Tag Archives: Movies

The worst novel in the world

Readers, I think I’ve finally picked up a novel that I can confidently call The Worst Novel in the World. Yes, the whole world, not just the English-speaking world, as this stinkfest wasn’t originally written in English. Ah-ha, I hear you saying — maybe a bad translation is the culprit. But I assure you, this novel was skit with a capital S before the translator got hold of the manuscript.

So, are you ready? The title of Worst Novel in the World goes to …

This (I hesitate to call it a book because that would be too complimentary) long string of words has been on my Kindle for Android for about a month. I love reading mysteries and thrillers before bed; doesn’t everyone like dreams filled with intrigue and homicidal maniacs? Instead, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had the opposite effect on me. I’d get through two Android pages (that’s like 25 words) and my eyelids would droop. After a couple nights of this, I considered downloading The Book of Common Prayer, which not only is better written, but more gripping.

Seriously, I can’t believe that an editor in Stockholm picked up this manuscript from the slush pile, read through it without having to prop her eyelids up with toothpicks, and decided to offer the author an advance. Even more shocking, I can’t believe this book has been on every bestseller list under the sun, although awhile ago, I’ve come to accept that my standards for engaging literature stray wildly from hoi polloi standards. (Ah a snob, you’re thinking — not really. Hey, I still get a little thrill in my belly when I see the latest issue of British Hello! on the newsstands.)

If you haven’t read The Worst Novel in the World, you probably want to know what’s awful about it. My pithy response would be
everything, but specifically, it’s filled with page after page of boring exposition — long chapters that detail family history and descriptions of what the lead character ate during the day spent in his remote cabin in northern Sweden. When I complained to my friend Linda, who finished the book, she told me I could look forward to the author’s turn-by-turn descriptions of the streets he walked in Stockholm, as well as lovingly detailed inventories of Ikea products in certain characters’ apartments. When I finally did reach a description of a character’s home, I decided that reading an actual Ikea catalogue would be more exciting for the simple fact that a. it has pictures and b. you can order stuff from it. It was at this point that I started reading all the 1-star reviews on amazon.com, which complained about how horridly the women in this book were treated. The Swedish title for this novel translates into “Men Who Hate Women,” but I suggest it should have been called, “Authors Who Need Editing” or “Editors Who Hate Blue Pencils.”

I gave up on the Worst Novel in the World after a particularly long chapter detailing a family history, followed by the main character’s walk up the road to his benefactor’s mansion, where he announced, “I don’t understand your family’s history. Can you explain it again?” (I may have shrieked “OH NO!” at this point, awakening my husband next to me.) At any rate, I forgave myself for spending $5 on the Kindle edition of this book, and bravely watched the Swedish version of the film (English subtitles), which was actually pretty good and confirmed that I’d figured out the plot early on in the book.

Then I went to the library and checked this out:

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, baby. You know this book is going to keep me up at night.

Eagerly awaiting “The September Issue”

Anna Wintour has always fascinated me and it’s not because she’s from England. We’re talking waaaaay before The Devil Wears Prada. And it’s weird because I’m not even an eager reader of Vogue — their fashion features are so far beyond what I’d ever wear in everyday life.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a freelance writer, although I only occasionally write for the women’s mags and never for the fashion rags. Wintour is legend in the magazine industry. The one time I visited the Conde Nast building to meet with an editor (not Vogue!), I vacillated between terror thinking about having to take an elevator ride up with Wintour and hope that I’d ride down with her. Neither happened. But I did spot a huge bouquet of flowers marked for Anna in the lobby.

I’ve been thinking about Wintour a lot lately. There’s been a bit of snark in the NY papers about her cutting back and making do, what with the economy and Vogue‘s ad pages being down, and she’s been spotted wearing the same dresses, one of which I covet from Oscar de la Renta’s Resort 2009 line. Since I can’t afford $3,000 for a silk frock, I’m planning to sew a copy at considerably less cost (thank you Mom for those sewing lessons!) I’ve also been watching some documentaries on Karl Lagerfeld; in “Signe Chanel,” Wintour makes a brief appearance with Andre Leon Talley (Vogue’s editor-at-large) and you can sense the power she wields in the fashion world, even with Kaiser Karl.

So I was happy to discover, then, there’s a new documentary coming out this fall called “The September Issue” where we’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at Wintour putting the famed fall issue of her magazine to bed. Of course I’m going to love watching this as a journalist, but as an Anna groupie? Heaven! Maybe I’ll be able to watch it in my knock-off Oscar de la Renta, that is if I ever get off my duff to start sewing it.

Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy fetches £12,000 at auction

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy Portrait

The BBC reports today that a very lucky someone purchased the prop portrait of Fitzwilliam Darcy used in the BBC’s production of Pride and Prejudice for a mere £12,000 (roughly $16,500) at auction. The portrait appeared near the end of the film, and could be seen when Elizabeth Bennett’s character toured Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate with her aunt and uncle. It’s right before Mr. Darcy jumps in the pond.  You remember that scene, ladies?

The prop portrait sold for double what the auction house expected to receive. Proceeds from the sale are going to charity.

Last Chance Harvey

Wow, the New York Times gave a grudgingly good review to the romantic comedy Last Chance Harvey, starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as the unlikely lovers. From watching the trailers, I think this film will be an Anglophile’s dream with its UK setting and script, as evidenced in the clip above.

Last Chance Harvey wasn’t on my radar screen this movie season, but now it looks like there’s something at the theatre I might be able to get my husband to in the next couple weeks. He has yet to forgive me for The English Patient. My penance was agreeing for the rest of our married life to sit through every Star Trek sequel without complaint.

Now for what James Bond drinks

Forgive me — I’m on a bit of a Bond roll this week since my husband and I’ve got plans to see Quantum of Solace on Friday. I rarely get to go to the movies with him because we’ve got such incompatible tastes in film and can never agree on anything. Bond films are our common ground: he likes the gadgets, I like … well, Bond. Especially Daniel Craig as Bond. But shhh, I don’t think hubby suspects a thing.

Here’s another fun Bond-themed article, this one on the spy’s spiritual development through the years, although it looks like in this film, 007 faces a setback by getting, as the Brits say, pissed in first class on whatever the flight attendants will serve him. (For American readers, “pissed” is Brit slang for “drunk,” not “angry.”)

If you watch that video clip at the end of the Time article … I wonder how much Lillet paid for that product placement in Casino Royale?

Where James Bond would eat

In yesterday’s Times Online, there was a fun article listing five British restaurants where James Bond, were he to exist, might dine with a lady friend. I was pleased to see The Fat Duck included. Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant is on my life list of restaurants; one of these days I hope to get outside London and check it out, maybe next summer, as I doubt I’ll have the time this December. Another restaurant I’m familiar with is Gidleigh Park in Devon, which I know through his Gidleigh Park Cookery Book — I actuallly own two copies. Although Hill is now running another iconic British restaurant, The Walnut Tree in Wales (another restaurant on my life list!), I’d love to stay and dine at Gidleigh Park, but must confess — I don’t see how Bond fits in with its Tudor-style decor. The rooms must be wildly suave and romantic. 😉

Weekend roundup

Googling with the Queen. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip tour Google’s London’s office and teachers those young billionaires a thing or two about technology. (The Times Online)

Quantum of Solace. The latest James Bond flick looks like a winner, according to the (London) Times. Opens November 14 in the U.S. Happy birthday to me!

and when Bond goes wrong. Nigel Kendall discusses Agent 007s forgettable moments. (The Times Online)

Spamalot to close on Broadway in early 2009. After 1,500+ performances … not bad. (Playbill)

British Library acquires poet Hughes’ library. Not sure why the BBC has this news filed under “entertainment,” but I suppose poetry does entertain.

Gordon Ramsay: Hotelier. The foul-mouthed chef has rooms to let … and they sound nice. (Guardian)

Read this or I’ll smack you in the face. Just kidding.

Actor Simon Pegg, who plays the lead in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (based on a brilliantly funny memoir by Toby Young which, sad to report, doesn’t seem to have translated well into film according to critics), answers ten questions for Time Magazine readers, one of which is “What’s the difference between American and British humor?”

This smart aleck American’s answer would be: read the book, then watch the movie.