Monday, April 21, 2008

The Reading Report

Finished up David Carradine's Kill Bill Diary. This is a book that I started a couple of months ago but put aside after I'd read about half of it. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the book, but it was slow and kind of meandering, so I found it easier to read in two sittings. Basically Carradine (Caine on the old TV series Kung-Fu) kept a diary while he was involved in the making of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill parts one and two. If you've ever wanted an inside look at the making of a film this is the book for you since Carradine gives an almost overwhelming amount of detail, including the days he wasn't even on the set and the follow up trips to Cannes, the premier, and the long, drawn out process of promoting the films. On the way you get much autobiographical information about an actor who while never quite making it to actual stardom, has become an icon in his own right.
Then I switched to Tarzan and the City of Gold. This was brought about by receiving DVDs of the 1970s Filmation Tarzan cartoon series. The pilot episode was a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel, right down to some of the dialogue. More about the cartoon later, but watching it made me want to re-read the book.
In this one, Tarzan rescues a strangely garbed man from a group of Shiftas (Arab slavers). The man turns out to be from a lost city called Athne, The City of Ivory. He has become lost in the jungle and can't get home. Tarzan, always curious, decides to help the man get back to his home. However, Athne is located on the far side of a valley, on the opposite side of the city of Cathne The City of Gold, the ancestral enemies of the Athneians.
Tarzan and his companion attempt to slip past Cathne at night during a storm, but Tarzan is caught in the currents of a storm swollen river and washed right into Cathne where he is captured. He ends up fighting for his life in an arena of course. All these lost cities have arenas. And the queen of the city falls for the ape man of course. All the queens of these lost cities fall for Tarzan. This one is a little different though because the queen, Nemone, is actually sort of a tragic character, and Tarzan does find himself attracted to her.
Where's Jane during all this? Never mentioned. There was a period during the middle range Tarzan novels where Tarzan's wife and son aren't mentioned, almost as if they didn't exist. Reportedly Edgar Rice Burroughs had considered killing Jane off, but instead he just ignored her for a while. She's in some books and she isn't in others. I think this is one of the better 'lost city' Tarzan adventures. Burroughs excelled at portraying strange races and exotic cultures. It's what made his John Carter of Mars books so fascinating and I think it works well in Tarzan's adventures as well.
Also read a couple more of the essays in Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends. Only got a couple left now. Last night before bed time I began Jack Vance's The Dying Earth, a fantasy classic that I never got around to reading. I've read some of Vance's later Dying Earth short stories in various anthologies, but reportedly the original is the best. I'll let you know.

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