fred and George should have been number one.

Also, we’re pretty sure the only reason Odys and Odissa didn’t make the list is because THE AUTOMATION isn’t really a children’s book. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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On gender and book covers:

See also: The problem with Nicholas Sparks. 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

2014 year roundup:

2014 was a big year for us, guys.

For one, we published our first book (it’s about Automatons and the Greek god Hephaestus–kind of).

ALSO: Gabbler recommended a lot of stuff (Gabbler has great taste in stuff), we cataloged some writing tidbits (quotes from people more important than us and so on), and, last but not least, we wrote a couple of original posts that really help capture our year that was 2014 on this CIRCO blog (we’ve chosen 14 to be exact):

1) We wrote a post about 10 things you might not know about THE AUTOMATION (our 2014 novel)–using GIFs!!!

2) Gabbler went on a rant in an essay about what literature qualifies as art.

3) We posted the first chapter of THE AUTOMATION on our blog.

4) And then, later on in the year, we posted about how you can read the first five chapters of THE AUTOMATION for free too.

5) We posted an interesting excerpt from a book about statues and Pandora. You should check it out.

6) We gave our novel’s cover nipple pasties at one point because we are classy like that.

7) We talked a bit about why Zoella having a ghostwriter write her first novel matters.

8) We posted this thing about the Automatons in THE AUTOMATION and how they are different from just regular automatons (capital-A, thank you).

9) Gabbler posted an essay titled “What we talk about when we talk about post-apocalyptic stories”–which spoke a lot about our tendency to romanticize natalism in the genre.

10) Right after #9, Gabbler wrote another essay titled “On Interstellar: You know who else wanted to explore with the intent of inhabiting new land and using its resources? Conquistadors.” Needless to say, Gabbler did not like Interstellar.

11) We made this observation on Homer and recorded it here.

12) We asked the question “Why didn’t J.K. Rowling self-publish as Robert Galbraith?” Seriously, why?

13) BLA and Gabbler had a little argument over mythologists, recorded here.

14) We posted an excerpt from our book about the Midas touch here: “…When her finger left, it was no longer just a plastic, black ashtray. It was a golden ashtray.”

Here is to 2015! May the gods scheme ever in your favor.

 

P.S. Today’s the last day to enter our giveaway. Bring in the new year with some ancient myth!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Automation by G.B. Gabbler

The Automation

by G.B. Gabbler

Giveaway ends December 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

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It’s all about Writing (and always has been)

Great points! Though, we still think that J.K. Rowling could have learned a lot about her writing through criticism uninfluenced by her famous name (by keeping her pen name a secret (by having more control over the process)). Her whole point in using “Robert Galbraith” was undermined when the pen name leaked. Otherwise, she could have just used “J.K. Rowling” to keep writing and becoming that “better author” that he speaks of.

Andrew Updegrove: Tales of Adversego

Escher 120I happened upon a blog entry the other day that asked why J.K. Rowling hadn’t self-published her new crime books. The blogger went on at great length to illustrate the advantages Rowling could have enjoyed if only she had hired her own editor, publicist and so on. The decision of the famous author, evidently, was too inexplicable and wrong-headed to be believed.

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Why didn’t J.K. Rowling self-publish if she wanted her pen name to stay a secret?

So, J.K. Rowling decided to use a pen name (Robert Galbraith) to write her new series of crime novels, the first being The Cuckoo’s Calling. And, if I’m not mistaken, she was a little upset when her lawyer’s wife (?) spilled the beans that it was her.


However, my new thought is: If she wanted her pen name to stay a secret then why not do things on her own? Why did she involve so many people (and their wives)? Why not hire a freelance editor – a really good one. It’s not like she’s strapped for cash to do a really good job of everything. She could have even paid one she already knew on the side. Cash only. Whathaveyou. She could have even afforded to advertise properly. She had so many options.  What’s more, she could have used her pen name to get all the business aspects done and no one would have blinked an eye;  everything is done online these days. No one really knows who they’re working with [speaking from experience (cough, cough)]. She is certainly smart enough to have done it on her own. She self-published the Harry Potter ebooks, technically. She knows how it works.

Maybe it was in her contract that for her next novel(s) her previous publisher/agent got dibs on the material. Maybe she was just lazy. Maybe she meant for it all to be a publicity stunt. Maybe she hates self-publishing and self-publishers. Maybe she already HAS self-published a novel under another pen name and got it right that time and WE WILL NEVER KNOW SHE’S REALLY THE ONE WHO WROTE IT.

Conspiracy, conspiracy, conspiracy.

But seriously, why?

-Gabs

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.