WRITER FOR HIRE – The author is a formidable freelance success with over 700 articles to her credit. With topics such as selling yourself, making the most of your time, building connections, running your business and balancing your life–there are a lot of gems in this book. With so many writing reference books devoted to formats, proposals, novels and creativity; this one delivers something quite different. Its sole focus is the creation, craft and business of being a freelancer. I do recommend it because there’s nothing else quite like it. Make sure to add Writer for Hire by Kelly James-Enger to your writing reference collection!
CHOMP! They Came from the Swamp – What would happen if you set a horror story in a greenhouse full of plants? “Little Shop of Horrors”, you might answer. A better answer is: “CHOMP! They Came from the Swamp”, which is a new exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The exhibit is chockfull of meat-eating plants in a one-of-a-kind display like none other. Get a sense of the reasons why plants attract, capture, eat and hunt. There are several large models with a POV experience tiny insects feel when these voracious predators turn them into their next meal. The show runs through October 19, 2014, so make time to see it!
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK – This is an extremely short story, at barely two pages in length. I find a relationship in that the further an author pushes into experimental form, the shorter a story needs to be, to keep readers engaged in the story arc. Similar to “Father’s Great Escape”, “The Gospel According to Mark” (by Jorge Luis Borges) succeeds as such. Because the author gets in and gets out, quickly. This avoids any possibility of allowing readers spotting the upcoming twist ending (which I won’t give away here). Thus, when an aimless medical student goes to stay at a ranch, he becomes trapped indoors by a flood. Alongside an illiterate farm family, that works the land as ranch hands. They are in awe of the young man because he reads passages to them from an old notated family Bible. In the final sequence, the father asks him if Christ let Himself be killed to save all men. The young man says, “Yes, to save everyone from Hell.” They mock him, spit on him and shove him, into the back part of the house. The girl weeps (he has had sex with the ranch hand’s daughter but vows to deny it) because she knows what’s waiting for him, on the other side of the door. The story touches on themes of crucifixion (with several deliberate references to Christ, it’s no coincidence), salvation and earthly pleasures. I feel that the author is also sending a clear message about class. Specifically (I imagine), the treatment of common laborers in relation to the upper echelon, in Latin America, if not as a comment on the world at large.
CAPOTE – This is a trailer for the movie “Capote” for which Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2005. The scope of the movie is closely confined to Truman Caopte’s decision to travel to Kansas and write “In Cold Blood” with Harper Lee. Sadly, Hoffman died of an overdose in 2014, after a lengthy period of sobriety.