Romantic Wednesdays: If You Liked The Fault in Our Stars

Posted by Eric G.

John Green’s popular and acclaimed novel The Fault in Our Stars gets the big screen treatment this week! Here are some books that form a complementary reading constellation.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSomebody Up There Hates You by Hollis SeamonThe Summer I Found You by Jolene B. Perry

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

On the surface this story of cancer-stricken teens seems very similar to Green’s novel, but this humorous, moving story stands on its own. The snarky narrator Richard doesn’t have long to live, but is making the most of his remaining days in the hospice wing with Sylvie, another teen awaiting the same fate. Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: If You Liked The Fault in Our Stars”

Movie Mondays: See the Movies of Tomorrow Today (In Your Mind)!

Click here to view Divergent in the SPL catalogHollywood looking to books for inspiration is not a “novel” idea. (Ahem.) Certainly the upcoming slate of 2014 theatrical releases is no different. After the runaway success of the Hunger Games and Twilight sagas, teen fiction will continue to provide fodder for the multiplex with adaptations of Vampire Academy, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, even Lois Lowry’s two decade old tale of dystopia, The Giver (starring Meryl Streep no less) coming down the pipeline over the next eleven months. Of course, we’ll also be seeing big releases of some of the most popular adult novels of the last several years, including Fifty Shades of Grey, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the latter being filmed by Zodiac and The Social Network director David Fincher. I thought it might be prudent to mention some slightly lesser-read works so you can place that hold right now, before the rest of the city is on to you. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: See the Movies of Tomorrow Today (In Your Mind)!”

Movie Mondays: The ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Primer

It has been three long years since a Coen brothers film graced the silver screen. Thankfully, the drought ends this month with the release of their sixteenth feature, Inside Llewyn Davis. The film follows a struggling singer-songwriter in the burgeoning New York folk scene of the early 1960s. Want to get the most out of the film as you possibly can? Try a few of these items available at the Library to give you a leg up on the guy rudely chomping away on a bucket of popcorn next to Continue reading “Movie Mondays: The ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Primer”

The Scarlet Letter Revisited

“The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.”  -The Scarlet Letter

What I love most about The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is it’s timelessness. It is just as relevant now as it was when it was first published. No matter ones opinion it sparks conversation from all sides. Here are a few items that revisit that theme:

When She Woke, by Hillary JordanThe novel When She Woke by Hillary Jordan gives us a futuristic version of The Scarlet Letter. Hannah Payne’s life revolved around God first and family second due to living in a world where faith and politics go hand in hand. Yet Hannah has always had a slight rebellious side and when the State of Texas deems Hannah a murderer with the victim being her unborn child she finds herself alone in a white room with her skin dyed red. In her society those that commit crimes are dyed and sent out to live in the world. Not willing to expose the man who fathered the child, a respected pastor, nor the physician that helped her she adds more time on to her sentence and will spend the next sixteen years as a red. After being released she begins the process of discovering who she is despite what her crime claims her to be.

Occasionally there is a teen movie that I can’t help but watch over and over again. MyEasy A, a film by Will Gluck secret shame, so to speak, is Just My Luck and 10 Things I Hate About You. My newest guilty pleasure is Easy A, which is a modern high school take of The Scarlet Letter. Olive Penderghast, played by Emma Stone, finds her life, which was normally spent in high school obscurity, the center of a false rumor of her losing her virginity. Unfortunately the rumor was started by herself to her best friend in the bathroom only to be overheard by the holier than thou Marianne. Once this rumor takes off it morphs into a whole different beast and rather than try to dispel them she claims them by wearing a red A. Although she tries to use her new found strength to help those in need she causes more harm to her reputation and it begins to affect everyone around her till she has no choice, but to finally reveal the truth.

Who is Fantômas?

Fantômas.”
                “What did you say?”
“I said: Fantômas.”
                “And what does that mean?”
“Nothing…Everything!”
                 “But what is it?”
“Nobody….and yet, yes, it is somebody!”
                 “And what does the somebody do?”
“Spreads terror!”

A century ago, these words unleashed reign of terror upon the literary world which continues to this day. It was in February of 1911 that Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre published the first of several novels featuring a mysterious criminal mastermind whose exploits swiftly became an international sensation. If you’ve never heard of Fantômas, you’re not alone. A few years back, London’s Daily Telegraph featured a list of the 50 greatest villains in literature, and yet the greatest villain of all is nowhere to be seen. Coincidence? Hardly: Fantômas is a known master of disguise, and would never be caught in the open so easily. Combining the anarchic savagery of Edward Hyde, the criminal genius of Professor Moriarty, the irrestistable hypnotic power of Svengali, the audacity of Richard III, and the bloodthirsty panache of Dracula, Fantômas stands unrivalled among supervillains for sheer dastardliness.

Fantômas was beloved of Dadaists and surrealists, who were inspired by his motiveless nihilistic glee, and by his ingenious inventive variations on perfidy. The definitive anti-hero and ultimate mischief maker, he’s the sort of devil who will derail a train full of people to cover his tracks (or just for the fun of it), and Original cover to Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre's Fantômasloves nothing more than to frame innocent bystanders, sending them to gallows and guillotine for his crimes while he looks on. The dogged Inspector Juve and his journalist friend Fandor are ever in hot pursuit and often seem to have the Lord of Terror right within their grasp, only to be outfoxed by their mercurial prey, who doffs personae like hats. Meanwhile, the rich Lady Beltham remains in his thrall, despite the fact that he kills her husband in the first book. Once you get into the maniacal spirit of the thing, his exploits can be addictive: last week I chain-watched the recently released collection of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas films of 1913 and 1914, beautifully restored with a perfectly ominous soundtrack; now am reading the first novel. Only seven of the 32 original Fantômas novels were ever translated from their original French into English, but five of these are available for free download from Project Gutenberg.

So, who is Fantômas? As his laughter trails away down the gaslit alleyways of Paris, we realize that we can never know, for the essence of Fantômas is mystery.

Stretching his immense shadow
Across the world and across Paris,
What is this gray-eyed specter
Rising out of the silence?
Fantômas might it be you
Lurking on the rooftoops?

                               ~ Robert Desnos, “Complaint of Fantômas.”