Tuesday News: King Tut’s death solved?; When the sex is too good; New models for digital book revenue
Solved: The mystery of King Tutankhamun’s death– “Now British experts think they have solved the riddle of the king’s death. They believe injuries on his body are akin to those sustained in a chariot accident and that his mummification was botched.” The Independent
The Problem with Sex Scenes That Are Too Good – I found this essay about the critique being heaped upon Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film “Blue Is the Warmest Color” kind of fascinating. Richard Brody of The New Yorker argues that the sex scenes in the movie are too good, too viscerally moving and because they’re evoking disturbing responses from the movie goers, too pornographic.
The scenes are rough, tender, funny, and harshly searching—each of the characters gives thoroughly, exhaustingly of herself as she seeks, as if in severe and sincere questioning, what she can discover from the other. …
The scenes aren’t technical—Kechiche isn’t after a catalogue of lesbian sexual practices and pleasures—but emotional, and they capture the very vulnerability, the uninhibited, un-self-sparing exertion to exhaustion that marks the actors’ performances. At the very least, the movie reflects what the actors gave—even if they gave more than they ever expected to give, and perhaps more than any actor should ever be asked to give.”
Brody is right that the US (and other countries) have real problems with the depiction of sex. 50 Shades wasn’t just excoriated for the lack of literary merit but its high sexual content. Mommy porn was birthed and used to diminish the legion of women that responded to 50 Shades. The romance genre’s attention on love and graphic sex has long been problematic to outsiders and an easy way to dismiss the genre and its readers as lacking in merit, quality and intelligence.
Brody’s suggestion is that if the movie didn’t contain three long, explicit sex scenes that it wouldn’t be panned as pornographic. The attention on the sex scenes themselves and not the overall story reveals more about the commenters than the movie itself per Brody. The New Yorker
With eBook Sales Flat, Is it Time to Experiment with New Models? – Digital Book World summarizes the most recent study BISG undertook. Some of the data presented by BISG is questionable given that it is quite difficult to measure and track self published numbers. However, let’s just state what the figures are and then you all can decide what worth they provide.
BISG reports that ebook sales have flattened to 30% of overall units sold and 15% of the revenue. Subscription services and Direct to Consumer appear to be gaining interest to publishers. While the current terms of subscription services are very favorable to content creators, I have my doubts whether that business model is sustainable over time. That said, I haven’t crunched the numbers but 60% royalty to the creator if only 10% is read? Crazysauce. DBW suggests a few other experiments you can click over to read about. Digital Book World
Charlaine Harris Looks To New Series After Sookie – After Charlaine Harris’ disappointing end to her Sookie Stackhouse series, she’s gearing up to send out another series to the book world. She’s signed with Penguin for three books set in Texas with maybe a vampire sighting. Kaite Stover, a librarian in Missouri, predicts all the angry fans will come back. Susan Lulgjuarag at Teleread says she’s not interested in reading Harris again.
I get where Susan is coming from. I was a long time reader of Harris’ Roe Teagarden series where Harris killed off the love interest of Roe in book 8. I read book 1 and 2 of the Sookie series, saw exactly where the series was headed and left the series behind. I’ll give you a spoiler, having read three different series by Harris. Harris runs her female protagonist through a number of different men, often has the heroine raped, and she ends up with a same character in the end. (Yes, I’m still bitter about the Roe Teagarden series). So, are you like Susan or are you ready to dive into the next Harris saga? The same question could be asked about Veronica Roth or even Suzanne Collins. Huffington Post
During the summer, PBS’s Secrets of the Dead had a 2 hour episode about Tut, his new diagnosis, and the botched mummification. It was fascinating.
Have you read Harris’s Harper Connelly series? It’s so much better than Sookie Stackhouse. I don’t remember Harper having tons of men, no rape (I think) and it’s only four books.
@Andrea: I started it but the stepbrother was such a slut that I became worried. Maybe I’ll go back to it.
I saw that documentary – the poor man! Not only does he get run over by his own military he gets incinerated in a botched mummification, has to wear his momma’s death mask (there are earring holes which are NOT for da men and metal differences), gets dumped in a lesser tomb ’cause his own wasn’t ready and his vizer takes his wife AND his throne.
Hope he got a good turn in the afterlife ’cause he got pretty royally screwed here.
The Harper Connelly series is my favorite of Harris’s as well, although the final book does sort of go pfft. I gave up on Roe Teagarden and Sookie Stackhouse for exactly the reasons you mention.
I liked the first Lily Bard book, but am leary of continuing, considering what Harris tends to put her female characters through. But I can’t think of anything worse she can do than the protagonist’s backstory…
Every few years ever since I was a kid (and no doubt before) experts have re-solved Tutankhamen’s death. I’ll stay skeptical. It all just makes me terribly sad, even thousands of years later. I get that way over these things.
I’ve read all of Charlaine Harris’s series with the exception of the last couple of Sookie books that I’m finally getting around to reading. While I enjoyed the first couple of Sookie books it’s the series of hers I probably enjoyed the least. I predicted the outcome of the Sookie series a couple of years ago despite having stopped reading (at the time they were published) by the third book. Just based on interviews she had given and the synopses of the plots people were discussing on the boards I could tell she was planning a very similar arc for Sookie as she had for Aurora Teagarden but I almost couldn’t believe it. First of all because it was so identical in theme and development to her first series, and secondly because it just seemed so bizarre and IMHO kind of a slap in the face to the fans. (I don’t want to post any spoilers in case there are people here who still aren’t spoiled on the ending).
I will say that her other two series don’t follow this pattern and I enjoyed them both. Regarding the rapes you mentioned, in one series her heroine is a survivor of an abduction of rape and torture that happened long before the books take place (The “Shakespeare” series). Her personality and life have naturally been shaped by these events. She and her (eventual) husband actually make an appearance in one of the Sookie books investigating Debbie Pelt’s disappearance.
In the other series with Harper Connelly there is no rape at all. The heroine is a survivor of a lightning strike who developed the ability to find dead bodies and determine how they died. She is also dealing with the long term physical ramifications of the lightning strike.
I just wanted to let people know who were considering the other series that they are both good and no major love interests are killed off suddenly (as far as I recall). Harris has a certain style of writing and her heroines can be “snarky” or worse according to various tastes so YMMV.
The only other book of hers besides the Sookie series, where a rape occurs to the main character, is in a stand alone mystery book she wrote, unconnected to any series. I won’t spoil it by posting the name but if this is a trigger for some readers I wanted to point this out.
I’m like Jane and am wary of investing in an author willing to kill off favorite/main characters. I never got into the Sookie Stackhouse series and now am glad I didn’t. I still have not gone back to reading Anne Bishop and never bothered with her final installment of the Black Jewels series thanks to the brilliant spoiler review here at DA.
I accept that in long running series (especially violent ones) there’s a chance of losing favorite characters but in some of the series mentioned, it feels like it’s sometimes done more for shock value or to shortcut re-energizing a stale series.
I liked the entire Harper Connolly series.
I stopped reading the ‘Shakespeare’ series after about book three. Slut shaming of a recurring character left a bad taste in my mouth.
“I read book 1 and 2 of the Sookie series, saw exactly where the series was headed and left the series behind.”
Really? That early? I remember reading, I think it was, Club Dead and thinking the series had to go in the Eric direction. Which now seems like false foreshadowing. I’m glad I didn’t keep up with the series. I like to be able to follow a plot and not end up somewhere inexplicable.
No I predicted the ending a couple of years ago. I had only read the first few books but I had followed along with the plot lines when people had discussed them on the boards so I saw what was going on. I probably knew before then but had a hard time believing she would take that route again.
What clinched it for me was reading that she had planned to kill Bill off in one of the books but felt unable to because HBO had just bought the series and he was a major character and was being set up as Sookie’s true love. That confirmed for me who he was and who everyone else was in her “pattern.” That and her perpetual comments in interviews how vampires were just bad, couldn’t really change and words to that effect. I posted my theory on a couple of boards before the last two books I think, and felt bad because I freaked some die hard Eric fans out. I was kind of hoping I was wrong, but felt I wasn’t.
I’m finishing the books up now when I feel like it through the library but I am not emotionally invested in them. I just want to read for myself how it all plays out.
I do feel bad for the people who invested in the Eric-Sookie relationship for so long and for so many books. I firmly believe authors can write what they want, but I think if an author is afraid to tour with their final book in a series because of their “fans’ reactions then something went off kilter somewhere. Huge amounts of readers can’t all be delusional and not see what is on the page. If I hadn’t read the Aurora series I never would have seen Sookie’s ending coming as it did.
@Christine: “If I hadn’t read the Aurora series I never would have seen Sookie’s ending coming as it did.”
That’s interesting. I wonder if authors who write to a pattern like that do it consciously or if they’re too close to their work to realize they have a pattern.
I’ll probably read Harris’s new series, but hate myself a little for doing so.
I have to say that I saw the ending of the Sookie series pretty much right from the start. Harris is a sloppy writer, and the series had some (major) ups and downs, but I enjoyed it as a whole, even if not as enthusiastically as I would have liked.
The Lily Bard series was OK, no more. I passionately hated the Roe Teagarden series for a variety of reasons. But, I have to agree with everyone else about the Harper Connelly series–it was my favorite by far. I wish there’d been more than 4 books.
@MaryK – regarding authors patterns, I think some must know. I just read Nora Robert’s latest book “Dark Witch” and she reuses so many descriptions, names, etc. etc in her trilogies she must know she does it.
With Charlaine Harris I’m not sure she thinks in those terms where as to me it became “Oh I see! Bill is a cross between Arthur and Martin from the Aurora books, Sam is Robin etc. ” I obviously didn’t know all the specifics of Sookie’s journey but I saw what the endgame would be.
One thing I have to say I enjoy about the show much more than the books is how much more diverse the cast is. Considering Harris’s books take place in the south they are almost shockingly “white.” The main female characters seem to interact solely with other Caucasian people. There are a couple of minor African American characters, but they are very incidental to the plots and are never power players, love interests or close friends. The series transformed the character of Lafayette from the book version who was a kind of pathetic victim to a fantastic and interesting character who has really evolved and always had a strength and resilience. Same with Tara. Her relationship with Sookie is so integral to the show yet in the books it’s almost impossible to imagine Sookie with a close friend (well any really close friend) let alone one who isn’t another Caucasian.
@Christine: Even Jack Leeds from the Shakespeare series fits the “Robin/Sam” in demeanor, physical description, and role in the female protagonist’s life. It was so easy to see after Harris started eviscerating Bill’s character in book 2 that no matter what, Harris was going to revert to type when it came to whom the female protag ended up with.
@Jane: its been so long since i have read the Lily Bard seroes i will have to go back and refresh myself on Jack Leeds. I dont have a great recollection of what he was like. I just remember him being more robust than Robin from Aurora.
The treatment of Bill is what got me off of the Sookie books. I really hate it when writers try to retcon in a way and destroy a character I have grown attached to by finding out “hey this guy I made you like and get invested in is really a huge jerk and you are a jerk for liking him.” “Psych!” Miss Congeniality 2 ruined the first one (which I loved) in a way by having the hero from the first movie written off in the first two minutes as a mean jerk. Because I wasn’t so invested in Martin, his dying wasn’t as bad as Bill’s evisceration as you so aptly put it.
Also: a word of warning. If Martin bothered you absolutely do not read The Elizabeth McPherson series by Sharyn McCrumb. At least Harris had a plan for Aurora.
@Christine I only read the first Sookie book, and none of Harris’ other books, but reading through the comments I immediately thought of the Elizabeth McPherson books.
I have a lot of trouble staying with a series, so I usually miss these weird (and kind of random-sounding) plot twists. What’s up with that? Do the authors grow to hate their series or something?
I have often wondered the same thing, particularly about the Elizabeth McPherson series. It seems like McCrumb had this horrible thing happen to her and then just left the series. In fairness to Harris, she planned Aurora’s whole story (or says she did) and she did give her a HEA, the child she wanted etc. You can even argue that if Martin hadn’t died they might have gotten divorced because of all his secrets etc. The Elizabeth McPherson books were much lighter in tone and Cameron was great guy so it was just weird how the books “ended.”
I’ve never seen it addressed anywhere and wondered if the contract was up or she just felt her Appalachian books were more prestigious and the direction she wanted to take. For years I kept looking to see if there were any more additions to the series before I finally gave up.