Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

A What The Hell po-purree

A few tidbits I’ve collected to share with my weekly readers:

What she said

Joyce Carol Oates live-tweeted the Mad Men finale and found it severely lacking. One cogent example: Years I have been defending “Mad Men” against vociferous critics–now I can see their point of view. Storyline just flat, uninspired by end.

Oh, snap!


From Don Draper to Mr. Turner

Mad Men leads me to think about real vs fantasy, as in the biopics I mentioned a while back. Seen Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner yet? It’s almost entirely made up!


So little is known about the real J.M.W. Turner that Leigh had to imagine what the great pre-Impressionist might have been like. Turns out he might have been a grunting, rutting pig-man who took sexual advantage of his housekeeper and had no discernible feelings about his (probable) daughter’s death. Helluva painter, though.

It’s like I said before: Hollywood has carte blanche when it comes to depicting a real person’s life.


Let’s get physical

Here’s a beautifully illustrated article about the pleasures of physical books… in Japan. The writer goes into exquisite detail about a particular bookstore and the psychological and emotional power of actual books.

A takeaway graph:

And now, because I read almost everything on a device of some kind, Tsutaya reminds me of what I’m missing by doing that. When you first start reading a lot, books become your world and share your space, a reflection of their importance in your life. We lose something when they are reduced to data, as opposed to possessions that constantly remind us of what’s inside them. Books in a home were once one of the chief ways to take stock of, engage with, and understand a new friend or a new love. Now you’d need their Amazon password to do that.

Best Franz forever



Do you like the Kafka, kids? Do you like the Cumberbatch too? Then you’ll love Cumberbatch reading Kafka. “Metamorphosis,” specifically.



Literature is elitist, blah blah blah

Yet another complaint from a genre writer about snobs complaining about genre novels. How come the side that’s winning always seems more affronted?

What the writer misrepresents, I think, is that the so-called snobs are trying to dictate what you read. No. They just wonder why the culture overwhelmingly pushes the lighter fare, letting heady stuff sink or swim. Usually it sinks.

PS — The comments are better than the piece. (I plugged my books there, sneaky SOB.)

PPS — Simon Pegg, who started it all by dissing genre material, explains and expands on his perfectly reasonable pov here.

(Beware the white text on black background, though. It fries the eyes.)


Who wants to borrow Occasional Soulmates?

Small Soulmates Cover

I just noticed that Amazon offers book loaning for ebook titles you’ve already purchased. When you loan a book to someone with a Kindle (or whatever platform to read Kindle books), they can keep it for up to 14 days. You can’t read the book while it’s out. At the end of 14 days, they return it to you, in a kind of pointless, virtual way. I guess if they don’t return it, it locks up on their Kindle or disappears entirely.

I want to test the Amazon loan program to see if it might be used for marketing. Maybe a way to get new reviews or stir up word of mouth. If you want to be a guinea pig, leave a comment and tell me why I should pick you.

The best answer wins!

2 comments on “A What The Hell po-purree

  1. 1WriteWay
    May 24, 2015

    All very interesting stuff, Kevin! Cracks me up that Joyce Carol Oates tweets … I don’t know why. It just does. And I read the article by Bussel. Given her particular genre, frankly, I don’t care what she thinks. And I don’t think that teaching popular literature is necessarily anti-literary fiction. Some of the literature we consider “classic” today was considered “popular” when it first came out. The problem as I see it is not enough “good” literature with “moral complexity” is being published and sold. So if I prefer reading “good” literature, I guess I just have to suck it up and keep re-reading the classics while everyone else has a feast with their favorite genres.

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 24, 2015

      Luckily there’s always something from the good ol’ days I haven’t read that I can turn to. I’m reading some Max Beerbohm now, as a matter of fact. Never read him before.

      But it’s true that teaching popular works can be a good thing. If nothing else, it helps students approach the text with a little more confidence, since the material is familiar. Maybe they won’t be intimidated by the highbrows after that. I remember a great course I took on Kurt Vonnegut, who was never seen as literary. I gobbled up his stuff in that class!

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This entry was posted on May 24, 2015 by in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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