what i’ve been reading & watching lately: dead until dark, world without end, when the levees broke, and wire in the blood

dead until darkDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

I loved season one of True Blood, so I thought I’d give the books a try. Charlaine Harris is a better writer than Stephanie Meyer, which is setting the bar pretty low. At least it doesn’t seem like she’s trying to use every synonym in the thesaurus before she dies. Although she does do that annoying thing where she describes in excruciating minutiae every detail of every outfit Sookie Stackhouse changes into.

The book is all from Sookie’s POV, so you don’t get into what all the other characters are up to, which I really liked seeing in the show. I also think Book Bill doesn’t exactly have an excess of personality (although Book Eric is almost as awesome as Show Eric). And it doesn’t get into the whole socio-political aspect of vampires as the new Other like the show does, but I was expecting that. Basically, if you’ve never seen the show, the book is probably entertaining enough. But if you watch the show first, you might find the book a little… anemic. HA HA VAMPIRE JOKE!

It’s still a bazillion times better than fucking Twilight.

world without endWorld Without End by Ken Follett

This is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, published 20 years ago. It takes place in the same fictional English town, Kingsbridge, about 200 years later and involves the descendants of the original characters. It follows the same formula, where you observe the protagonists over the span of most of their lives, follow their triumphs and defeats (at the hands of some very nasty antagonists), against the background of various historical events: in this case the Black Death, the Hundred Years War, and the murder of King Edward II. (Being as it was the 13th century, I kept waiting for the Black Death to show up, but it didn’t until page 600 — the entire book is just over 1000 plages.) It’s a great, sweeping epic with very memorable characters. One thing I especially love about both of these books is that Ken Follett writes some pretty fucking realistic female characters. They are just as fleshed out and human as the male characters.

I’m not always a fan of Spike Lee, because I don’t think you put fires out by pouring gasoline on them. But for his documentary about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, he pretty much stayed out of it and just let the people speak for themselves. And he got everyone in this thing: Mayor Nagin, Governor Blanco, residents of pretty much every neighborhood in the city (the Lower 9th, Algiers, Carolton, Uptown, the Garden District, Mid-City, etc.), Sean Penn, Kanye West (who actually comes across as a real person, as opposed to the cartoon with the ludicrously swollen ego he usually does), the former police chief who kept screaming “They rapin’ babies!” about the Superdome, even that guy in Mississippi who yelled “Go fuck yourself!” at Dick Cheney (he’s a doctor!). It’s not exactly pleasant to watch — it was released a year after Katrina and parts of it were filmed just months or even weeks after the fact, and everyone was still pretty raw. But it’s really well done, and they’re going to be showing this in college American History classes a hundred years from now, for sure.

wire in the bloodI’ve been watching the last 2 seasons of Wire In The Blood on BBC America — it recently got cancelled due to really high production costs. Poo! I decided to start at the beginning via Netflix. You know what’s weird about British television? Not everyone looks like some waxed, shaved, and plucked 20-year-old bimbo. They look like actual people.

The series is based on a series of books, although from what I understand only the first 2 episodes follow them exactly; after that it kind of branched off on its own thing. It’s hard to say what makes this different from other crime/profiling dramas, it just has a really creepy atmosphere. It’s like if David Lynch directed Law & Order. Also, Robson Green is hot, so there’s that. He and Hermione Norris have craaazy chemistry too, they’re always standing like two inches apart. Once I’m caught up with this series I think I’ll Netflix Touching Evil.