Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Books of the Month--Ebert and Queenan

Word from the nice lady up in New Hope is that our ICON interview with Jancee Dunn will run in December. This is good for two reasons: a.) Jancee is a talented writer and good egg who deserves whatever publicity comes her way; and b.) I can go another month without selling my silky hair for cash.

Now I just have to convince my girflriend not to sell her pocket watch...

Ms. Dunn is a past honoree of the Book of the Month club for her outstanding debut, But Enough About Me. That got me to thinking that it's been a long-ass time since I recommended movie-centric books. So, to make up, here are two of them.

Keep in mind that I love books--they're fun, educational, and they keep this booming Internet thing humble.

Roger Ebert is the reason I'm making some semblance of a living writing about movies. While my family was helping clear out my late grandfather's library, I uncovered Ebert's 1985 Home Video Companion and my life changed forever. He wrote with such insight and grace, but not like an academic or a film snob. He had fun and it showed on every page. I was 12 years old when I first read him, and I knew my career path: I wanted to write, and, if possible, I wanted to write about movies.

I know that Ebert sealed his reputation as a talking head of sorts--his battle with cancer has, sadly, made that an impossibility--but he's a beautiful writer graced with wit and crystal clear logic. He was the first film critic every to win a Pulitzer Prize, which he did before he was 40. Go to the library, and page through his Movie Yearbooks. You won't be sorry.

Joe Queenan (above) writes for a wide variety of publications and he's written many books, but his film writing is a tart, sarcastic delight, whether he's describing the streak of loserdom in Martin Scorsese's movies or pretending to be Mickey Rourke for a day. My favorite of his books is Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler and Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon (where he ingests nothing but the dregs of pop culture for a year).

Granted, he's not for everyone, but for a preview of what you're in for, Google his review of AJ Jacobs's The Know-It-All for the New York Times Book Review a few years back. I thought it was an outstanding review, but Jacobs's didn't think so...He fired off an angry letter to the Book Review in response to Queenan tearing him a new one.

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