On a long car ride a few weeks ago, Ellen and I decided to listen to an audiobook reading of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
Given the nature of the mystery, audiobook is probably not the best way to experience The Westing Game if you’ve never read the book before. However, if you’ve never read The Westing Game before, you’re already doing yourself a great disservice and should remedy that immediately. It’s absolutely terrific and deserving of all the accolades that have been heaped upon it in the last thirty-odd years. An elaborate murder mystery where nothing is as it seems, Raskin introduces a sprawling cast of characters and services them all admirably. I suppose I was most surprised by that fact on listing to TWG with Ellen. Raskin has about 14 characters checking in and out of the story at regular intervals and it never feels she’s given any of them the short shrift.
Also: listening to The Westing Game, all the while knowing the solution to mystery, was a wonderful experience. It really gave me the chance to appreciate how elegantly Raskin lays in all the clues. I enjoy a good mystery but am mindful that many don’t play fair with readers. Crucial bits are often left out or glossed over- not so with Raskin’s prose. The clues and elements of the mystery come together so beautifully, it’s a joy to appreciate.
This time around, I found myself truly appreciating how Raskin dealt with things like racial and religious identity in the book, although she keeps these things on the back burner. I was far more affected by the elevator scene between Jake Wexler and his uppity, social-climbing wife Grace this time around. Perhaps the excitement of the main mystery purposely pushes these ideas to the background, but I liked that they were there to begin with.
After finishing the audiobook and doing some light Googling, I was shocked to find out The Westing Game was made into a movie back in 1997 under the title Get a Clue. I’m going to try and track it down, solely because I cannot fathom how this book could work as a movie. Without giving too much away for people who haven’t read it, so much of the main mystery hinges on assumed identities. it would be ridiculously easy for a viewer of a Westing Game movie to cut through the detective work to single out an actor or actress in a bad wig or mustache pretending to be another character.
From one end of the literary spectrum to the other, there hasn’t been a website/blog I’ve loved more this year than Full House Reviewed.
Although I have grown a little weary of the “everything sucks so let’s pile on it!” mentality of the internet, I do enjoy well-written snark. FHR fits the bill on that. Taking an admittedly stupid but defenseless target and pummeling it mercilessly yields hilarious results here. I love the way the author makes no bones about how he hates the show, hates the characters, and would much rather be doing a blog on Family Matters, but no one ever released every season of that show on DVD.
Although it’s not Full House related, children of the 1990′s MUST check out the guy’s expose on The Top Ten Saved by the Bell Background Characters. Making fun of SbtB is, at this point, well-trod ground but this post finds an exquisitely hilarious hook in noticing the show re-used several characters over and over again to fill the background scenes. This is something I remember noticing as a kid and just sort of deciding to suspend my disbelief.
One last thing: I’m on the record as thinking, as a comic book character, Ghost Rider is one of the sillier concepts every to gain mainstream traction. That being said, just because it’s not my cup of tea doesn’t mean that the character doesn’t have his fans. Hell, there’s a big budget, 3D movie coming out today featuring ol’ GR!
Garry Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, has been engaged in a protracted legal battle with Marvel Comics over the ownership of Ghost Rider. Last week, the ruling came down in Marvel’s favor. It’s a somewhat sticky situation, but one consequence of the ruling is Marvel demanding $17,000 dollars from Mr. Friedrich. They are also asking that he no longer say that he’s the creator of Ghost Rider. Even though… you know… he did have a firm hand in creating the character.
Writer Steve Niles has set up a PayPal account where people can donate some money to Mr. Friedrich. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the character AND this situation isn’t exactly cut and dried but… I tossed a couple of dollars the guy’s way. You may want to as well.