10th Anniversary Edition
Illustrated by Dave McKean
Coraline discovers an alternate reality though a small door that at first, seems to open onto a bricked up wall in the new house that her family has moved into; but in fact leads her to her Other Mother and Other Father. Coraline’s Other Parents extend a tempting invitation to remain in this Other place which is very much like the one she has left; but much better in terms of the food, care and, attention from parents that Coraline craves.
There is a temptation to view Coraline as something of a dark and distorted version of Alice in Wonderland: there is the young female protagonist, a looking glass, an enigmatic cat, a prandial setting in which the absurd reigns… and yet, to insist on this analogy would diminish Gaiman’s work as merely derivative —- which it certainly is not, at least not in the pejorative sense. There are certainly multiple influences, literary in form and style that have come to bear in this young adult tale; but it would be more apropos to consider Coraline as the extension of literary tradition. e.g. that of the Knight’s Tale or even of the troubadour tradition.
The tenth anniversary edition of Coraline
also includes interviews with Neil Gaiman at the end of the book: the first set of questions & answers are from when the book was first published and the second set of questions & answers are on the occasion of the book’s tenth anniversary. Gaiman mentions that Coraline
is a book about bravery and it is; but more than that, though Gaiman himself does not draw the correlation, Coraline
speaks to the classic tales of heroism and quest that are usually reserved for boys. Coraline
is a Knight’s Tale for girls: Coraline is an Everygirl who wants for nothing extraordinary, but is cast upon a mission or quest for three things – three things that will engender True Love from a Mother figure and, who ultimately must confront a dragon. The leitmotif of the dragon is introduced in the epigraph by G.K. Chesterton and reinforced with descriptive phases in regard to the antagonist and again underscored in the interviews.
Fairy tales are more than true; not because
they tell us that dragons exist, but because
they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
— G.K. Chesterton
Coraline is a fairy tale, a Knight’s Tale, a very dark tale that draws on some fine literary traditions; but presents the reader with novel and creative images that make it uniquely the work of Gaiman.
For parents: The imagery in Coraline is very dark and may not be appropriate for children who are prone to fearfulness or nightmares, especially of rats, actors and/or the door in your house that leads to the crawl space. Parents may also have to answer questions about parental love, neglect and abuse, smother love, abstract concepts of creativity and parallel universes.
Mr. Bobo’s Remarkable Mouse Circus
I purchased Coraline, 10th Anniversary Edition (by Neil Gaiman; with illustrations by David McKean) from the Barnes & Noble in Medford, Oregon. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing this product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.
This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at her blog, http://www.jennsbookshelves.com
I couldn’t resist! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged; but I do so love Murder, Monsters, Mayhem that I’ve decided to come back, if only for a little bit! Some of the things I have in mind are a couple of print reviews, a few audiobook reviews, at least three graphic novel reviews, a couple of movie reviews and maybe a couple of photos! I’m not making a hard commitment as to what I’m going to be covering if only because I want this month to be fun and pressure free 🙂
I’ve been away from blogging for almost three months and there are things I’ve missed, i.e. being a part of the blogging community in a dynamic way. I feel a little estranged from some of my favorite people and that sucks. But what I haven’t missed is the pressure to produce meaningful content while I’ve been working on leading a more physically active life. I’ve led a primarily sedentary lifestyle for too long and it was literally killing me. On top of the blogexistential crises I had been experiencing, I will be honest and admit that I didn’t know if I was going to come back at all.
But now that I am back, and in order to avoid a Blogger Burnout Relapse, there are going to be couple of changes. One is is that there is not going to a regularly scheduled anything! I will post when I can and hopefully that will eliminate the anxiety attacks at 5:00 a.m. when I don’t have something to go up at 7:00 a.m. And too, I like the idea of not feeling guilty if I go out to dinner instead of having epic angst-ridden battles over the correct turn of phrase (Um, yes, I did have those kind of days/nights. I know, ridiculous, yes? YES!) The second change is that some of the reviews may actually be more op-ed in style (I will clearly label them as such) – informal and personal. Hopefully this will free me up from the strangle hold of writer’s block that I would sometimes experience. They were quite a few reviews that never made it out of draft mode because I simply could not get beyond the purely subjective, and sometimes admittedly ad hominem, approach. Does that mean I’m going go about ranting unchecked? NO! It just means I need to give myself permission to let some of my personality show through. The third change is that I would like to cover a wider variety of material besides audiobooks. With that in mind, I’m thinking of blogging to a monthly theme as opposed to a format. Blogging to participate in features such as MX3 may be the way for me to go for awhile 🙂
For those of you who have stuck with me, THANK YOU! You know who you are and I love you! Your patience, understanding and continued friendship mean a lot to me as I continue to find my voice and place in the blogging community.
Now let’s get this blog rolling….
by Robert Bloch
narrated by Paul Michael Garcia
Norman Bates and his mother run the Bates Motel, located off of the old highway; Mary, a young woman on the run, makes a wrong turn and decides to check in at the motel for the night and; Sam and Lila, Mary’s fiancé and sister respectively, wonder where Mary is… Against the backdrop of a stormy night at the ill-frequented motel in California, the drama of Psycho begins to unfold. More than a horror classic with the Hollywood image of blood swirling down a drain accompanied by a piercing sound effect, the novel is an exposition of the psychological motivations of the characters that determine their actions. It would be enough to tell the story with just action sequences, but Bloch takes advantage of the written medium to explore the psyches of his characters and, puts forward the idea that that everyone has a breaking point at which we are all capable of insane acts.
There is a certain awkwardness to the original story, a dated feel beyond the fact that there are no computers or cell phones. There are cultural assumptions that need to be made, such as: In the 1950’s, motel clerks care where you’re going if you’re not in your room
Beyond that though, even the psychology used is outmoded. There have been enormous strides in psychology and medicine that have taken place in the last fifty years or so, which makes the interior voices of Psycho
seem rather quaint by today’s standards. However, the overall idea posited that the potential energy of insanity within each of us exists and can be triggered, remains valid and interesting.
Paul Michael Garcia imbues the text with the naturalness of a storyteller and, the character work is excellent. The result is an intimate reading of the text that engages the listener’s attention. The best character work is the kind that makes the listener wonder if there’s more than one person narrated the book and, this happens in particular in the scenes with the sheriff and his deputies 🙂
Other Stuff: I borrowed a library CD edition of Psycho from Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Hotel California, The Eagles
It’s November 1, The Day of the Dead and; the end of Murder, Monsters, Mayhem
for 2011. The feature, hosted by Jennifer L. at http://www.jennsbookshelves.com
, ran for the month of October and featured a number of bloggers posting reviews about any and all things horror related. It’s been a great experience, having discovered a number of print, audio and graphic novel titles that I’ve added to my wish list and, the opportunity to try something new: reviewing graphic novels! It turns out, that I really groove on it and plan on doing more 🙂
There were a couple things that didn’t work out for me this year: I had wanted to develop a couple of informal essays about Shirley Jackson; about the movies adapted from Richard Matheson’s I am Legend; about the origin of the werewolf tradition… I had wanted to write movie reviews about Dawn of the Dead, Psycho and, Carrie and there are a couple of audiobook reviews still outstanding: Psycho and Frankenstein; but quite simply, life got in the way. That said, I’ll be working on ways to improve my productivity for next year’s Mx3! Yes! I’m already planning for next year!
My contributions for Murder, Monsters, Mayhem for 2011:
- Countdown by Jonathan Mayberry; narrated by Ray Porter [Audiobook Review]
- Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry; narrated by Ray Porter [Audiobook Review]
- Zero Tolerance by Jonathan Mayberry; narrated by Ray Porter [Audiobook Review]
Werewolves and Disturbed Humans:
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater; narrated by Jenna Lamia and David LeDoux [Audiobook Review]
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson; narrated by Bernadette Dunne [Audiobook Review]
- Carrie by Stephen King; narrated by Sissy Spacek [Audiobook Review]
Thanks again to Jennifer L. at jennsbookshelves.com for hosting this feature 🙂
By Stephen King
Narrated by Sissy Spacek
Ⓟ 2005, Simon and Schuster/Audioworks (Retail) and Recorded Books (Library)
The eponymous protagonist of Carrie is a teenage girl with some serious issues regarding her relationship with her mother and, bullying at school (LOL, How’s that for understatement!) Carrie’s mother is a religious zealot of the most extreme and fundamental kind: mentally debilitated and only able to find recourse in biblical literalism. This creates an isolated home culture in which Carrie is reared, untutored in the norms of societal living and, much less in the nuances of personal relationships. Sheltered and ignorant, Carrie is left at the mercy of her classmates and; throughout the years, she is subjected to peer cruelty and ostracism. The situation comes to a head when Carrie officially becomes a woman, unfortunately while she is showering at the high school gym. The incident sparks an ugly reaction of taunting and assault by her classmates and, Carrie starts to stress out. The home front provides no answers or succor to her problems, indeed the strain on Carrie increases as her mother inflates the religious fervor to insane dimensions. How Carrie deals with this situation, using her latent power, is the stuff of Stephen King’s horror classic.
Sissy Spacek, who starred in the 1976 movie which was based on the novel, narrated the audiobook. Owing to her familiarity with the character, a now iconic figure in the horror film genre, she is an obvious choice to read the book; however, there are some issues that, while they could be transcended in the film, could not be overlooked in the audio production. Ms Spacek slides some words around lazily in her mouth so that a word like “menstruation” becomes”menstration.” This brings to the listener’s attention that we have more of the coal miners daughter than we do a New England native from Down East. There is also a minor production issue of booth noise, specifically page turns and shuffling which distracts from the story. Overall though, Sissy Spacek tells the story well and that is no small mean feat.
Other Stuff: I borrowed a library Cd edition of Carrie from the Jackson County Library System in Southern Oregon.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, her sister, Constance and, their uncle, Julian live reclusively in the Blackwood family home. Exactly why this is so is the story’s ostensible raison d’etre; but in realty the story showcases a number of recurrent themes in Shirley Jackson’s writings that reveal the darker natures of ourselves, barely hidden by the thin veneer of daily life. Each of the Blackwoods adopts a tenuous hold on civilized life by narrowly defining their roles in the household. Merricat’s quotidian routines involve heavily ritualized and superstitious behavior that enable her to function in and beyond the perimeter of the estate. Constance, a young woman in her early twenties, assumes the maternal role of cook, and caregiver to Uncle Julian; but she never goes beyond the garden borders. Uncle Julian, wheelchair-bound, spends his days writing and revising the family history, hung up on the chapter that fully explains what exactly happened that one night that lead to their present situation. Their neighbors in general, tease and bully Merricat; but don’t actually touch or harm her. The listener realizes that there is something wrong , sensing the undercurrent of tragedy and the shadows of secrets among the Blackwoods. There is a tension built upon not knowing why the Blackwoods live such a circumscribed existence and, a certain anxiety as the listener watches the veneer being stripped away. And then there is the horror as the truth is revealed. To write unflinchingly of what is true is no task for the weak or for cowards; it is a task for masters such as Shirley Jackson. Ms Jackson wrote fiction and; wrote scenarios that defy credibility in a realistic context; but what she wrote of in terms of human psychology and dynamics is undeniably true and; there is the horror.
Bernadette Dunne narrates We Have Always Lived in the Castle perfectly. Her character voices reflect the artifice of their civilized lives, the calming and reassuring words and platitudes uttered to keep the monsters at bay, as well as the chaos as the story explodes into a night of terror. Dulcet tones, childlike simplicity and, good natured teasing are delivered with the artifice that each character warrants; but the dark creepiness is never far from the surface.
Other Stuff: I borrowed a library CD edition of We Have Always Lived in the Castle from the Blackstone Audio, Inc.