BEHOLD, October is past, ready or not, and the year is quickly drawing to a close. It is against a sky which has in the past week driven me alternately to t-shirts and to mittens with its sun and snow that I bring you the best of my forays into music, literature, and the arts in general from the month past. Cue majestic drum roll.
- Who: Rainbow Rowell
- What: Eleanor and Park (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)
- Why: I’ll be honest, I have tried repeatedly and always unsuccessfully to like Young Adult literature. I find these novels too often to be short on believable character development and enough pages to pull off anything intricate. Enter Eleanor and Park. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s the finest book I’ve read of its genre. For starters, yes, it’s a love story, but I found the plot of these two misfit kids in the 1980’s applaudable, and not as narrow as some. Its subtleties could have been brought out more, but it made one think a little, and Rowell’s way of portraying each character’s perspective is interesting and effective.
- For: Anyone remotely interested in YA lit, those looking for something not terribly intellectual but not crappy, people who read really fast.
- Who: Peter Kreeft
- What: Three Philosophies of Life (Ignatius Press, 1989)
- Why: For anyone who has never read Peter Kreeft, you must. He is an outstanding contemporary philosopher. In this book, Kreeft sets forth three main possible philosophies of life, as demonstrated by what Kreeft says are the most profound books of philosophy he has ever read. These three are the biblical books of Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs. What follows is a wonderful examination of life as vanity, life as suffering, and life as love, and the connections and pathways between these ideas through the lens of biblical Christianity. An insightful and yes, enjoyable read.
- For: Philosophers, Christians, people who have never heard of this Kreeft character but want to see if he lives up to my claims of his awesomeness.
- Who: Nancy Oliver (writer), Craig Gillespie (director), starring Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider
- What: Lars and the Real Girl (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2007)
- Why: I have something of an affinity for quirky independent films, and this film most definitely fits that description. The story of a socially inept young man who purchases a life-size mannequin to be his girlfriend, Lars and the Real Girl is at times funny, at others touching, and throughout, a very interesting character study. The way that “Bianca” helps change Lars’ way of interacting with the world and the way in which his family and friends react to her makes for a memorable hour and a half.
- For: Those looking for something both thought-provoking and enjoyable to watch, appreciators of film as an art form, lovers of the quirky and slightly bizarre.
- Who: Death Cab for Cutie
- What: We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes (Barsuk, 2000)
- Why: We Have the Facts is a strong entry in Death Cab’s discography. It’s style is a bit of an acquired taste though. For those who don’t mind the almost lo-fi instrumentation, the dynamic and emotional ebb and flow, especially on the second half of the album, make for some beautiful moments in music.
- For: Professed Death Cab fans, lovers of independent bands, those who want something different from most contemporary music.
- Who: The Postal Service
- What: Give Up (Sub Pop, 2003)
- Why: Give Up is an interesting portrait of a surprisingly successful side project. I’ve never encountered another album with quite the same feel, at times introspective and dreamy, at others optimistic and extroverted, and always an interesting blend of Ben Gibbard’s expression and Dntel’s eccentricity. Quite an enjoyable album, and unique.
- For: Fans of Death Cab or Dntel, folks who need cheering up, those who are willing to try something new.
Songs of the Month
Jumping back to music real quick for October’s picks:
A Movie Script Ending – Death Cab for Cutie
A fine song, not their most polished, but neat tune and lyrics. Was horribly stuck in my head at one point, and we were out of town, so it kind of reminds me of Gainesville, VA now.
You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Newman (from Toy Story)
How can one not love this song? To all my dear readers, this song is for you. I love you guys. ❤
I almost wrote “dead readers” instead of dear. *creepy music* Maybe I’ve been thinking about Halloween too much. If I do have any dead readers out there, I’d love to hear from you! That would be freaking creepy actually. Maybe I don’t want to hear from you. Tom, have you been reading my blog?
“R”, left index finger, we type “R”, not “D”.
Oh boy… It’s been a long weekend.