November, 2010

Book Review: M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

I am a sucker for short stories, with my ever-dwindling attention span, and I’m also a bigger sucker for Neil Gaiman for his wild and imaginative stories. So for me, another short story book is a perfect summer read.

Like most other short story books by any author, you get a mixed bag of good and not-so-good stories, but the positive side of things is that you can always skip the ones you do not like. With M is for Magic, unfortunately, I did skip many stories – many were already included in previous collections I have read, and others did not trigger my interest.

However, there were three notable stories I particularly liked. The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds is quite an interesting take on Humpty Dumpty, turning the whole story into an in-depth criminal investigation. The second story I liked was Troll Bridge, which tells a tale of the relationship between a kid and a troll. At face value it is a decent enough story, but with a little bit of a creative effort on your part you can project the scenario into your adult life.

The piece I particularly loved the most was Sunbird, primarily due to its nature: food. It is the story about a group of very rich friends who have eaten everything possibly edible (with over zealous descriptions), except the elusive Sunbird. I found the story particularly fascinating. Again, I was probably hungry.

Overall, M is for Magic is a good book, however, if you want a better collection of short stories I would recommend Fragile Things by the very same Neil Gaiman,

Movie Review: The Social Network

Movie Review: The Social Network

Having been dragged to watch The Social Network was quite an ordeal by itself. As if the world needed yet another dose of Social Media Crack, we are now presented with a film narrating the (real?) story behind one of the most successful social platforms, Facebook.

Mind you I am not against the medium. Believe it or not I actually do work in a media agency that has a strong social media function. However I do not find the need to be part of the 80% of people who claim to be a Social Media Adjective and some Legendary Entrepreneur because I retweet Mashable and think that opening an online scarf shop is the next big thing (if it really is, though, well done on becoming an entrepreneur at that stage).

The Social Network

Back to the film: It’s surprisingly good. Not that I thought for a minute I would be very interested in knowing how Facebook came about – this is a Hollywood film afterall and is bound to be full of fiction – but it is because of the story telling and the plethora of interesting and funny actors.

While we tend to think the geniuses behind the big websites we use are a bunch of basement dwelling robots (and maybe, they are, and that is their choice if they’re happy with it), the film narrates the story of the personal struggles of the main characters with coping with the idea that they’re on to something. You can truly feel the zest and energy of the film as The Next Big Thing on the way happens.

However fictional the story is, it did a great job in creating a believable tale of intimate human relationships filled with humour. For a “drama” documentary it felt like a two hour sitcom. And I don’t see why not; if you’re going to add some fiction around someone’s life you might as well make it sweet and funny rather than bitter and grim – especially that Mark is still alive and kicking, something which I found an odd thing to do but someone had to jump on the social media bandwagon.

The Social Network

If you take out the fact that we’re talking about Mark and Facebook and social media then you end up with a regular weekend comedy in home pizza night with the friends type of movie. And quite frankly I think this is what the aim of the film really is.