My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: November 6, 2009

The announcement of the Giller Shadow Jury results are up. I have enjoyed very much the Giller Shadow Jury’s open deliberations.

Anokatony crowns Amelie Nothomb a “Must Read” author. She is now a must-read for me.

The Elegant Variation has hooked me up with a Complete Boxed Set of the Paris Review Interviews. If you have not checked out the Mark Sarvas’ blog (The Elegant Variation) which include weekly (almost) giveaways, now would be a good time to follow the link.

For old news, the National Book Award finalists were announced a while ago. Junot Diaz is a judge, so perhaps I should pick up some of these before the winner is announced November 18.

I have been meaning to post about the movie “Where the Wild Things Are”, but never did. My points, in brief, would have been: A. The movie is not for children, particularly young children (way too dark); B. The movie was not particularly good; C. I was disappointed because I had high hopes. The Millions has posted about the movie that should have been. Their brilliant point is that the movie, based on the very short picture book, should have been the trailer. The trailer was great, it left lots to the imagination, and, thus, was an excellent adaptation. The full-length movie was more like an ill-conceived director’s cut, they say. I have to agree. Watch the trailer, skip the movie.

City Journal has an excellent, in-depth article on education. Seems Massachusetts is seeing huge gains among their public school students after adopting E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s “cultural literacy” ideas, i.e. focusing on teaching students core background facts necessary to comprehend higher level texts. The author of the article provides a cringe-inducing personal anecdote as an illustration of what Hirsch has been advocating against:

I once asked my younger son and some of his classmates, all top fifth-grade students, whether they knew anything about the historical figure after whom their school was named (William Tecumseh Sherman). Not only were they clueless about the military leader who delivered the final blow that brought down America’s slave empire; they hardly knew anything about the Civil War, either. When I complained to the school’s principal, he reassured me: “Our kids don’t need to learn about the Civil War. What they are learning at P.S. 87 is how to learn about the Civil War.”

If you have children in school are interested in literacy education, I highly recommend the article.

And the lamentations regarding our shrinking attention spans continue: The internet is killing storytelling.

Finally, my least favorite lit-blog thing of the year: John Self at The Asylum is taking a break. I am happy for John, unhappy that I will have to wait awhile for his next post. There are always the archives to re-read…

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4 Responses to My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: November 6, 2009

  1. Sarah says:

    The internet is killing story telling, huh? I read that article, feeling that it was perhaps slightly exaggerated, but was then sucked into reading a sister article, and another after that… Oh, the irony.

    Thanks for the tip regarding The Wild Things. I have only seen the posters, which were great, so slightly disappointed. But I have read a review of the book which didn’t precisely grab me. Is there an age group that would enjoy this film, do you think?

  2. Kerry says:

    Sarah,

    I had the same reaction to the story, at least the headline. I do think attention spans, mine in particular, are not helped by surfing the web. But killing storytelling? I don’t think so. Making them shorter, maybe, but you can’t kill storytelling. It is too central to the human condition.

    As for The Wild Things, I think the movie is really for adults (and I think the writers/director have said as much). It is a movie about children for adults. The monsters are very dark, impulsive, and violent (though no real blood or anything). I do not know what age might really enjoy, but I would definitely not recommend for under 10 and really, I regret taking my 12 year old. She was very upset during and after the movie. Old enough to handle it, but very emotionally involved.

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m sorry to hear that your daughter had a bad experience. I shall definitely take your advice and steer well clear with my youngsters.

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