Oddly Dickensian - in that you just have to swallow (repeatedly) unbelievable coincidences - but if you can do that (repeatedly), then everyone's actions, motives, and emotions ring completely true, and draw you in, in a way that doesn't feel manipulative or fake, but very real. And please note - calling it WAR HORSE is like calling that other movie TITANIC. That movie wasn't about a big boat, it was about the people on it; this isn't about the horse, except as a catalyst for all the human characters. And mind you, that other movie has no other comparison to a film of this quality - Cameron's merely effective at exploiting and manipulating emotions (and, in Terminator esp, at staging real action sequences and not just blowing stuff up, like Bay); Spielberg, at his best, is a psychologist and an artist at playing on a palate of human emotions and eliciting what I think are real and healthful releases of such.And really, this is one nice piece of dialogue between two old married people, who are sick of one another but still love each other: "I'll hate you more, but I could never love you less."And finally, old lefty me, how could I not love a film whose message, loud and clear and repeatedly is, "Poor people and horses keep the world running; rich people and war make the world a miserable, wretched place." Never been a big animal fan myself, but I got no problem with that message.
Well, that came quick on the heels of my saying "Big announcement"!!Nero Press has announced they will be publishing VALLEY OF THE DEAD in Italian! This is so exciting to me, as even since I conceived of the book, I thought to myself how cool it would be for people to read and discuss it alongside Dante's original (indeed, looking over reviews, so far, it may have appealed more to Dante fans than "traditional" zombie fans) - and now it'll be available in Dante's mother language! (And of course, remember all the trouble Dante had publishing his work in Italian instead of Latin, so it's a further vindication of him as well.) The publisher provided me with this rough translation of the book's description: "Our first title, for which the contract has been already signed, will be a horror novel by talented american author Kim Paffenroth. In addition to having published several books on the theme of the zombie, Paffenroth is also professor of religious studies at Iona College. The book's title is Valley of the Dead - The Truth behind Dante's Inferno, and in order to get a first taste of what it is, we recommend you to read this article on Alessandro Girola's blog, or pay a visit to Dr. Paffenroth's website.We'll not be revealing the title of the italian edition – for now – and we hope you will find very intriguing discovering how – according to Paffenroth – Dante Alighieri came to write The Divine Comedy, after witnessing during his exile something so horrible that he conceived such an unique Work, destined both to sum up and exceed the literature and culture of the Middle Ages."This is really a big deal for me and I'm very proud!
Happy Boxing Day!
Sorry, with all the holiday madness, I forget to even make a pretense of a Christmas or Christmas eve message. But today's pretty quiet! So - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!I guess I'm supposed to give some retrospective on the previous year, and announcements for the new, but I was pretty boring in the past year and that'll probably continue. But, here are some announcements related to my writing. 2011 saw only one major fiction release, but it was (together with VALLEY OF THE DEAD) I think the best thing I've written - DYING TO LIVE: LAST RITES. I feel like I was meant to write about smart zombies and bad people - it's a potent mix for me, and out of it came my favorite character - Lucy, the smart, beautiful zombie with a heart of gold whose urge to KILL is always just barely contained. Sort of a female, sexy, undead Sippowicz - since I always thought that was his appeal: you never knew when he was going to erupt into violence, and you half-hoped he did, but deep down you knew he was a nice guy - underneath all the racism and alcoholism and self-pity and rage; Lucy's the same way - you just have to get beyond (and survive getting beyond) that whole "she's not alive and every minute of ever day all she can think of is killing you and ripping your heart out and eating it"- other than that she's a nice lady!OTOH, a bunch of nonfiction worked its way through the pipeline into some really nice essay collections on the genre - BUTCHER KNIVES AND BODY COUNTS, TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD, and GENERATION ZOMBIE all include essays by your humble servant and scholar of religion and all things horrific. Next year should be a similar output. First, my ghost story, CLOSES AT DUSK, will be out from Belfire Press. Unlikeable characters all around, though again, I hope we sense they have something going for them, if they'd let their better natures prevail. I should finally finish my next zombie novel (I've been bogged down with my day job, mostly in a good way, more on that later) - PALE GODS, to be published by the awesome peeps at Permuted Press. In nonfiction, I'm editing an essay collection with John Morehead on THE UNDEAD AND THEOLOGY, to be published by Wipf and Stock. I think you'll like it. Though I should note, as I surf the web this morning, I see (or notice once again) there are basically six types of reviews of my nonfiction work: This is a fan boy book - stay away!This is a fan boy book - I LOVE IT IT'S AWESOME TO ELEVENTY!This is an academic book - stay away!This is an academic book, just what the genre needs to save it from fan boys!Even though it's a fan boy book, there are still valuable insights in it. Even though it's an academic book, fans should find some things they like.So, it's somewhere in there, in the nexus between fandom and detached, academic analysis. (Which is kind of what I'd expect, or what I was shooting for.) I keep most of my cooking tips and discoveries on my Facebook page, but here's the scorecard for Christmas dinner. I went back to a whole turkey (brining just a breast worked great the first time, but I didn't feel did anything special last time) and it was good. Not the best I've ever made, but good on both taste and tenderness. Nice looking bird, too, very Norman Rockwell in the middle of the table. I try to make something I've never made before, every time I make a big dinner, and this year it was the turn of sweet potato pie. OMG. I don't like sweet potatoes, and I don't like pumpkin pie - so believe me when I say, this was the best thing I ever ate (even though it's somewhat similar to those two things I don't like). Amazing taste and consistency - creamier and ligther than pumpkin, not quite as spicy, but just the perfect blend. I see no reason other than tradition, to ever make pumpkin pie ever again.
So, anyway, back to the previous year as I sign off, since I left you hanging with the reference to the day job. I've been busier it seems with administrative stuff, but the main thing is that I've had two sections of the Honors Humanities Seminar. And in some ways this is more time-consuming than a "regular" class - more papers to read and a lot more reading of primary texts to do each week. I could wing it w/o doing the reading, I know, but OTOH, if I like a reading (like Oedipus or the Gita) then I like doing it again, and if it's a reading I don't like as much (esp Aristotle) then it's good for me to keep trying until I "get" it. (And I did feel this semester like I got a little closer to understanding what Aristotle's trying to do with Reason and prudence and discernment.) So what I'm saying is - that's taken more time than I expected, and so I haven't written as much, but it's been the high point of my teaching, and I think in the long run, all that intellectual stimulation from all those bright students (and they are an exceptionally bright and vivacious bunch this year - a little snarky, too, but in a fun way) will come back into my writing when I take it up again! Thanks and Happy New Year to all! PS - Big announcement any day now but I'm not cleared to say yet.
Praise for Triumph of the Walking Dead
Black December Sale Expands