Favorite books / What are you reading?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Snackpack, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    Wait, what?

    I mean, seriously?
    Dreary Backstory is somewhat odd. The backstory didn't seem obtrusive and added a lot of motivation and personality to a lot of characters.

    Zero character development is just..well...did you even read the book? Practically every character is fleshed-out and everyone changes over the course of the story. The Comedian starts as a corpse, continues as a psychopath, but evolves as a more complicated character. Jon is a more obvious example. So is Nite Owl II and the Silk Spectre.
    Rorschach is probably the only one who could be described as static (ironically the protagonist, more or less), and he too gets fleshed out a lot over the course of the story.

    And if you think the ending is goofy, you simply didn't get the comic. Watchmen changed superhero comics, it was darker, more realistic and treated its characters as real beings. It was a new twist on the genre, and the ending fully showed that, as up til the very end it looks like a somewhat standard comic book finale. Until it doesn't.

    A lot of these things have been done a lot of times since then, but Watchmen was the first and is still one of the best.
  2. Malky

    Malky Lived Through the Heat Death

    May 7, 2003
    What do you mean by backstory, in any case? "Dreary" isn't much of a complaint, it's a pretty dark tale and people don't usually complain about that kind of stuff. Would you have preferred that every scene take place during the day? Doesn't really work thematically. Maybe it just wasn't for you, since there aren't rainbows and waterfalls on every page. Still, not really a criticism.

    Watchmen has character development in spades - it's entirely character driven.

    I feel like you're just criticizing it to be "that guy" who doesn't like Watchmen. I really don't believe you actually read it, and if you did you certainly didn't understand it, especially since you aren't expanding on your thoughts in any way.
  3. Eyenixon

    Eyenixon Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 11, 2008
    I liked V for Vendetta more, and no matter what you thought of the film I feel that Allan Moore is one of the most disrespected graphic novelists in the industry, every single movie based on one of his works have sucked.

    The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and now Watchmen.
    I don't see how people can look forward to the movie Watchmen either, it's going to be basic Zack Snyder tripe, overacting (which is especially unfitting for Allan Moore's work), the worst application of slow motion in movie history, visuals that rely entirely on over saturated colors and CGI in order to appear "beautiful" with utterly pathetic cinematography.
    He's a massive faggot director, I even hated the Dawn of the Dead remake, this fool needs to leave the industry, unfortunatly that's never going to happen because people actually like his sub par weasel crap.

    No wonder Allan Moore is so damn pissy about film adaptions of his work.
  4. Tagaziel

    Tagaziel Panzerkatze Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Dec 10, 2003
    I take it you already watched the movie and know it? If I recall correctly, it was stated that the slo-mo isn't going to be in the movie itself, it was done for trailers.

    Moore is pissy about everything. Must be the beard.
  5. Stag

    Stag Guest

    What about the fact that people regularly think it's a great idea to take his ideas and turn them into fucking horrible products?
    I think that's not a bad reason to be upset.
  6. Eyenixon

    Eyenixon Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 11, 2008
    I didn't bother to read up on that, that's a pleasant surprise, Zack Snyder is still an abomination though.
  7. TwinkieGorilla

    TwinkieGorilla This ghoul has seen it all

    Oct 19, 2007
    don't worry. somewhere, somebody loves you.

    also: UniWolf...as a fellow cheesehead...you just lost me. like, "i'd sit on the other side of the stadium at Lambeau" lost me.
  8. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    Funny, I just got my nephew Watchman because, well, the kid doesn't read and his mother is virtual mindless zombie. The down side is that its a graphic novel/comic book.

    So I also got him the zombie survival guide.

    Currently I am reading Eric Ambler's Coffin for Dimitrios. Which is pretty good. I've also read is Epitath for a Spy- also quite good. Its not the James Bond spy novel with a fortress full of ninja chicks who fuck and fight with equal prowess. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that would make a better graphic novel.

    After that I have Roberto Bolano's the savage detectives and I might try another, before hitting 2666.

    I've also been thinking about McCarthy's Child of God, or revisiting the Crossings (maybe I missed what it meant the first time). I am kind of interested in Mexico and the Mexican Revolution these days (just rewatched The Wild Bunch- great flick).
  9. Eyenixon

    Eyenixon Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 11, 2008
    Your mom loves you.
  10. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    Yes, really. :mrgreen:

    Not for me. Some backstory is okay, but if you took all the backstory out of Watchmen, you'd cut 80-85 percent of the length. That's too much, as it destroys the impetus of the story. I call it dreary backstory because it's everywhere dour and humorless. Take Rorschach's backstory, for example. It can pretty much be summed up as "the world sucks," which is not profound at all. In fact it's cliche in any product marketed to teenage boys.

    All the backstory about Hooded Justice and all the other original costumed vigilantes is excess baggage that doesn't have much impact on the events of 1985. I think you could cut that stuff almost entirely without having any effect on the story as a whole. Whether so-and-so rapes so-and-so, or whether so-and-so murders so-and-so makes little difference to the "villain."

    Fleshed-out has nothing to do with development (in the case of Watchmen, fleshed-out is a substitute for development, which is harder to pull off), and frankly I don't see any profound change in any of the characters. To the extent there's any change at all, it's completely unconvincing.

    I'm willing to give Rorschach's part of the story a bit of a pass on this point, because I realize not developing is his purpose, to an extent. Still, the interesting question about Rorschach is how he became who he is before he becomes immutable, and that part is inadequate. Without giving too much away, his backstory tells you what happens to him, but doesn't sufficently explain why he became what he ultimately became. Take the incident with the dogs. Nothing about that makes me think, "Oh yeah, I can see how that would drive someone to wear a crazy mask."

    A part of what I'm hung up on is this effort I see to make "costumed crimefighters" seem plausible. It's a misguided intent driven by wish-fullfillment, and it fails because it does nothing but draw attention to how absurd the whole idea of costumed superheroes really is. You can't construct a believable psychological profile of a costumed vigilante, because there is no such thing. It's like trying to make a scientific argument for the existence of dragons and unicorns.

    I offer you this link as proof of what I'm saying:

    Now I'll give you an example of what I consider excellent character development. If you haven't seen it lately, go watch The Godfather. Look at Michael Corleone's character at the beginning of the story and at the end of the story. The two are unrecognizable as the same person with the exception of a few essential traits: courage, decisiveness, intelligence. Yet the way the change takes place over time is unwaveringly logical and convincing. That's great storytelling. It's also dark, but never dreary.

    I think this is the root of the problem. I simply don't get it. What you're actually saying is that you have to be into comic books in order to apprecaite the full significance of Watchmen. You don't get to do that when it's being pushed as "one of the 100 greatest novels" of all time, as the quote from TIME says on the cover of my copy.

    I approached it from the point of view of someone with no particular love for comic books, but with an open mind. From that standpoint, Watchmen is horribly overrated. Is the ending revolutionary for a comic book? I don't care. I only care whether or not it's a good ending, and frankly it just isn't. As I said previously, I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo at the moment, and let me tell you, it blows the doors off Watchmen. Like any great novel, I'll remember it for the rest of my life. Watchmen I finished, closed the book, and with the exception of how defensive its fans are about it, I'll never think about it again as long as I live.

    In short, it doesn't transcend it's genre. You don't have to love theatre to appreciate Shakespeare.

    Dreary is a valid complaint when something is dreary merely for the sake of being dreary, and for no other reason. That criticism applies to Watchmen. It's dreary because dreary is marketable to the teenagers who buy comic books.

    There's a quote often attributed to Alice Cooper that the quickest way to a million dollars is to find out what the parents of teenagers hate most, and do that. Watchmen reminded me of Alice Cooper (Million Dollar Babies?). It's dreariness is a crass marketing ploy, not too different in intent from the way the John Mayer song "Your Body is a Wonderland" is a crass maketing ploy directed at giggly teenage girls. If you buy into it, you've been suckered.

    Besides, Fallout is a pretty dark tale, and I like that, and I would hardly call it dreary, at least not throughout. The Count of Monte Cristo is dark as well, and actually very dreary at times. It doesn't paint the world as hopelessly dreary, though, because it's more insightful than that.

    Again, "character driven" is not the same as character development. Character development is the change in the character or characters across the length of the story (and as a rule separates good stories from mediocre ones). "Character driven" is a slogan you print on the box for "Fallout 3."

    Maybe. I mean, I don't know how I could possibly convince you otherwise. I will point to the fact that I didn't entirely pan Watchmen. If you look at my posts I said it was well-crafted, among other things. Parading it around as some sort of landmark of cultural significance is overshooting the mark by a wide margin, however.

    As opposed to the eloquent and persuasive "quit trolling?" :roll:

    After those posts I appreciate the fact that you guys attempted a rational defense, at least.

    I counter what you're saying with this: if you think Watchmen is great, you need to go read (or better see) some Shakespeare and get your mind right. I suggest MacBeth - a play so dark it's actually thought to be cursed. Shakespeare revolutionized culture itself.

    Pardon me? I don't remember saying anything about Lambeau Field, at least not here.
  11. M-26-7

    M-26-7 Still Mildly Glowing

    Jul 20, 2008
    Count of Monte Cristo is a shitty, shitty book. Honestly, I went in with not the highest of expectations, but yet I was still able to be disappointed. It's certainly one of the worst books I've read in the past five years. The halls of Prententia await you sir.
  12. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    This shows quite perfectly that you did not get it.
    Watchmen isn't just a single story of a bunch of superheroes stopping the main villain. It's the story of how a world like that would have developed, so the backstory is part of the story as a whole.
    I'd almost argue that what you see as the main plot point should be seen as the background to which the story of the characters and their lives is set.

    Without wanting to put Watchmen on the level of Anna Karenina or War and Peace(because it most definitely isn't), those novels also have large amounts of exposition and story that do not pertain to the 'main' plot yet are nonetheless essential parts of the novels.

    I never stated that fleshed out characters equate character development.
    I'd also note that character development isn't actually a hallmark of a great novel but merely one of the possibilities. All great novels contain major static characters.

    If you didn't see any character development in the novel you're unwilling to see any. Silk Spectre changes from being resentful of her previous life and her mother to revelling in being a superhero and coming to terms with her mother and her hated father.
    Nite Owl goes from nerdy, uncertain, nostalgic geek to self-assured superhero returned.
    Dr Manhattan goes from default scientist, to emotionless superbeing, to emotionally involved and conflicted superbeing to superbeing intent on creating his own galaxy.
    No, none of the backstory of Rorschach alone does that. But his complete backstory does. Being born to an abusive prostitute, growing up amongst the worst elements of human life, getting a shitty job and a desire to do something about the common evils, and then after basically encountering the worst humans have to offer he starts seeing humanity as evil and corrupt.

    It's also clear that Rorschach has some really significant mental problems.

    Good job discounting fiction as a whole.
    There's no such thing as talking rabbits or miniature men, that doesn't mean that Watership Down and Gulliver's Travels aren't great literary accomplishments.
    Are you going to discount Midsummer Night's Dream next?

    No, you think that it's a bad ending.
    I don't see how it is. It's ending is based on the same notion that 1984 is based on (external threats force a more united people), shows a moral ambiguity and the uncertainty of human behaviour as Dr Manhattan's comments show.

    I've never been a comic book afficionado and Watchmen is actually one of the first superhero comic books I read. I still thought the ending was really good.
    No, but if you hate theatre you're not going to appreciate Shakespeare either.

    So you're saying that Watchmen sucks because it's being dreary for the sake of popularity?
    This just shows some special form of stubborn ignorance, as if there is anything you cannot possibly accuse Alan Moore of, it is pandering to his public.

    "Hot potato, orchestra stalls, Puck will make amends."
  13. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederick Pohl
  14. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    currently reading The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. not far enough in yet to have any decent idea of the quality of the book.
  15. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    Beyond this, we have very little to argue about. I'd put it on the level of, say, a middle-of-the-road Steven King novel.

    I'm not discounting fiction as a whole, I'm saying going to extreme lengths to justify and make plausible elements of pure fantasy destroys my willing acceptance of those elements.

    As an example, take the movie Reign of Fire, which I quite like as a pulp flick, and which portrays a modern world destroyed by hordes of dragons. I'm willing to accept the existence of the dragons as a precondition, and the movie wisely never pushes my acceptance beyond sketching a plausible reason for their existence in four or five lines of dialogue.

    That's why Manhattan is simultaneously the most fantastic and the most believeable. Like the others he's not so much a character as a concept, but he doesn't pretend to be anything other than a concept. Once you accept the possibility of his existence, there's nothing more to discuss.

    See, there's nothing revolutionary about it. You yourself have identified a source for the idea.

    In the end, peace and harmony reign on earth, which is as unoriginal as it is implausible considering the events that lead to it in Watchmen. What would really happen? The world's financial systems would be plunged into abject chaos, which would open the door for ill-intentioned governments and individuals seeking an opening to press their advantage. If anything, it would make the world more dangerous, not less, unless the "villain" was willing to repeat his demonstration and fill the resulting power-vaccuum somehow. That would be a truthful ending, and would require real courage of conviction on the part of the author. In short, the ending contradicts the consistent position of the story concerning humanity and human nature up to that point.

    When you say Watchmen stands the conventions of comic books on their heads, that makes sense to me. So much so, that the whole work seems like an artificial checklist of conventions to be inverted.

    I'm not sure that's true, since Shakespeare is most readily available in written form. If you hate theatre, poetry, and having to exert you mind to understand what you're reading, then yeah, you're probably not going to appreciate Shakespeare. "There exists a natural heirarchy among men," as Thomas Jefferson would say. All I said was, you didn't have to love theatre to appreciate Shakespeare. I'd count myself as one who doesn't love theatre, in fact. Nor do I love or hate comic books.

    By the way, if a poster declared his dislike for Shakespeare, I would feel no need whatever to accuse him of trolling, nor would I accuse him of not liking it in order to be "that guy." My mind is capable of accepting the possibility of someone who doesn't like Shakespeare.

    No, I'm saying it's being dreary for the sake of sales to its target market, not that it sucks because of that. In fact, I'm not saying it sucks at all. I'm saying it's overrated and insincere. And also that I find the hive-mind that can't tolerate criticism of it to be a disturbing phenomenon. I don't consider you part of that hive-mind, Sander.

    Let me ask you this: when you distill it down to its essence, what is Watchmen about?

    Deception, perpetrating a grand hoax to acheive an end, pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. It's a grand joke.

    The meaning of the story is a reflection of the author's mind, and a mind capable of constructing Watchmen is easily capable of assuming a public persona that serves his own ends, just like "Alice Cooper" is a public persona. In my opinion, Moore sees himself as Ozymandias. The whole act of complaining about the movie is a nice touch, too. What better way to get people to pay to go see it than to tell them you disapprove for some reason?

    Let me conclude with a plea to start a new thread on this subject if you really want to continue this discussion. This thread is for stating what you're reading and maybe giving a short opinion of it, rather than dissecting specific characters and plot points, and in that role it's been one of my favorites. I apologize to everyone else who likes this thread for my part in derailing it as far as it's gone to this point.

    Well, at least you have valid reasons for your opinion. I'm certain I'll be in good company there.
  16. The Guardian

    The Guardian It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jan 17, 2008
    The Aeneid - Virgil

    Sartur Resartus - Thomas Carlyle
  17. Daimyo

    Daimyo Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Oct 26, 2007
    So, I have read quite a few of the short stories now, and I have to say he is growing on me.

    (Don't have the book in front of me now, so my titles may be a bit off)

    Among the ones I have liked so far:

    - The Picture in the House (except the ending)
    - Herbert West - Reanimator
    - The Rats in the Walls
  18. fedaykin

    fedaykin Vault Fossil

    Jul 15, 2007
    Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". A well-told tale of a strange river journey in colonial Africa.
  19. PastaMasta

    PastaMasta Mildly Dipped

    Sep 25, 2008
    I agree fully, I downloaded V for Vendetta a few weeks ago and then my PC just broke down so I needed to format it. :evil: Loved watchmen, definately one of the best things i've ever read and I don't read too many graphic novels.
  20. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    I bought a 5 novel Philip K. Dick compilation. I've finished Martian Timeslip and I'm currently on Dr. Bloodmoney.

    I like PKD's novels, although his writing has a strange detachment. It's kind of analytical. That doesn't make it bad, but it's not the kind of writing I can plough through. I have to take a break between each novel in the book, which is unusual.

    Dr. Bloodmoney has some horrifying stuff in it.