Saturday, July 18, 2009


Over the past week, I've traveled extensively by train and less extensively by ferry; the moment a ferry ride becomes extensive is also, by coincidence, the moment you are traveling by boat. I passed most of the time on the rails in conversation, but I did manage to read The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett. It's the first of his Discworld series of books, published back in 1983, and it is very funny, in that dry, Pratchetty sort of way. Some of you may recall how much I enjoyed Good Omens, the book he cowrote with Neil Gaiman. The Colour of Magic is not half as great as Good Omens, but it seems alright with that. It was, after all, his first book, and authors seem to be the one creative force you can always rely on to improve with age. I have the next book in that series, The Light Fantastic, on my shelf, and I look forward to reading it.

Grade: B

Despite the interference of winds, or, perhaps, to spite the interference of winds, I spent the ferry ride from New Jersey to Delaware engrossed in Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, a startling piece of work which has solidified McDonagh a place amongst my favourite writers. I need to read this play again (and probably again) to really get a grip on it, but the manner in which McDonagh allows his characters to drive the plot and the humour is utterly remarkable. I'm basing this not just on The Pillowman, but also on In Bruges, a movie which felt not like it had plot points to get to, but characters to enjoy. McDonagh's sense of humour is a dark one, but it always works because it is character-based. He takes chances with his writing, but you never feel as though he's lost his way. McDonagh's work proves that following the nature of your characters should be the golden rule of writing. I cannot recommend this play enough.

Grade: I am disinclined to post a grade until I have reread the play

For those who would like to know, I am now reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. It's a bit longer, so I wouldn't expect a review for a while. The prose is astonishing, and based on what I've read, I'd encourage you to pick it up.

I will conclude by taking a moment to honour the wishes of my host, Dena; I'd like to note at this time that I am writing this entry in Delaware.


Joe said...

Regarding Pillowman: It's odd that you comment on the play's humor. Knowing McDonagh, I'm absotely positive it was there but It's not whats stuck with me. What I remember is the absolutely fundimental kind of storytelling in the play's stories-within-a-story.

They're handsdown the most capivating moments of the play in my opinion. Mostly I'm thinking of Pillowman and Jesus Girl. I've never been able to get the idea of tiny pillow teeth out of my mind.

Joe said...

(I realise it's not called Jesus Girl, It's just been a long time since I've seen the play.)