A Review of Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of ScreenwritingStory: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aimed at the screenwriter, it still has insights for the general writer of fiction.

View all my reviews

A Review of The War of Art

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative BattlesThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The premise of the book is that we sabotage ourselves every time we seek to be creative. Writers call this writer’s block. Every creative profession has its analog. Pressfield calls this “resistance”. He goes through a lot of detail about what resistance looks like, and what creatives can do to resist resistance. There is good advice here. My difficulty with the book is that it is couched in a lot of mystical language. As a lifelong skeptic, I have resistance to this language. Sorry, I just could not resist.

I’m glad that I read the book, but I doubt if I’ll read it again. It was valuable, but not that valuable.

View all my reviews

A review of The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The plot is nothing that you have not read in a dozen variations in the 75+ years since this book was published. There is no surprising but inevitable conclusion at the end of the book. Not after all that time. You read this book because of the character of Philip Marlowe and the language. There is a short distance between overblown, purple prose and what Raymond Chandler writes but it is there and it does make a difference. Every few pages, there is a sentence or paragraph worthy of quoting. I am not smarter or wiser or enriched by having read this book. I don’t care. It was fun to read and that matters.

I have seen the movie The Big Sleep multiple times on TV. Bogart is older and more worn than his character in the book. Bacall is blonder and fresher than her character in the book. Other than that, the book and the movie are faithful to each other to the extent that I could hear the voices of the actors as I read.

Recommended for recreational reading.

View all my reviews

A Review of Devil’s Bargain

Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the PresidencyDevil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author writes what appears to be a balanced portrait of Steve Bannon. He is complex and while stylistically similar to Trump, he is a much different man. My wife read it and recommended to me. I sat down to glance at it and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.

View all my reviews

A Review of The Thousand Automns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is part of my “how to write good” series, recommended to me for the quality of the writing. It is a literary work with just a whiff of magic, not so potent to push it into the fantasy column but still a whiff.

As I read this book, I kept thinking, nothing is happening, at least nothing that should matter to me. But at the end, I teared up. Sneaky devil of an author, I walked down the the path that he constructed unaware until the end how much I would be affected.

The story is one of east meets west, culture conflicts, and moral conflicts fabricated into a study of the character of one Jacob de Zoet. It is well written but not astounding, wondrous, or even filled with memorable lines. I am better for having read it but I am hard pressed to point at something that would justify a recommendation to others. The best that I can say is that you will enjoy the book but there are a thousand other books for which I could say the same.

View all my reviews