Can’t blog

Devouring boxed set of Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse novels. Loving Charlaine Harris’ writing, intrigued at how much Alan Ball has added his own stuff to True Blood.

Catchya laterz.

Categories: Miscellaneous


20 replies

  1. And she just gets better and better.
    When you’re done, go on to her Harper Connelly series.

  2. Ah, I want to read those! I just watched True Blood recently and loved it, and I too am intrigued to learn about the differences between the novels and the TV adaptation.

  3. I just read the first and ordered a couple more from the library! Haven’t been watching the TV series though.

  4. Just a note for anyone considering watching the TV series– while it is very well done and I enjoyed it greatly, most episodes to contain scenes of violence (including sexual violence) that many people might find triggering.

  5. You may be there some time. I wasn’t quite sure they were supposed to be as funny as I found them but they are at least far better written than the Meyer clunkers.

  6. I’m fond of Sookie on the telly, but she’s ten times better in the books. I love it that she’s capable of thinking about Debbie being spiteful, manipulative, deceitful and all around bad for Alcide, as well as murderous towards herself, and then has that moment of pure venom to finish off with “And she has stupid hair.” You bet I LOLed.
    I understand why it’s hard to show all that in True Blood, because so much of it is Sookie’s internal monologue during the first-person narrative of the books, and if she actually said all these things out loud then she’d just be a bitch (and part of her character is how she struggles against her nastier and wilder side to be the person she wants to be to the rest of the world).
    Ball’s decision not to have a continuous Sookie voiceover narration is the right one for the show’s overall dramatic purposes, but every now and then when I’m reading the book I think oh I wish I’d realised that this was what she was thinking when …

  7. Tigtog– I’ve heard a few people say that their enjoyment of the show was lessened after reading the books. Do you think that will be the case with you? One of the main things that’s making me hesitate about picking the books up with that I’m enjoying the show a great deal right now, and I don’t want anything to lessen that!

    • Beppie, I don’t think that will happen for me, but that may be because I was such a big fan of Ball’s previous HBO series Six Feet Under. I’m willing to look at True Blood as a fusion of Harris and Ball. Perhaps others feel that it’s somehow not really Harris because so much of Ball is in it, but for me that’s an added extra rather than a liability.
      For instance, Tara in the books (so far, up to #5) is a minor character, and Lafayette is only in the first one. The maenad is kinda hit and run on Bon Temps, not someone who’s there for ages undermining the whole town. I love what Ball has done with these characters just for a start.
      I’d be mildly interested to know how much interaction Ball and Harris have regarding the True Blood scripts, whether she has any veto rights at all f’rinstance (most writers don’t get veto rights over TV or film adaptations, but Rowling stuck out for them for the Potter flicks, so maybe others are managing it now). But my sense from her writing style is that she’d probably like most of the tweaks and additions he’s done for the show. Some aspects of her storytelling are constrained by the first-person narrative, and Ball doesn’t have that constraint – I expect she’s as intrigued by how he’s playing with that difference as the rest of us are.

  8. According to this interview (especially video #4 on the embedded menu below), Harris deliberately chose Ball for the project because she knew that he would take her base story and background world and run with it to make it his own. She wanted that collaborative input and apparently is thrilled that she can watch it without knowing exactly what’s going to happen next.

  9. I haven’t seen Six Feet Under, but I’m definitely quite eager to check out more of Ball’s work now.
    Also, my love for him was greatly increased when I read this article (contains spoilers for S3, though none are included in the quotation below):

    Female heavy writing staff came about because Alan just hires based on skill. He reads people’s original work and gets a feel for their own voice, then uses his instincts during the meeting to know whether he will want to work with them eight hours a day or not. “The show has really strong female characters at the center of the story, so of course you’re going to hire women.”

    Now, if only something similar would happen with Doctor Who and Torchwood!

  10. I too have developed instacrush on these books in the last few weeks. They are such a relief after trying to get through the first couple of pages (literally) of Twilight and failing. I don’t know what it is about me and the mega blockbusters – couldn’t read Da Vinci Code etc either despite trying several times.

  11. A blockbuster is no guarantee of decent writing unfortunately. I managed to plough through the Twilight books out of pure plot curiosity – I wanted to know what happened – but found Meyer’s constant first person narration a real irritation after a very short while. Yet the Sookie Stackhouse books are also written in first person but are a much easier read. A literature graduate could probably explain why but I’m assuming it’s simply more skill on the part of the author.
    I dug out the books because I enjoyed the first couple of True Blood episodes but was happy to keep up with the show after I’d read them. You get SOME spoilers of course – finding out the identity of the killer in advance – but the show has made a LOT of changes that kept me surprised enough to keep going. Tara gets only occasional mentions in the books but has been the beating heart of the series so far; the books spend a lot of time in the nastier aspects of vampire culture which has barely been touched on by the series. I thought it was strange that it was the books that had soft-pedalled the hard core rather than the TV series, but that is apparently a habit of HBO. They were able to screen the Rome series entirely uncensored in the US whilst we in the UK got the bowdlerised version on the BBC.

  12. Since writing this I’ve been reading a few of the True Blood fan/casting/spoiler sites, and I think I get why some people who loved the TV series found that the books upset their enjoyment, and why some people who lurve the books are having some issues with the series. (I’m going to be spoiler-averse in my analysis below, but there will have to be some teasers in there.)
    Those upset on both sides are, in my estimation (and whether they’ve heard the terms or not) people who are heavily invested in ‘shipping a OTP for Sookie. If they started ‘shipping from the TV show, they find that Harris has quite a few different ideas for the long arc of Sookie’s lovelife, and this upsets their OTP view. If they are fans from the books, they just want the Sookie storylines to push on to some of the other contenders for OTP, and wish there wasn’t so much from Ball about the other residents of Bon Temps who Sookie is not romantically involved with.
    Now, my take:
    1. Ball is an ensemble cast guy – always has been. There was no way that he was ever going to make this show only about Sookie’s adventures and romantic awakening. Harris knew that and embraced that. The show was always going to be about exploring more of the awesome characters in the world of Bon Temps and their own interactions while Sookie treads her own path. This to me is definitely a feature and not a bug.
    2. Harris did not write a story about a girl who rejects all other suitors out of hand once she has found her first sweetheart, staple of the romance genre though that might be. Sookie is honourable (to an extraordinary degree) in all things including her romantic loyalties, but when tangles and complications happen she does not lay down in despair to get walked over just because Twoo Wuv turns out to be not always what it’s played up to be. This too is a feature and not a bug.
    3. People who have never watched Ball’s stuff before need to know that he is a great lover of tangles and complications in relationships and that people in his shows are terribly likely to screw up ANY of their relationships, not just the romantic ones, by flashes of selfishness or obsessiveness or via the revelation of a hidden agenda. This is just one of the areas where he and Harris seem to be of one mind.
    4. Given that Ball knows he may well not have 10 seasons to cover the 10 books worth of novel narrative, he’s building up the backstory for the supe world from the ground up, instead of revealing it more slowly as happens in the books, so that when various big things happen, they can spiral into crisis rapidly without having to fall back on building backstory in those later episodes rather than now.
    5. The political background of the USA is also 10 years further on from when Harris started writing the novels – you bet that if she were writing them now there are certain things she would be mentioning that weren’t on the radar 10 years ago, so there’s nothing wrong with Ball referencing them on TB.
    Oops, tl;dr

  13. I like them both. It took a little while to see Vinnie from Home and Away as Jason, but I’m there now and I think he does a great job.
    I think the books are more like reading Sookie’s diary, and the show is more like seeing things as if you were staying in Bon Temps.

  14. “A blockbuster is no guarantee of decent writing unfortunately.”
    Quite the opposite, most of the time. The first Twilight book was inexcusably awful, as you pointed out.

  15. I think Dan Brown proved this point nicely too, and if you ask a friend of mine everything Matthew Reilly writes fits this bill as well. But obviously there is a market for it.

  16. Mindy: re: Dan Brown – could not agree more. Excruciating.

  17. I haven’t actually *ahem* read any of his, but reports put me off. Then I started to see things about people meeting to discuss the ‘truth’ of the books and stuff and decided not to get into it at all. I now take a peverse pride in saying I haven’t read the DaVinci Code, watched Titanic or read Harry Potter. Although I do plan to read Harry Potter eventually.
    Anyway, onto more important matters – what’s happening with the aircon?
    (I think there needs to be an acronym for worrying about things on the internet that have nothing to do with me. Or maybe Stickybeak covers it).

  18. At the risk of being (even more) off topic, but because you asked, Mindy, the aircon is working, because Callum, who designed and installed our grey water system, helpfully came around and attached a hose and a bucket to it. It’s perhaps not the world’s most aesthetically pleasing system, and the bucket has to be emptied periodically, but he’s going to come back and fix it in a more permanent manner so the water goes on to our back courtyard. AND AT LEAST IT WORKS. Which is handy when one of your residents has a dodgy heart that tends to go dodgy in the heat, and another is a pug (they also go dodgy in the heat).

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