What I Read, November 2019

Books Bought:

  • Summer – Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Awareness – Anthony De Mello
  • Hellblazer #1 (2019) – DC Comics
  • Basketful of Heads #1 (2019) – DC Comics
  • Doctor Strange Annual #1 (2019) – Marvel Comics
  • Eternal Thirst of Dracula Book 2 #1 (2019) – American Mythology Productions
  • Eternal Thirst of Dracula Book 2 #2 (2019) – American Mythology Productions
  • The Collector’s Dracula Book One (1994) – Millennium Publications
  • Nosferatu: Plague of Terror #1 (1991) – Millennium Publications
  • Nosferatu: Plague of Terror #2 (1991) – Millennium Publications
  • Nosferatu: Plague of Terror #4 (1992) – Millennium Publications

Books Read:

  • Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldy Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena – Linda S. Godfrey
  • Dracula: A Mystery Story – Bram Stoker
  • Basketful of Heads #1 (2019) – DC Comics
  • Doctor Strange Annual #1 (2019) – Marvel Comics
  • Eternal Thirst of Dracula Book 2 #1 (2019) – American Mythology Productions
  • Eternal Thirst of Dracula Book 2 #2 (2019) – American Mythology Productions
  • The Collector’s Dracula Book One (1994) – Millennium Publications

I hadn’t intended such a horror-themed collection for November, but let’s go ahead and start back at the beginning. October.

As I was picking out books for the month of October, browsing my shelves for unread titles and walking around the library, I happened upon Godfrey’s Monsters Among Us. It was a little heftier than some of the others I was looking at, so I waited to start it until the last moment. It missed its inclusion into October’s list so it got stuck here.

In Monsters Among Us, paranormal researcher Linda Godfrey speaks with people who have had and does investigative work regarding unusual events. These events take the form of upright dog creatures, individuals transforming into beasts, mysterious lights, household supernatural occurrences, and other strange items. When it comes to the mysterious you run into the very typical kinds of questions:

  • How accurate is the reporting of the event?
  • How trustworthy are the witness statements?
  • How far off-pitch is the reporter’s opinion on the subject?
  • And, of course, what actually happened?

Now in general, I tend to believe some things well within the realm of wu-wu. Mysterious forces, supernatural occurrences – I think that there is plenty we don’t understand as a race, and perhaps we’ll never understand. That being said, some items here gave me pause. Logical fallacies in the way the conclusions were made for instance. I have a thing about logical thinking, and incorrect use of syllogisms is one of my pet peeves. (Why, I couldn’t even begin to tell you.)

And still, this book had me wondering. I find myself looking around, checking the woods as I drive. There are places I’ve marked on the map that I want to visit: Skinwalker Ranch in Utah and Black River Falls in Wisconsin. I like the unknown. I think more of the world should be unknown.

That is a good segue to Dracula. Man, this book consumed my month. Partially due to my only giving it about thirty to forty-five minutes a night. But I was committed, and I was going to finish it. So I did.

I like what was said about it in the foreword: “Dracula is one of those books people are familiar with, without ever reading.” And how true that is. I had tried reading this book years ago, but it was beyond me then. It would have been beyond me now, was I not so intent on getting through it. The language is heavy, told in first-person narratives either as journal entries, articles, logbooks, or letters, memos, and telegrams. It runs fairly chronologically, but with some jumpiness.

For a book over one-hundred twenty years old, it still works very well. Though the world is smaller than it was then, what with the internet, telephones, and airplanes, the quiet corners of the world could still hold unknown horrors (as Linda Godfrey tried to illustrate). As a matter of fact, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is a partial adaptation of Dracula, imagining the vampire curse arriving in a sleepy New England town, rather than in London.

And I like the characters better than what I’ve seen in the film adaptations. Lucy isn’t as flirty, and much more likable. Harker has a hard time but owns up to what needs doing. Van Helsing isn’t one-note, but rather himself fights against science to accept the possibility of such horror. And Dracula, who is barely present as an actual character throughout much of the novel, is the mystery, and the terror. And I think that’s where the sticking power of the book lies – in his absence, more than his presence.

It’s like Spielberg’s Jaws. What with so many mechanical problems, the shark wasn’t able to be in many of the scenes it was planned for. And yet, most film historians agree that’s what makes the movie effective. That it stays hidden.

In Barry Keith Grant’s Quick Takes Book, titled Monster Cinema, he writes, “Betokening the importance of the monster’s physical difference, monster movies are often structured around the gradual reveal of the creature or creatures, building suspense and expectation in viewers until the inevitable ‘money shot,’ a dramatic peak when the monster in all its intended hideousness is fully shown.”

Of course, Stoker’s Dracula looks fairly human, if one of “extraordinary pallor.” Only when the monster is revealed can the protagonists envision the nonhumanity. “Dracula is a gothic horror novel, an adventure novel, and a character study of evil, all in one book.”

Sometime during the month, and in my reading of Dracula, I was informed of DC Comics partnering with Joe Hill to release a series of horror comics. Well, I tracked down Basketful of Heads at a shop I used to frequent in Longwood while I was on my way to a gig in Orlando. Issue one is all set-up, with criminals on the loose, hero and heroine in a house with the potential for catastrophe, and a magical Nordic axe. Issue two came out on Wednesday, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

So, being in the comic shop I perused some other titles. I picked up some Dracula comics, and a few Nosferatu issues to complete a four-issue arc. Also Doctor Strange and Hellblazer. November remained a month of delving into the unknown.

The other books I purchased were Knausgaard’s Summer to complete my four seasons, and Awareness – one of Timothy Ferriss’s most recommended books. I’ll read that in December.

And that, as they say, is that. The lineup for December is less classic-heavy, I assure you. I’m currently eyeing a book by Bill Bryson, or maybe The Adventures of Tintin. We’ll see where the mood takes me. Until then…

Weekly roundup

Well, here we are again. Another week down, another week closer to 2020. And what the hell have I been doing with my life?!

Not important…. Here’s my week:

What I’m reading: Still on Dracula. I’m about two-thirds of the way done. I only read for about an hour before bed, because I’ve been hard at work on a few other projects. Dracula has stood out to me for some time – a book that I should have read. I’m glad I’m finally getting it done. I also found my paperback edition, purchased in the early-nineties for fifty cents. I’ve seen the theater where Bram Stoker worked, for God’s sake. And I’m just now reading it. Sometimes I question my priorities.

What I’m listening to: La Nozze di Figaro. The opera by Mozart. I’m going to be in New York and Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks, and I thought it would be fun to see a show at the Met. Because, in all the times I’ve been to New York, I’ve never been to the Met for a performance. I’ve toured it. Had my photo taken in the lobby. But, you know… Priorities. Anyway, this production brings back Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka, reversing the roles of Figaro and Count Almaviva. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

What I’m spending time with: This acting workbook my friend Anthony and I have been going over. I took a lot of time over the past two days to look through it again. I’ve got maybe a couple hours worth of work left, but I’m excited that it is so near completion. I’ll post links once I can get it up for sale.

Other things of interest:

  • Why retiring might mean never having to grow up.
  • As only a random watched of Courage the Cowardly Dog, I do recall laughing. A lot. But I don’t remember it being overly scary…
  • HBO’s His Dark Materials. I hate to say that I’m mostly waiting for the armored bear, but I’m mostly waiting for the armored bear. And Lin Manuel. But I really want him to finish his work on the Name of the Wind adaptation!
  • Speaking of Lin Manuel, the Drama Book Shop is set to reopen in the spring!
  • And lastly, because this was heavily slanted towards performance and acting, something that caught my eye dealing with none of that! Yoga… the cure for insomnia.

Weekly Roundup

Another week, but the first of November. This year is really flying by.

What I’m reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker. Maybe I should have read this in October, but I didn’t have the idea until I started working on my NaNoWriMo project. I tried once when I was younger, but I couldn’t get very far into it. It reads better for me now, and I hope to have it done this weekend. Plus, since I couldn’t find my paperback I just downloaded a free copy on iBooks.

What I’m listening to: Tim Ferriss Show from October 17 – the Random Show with guest Kevin Rose. So, I used to watch Kevin Rose and Leo Laporte on TechTV (this was quite while ago). Hearing this interview was inspirational in a bunch of ways. For one, I myself am a Japanophile, as are Rose and Ferriss. They discuss Japan, travel, entrepreneurship, and really enjoying life. And I think it all comes down to enjoying life.

What I’m spending time with: I’ve been working on a project with a friend of mine. About a year ago I had the idea for a resource for performers, and we’re putting the finishing touches on it. It hasn’t been all that time consuming, but I’m glad that I get to tick one project off the list.

Other things of interest: