Month: April 2011

The Dystopian World of Super Sad True Love Story

Posted April 29, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I love the dystopian genre; the feeling of hopelessness that needs to be overcome makes a great backdrop for a novel. But unlike most books in the dystopian genre, Super Sad True Love Story really stuck with me, more than any other. I’ve been pondering this for a while and I have come to the conclusion that the reason is the fact that this dystopian world feels so close to our future that it feels like this is what our future will be like.

For those who have not read Super Sad True Love Story, I highly recommend it. The novel is set in a very near future—oh, let’s say next Tuesday—where the world is dominated by the Media. The story is centred on a thirty nine year Russian immigrant, Lenny, and what could likely be the world’s last diary. As well as the object of his affection; Eunice, who has her side of the story to by a collection of e-mail correspondences on her “GlobalTeens” account.

While this may be a story of a modern relationship; there is so much more in the novel worth exploring. This dystopian back drop mixing in some very interesting concepts;

Media and Retail

The world is controlled by the media, telling everyone how to think, feel and act. No one reads anymore, they are all feed their information from all the shows streaming to them. Like the media today, this is teamed up with the Retail industry. Media and Retail are the high powered jobs of this world; everyone is a slave to fashion.

The Apparatus

The iPhone is gone, replaced with the Apparatus, a device that is required to be worn at all times. This device is the connection to the world, streaming all the news, storing all your personal information; credit rating, personal history and preferences. But this device is so much more powerful than that, it monitors the heart and blood pressure and calculates your attraction to a mate based on history, preferences and the way your body reacts to them. Giving everyone a rating in the following categories; Finances, Personality, Attractiveness and Fuckabililty.

Lack of Privacy

In a world of commercialisation – even porn is mainstream – the Apparatus mixed with reading posts around the world allows all information to be collect and public record. These reading posts will display your credit rating as you walk past. But as this is a world of controlled by Retail and the media telling people to spend, the credit rating is a catch 22; spending money will increase your social rating but decrease your credit rating therefore decreasing your social rating.

There is so much in this book that is worth discussing; it’s a light and humorous read but under the surface it is a witty and intelligently written book. I probably could go on further writing about the dystopian world, including Privatisation of the military and immigration check points, etc. but I have tried to keep this spoiler free. All in all, this world is so close to the direction the world is moving, you can almost feel this coming.

Support Knowledge Lost and my reading habits, If you wish to get a copy of Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel do so here.

Burning Realisation: I Can't Write

Posted April 7, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Writing / 0 Comments

Over the past few weeks I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I really not very good at writing. I think I’m getting better at blogging, but for someone that aspires to be a writer, I’m not good at it. I’ve had to take a step back and evaluate what I’ve been doing wrong.

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.

Stephen King, On Writing, p. 147

I’ve been reading a lot and I’ve been getting lots of great ideas on what I want to do with my writing, from style, plots, metaphors. But when I go to write a novel, I really do lack the skills to get very far. I’ve decided I have to change my approach. I have to learn the art of writing. I can’t give up; I still have a burning desire to write.

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.

Leo Rosten

So I’ve reached a decision to give up trying to write a novel for now. I need to practise my craft, and build up to attempting to do something like a full novel. I read an interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafón (who wrote the brilliant book The Shadow in the Wind) that he always had this book sitting in the back of his mind but he needed to gain the skills to attempt writing it. So Carlos Ruiz Zafón began his career writing books for young adults. While I don’t think I have the skills to write a full length novel, I think the idea of starting small and building up is a smart move.

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

So I’ve decided to set myself a new writing goal; to focus not on completing a full length novel, but to focus on honing my craft. To do this, I’ve decided to focus on writing short stories (not limiting myself to a word count); I’m hoping this will help develop the skills to write more complete and interesting stories. Currently I’m aiming at a short story a quarter, but I will see how I go.

What is a Cult Book

Posted April 1, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Listology / 0 Comments

Recently I watched a show about Cult books, yet I still don’t really understand the concept of Cult followings. So I thought I would do some research and this blog post on the topic.

A broad strokes definition would be: “A cult following is a term used to refer to a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of pop culture.” But it is much deeper than this and it’s a fine line between Cult and Mainstream. Normally a cult follower is passionate and devoted to their subject, but not always for positive reasons. Film Director Ed Wood has a cult following, not because they enjoy his movies, but because they consider them so bad that they become funny and curiously fascinating. Generally, Cult followings normally involve books, movies, etc that originally are not very successful but grow in popularity at a later date (eg. Firefly).

It seems that everyone has a different definition of what would make a cult book, while some may include best sellers like The Lord of the Rings, others would consider these as mainstream. But one thing that seems to be consistent is the fact that a cult book is a book that we share a special bond with, it grips our imagination and you never want to let go of it. I would love to know how you would define a cult book and what your top five cult books would be.

My Top Five

1. Frankenstein
2. Slaughterhouse-Five
3. Catch-22
4. Brave New World
5. Foucault’s Pendulum