Giving Up, Let’s be Unafraid

I’m not one to let things to defeat me, but today I gave up on a book. I tried, oh how I tried, but the novel 2030 by Albert Brooks was the worst thing I’ve read in a long time. Read is a strong word, because it was quite unreadable. I remember seeing Brooks on late night talk shows and all the hosts made a huge deal about it. It was such a big deal that Brooks was even forced to make a Twitter account that I will never ever follow because his book is unoriginal and without style and I wouldn’t expect his tweets to be any better.

The other egregious example of this that I’ve recently come across is I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron, which is really just a shallow book of essays. I want a memoir to have glaring bits of vulnerability and not be about how unhappy they were with their namesake meatloaf at a restaurant I will never be able to afford. OMG, I don’t care. I also can’t follow Ephron on Twitter, because you know, she’s dead.

This is a call to critics and the media to not give kiss butt book reviews to authors who make movies. Let’s only award work if it’s actually good, otherwise your reviews don’t really mean anything at all.  Maybe it’s that these critics themselves want to write for movies, or television and are hoping that a positive review will give than “in” with the “author” because I don’t think you go into arts criticism without having a solid lens of art. The only logical explanation I can think of is that they are jaded arts critics who want to branch out by sucking up.

Critics were not afraid to slam Snooki’s autobiography, but let’s not pretend that the aforementioned books were any better. At least Snooki has more Twitter followers than Albert Brooks, because let’s be frank, she deserves it. To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with her lifestyle, but I do respect that she knows who she is and is not afraid to share it with the world. She’s also more interesting than fancy meatloaf.

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Things I’ve learned while writing this post: Albert Brook’s real name is Albert Einstein and his wife has an artist’s studio in my neighborhood. Awkward.

Please comment with books that are awful, you know, so we can spare each other some pain.

Harry Houdini, Improv

I was reading an essay written by Harry Houdini called “Helpful Hints for Young Magicians Under Eighty” and as someone who only thinks about comedy, I’d say most of the hints apply to improv. See below:

  • “In winning your audience, remember that ‘manners make fortunes,’ so don’t be impertinent.”
  • “An old trick well done is far better than a new trick with no effect”
  • “Never tell the audience how good you are; they will soon find that out for themselves”
  • “You may think your trick is old, but it is always new to members of your audience”
  • “An old trick in a new dress is always a pleasant change”
  • “Don’t drag your tricks, but work as quickly as you can, bearing in mind the Latin Proverb, ‘Make haste slowly.'”
  • “When your audience is far distant from you, pantomime work will be well appreciated”
  • “Well-chosen remarks on topics of the day are always in order.”
  • “Walk right out on stage, and tell your tale to your audience, and perhaps many will believe it”
  • “It is far more difficult to give a trial show to a house full of seats and one manager than to a packed house and no manager”

///

AJ

p.s. Just read about how Houdini died …