The a Word, the series broadcast on Sundance Television this past summer, features some of the most accomplished acting and cleverest dialogue I’ve ever seen on television. It also boasts the noisiest kissing I’ve heard since my cousin’s 13th birthday party. BBC The a Word is based on an Israeli television drama, Yellow Peppers, and began its English-language life in Britain in March of this year before debuting in the U.S. in July. It begins on the birthday of five year old Joe. His parents, Paul and Alison, have planned (if you’ll excuse the pun) the mother of all parties, with an entertainer, games, and a cake that could double as a Disneyland ride. But Joe is less interested in the entertainer or even the cake than in dancing to his own private concert: He’s...Read More
(My review of the stage adaptation of the best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time first appeared in DifferentBrains.com, a website devoted to neuro-diversity.)
I didn’t think I would like Simon Stephens’ Broadway adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
True, the play swept the 2015 Tony awards (tying the musical Fun Home for a total of five wins apiece). True, it was based on a novel that I had read (three times) and admired: Mark Haddon’s 2003 bestseller of the same name, one of the first novels to be narrated by a teenager on the spectrum.Read More
George Orwell, in 1984 (one of my favorite books, and I’ll leave you to wonder what that says about moi), predicted many horrors that have come to pass: government spying, “enhanced interrogation,” and strangling political correctness. The prediction that hasn’t come true – yet – is factory-produced fiction (Winston Smith’s lover, Julia, repairs “the novel-writing machines”). But when I saw how the auto-correct capability on my iPhone changed “cyxt” to “Hi there,” I realized that this final abomination cannot be far away. My anxiety seemed even more justified last week when I read about the HemingwayApp: a program that will scan your prose for adverbs and the use of passive voice. Not that we shouldn’t be able to do this for ourselves, but we used to grow our...Read More
THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DIFFERENTBRAINS.COM ON AUGUST 4, 2016.
A few years ago my then-high-school-aged daughter asked me to buy her a laptop skin: It was an intricate drawing of bookshelves, featuring titles such as War and Peas and The Seven Pills of Wisdom.
When I saw it, I asked her if she’d mind if I bought one for my own laptop.
But all things come to those who wait. I have my own copy now, because the same design is printed inside the covers of Colin Thompson’s new memoir, Fitting In. He didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to use it, either, because he’s the artist.
(Yeah, eventually you have to hang it up.)
There is a profusion—nay, a glut, an excess, a veritable avalanche of books and instructors out there who will help you get started writing a novel.
I myself contributed to this surfeit with my book, imaginatively titled Get that Novel Started. I was so grateful for having overcome my own writer’s block with the help of a compassionate teacher that I wanted to spread the joy. I also wanted to pass on what that first teacher had drummed into my head: just get that first draft written.Read More
I don’t travel very often, so when I do I usually have the luxury of saying to myself, “Self,” (sez I) “you don’t need to write for these few days.”
But not always. And just occasionally, believe it or not, I want to do some writing when I’m out of town.
So I take my laptop and set it up in the hotel room or the nearest Starbucks, which is usually no more than five feet away.
There was also a time when I could work on a plane.
Last week I flew to Houston for a wedding. Surprisingly, a flight to Houston is almost four hours from SFO. That doesn’t make sense: If it’s five hours to New York, then shouldn’t it be two-and-a-half hours to Texas? It must have something to do with what my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ritter, taught us about how maps are misleading, because maps are flat and the earth is round.Read More