Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


Recently when it comes to my reading habits it has been a bumpy ride when it comes to picking out a book and getting past the first fifty pages and having the inspiration to finish it. I am learning how to change my habits and how to get enthusiastic when a new book comes into my possession. I always believe that a book chooses you and not vice-versa and when reading this book it definitely chose me. I am an avid fan of Stephen King and while I may have not read a ton of his books, nevertheless I love his writing style and how he can seduce you into his crazy stories.

A few months back I was scanning the libraries online catalogue and saw that this book was available and I cannot recall whether it was because Stephen King wrote his autobiography or because it is one of his shortest books but I placed a request and had it on the nightstand until finally I picked it up a few weeks back and read it. Stephen King is a brilliant writer and a huge advocate of preserving the English language and teaching the younger generations the difference between great writing and filth. The book is divided into three parts and this review will follow suit.

Part One: Memoir 

Before getting into the tips and grammar of writing, the big question follows who is Stephen King and how did he become a successful writer with over 50 books and counting? Knowing this brilliant man, he gives us the bright insight into this upbringing to when he published Carrie. This first segment was incredible and insightful because I do not know much about Stephen King except his car accident, his drug/alcohol problems, his children, and certain backstory information surrounding his most iconic books. 

When it comes to this memoir nothing is sugar coated. His father abandon him at such an early age and his mother suffered when it came to making money and supporting two children. It was incredible what she had to go through and fascinating how she always supported her children in everything that they pursue especially Stephen. He started writing stories at an early age, and his first reader was his mother who told him to continue pursuing this hobby. His imagination ran wild as a child and the moments that were traumatizing to him would later become sources of inspiration for his novels (ex. doctor visits, being locked in a closet, etc.)

He faced rejection when it came to publishing and it didn't discouraged him at all instead it boost his confidence to continue writing. Not being disappointed was fascinating to me because even at an early age I never let people's opinions discourage me in pursuing my dreams. When it comes to following your dreams, or pursuing careers that are difficult to achieve you need to have thick skin in order to focus the task at hand and rise above the situation. We get a bit of insight how he met his wife and how she is his main inspiration when writing his books.

Obviously he loves his fans and writes for the love of storytelling and when reading this book I made the connection that regardless if people hate or love his books at the end of the day if his wife enjoys it then he accomplished his goal and I found that to be sweet. I would have loved to learned more what lead to his drinking and drug problems and how that was a difficult time in his life and on his family. I understand that's not a moment that he would love to revisit but it could shed light on those who have an addiction problem and how to recover from it. When reading about the addiction problems, I would like to now compare and contrast his work and see if these influences affected his work.

While get a sneak peek into his background, by the end of this first part it will leave you wishing for more especially how he got the inspiration for classics like IT, Pet Sematary, The Green Mile, and countless others. 

Part Two: On Writing 

Now we have come to the hard part of this book and Mr. King is serious when it comes to writing and how to eliminate unnecessary items when writing anything. Sadly the way public education teaches students how to read and write, we have degraded our level of comprehension and writing and I have come to realize which this book illustrates that we have entered this new age of terrible writing. Regardless whether you want to become a writer or not, as a reader we have forgotten the elements of writing and it is reflected on the books that we buy. 

There is nothing wrong to read trash if that is your guilty pleasure but look at the books that are currently selling millions and makes you wonder how these books get published. I did not want to mention this book but a great example is 50 Shades of Grey series. Forget about the abusive relationship, the BDSM, and the controversy that surrounds this book and when you peel back the layers you discover that there is not much depth, and the writing is atrocious. 

Stephen makes a reminder that regardless what is currently selling on the best-seller list, always stay authentic to yourself and the writing process because if you are only writing books to make money you won't go far and it will be tedious job to find creative inspiration if the end result is money. This part of the book was interesting and gave me insight when I read future books to look at whether the author gave their 110% or became lazy and lost in their writing. 

I didn't necessarily loved this part of the book because I was still addicted into Stephen's life and it felt so short and cut off that it took me some time to feel the flow of this section and enjoy it. This book shouldn't discouraged readers because while you may not want to become a writer, it sure teaches you how to improve your writing, the attention to detail, and help you rediscover the love of literature.

Part Three: Adjustment 

This section of the book deals mainly with his car accident. I did not know that he completed this book after his surgery. This author is one lucky guy because he should have been killed between getting hit by the car and impact it did to his body. I appreciate it that he went into details by what was happening on that day, what was he doing that led to his accident, and all the names of everyone that he encounters from the man who ran him over by accident to the doctors who helped cured him. 

When I started reading Stephen King, I knew he got in a bad accident but I didn't know to the extent of it and now learning what I know now I am amazed that he is still writing. He could have easily retired and I wouldn't have had a problem about that because he had already published books that have solidified his career and his legacy. He has made his millions between the books, the movie adaptations, and the television special so he could disappeared and no one would argue. It is the love of literature and his ability to write stories is what keeps him passionate about reading.

Between facing the kiss of death and the recovery process we get to discover that he had to start from scratch with everything and that includes his writing. He no longer writes as quick as he used to, he is getting older by the second, and a lot of tricks when writing no longer applied to him that means that his writing has to change and that is not a bad thing. Obviously he is no longer the same writer who can give people nightmares but he still knows how to drawn in an audience and keep them asking for more. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is definitely worth reading multiple times. I found myself laughing throughout the entire book whether it be moments of frustration, anxiety, or laughter for this author. I highly recommend everyone to pick up this book and discover more about Stephen King and the power of writing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans


I completely forgot that I actually read this book weeks ago and haven't bother to write a review which I apologize because now looking back I have no recollection about my true feelings when it comes to this book. I adore Madeline and I will definitely continue reading the series and I hope there will be interesting storylines along the way. The illustrations are marvelous and I love the references Ludwig Bemelmans make with illustrating famous buildings and locations of Paris. 

Everything is going wonderful for Madeline and the rest of the girls until they meet their new neighbor who is the Spanish Ambassador of Spain and his son named Pepito. The girls are excited for their new companion until they see he likes to terrorize every one in his sights. The adults do not see the havoc he causes especially when it comes to animal cruelty and his awful pranks but karma comes back to bite him in the butt. 

Peptic tries to pull a prank involving dogs and a cat but it backfires and he gets injured and full of scratches everywhere. He is luckily saved and head to the hospital to be fixed up by the local doctors. Madeline and the girls head to the hospital to see Pepito and Madeline is of course the chosen one and gets to speak to Pepito. You may think that Madeline is humble and is worried about Pepito but clearly you have never met a child who holds a grudge to someone who performs awful violence and cruelty to others. Madeline essentially gives him a dose of his medicine and he learns she has no sympathy for him. He feels bad about the whole experience and decides to change his ways and becomes the good boy that everyone loves.

I just realized now that my review portrays Pepito like a demented child but I realize children sometimes do not know any better and cause harm to others. There is not much mention about his parents but I guarantee you between having his father in a high-level position, and his parents living the bourgeois lifestyle, they may not be paying attention to Pepito and providing the love and attention that a child needs on a daily bases. Plus I believe when someone feels genuine pain and suffering they are less likely to harm other living beings especially animals. 

Was this better than the original Madeline book? HELL TO THE NO but it wasn't awful either. This series honestly could have gone on for over 10 books and this would have been one that necessarily wasn't important but nonetheless introduced a vital character in the Madeline series. I still cannot wrap my head around that Madeline is not an orphan and Miss Clavel is not a nun!