Friday, 23 July 2010

Scott Heim

I’ve now read two of the three books written by Scott Heim. I watched the film Mysterious Skin before I read the book, simply because I did not know it was a book until after having watched the film. Brady Corbet spoke about the book in the dvd extras section. The film had really got to me. Not only the amazing performances of Joseph Gordon Levitt (my favourite actor) and Brady Corbet, but for the way it was filmed, the subject, everything about it.

So I read Mysterious Skin. The film is very close to the book. The book is more in depth, and in some ways I think the film is more successful than the book because it holds things back that the book delves right into. The film is certainly the subtler of the two. However, I found Mysterious Skin to be an awesome read. The way the vantage points flick between characters really worked, in my opinion. Heim’s style is cool. It’s rare for me to find novels that are actually cool, that can contend with films, TV, music. Don’t give teenagers shit like Twilight to read, give them stuff like Mysterious Skin.

We Disappear is just as good. I couldn’t put it down, and like with Mysterious Skin, the style was cool. Obviously it was less harrowing than Mysterious Skin. I did feel that We Disappear went deeper than Mysterious Skin, and Heim had got a little better at writing, his style more honed. I felt We Disappear outwitted me at times, kept me on my toes, whereas Mysterious Skin didn’t, perhaps partly because I already knew how it ended, having seen the film first.

Both these novels are examples of fresh writing, vibrant/ interesting characters, gritty subject matters. For this reason I think they are good for young people to read (17+). Heim’s style is flawed. It is by no means perfect. The characters in Mysterious Skin alternate the narration, but each chapter has the same narrative voice, despite the fact that different characters are narrating from chapter to chapter. This didn’t bother me, because their different personalities were crisp and obvious enough from their actions, rather than their narrative voices. Heim tends to over explain some parts, gives the reader too much detail sometimes. But again, I think this is part of what makes the books cool. They are not perfect, they are rough around the edges and that suits the subject matter and the audience.


Meredith said...

Huh, now I'm left wondering what "Mysterious Skin" is about. The trailer didn't enlighten me very much. Well, I guess it's about UFOs?

I got your comment on the Dan Brown video about Education. I'm not sure I know where to start in response, but I agree whole-heartedly that spiritual growth is important. What you said in that comment here " Our society is based on competition; that everyone has the capacity to be successful, but in doing so there are many, many people who must lose, who must fail." Really resonated with me.

My opinion on College Education is that, for many occupations it is vital and necessary. For others, it is a waste of time and money. It comes down to things that can be taught. Though, I have to say, too many people don't try things with a serious enough attitude to teach themselves. This is the case with both writing and guitar, too activities I am presently teaching myself and observe others learning. Even educational materials often fail to convey the true nature of the craft or art or whatever.

We used to read books in school that were amazing--you could see the historical setting, you got all the facts--and some that were horrible: dull, written in a way that suggested the author could care less.

Meredith said...

RE: your comment on "Deceptively Simple: The Writing Game"

This is all very complicated and interesting and I can't figure out what I want to say in response. To me, writing has always been the thing where I felt free to express myself. When it came to speaking, I would always feel awkward or nervous around the other people. But with writing I was always able to cut through that and reach a feeling of being articulate.

"I feel pride and intense happiness while in the process of writing. But when I’m done and I look back on my creation I feel disappointed, downbeat, that I have just wasted my time."

I can relate to that, but at the same time, it gives me a drive to get write something new/more... I don't know, I think I'm interpruetating your comment as cynical when maybe/probably it's not.

This is all very interesting, I wonder if we could talk more through e-mail, I'll shoot you a note on dA.

Meredith said...

RE: your comment on "nuts and bolts"

"This is where minimalism or holding back information is useful in writing, because it helps the reader to place things onto the prose that will aid them in identifying with it."

This does make sense. :)

"I feel as if I was programmed to write." I feel the same way. I have a compulsion to figure it out, to get better at it; to conquer it and yet, it can't really be conquered. There's always a not knowing element.

And thanks for the info about Mysterious Skin, I was really wondering.

Meredith said...

Also, have you read any of John Green's YA books? (Sorry for so many comments).