Posted: June 26, 2020 Filed under: Art's Visual Media Reviews, Creative Nonfiction, Drama, Television review | Tags: 13 Reasons Why, acting, Clay Jensen, Dylan Minette, Reviews, series, Suicide, teens, TV
Part Two: The Later Seasons of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
The story is told. Hannah is dead. The series is popular enough to warrant funding for more seasons. I’m reminded of the Road Runner cartoon, where Wily Coyote follows Road Runner off a cliff. Road Runner doesn’t fall. He just stands there and says “Beep Beep”. Wily zooms over the edge of the precipice, stops dead still…and doesn’t fall. He stands next to Road Runner. He’s about to grab Runner in his evil claws but then he looks down. Way way down there is the bottom of the gorge with a teeny strip of road. When Wily realizes that he is standing on empty space, only then does he fall! EEEEeeeeeoooop! Puff of distant dust down below.
The three following seasons of “13 Reasons Why” bring to mind the dilemma of Wily Coyote. The first season received critical and audience acclaim. The series was banned by numerous school districts and libraries, the putative reason being “that it glorifies suicide”. This smacks of the disingenuous (I think it’s really about the sex, lots of it) but it put a rocket under the series’ ratings and created a demand for further content. Imagine telling an adolescent that a “hot” series is banned and forbidden. That’s like leaving a mouse trap sprung with the bait still in it. What an insult to the inventive intelligence of today’s teenagers. The writers and producers of this series got the funds to make yet another season. And another. And, yes! Another! Three more seasons! They’ve run off the cliff and don’t know yet that there is no ground under their feet. Netflix is usually so canny with regard to marketing and deploying content. That doesn’t mean they don’t stumble occasionally. Everything that follows season One is a reason to allow the characters to utter the same dialogue, hundreds of times.
“Are you okay?” asks Clay’s mom. “I’m fine,” says Clay, all surly and concealed. He is clearly not fine. His teenage brow is wrought, his eyes are tormented. “You can tell me anything, Clay” says mom. “Absolutely anything. We love you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done”
Mom has no clue what Clay has done. No one knows what anyone’s done. Has Jessica fucked Bryce without Justin knowing? Has Justin robbed a bank in the next town and raped a prostitute? Has Clay masturbated in front of the school principal? No one knows but people will say anything about anyone to get revenge. Teens live in a hot mess of drama like an X-rated Shakespeare play fueled by hormones. They’re dripping with pheromones and committing real crimes. Anyway, it isn’t about what anyone’s done. It’s about what they’re capable of doing. Bryce has raped Hannah, Jessica, maybe Clay’s mom. Bryce is a real villain who provides a lot of emotional energy to the series. Bryce has raped just about everybody, including the dog. Justin’s a drug addict, but now he’s clean. Uh oh. He’s not clean. He just bought a bunch of dope from his mother’s boyfriend.
There’s a curious variation of competence and skill in the casting. The actor who plays Clay Jensen couldn’t act his way out of a police lineup. That’s an apt metaphor because Dylan Minette has trapped himself in a repertoire of basic emotional modes. He plays “sensitive teen stricken with guilt” until I want to strangle him. I wanted to like him. He’s so nobly protective of Hannah. His obsession and unrequited love are sloppy sausages filled with angst. In the end it just seems like he’s fishing for credibility. He’s the series’ star but he’s also the worst actor in the ensemble. Whose decision was that? Most of the others fare pretty well. The roles aren’t terribly demanding and that strikes to the core of the problem with this as drama.
This is really a soap opera. It’s about bad decisions and catastrophes. The drama is predictable and sour. The plots are so thin that if they turn sideways they become invisible. We can speak the coming lines before the characters get to utter them. After the first season, the stories are fatuous and boring. They are soaked with the psychological arrogance of the writers and producers. “We know what’s going on with high school kids.” They seem to say. “These kids are the same age as our kids. We’re good parents; we’re Woke. We understand their issues.”
Season One was a siren and a rotating red light on an ambulance roaring down the street. The episodes reek of parental terror. “Our kids are dying!” they scream. Seasons 2.through 4 are a paper whistle from a carnival. The terror is gone.
Fuff! Tweet! The ragged ass follow-on seasons of Thirteen Reasons Why can’t stand up under their own weight.
Watch the first season of this teen-angst drama and leave the rest alone unless you’re a glutton for punishment. (See my review of season 1 here.)
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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Posted: January 6, 2020 Filed under: Blog Content, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Self-Help, Writing, Writing to be Read | Tags: Creative Nonfiction, essays, How To, Memoir, Self-Help, True Story, Writing to be Read
Nonfiction is the stuff texts books are made of, the straight-out boring stuff that puts you to sleep, right? Not necessarily. Texts books don’t have to be boring. Nonfiction that is written creatively can capture the reader’s interest or immerse them into true life stories. From memoir, to self-help and how-to books, and yes, even text books can be highly entertaining.
True life circumstances and facts determine the story in nonfiction, yet nonfiction authors are faced with the same challenges as fiction authors to bring the characters and setting to life in the readers mind, or portray the information they wish to relate in a manner which readers can relate to. Both fiction and nonfiction authors strive to grab readers attention, now, in this digital age more so than ever before. But there are differences, as well.
To start off 2020, we’re going to delve into creative nonfiction in January. We have a pretty good sampling on the different forms that creative nonfiction might take. My author guest on “Chatting with the Pros” is bestselling author and memoirist, Diana Raab, who believes in the healing powers of writing. I will also be interviewing an author team, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, who wrote Wild West Ghosts, one of the most informative and entertaining how-to books I’ve read. I will also be reviewing a true crime book, Missing: Murder Suspected, by Austin Stone, edited by his son Ed after his father’s passing, and a book on writing, On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin Shoemaker. I do hope you will join us and help get Writing to be Read off to a good start for the year ahead.
For additional samplings of creative nonfiction see the following interviews and reviews:
“Chatting with the Pros: Interview with Nonfiction Author Mark Shaw”
“Interview with author Mark Shaw”
“Interview with author B.Lynn Goodwin”
Review: How I Sold 80,000 Books: Book Marketing for Authors by Alinka Rowkowski
“Interview with multi-genre author Brenda Mohammed”
“Interview with nature author Susan J. Tweit”
Review: How to Become a Published Author, by Mark Shaw
Review: The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman
Review: Stress: How Stress Affects Your Life and How to Manage It, by Dr. Christine Rose
Review: Hack Your Reader’s Brain, by Jeff Gerke
Review: Horror 101: The Way Forward (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Review: Hollywood Game Plan, by Caro;e Kirschner
Review: Simplified Writing 101, by Erin Brown Conroy
Review: The Road Has Eyes, by Art Rosch
Review: The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, by Mark Shaw
Review: Denial of Justice, by Mark Shaw
Review: Courage in the Face of Evil, by Mark Shaw
Review: Letters of May, edited by Julie Alcin
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Posted: February 25, 2019 Filed under: Biographies, Biography, Books, Commentary, Creative Nonfiction, His Name Was Michael, Memoir, Nature writing, Nonfiction, Self-Help, Travel, Writing, Writing to be Read | Tags: Biography, Creative Nonfiction, Diaries, How-to books, Journalism, Memoir, Nature Guides, Nonfiction, Self-Help, Travel Books, Travel Memoir, Writing to be Read
Our monthly theme for February on Writing to be Read was, you guessed it – nonfiction. So, what tipped you off? Was it the great interview I did with nature author Susan J. Tweit? Or maybe the nonfiction revues of How to become a Published Author and Letters of May? Or perhaps it was the “Chatting with the Pros” interview of nonfiction author Mark Shaw? Whatever it was that gave it away, I’m here to tell you that these few posts on nonfiction don’t even scratch the surface of what the genre of nonfiction encompasses.
There are many subgenres of nonfiction, just as there are many subgenres under each of the genres of fiction. When someone asks what type of book your fiction novel is, we are quick to catetgorize it as a paranormal mystery, a historical romance, or a science fiction thriller. For some reason, we don’t seem to think about nonfiction the same way we do fiction and when someone asks what type of book your memoir is, or your travel diary, or your self-help book, we tend to lump it in with all the rest in nonfiction. Why this is, I don’t know, but I find that it is the case, time and time again.
The fact is, not all nonfiction books are alike and there are many categories or subgenres that fall within the nonfiction realm. Mark Shaw writes biographies and creative nonfiction tales that are very different from the memoirs, illustrated travel books and nature guides of Susan J. Tweit. Other types of nonfiction that are hard to define are books like Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd’s Wild West Ghosts, which chronicles their ghost hunting experiences and offers advice on how you can be a ghost hunter too. Or Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirshner, which is a how-to guide for anyone wanting to break into the screenwriting world. These books are all nonfiction, but they are all very different types of books.
According to wikipedia the genres of nonfiction are biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, commentaries, creative nonfiction, critiques, essays, owners manuals, journalism, personal narratives, reference books, self-help books, speeches, and text books. I would add to that spiritual texts, encyclopedias, documentaries, how-to books, cookbooks, diaries and anthologies such as the one found in Letters of May, which is a collection of writings and artwork illustrating the world of those afflicted with mental illness. I’m sure there are others, but as you can see the list is quite extensive.
Nonfiction books may or may not be aimed to entertain, but the primary purpose, no matter the type of nonfiction book, is to inform. This may account for the fact that my reviews of nonfiction books receive more views in general, than most of my fiction reviews. A fact that I found to be surprising when I uncovered it while looking over the data for this blog. My theory is that readers turn more quickly to books they may find useful than they do to those with entertainment as their sole purpose.
My reasons for interest in nonfiction and all it’s many forms stems from preparation for my journey to write my own memoir, telling the story of my son’s death and my life without him, His Name Was Michael. My bi-monthly blog series which will chronicle that writing process, “The Making of a Memoir“, came out with the first segment in February, too. It was a good month for it to come out, as it also fits in with the nonfiction theme. I hope you’ll join us again next month, when the theme will be science fiction and fantasy.
Be sure to join me next month when we will explore science fiction and fantasy, with guest author Kevin J. Anderson on “Chatting with the Pros” on March 18th, as well as a review of his Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2, and Jordan Elizabeth’s Rogue Crystal.
Update: In Friday’s post I talked about the changes coming for Writing to be Read. One more change that I just recieved confirmation of, and I’m pleased to announce: Art Rosch will also be posting one movie review a month, on the forth Friday of the month, in “Art’s Visual Media Review”.
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