Category Archives: Books

Lowest Common Lit-ominator: Movie Novelizations


I’ve never understood movie novelizations.

There’s some slight rationale when they’re aimed at children, since kids relish being told the same story over and over again. (Hence the Teletubbies forcing you to watch a forty-second clip of a boy playing basketball eight times in a row no matter how loudly you scream or how hard you punch the TV.) But adults seek novelty, generally speaking. Why would any self-respecting grown-up purchase a written description of a movie they’ve already seen?

The answer has less to do with closed-head injuries than you may expect. Setting aside the rabid fanboys who live only to spend their parents’ money on every single piece of 300 tie-in merchandise, functional human beings can derive some modicum of stimulation from licensed paperbacks because such novels are usually based on earlier versions of scripts. That means they contain scenes that were written out of subsequent drafts or left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes, this makes novelizations compelling.

More often, it makes them really shitty.


I’ve spent the past several weeks reading not one, not two, but ten movie novelizations. Join me as I recount, in a two-part post, the quirks, caprices, delights, and assaults on human intellect contained in the tie-in novels for Star Wars, Home Alone, and many more.

This week: Back to the Future, Jumanji, The Cat in the Hat, Night at the Museum, and Suicide Squad. Continue reading


Indigo’s the Color of Your Energy, pt 1: When a Made-Up Gluten Allergy Isn’t Special Enough


“I am an indigo child, and you are a crystalline child.”

These were the words my sister’s crazy ex-roommate used to break up with his girlfriend. You don’t have to know what they mean to sense, instinctively, that the guy was kind of a douche. You also don’t have to know what they mean to accept, merely at my say-so, that he used to hide peanut butter in weird places around the apartment.

“Yeah,” you say. “Sounds like the kind of guy who would do something like that.”


“You can come out now, baby, she’s gone. She never understood our love…”

So what the hell is an indigo child? According to today’s book, Beyond the Indigo Children: The New Children and the Coming of the Fifth World by P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., indigo children are “those brilliant and irreverent kids born since 1982…the ‘fifth root race’–new stock in the human gene pool–destined to help us through the exciting and massive changes ahead.” Said changes, incidentally, were forecast by the Mayan calendar. What, you thought the calendar was predicting the apocalypse? After reading this post, you’ll wish it had been.

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It Came from Arabia: Genres Born in the Middle East

I’ve got five more weeks of school, which means I’ve got five more weeks in which to find a job so I don’t wind up starving to death or throwing garbage at people outside the Tedeschi. In light of that, I’m asking for your forbearance. I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule in a month, I promise. In the meantime, here’s something I put together for my advanced writing class last semester.

Arabian literature

Largely unknown to Western audiences, the Arabian literary tradition is nevertheless a long and colorful one. Indeed, though many Americans may not be able to name a single work of Arabic fiction, most will be familiar with these genres invented in the Middle East.

Layla and Majnun

Tragic romance

The story of Layla and Majnun hails from the 7th century and shares many features in common with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, a French translation of Layla and Majnun is said by some scholars to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Unlike their Elizabethan counterparts, Layla and Majnun never marry or consummate their love. Like Romeo and Juliet, however, they meet with a tragic end.

The Three Apples

Murder mystery

“The Three Apples” is one of the 1001 stories Scheherazade tells her husband to forestall her execution. This mystery tale centers on a caliph named Harun al-Rashid, who purchases a locked chest from a local fisherman. Opening the chest and discovering a dismembered female corpse inside, the caliph instructs his vizier, Ja’far, to solve the riddle of the woman’s murder. Plot twists abound in what is arguably history’s oldest detective story.

Theologus Autodidactus

Science fiction

The science fiction genre is often considered a product of the Victorian period, but Theologus Autodidactus predates that era by several centuries. Ibn al-Nafis’ 13th century story uses spontaneous generation, futurology, and apocalyptic themes as a vehicle for the author’s knowledge of science and sociology. Translated into English in the 1900’s, the work was discovered to include accurate descriptions of the human metabolism and pulmonary circulation.

Rumble at the Goodwill Book Sale

Later in my life, when I’m asked to reflect back on my time in Boston, I’ll remember exactly two things:

  1. The T was always late.
  2. People in Boston are ready to throw down anywhere at any time.

I see more arguments on an average day in Boston than I’d see in an entire year in the Midwest. Some of these altercations can be chalked up to population density (in the city center) or meth use (in my neighborhood). But others seem to spring from something embedded in the culture. What would earn you a silent grimace in Michigan lands you in a profanity-laced screaming contest in Massachusetts.

That’s not to say the Midwest is perfect, because God (and recent voting results) knows it’s not. But people there are, on the whole, less likely to become homicidally enraged because someone gave money to a homeless person outside Tedeschi.


But I digress. Sort of.

Let me tell you about a fight I saw at Goodwill. Continue reading

YOU WILL SUBMIT: The Crusade for Female Disempowerment

When I was in elementary school, my mom and dad got divorced. When I was in middle school, the separation suddenly become a point of contention between my mom and her very traditional parents. I don’t know why it took so long for my grandparents to express their disapproval. What I do know is that they gave my mom this book:

Lies Women Believe is a bestselling self-help book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who purports to have the solution to all life’s problems. Have you, a woman, ever felt depressed? Anxious? Lonely? Tired? Gassy? Are you sick of doing things without the threat of male disapproval hanging over you? Do you think it’s kind of dumb that you have to say “police officer” instead of “police man”?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, the answer is simple: Submit to your husband.

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Apparently People Still Use Goodreads: Six of the Most Esoteric Genres on Amazon’s Social Media Platform

goodreads logo

For me, Amazon‘s Goodreads is a bit like Pinterest: I made an account, tooled around on the site for a day or two, and then totally forgot about it. I’m woman enough to admit how old I am, and old enough that sometimes I don’t “get” things. Pinterest is one of those things (so it’s sort of like Tumblr, but for stay-at-home moms who want to make other stay-at-home moms feel inadequate?). Goodreads is another (anyone looking at my reading history for recommendations is in for a world of hurt).

I have to admit, though: When I decided to read and review weird erotica, Goodreads was there for me. From sexy bigfoots to sexy minotaurs to sexy dingoes with nipple piercings, Amazon’s social media site caters to even the most obscure of appetites.

Come along as I explore some of the most esoteric genres on Goodreads. I promise, only a few of them are sexy.

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Sex-Crazed Idiots: A Trashy Book About a Classy Boat

The Pleasure Palace, by Joan Lee

Please Note: This post is thoroughly NSFW.

Last time, I explored the labyrinthine innards of John K. King Used Books. This time, I’ll show you what I fished out of said innards: Joan Lee’s staggeringly stupid 1987 sex novel, The Pleasure Palace.

Never before or since has a novel containing so much sex been so thoroughly unsexy. The characters kiss, lick, and boink their way down a non-stop stream of soap operatic misadventure, yet they fail to ever look cool doing it. Before we get to the boinking, though, allow me to mention my biggest problem with this book.


This tagline is complete bullshit, because the god damn Pleasure Palace–a much referenced luxury cruise ship–doesn’t even show up until the last 30 pages of the book. This novel should have been called Lots of Pointless Screwing, and Then There’s a Boat at the End. By the way, when the Pleasure Palace does show up, no one finds dreams there. One person finds danger, but we’ll get to that in a second.

First, let’s look at the characters… Continue reading