As I’ve tallied up the books I’ve read in these monthly posts, I’ve thrown in the screenplays I’ve read as well. They might not be technically books, especially given the fact that I’m reading most of them as PDFs, but I’m reading them and they’re worth talking about, so in the lists they go. I’m also linking directly to the PDFs of the screenplays so that you can play along at home if you are so inclined.
Here are the books (and screenplays) I read in October.
- It, Stephen King: I made it through this one. Which I mean not in the sense of it being difficult or boring to read (although it did start to drag a bit three-quarters of the way in)—it’s simply very long. I had never read it before. I was strongly discouraged from reading Stephen King books when I was younger. Now that I’m almost forty, I thought I could get away with it. I feel like this is now such an established modern classic that we forget to discuss how ambitious it is. And it not only lays that ambition bare but fulfills it. I’m almost glad I didn’t read it until this point in my life. The horror doesn’t have the same depth without the perspective of age.
- The Infinite Blacktop, Sara Gran: I crashed through the three Claire DeWitt novels as fast as I could. I love them deeply. There isn’t a lot to say about this particular novel that I haven’t said before about Claire DeWitt in general. This one felt a little bit like a drawing in of breath during a larger arc. I hope another one comes sooner rather than later.
- Year of the Monkey, Patti Smith: I read this book and I still do not know if it’s nonfiction or fiction. It strikes me primarily as a dreamy, metaphor-driven memoir, but I’ve seen comments from Patti that sound like she intended it as a novel. In the end, it doesn’t matter much. It’s a beautiful, sorrowful meditation on growing older and finding one’s way in a crumbling world. And reality is debatable anyway.
- Blade Runner, Hampton Fancher and David Peoples: I’ve been choosing screenplays to read from my gathered digital collection more or less at random. By coincidence, I read this one shortly before the real world caught up with the world of the film, which takes place in November of 2019. The screenplay is a fully-realized story in itself and gives the minimalistically-told film some complementary detail. Plus, it’s a good time to rewatch the film, which I always enjoy doing after I read screenplays.
- Geek Love, Katherine Dunn: For a while now, I’ve had this book on my “to-read” list on the general basis it was supposed to be good and I should read it sometime. Because the cover has a digital-like font and involves the word “geek,” I assumed it had something to do with technology, which I have a lot of exposure to and often need a break from. However (and it might be difficult to imagine this kind of situation, there certainly isn’t a commonly-used phrase to describe it or anything like that), the cover is not an accurate depiction of the book’s content. Now I’ve read Geek Love and I’m angry I didn’t read it much sooner. The saga of a genetically-engineered carnival sideshow family, this story is bizarre and intense and revolves around the question of what makes someone a real “freak.” It’s also quite beautiful, which is more or less the meta point.
- Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael: This screenplay is the opposite of the experience I described reading Blade Runner: instead of more detail than its film, this one has considerably less. It’s a lean sixty some pages that outlines the bare bones of what would become Kubrick’s film. The rest he conjured himself, and that is quite a conjuring. I recommend reading this screenplay as an exercise in gauging the space in between a screenplay and its final film, and what it takes (in this case, a genuis filmmaker) to get there.
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