Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

HULK’S ESSENTIAL READING LIST - 136 GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUR EYEBALLS

Hope you have some time on your hands. 

HULK’S ESSENTIAL READING LIST - 136 GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUR EYEBALLS

FILM SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE NATION ARE FILLED WITH EXCEPTIONALLY BRIGHT INDIVIDUALS WITH AN INCLINATION TOWARD CINEMA. THE KINDS OF YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS WHO ARE EAGER TO SEE EVERY MOVIE ON THE PLANET AND EVEN MORE EAGER TO LEARN THE CRAFT AND PARTICIPATE IN THE VERY FORMATION OF THESE IMPORTANT THINGS WE CALL "MOVIES"... THERE'S ONLY ONE PROBLEM.

NOT ENOUGH OF THEM READ.

TO BE FAIR, THAT'S A STATEMENT WE CAN APPLY TO OUR CULTURE ACROSS THE BOARD. THERE ARE ENTIRE GOBS OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T REALLY READ BOOKS AND THE AMOUNT OF TIMES HULK'S SEEN PEOPLE REFER TO A RANDOM BUZZFEED LIST AS "AN ARTICLE" IS ENOUGH TO MAKE HULK'S SPINE CRINGE, BUT HONESTLY THOSE COMPLAINTS ARE NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. THIS COMMENTARY IS SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT THE LITANY OF MOVIE-LOVERS WHO DON'T REALIZE HOW MUCH THAT READING ACTUAL BOOKS WILL MATTER IN THEIR LIVES GOING FORWARD (ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT THEY MAY WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THIS BUSINESS). AND THAT'S BECAUSE HULK KEEPS FINDING THAT BEING LITERATE HAS BEEN ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO HULK AND IT HAS ALLOWED FOR AN ALMOST COUNTLESS AMOUNT OF OPPORTUNITIES. BETTER YET, THOSE OPPORTUNITIES HAVE ALL LED TO MORE OPPORTUNITIES, WHICH THEN GO ON TO OPEN UP EVERYTHING, SO IT'S ALL PART AND PARCEL OF ONE BIG GLOB OF TREMENDOUS BENEFIT. THUS, WHAT HULK SIMPLY HOPES TO CONVINCE YOU OF IS THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU THINK A PURE MOVIE DIET WILL SUSTAIN YOU IN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO HAVE A STRONG CINEMATIC CAREER, BEING HIGHLY LITERATE IS THE OTHER HALF OF THE JOB... AND IT WILL HELP YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

FOR STARTERS, IT TEACHES YOU HOW TO WRITE A DAMN SENTENCE. THAT'S PRETTY USEFUL ON ITS OWN, BUT IT ALSO TEACHES YOU WHAT CLARITY ACTUALLY MEANS. IT TEACHES YOU HOW TO ELICIT EMOTION FROM DESCRIPTION, HOW TO ABSTAIN FROM OBFUSCATION AND WHY YOU CAN BREAK RULES SOMETIMES - AND HOW TO BREAK THEM. BASICALLY, IT HELPS YOU LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH LANGUAGE, WHICH ISN'T JUST SOMETHING THAT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO BECOMING A WRITER, BUT PARAMOUNT TO THIS OH-SO-COLLABORATIVE MEDIUM OF FILM.

HULK CANNOT URGE YOU TO CONSIDER THIS REALITY ENOUGH. MANY PEOPLE DREAM OF MAKING MOVIES AND SO THEY WRITE SCREENPLAYS AND THEY COMPLETELY THINK THEY ARE UP TO SNUFF. THIS PSYCHOLOGY LEADS TO A PLACE WHERE MOST WRITERS MAKE A SCRIPT WHERE THEY UNDERSTAND THE MOVIE THEY WANT TO MAKE, BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO COMMUNICATE THAT TO THE PAGE. IT THUS WILL NEVER END UP IN THE FILM. HULK CAN'T TELL YOU THE COUNTLESS TIMES HULK'S DONE A FAVOR FOR A FRIEND OF A FRIEND AND READ A SCRIPT AND... IT TURNS OUT THEY CAN'T WRITE. OFTEN THIS INTERACTION IS TROUBLESOME BECAUSE USUALLY THE DELUSION IT TOOK TO GET THIS SCREENPLAY IN YOUR HANDS IS THE EXACT SAME DELUSION THAT MEANS THEY WILL NOT BE CONDUCIVE TO HONEST FEEDBACK (AND IT'S DEFINITELY NOT LIKE HULK'S A JERK ABOUT IT). MOST AMATEURS JUST WANT A SOLID PAT ON THE BACK AND FEW CONSTRUCTIVE NOTES AND TO BE SENT ON THEIR WAY. THAT'S IT. YET THAT DOESN'T HELP THE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO HEAR THAT THEY CAN'T WRITE AND THE CURRENT MODE OF PURSUING WILL LIKELY LEAD DOWN A PROBLEMATIC AND UNFULFILLING PATH (AND BY THE WAY, THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE RELIEF OF SEEING THAT A FRIEND CAN INDEED WRITE). HULK GATHERS THAT THIS MAY ALL SEEM LIKE SOME GRAND EMBELLISHMENT, BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BE ABLE TO TELL IF SOMEONE CAN WRITE?

ONE PAGE.

YOU CAN TELL IF SOMEONE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE AFTER ONE PAGE. AND HULK HATES TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT IN THE PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT THOSE SCRIPTS IMMEDIATELY GO INTO THE GARBAGE BIN (OR SCRIPT PILE THAT IS THE EQUIVALENT). OF COURSE, THIS FACT TENDS TO PUT THE FEAR OF GOD INTO PEOPLE AND THEY TRY TO DRESS UP THEIR SCREENPLAYS WITH AS MUCH PRETENTIOUS FAUX-INTELLIGENCE AS POSSIBLE, BUT YOU CAN SEE THROUGH THAT IN, LIKE, TWO PAGES. AND IF YOU OVERCOME A LOT OF WRITING PROBLEMS BY SPENDING FIVE YEARS WORKING ON A SCRIPT TO GET IT PERFECT, THEN YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY'LL COME BACK AT YOU WITH NOTES AND YOU'LL HAVE TO INCORPORATE THEM AND HAVE IT JUST AS PERFECT WITHIN IN A WEEK. SO PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT NO MATTER WHAT, YOU HAVE TO BE THE GENUINE ARTICLE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ANYONE CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE.

REALLY. THEY TOTALLY CAN. LIKE ANYTHING IT JUST TAKES A TON OF PRACTICE, TIME AND EFFORT. AND QUITE HONESTLY, THE BEST WAY TO LEARN HOW IS BY DOING A LOT OF READING. HENCE, THIS LIST. HERE'S WHAT HULK THINKS ARE 136 BITS OF ESSENTIAL READING THAT WILL TOTALLY HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER WRITER.

NOTE #1: THIS LIST IS MADE IN A DISTINCTLY APOLITICAL VEIN. IT IS NOT MEANT TO IMPRESS ANYONE. SOME STUFF IS UBER OBVIOUS. SOME STUFF IS LEFT FIELD. IT IS NOT MEANT TO ACCURATELY REFLECT WHAT "THE WORLD" MAY DEEM AS A WORTHY LIST. IT'S JUST A PERSONAL ONE WITH PERSONAL INCLINATIONS. SO IN THAT SPIRIT HULK POLITELY ASKS THAT WE REFRAIN FROM THE "I can't believe you left _____ off the list!" OR "that _____ is better than _____!" THAT'S SOOOOOO NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. BUT IN THAT SAME SPIRIT, HULK ABSOLUTELY ENCOURAGES ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS BELOW!

NOTE #2: SOME OF YOU MAY PICK UP SOME OF THESE BOOKS AND BE LIKE "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa????" AND THAT'S TOTALLY COOL. IT JUST MEANS YOU’RE NOT READY. THAT REALLY IS OKAY AND SOMETHING THAT WE DON'T ENCOURAGE ENOUGH. PUT IT DOWN. FIND SOMETHING THAT IS JUST A BIT OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND TACKLE THAT FIRST. EVENTUALLY YOU'LL COME BACK AND BE IN THE RIGHT SPOT.

NOTE #3: THE COMMENT HULK HEARS FROM MOST PEOPLE IN THE FILM INDUSTRY IS "I don't have time to read." AND THAT'S PROBABLY TRUE TO SOME DEGREE. BUT THE KEY IS TO JUST MAKE THE TIME. HULK WORKS WELL OVER 100 HOURS A WEEK WITHOUT FAIL SO THAT'S WHAT HULK DOES. HULK JUST MAKES THE DAMN TIME. HULK'S GO-TO METHOD IS 20 MINUTES OF READING BEFORE HULK GOES TO BED NO MATTER WHAT. IT OFTEN WORKS AND HULK ENDS UP READING FOR HOURS ORRRRRRRRRRR IT MAKES HULK EVEN SLEEPIER. EITHER WAY, YOU WIN.

NOTE #4: HULK'S MOSTEST PERSONAL FAVORITES THAT HULK WANTS YOU TO READ EXTRA BAD ARE MARKED WITH A "*" BEFOREHAND.

ENOUGH PREAMBLE!

ENJOY A SILLY LIST!!!!

GROUP 1 - PLAYS

SO... EVERY PERSON WHO SAYS THEY WANT TO BE A SCREENWRITER SHOULD TAKE A PLAYWRIGHTING CLASS. OR THREE OF THEM. BECAUSE HULK FINDS THAT EVERY DAMN SCREENWRITING CLASS YOU WILL EVER TAKE WILL BLATHER ONTO YOU ABOUT STRUCTURE AND CHARACTER AND HALF A DOZEN OTHER THINGS THAT ARE ALL WELL AND GOOD, BUT YOU WILL NEVER LEARN WHAT FUCKING DRAMA IS... AND THAT SUCKS BECAUSE DRAMA IS EVERYTHING. SO TAKE A PLAYWRIGHTING CLASS. YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY INTRODUCED TO THE CONCEPT. AND IT WILL BE AWESOME. (ALSO: IT IS REALLY WORTH SEEING THE PLAYS BEFORE YOU READ THEM, BUT SOMETIMES THAT'S TOUGH).

The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works 2nd Edition BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - BECAUSE HE'S GREATEST WRITER OF ALL TIME, NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS.

*Deathtrap: A Thriller in Two Acts BY IRA LEVIN - ONE OF THOSE WITTY, MODERN META THINGS THAT ACTUALLY KNOWS HOW TO LAY THOSE HEADY CONCEPTS DOWN INTO HIGH STAKES DRAMA INSTEAD OF JUST TALKING ABOUT THEM. THIS ONE IS REALLY FILLED WITH SOME GREAT MOMENTS.

Plays: Ivanov; The Seagull; Uncle Vanya; Three Sisters; The Cherry Orchard BY ANTON CHEKHOV - AHHHHH CHEKHOV. A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THAT HE'S THE KIND OF WRITER TYPIFIED BY VANYA, BUT CHEKHOV ACTUALLY HAD A TON OF DEXTERITY. IT'S HARD FOR HULK TO TALK ABOUT HIM WITHOUT LAUNCHING INTO A GIANT EXPLANATION, SO HULK'LL SETTLE FOR A VAGUE, FLOWERY SUMMARY: IN HIS OWN WAY, CHEKHOV IS A REAL MASTER OF THE HUMAN CONDITION.

*Abigail's Party BY MIKE LEIGH - WHEN TALKING ABOUT DRAMA, HULK ALWAYS TALKS ABOUT THE WANTS AND NEEDS OF CHARACTERS AND HOW THOSE WANTS AND NEEDS CLASH WITHIN A PERSON, AND HOW THOSE WANTS AND NEEDS CREATE CONFLICTS WITH OTHERS. THIS PLAY EXEMPLIFIES THOSE IDEAS PERFECTLY. A SEEMINGLY HARMLESS DINNER PARTY IS JUST DRIPPING WITH ALL THAT IS UNSPOKEN. CHARACTERS SAY ONE THING AS THEIR SIMMERING HATRED, LUST OR MALAISE IS JUST BUBBLING OUT FROM UNDERNEATH. IT IS, AS THEY SAY, A MASTERPIECE.

A Map of the World (AND PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING EVER DONE) BY DAVID HARE - HULK SINGLED OUT THIS PLAY SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE IT IS AN UTTER LESSON IN HOW YOU CAN GROUND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, SEXUALITY, POVERTY, CLASS AND THE COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY INTO JUST TWO CHARACTERS.

A Doll's House BY HENRIK IBSEN - IT'S OFT READ, BUT STILL ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES OF A HISTORICAL EFFORT AT AN EARLY FEMINIST STATEMENT, SPECIFICALLY THE DOTING (AND TROUBLESOME) NATURE OF PATRIARCHY.

Arcadia: A Play BY TOM STOPPARD - A LOT OF PEOPLE TRY TO BRING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS INTO DRAMA AND LITERATURE, OFTEN TO SOMEWHAT FORCED RESULTS... BUT THIS ONE MAY BE THE BEST EFFORT EVER. NOTE HOW IT GROUNDS THE IDEA OF SCIENTIFIC PURSUIT INTO THE CHARACTER PURSUITS AND THE IDEAS TALKED ABOUT INTO THE STRUCTURE OF THE PIECE.

The God of Carnage: A Play BY YASMINA REZA - A BRUTAL EVISCERATION OF THE VERY CONCEPT OF "ADULTHOOD." PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO HOW SHE USES THE CUES OF ESCALATION, SOME SUBTLE. SOME NOT SO SUBTLE.

Arsenic and Old Lace BY JOSEPH KESSELRING - "That was a play!?!?!?" YES, ONE OF THE MOST CLASSIC MOVIES OF OUR TIME CAME FROM THE STAGE FIRST. ACTUALLY, A LOT OF CLASSICS DID, SO THAT SHOULDN'T BE A SURPRISE. BUT HULK FINDS THIS TO BE ONE OF THE FUNNIEST PLAYS EVER. AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF HERE THAT WORKED ITSELF INTO THE DNA OF THE SIMPSONS.

The Servant and The Homecoming BY HAROLD PINTER - PINTER IS ONE OF THOSE HYPER-BRILLIANT GUYS WHO CAN TAKE A HIGHLY TANGIBLE, EVEN OBVIOUS METAPHOR AND STILL COMPLETELY GROUND IT CHARACTER. THE CONCEPT HERE OF SWITCHING ROLES OF SERVITUDE COULD SEEM SO FALSE AND MECHANICAL, BUT WITH PINTER'S MASTERFUL TACT IT JUST EEKS RIGHT INTO EXISTENCE.

Breathing Corpses BY LAURA WADE - A GREAT LESSON IN TAKING A PROCEDURAL PREMISE AND MAKING IT WHOLLY NON-PROCEDURAL AND HUMAN.

The Pirates of Penzance BY W.S. GILBERT  - CAUSE IT'S FUN AS HELL, THAT'S WHY.

'Night Mother. BY MARSHA NORMAN - MOST PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION AND HOW IT WORKS. THIS PLAY CAN ABSOLUTELY HELP. IT'S ALMOST AS COMPELLING AND COMMUNICATIVE AS THIS.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS - JUST A PERFECT ARTICULATION OF EMOTIONAL DECAY.

Pygmalion BY GEORGE BERNARD SHAW - GOOD GRANOLA IS THIS A GOOD PLAY. YOU'VE SURE AS HECK SEEN THE OL'  STORY DEVICE OF "SOMEONE SWITCHING CLASSES TO DRAMATIC EFFECT" BEFORE, BUT NONE THIS APT OR WELL-OBSERVED.

The Baltimore Waltz BY PAULA VOGEL - A GREAT LESSON IN HOW TO ACTUALLY STRUCTURE VIGNETTES AND STILL CREATE THE DEEP INTERTEXTUAL MEANING OF SINGLE STORY.

*What the Butler Saw: A Play in Two Acts BY JOE ORTON - LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS IS HOW YOU DO SHOCK. JOE ORTON IS ONE OF THE MOST HILARIOUS, FASCINATING PLAYWRIGHTS EVER. HE'S SORT OF LIKE AN OSCAR WILDE MIXED WITH SID VICIOUS, AND DON'T LET THE STORY OF HIS STRANGE LIFE AND UNTIMELY PASSING LET YOU MISS THE FACT THAT HIS WORK HAD LASER-LIKE FOCUS AND BRILLIANCE (ALSO, SEE PRICK UP YOUR EARS.)

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf BY NTOZAKE SHANGE - BESIDES BEING ONE OF THE MOST MOVING THINGS HULK'S EVER SEEN, IT'S A GREAT EXAMPLE OF POETRY-AS-STORYTELLING.

*Angels in America: Part One: Millennium Approaches And Part Two: Perestroika BY TONY KUSHNER - CALLING THIS PLAY "THE TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT OF THE 80'S" SOUNDS LIKE A BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT, BUT TO THIS DAY IT REMAINS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE PIECES OF ART, LIKE, EVER. IT IS A STAGGERING EPIC OF WRITING THAT HULK FEELS UNABLE TO FULLY EXPLAIN EVEN TO THIS DAY... SO PERHAPS THE BEST THING TO DO IS JUST SHOW THIS CLIP FROM THE MINISERIES BECAUSE IT WILL TRULY HELP.

PLEASE, PLEASE WATCH THE WHOLE THING:

... YEAH.

GROUP 2 - NOVELS / NON-FICTION / ESSAY COLLECTIONS

IT MAY SEEM WEIRD PUTTING THESE THREE GROUPS TOGETHER, BUT HULK WANTS TO DO IT LIKE THIS. AND OF COURSE THIS LIST HAS TO START WITH:

*To Kill a Mockingbird BY HARPER LEE - FUN FACT: THIS IS PROBABLY HULK'S FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME AND IT IS ALSO HULK'S FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME. THE OTHER DAY HULK MENTIONED THIS TO SOMEONE AND THEY HAD AN INCREDULOUS RESPONSE: "That's stupid! You can't like them the same amount. Either it makes for a better movie or a better book. It doesn't work like that. You can't do that." BESIDES BEING AN EXTREMELY O.C.D. AND A PROFOUNDLY NARROW-MINDED APPROACH TO APPRAISING ART, THE COMEBACK IS SIMPLE: IT IS JUST HULK'S FAVORITE STORY OF ALL TIME. PERHAPS THAT IS BECAUSE TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD REPRESENTS JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT HULK HOLDS DEAR. ONE PART COMING OF AGE. ONE PART MORALITY PLAY. ONE PART SOCIAL COMMENTARY. ONE PART DEEPLY RESONANT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. AND FOR THOSE WHO FIND THE MORALITY OF THIS STORY TO BE TOO BLACK AND WHITE, TO THOSE WHO FIND ATTICUS FINCH'S CHARACTERIZATION "TOO CLEAN," HULK WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST THAT THEY ARE MISSING THE MOST CENTRAL POINT OF THE ENTIRE BOOK: THE CHARACTERS ARE NOT NAIVE ABOUT THE WORLD THEY LIVE IN AND THE WAY THEY COME OFF. THEY KNOW THAT IT TAKES SACRIFICE TO BE A GOOD PERSON, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE WORLD GIVES US NO GOOD REASON TO BE ONE. THEY KNOW THAT WE REALLY DO LIVE IN A WORLD OF MORAL GRAY, BUT THAT JUST HELPS EASE OUR IGNORANCE IN THE TRUE CASES OF BLACK AND WHITE, FOR THERE IS TRUE GOOD AND BAD ALL AROUND US. AND THEY KNOW THE HONEST DIFFICULTY IN FINDING THE COURAGE TO STAND UP FOR ABSOLUTE RIGHTS IN THE FACE OF CERTAIN FAILURE. THEY AREN'T "CLEAN," THEY LIVE IN THE SAME EXACT WORLD WE DO. WHERE IDEALISM IS REGARDED AS SOME JUVENILE MENTAL PRACTICE. AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES ATTICUS FINCH ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT. HE STANDS FOR THE HERO THAT NOBODY CARES ABOUT IN REAL LIFE. HE STANDS FOR ALL THE AMAZING PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO DON'T LET OUR SOCIETY DISINTEGRATE BECAUSE OF THESE ATTITUDES. WE MUST ENGAGE IN THE TINIEST FORMS OF HEROISM SO THAT WE CAN SPEAK TRUTH. SO THAT WE CAN BE BETTER. HULK SWEARS TO YOU: PEOPLE LIKE ATTICUS FINCH EXIST ALL AROUND US, BUT WE OFTEN MISS THEM. THEY DO NOT SEEM REMARKABLE TO US BECAUSE OF THEIR GRAND IDEALS (AND OFTEN WHAT WE SEE IS JUST THE YOUNG KIDS WHO IMBUE THIS IDEALISM WITH ATTENTION), BUT THERE ARE SO MANY REMARKABLE PEOPLE WHO DO THEIR WORK WITHOUT THE FAINTEST HINT OF PRAISE OR REWARD. THEY DON'T CARE. THEY DO IT BECAUSE THEY MUST. THEY SIMPLY UPHOLD THE MOST BASIC VALUE OF HUMAN DECENCY AND KINDNESS BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY WE GO ON. SO YES, IN THAT SPIRIT, THE STORY OF TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD IS REPRESENTATIVE OF EVERYTHING HULK HOLDS DEAR.

*Consider the Lobster and Other Essays BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE - THIS IS ONE OF HULK'S GO-TO PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE AND... UGH... IT'S SORT OF HARD TO TALK ABOUT DAVID FOSTER WALLACE. HE MEANT SO MUCH TO AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF YOUNG WRITERS IN THE WAY HE NOT ONLY INFLUENCED THEM, BUT HELPED SPARK SOMETHING THAT FELT LONG DORMANT. YOU COULD BOIL IT DOWN TO THE NOW OFT QUOTED "NEW SINCERITY," BUT HULK ARGUES IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. FOR HULK HAS PROBABLY LEARNED MORE FROM WALLACE THAN ANY OTHER WRITER, NOT JUST ABOUT THE WRITING ITSELF AND HOW TO COMMUNICATE, BUT WITH THE WAY TO TAKE ETHICAL HUMANITY AND TIE IT INTO THOSE VERY THINGS... ALL OF WHICH JUST MADE HIS SUICIDE ALL THE MORE CRUSHING. HULK FINDS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE AWAKENED BY HIS WORK DO THAT VERY COLLEGE-Y KIND OF THING WHERE THEY BASICALLY JUST TRY TO COPYCAT THE STYLE, THINKING THEREIN LIES THE SECRET, BUT THAT'S SOOOOO NOT THE WAY TO GO. THE SECOND HULK STOPPED TRYING TO WRITE LIKE HIM AND JUST WROTE IN THE SPIRIT OF THE WHOLE THING WAS THE SECOND HULK GOT WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT. WHICH MAKES SENSE BECAUSE AS HULK ALWAYS SAYS, IT'S NOT THE FORM, IT'S THE FUNCTION. MEANING IT'S NOT THE STYLE, IT'S THE PURPOSE. AND THIS COLLECTION OF ESSAYS EXEMPLIFIES THAT FUNCTION AND PURPOSE BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE ON THE PLANET. IT IS A REMARKABLE BOOK THAT HULK CANNOT RECOMMEND TO YOU ENOUGH. PROBABLY NUMBER 1 ON THIS ENTIRE LIST.

Infinite Jest BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE - A LOT OF PEOPLE TAKE MORE EASILY TO DFW'S NON-FICTION, BUT TO SHY AWAY FROM HIS FICTION IS TO SHY AWAY FROM SOMETHING REMARKABLE (JUST IN A RATHER DIFFERENT WAY). BECAUSE THIS NOVEL IS SOMETHING... ELSE. WHAT'S FUNNY IS YOU'LL OFTEN HEAR A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHINE ABOUT DFW'S FICTION, SAYING THAT HE JUST RIPPED OF PYNCHON OR SOMETHING, BUT THAT'S THE SAME PEOPLE WHO FALL FOR THE FORM OF THE THING INSTEAD OF THE FUNCTION AND DON'T ACTUALLY GET WHAT'S GOING ON (WE CAN PUT THEM IN SAME CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO DISMISS DE PALMA AS A HITCHCOCK RIP-OFF ARTIST). FOR INFINITE JEST IS SO GRAND. SO ACHING. AND SO... TROUBLING. IT'S LIKE DIVING INTO THE HEART OF LITERARY METAPHYSICS AND ONE CANNOT HELP BUT FEEL LOST WITHIN ITS REALM. QUITE HONESTLY, A READ-THROUGH ONCE GAVE HULK AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS... WHICH IS NOT EASY FOR A BOOK THAT TAKES MOST PEOPLE ENTIRE SUMMERS TO GET THROUGH. AND WHILE NOT SPELLED OUT, IT ISN'T TILL THE END THAT YOU REALIZE THE CRUEL JOKE AT THE HEART OF THE NARRATIVE AND ALSO THE WONDEROUS NATURE OF THE EXPERIENCE ITSELF: THAT YOU'RE NOT READY TO READ INFINITE JEST UNTIL YOU'VE ALREADY READ INFINITE JEST (MAKING IT JUST ONE OF THE MANY "INFINITE JESTS" IN THE BOOK). BUT THE WARINESS OF FALLING INTO THE LABYRINTH-LIKE CYCLE OF A BOOK THIS DENSE AND BYZANTINE IS ALSO THE SAME THING THAT BECOMES BEAUTIFULLY FREEING ABOUT THE PROCESS. IT'S NOT A PUZZLE TO BE PUT TOGETHER (THOUGH THERE'S SOME FUN IN TRYING). IF ONE KNOWS THEY WILL SIMPLY GET LOST IN IT AT ALL THEN WE CAN JUST ACCEPT IT. WE CAN JUST SOAK IN THE WATERS OF WHAT IT OFFERS MOMENT TO MOMENT, UNBOUND FROM THE WORRY OF NARRATIVE FRAGMENTATION. AND IN THE END, THE MODERNITY OF IT ALL ONLY ENDS UP UPHOLDING (GOD THIS SENTENCE) SOMETHING BRAVE AND BRIGHT AND KIND. AND IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE HULK, JUST READ IT... IF YOU GET TO THE LIST OF "THINGS YOU CAN LEARN AT A HALF-WAY HOUSE" THEN YOU'LL SEE WHERE YOU STAND.

Sweet Thursday BY JOHN STEINBECK - THIS ONE IS CONSIDERED TO BE MINOR STEINBECK, BUT TO HULK IT IS ACTUALLY THE PINNACLE OF HIS WORK AND, WELL, CERTAINLY THE MOST LOVELY TO BEHOLD (NOTE: YOU REALLY DO HAVE TO HAVE READ CANNERY ROW AND MAYBE TORTILLA FLAT BEFOREHAND).

THE JAMES JOYCE TRILOGY: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses AND Finnegans Wake  - BEHOLD THE DAEDALUS SPIRAL, THE MODERN FRACTURING AND SUBSEQUENT BIRTH OF POST-MODERNISM... WHICH ISN'T A THING, BUT WHATEVER... IT'S STILL ALL IN ONE GOOEY SERIES OF EFFORTS FROM A MAN OF UNFATHOMABLE BRILLIANCE.

Gravity's Rainbow BY THOMAS PYNCHON - KIND OF TOUCHED ON IT BEFORE, BUT THERE'S THIS WEIRD THING PEOPLE DO WHERE THEY LIKE TO UPHOLD THE VALUE OF PYNCHON BY SAYING DAVID FOSTER WALLACE JUST RIPPED HIM OFF, WHICH SEEMS LIKE A PROFOUND MISUNDERSTANDING OF BOTH AUTHORS. ANYCRAP, THIS IS GREAT. AND FOR WHATEVER IT'S WORTH IT'S PROBABLY THE GREATEST DECONSTRUCTION OF PHALLIC WRITING EVER.

*Lucky BY ALICE SEBOLD - SEBOLD IS OFTEN REMEMBERED FOR WHAT WAS ONE OF THOSE HOT-BOOKS-AT-THE-TIME THE LOVELY BONES, BUT IT WAS SEBOLD'S INCREDIBLE MEMOIR THAT STILL STICKS WITH HULK TO THIS VERY DAY... HULK WILL BE UPFRONT: THIS MEMOIR CHRONICLES THE STORY OF WHEN SHE WAS BRUTALLY RAPED AND BEATEN, AND THE ENSUING TROUBLES THE EVENT CAUSED IN HER LIFE. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH RAPE IS THAT MOST PEOPLE THINK THEY HAVE A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT MEANS. AND THE TRUTH IS THAT MANY DO NOT (AND AS THE BOOK CAREFULLY ARTICULATES, THIS MAY EVEN BE TRUE FOR THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE IT). WHICH MAKES THIS BOOK ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT BECAUSE NO PIECE OF WRITING HAS EVER PUT YOU SO AT THE CENTER OF UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANS. NOT JUST THE ACT ITSELF, BUT THE WAYS SOCIETY RESPONDS TO YOU, THE WAY SHAME CAN OVERTAKE YOUR LIFE, THE WAY THE FATHERS FEEL THEIR DAUGHTERS ARE SULLIED, THE WAY THE INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS AND ENSUING TRIALS CAN EFFECTIVELY RECREATE THE CRIME. THE WAY THIS CAUSES A HUGE, WIDE RANGE OF REACTIONS IN DIFFERENT PEOPLE AND WHY SO MANY JUST TRY TO PUSH IT ALL AWAY. IT IS A MEMOIR THAT ARTICULATES SOMETHING EXCEPTIONALLY DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND, AND HULK CREDITS IT WITH ABSOLUTELY SHAPING HULK'S UNDERSTANDING OF NOT THE POLITICS, BUT THE HUMANITY OF RAPE CULTURE. IT MADE HULK A BETTER HULK. AND IT SHOULD BE READ BY EVERY SINGLE COLLEGE FRESHMAN MALE IN THE COUNTRY.

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To BY D.C. PIERSON - A YOUNG ADULT BOOK THAT REALLY SEEMS TO STRIKE AT WHAT YOUNG ADULTHOOD IS ACTUALLY ABOUT... HMMMM. HULK REALIZES THAT MAKES IT SEEM LIKE SOME GRAND COMING OF AGE STORY, BUT IT'S MORE ABOUT THE WAY OUR CHILDHOOD FASCINATIONS CAN MANIFEST IN OUR YOUNG ADULT LIVES... IN THIS CASE, LITERALLY. THE THING HULK PARTICULARLY LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK IS IT SEEMS LIKE MOST COMING-OF-AGE FICTION IS WRITTEN IN THIS SORT OF GRAND SWEEPING EVOLUTION OF BEHAVIOR. THIS IS MORE ABOUT THE COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF MOMENTS THAT IS FAR MORE REALISTIC TO OUR ACTUAL BEHAVIOR... THIS ISN'T MAKING SENSE. JUST READ IT BECAUSE IT'S DAMN FUNNY.

Brideshead Revisited BY EVELYN WAUGH - THIS ONE IS INTERESTING, AS IT DEPENDS ON YOUR INTERPRETATION. WAUGH LACES THE ENTIRE THING WITH A NOT SUBTLE EMPHASIS ON THE CORE FRIENDSHIP BEING A HOMOSEXUAL ONE. THERE'S A LOT OF DISMISSALS OF THIS INTERPRETATION, BUT IT'S ALL THERE AND THAT HAPPENS TO BE HULK'S CLEAR INTERPRETATION AS WELL. AND IF THAT IS INDEED THE PURPOSEFUL INTENTION, THEN THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THE MOST SLY EXAMPLES OF SOCIAL COMMENTARY EVER AND THUS A GREAT LEARNING EXAMPLE FOR YOU OF HOW TO APPROACH SOMETHING LIKE THAT... OR HEY, PERHAPS HULK JUST DOES THE UNCOUTH THING AND LUMPS THESE DEDUCTIONS IN WITH THE INCREDIBLE MINISERIES STARRING A YOUNG JEREMY IRONS (WHICH IS ANYTHING BUT UNCLEAR REGARDING THE HOMOSEXUAL ELEMENT).

Notes from Underground BY FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY - HULK'S GOT A THING FOR THE RUSSIANS, DOSTOYEVSKY ESPECIALLY.  HERE HE DELIVERS ONE PART EVISCERATION OF COMMUNISM, TWO PARTS EXPLORATION OF THE NATURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS... IN THE WORDS OF THE GREAT KEANU REEVES: "WHOA"

*The Black Prince BY IRIS MURDOCH - OOOH, THIS IS A GOOD ONE. THERE'S A LOT OF COOL THINGS IN THIS BOOK DEALING WITH MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES, THE AUTHORIAL VOICE, THE FAIRNESS OF CRITICISM, META WRITING AND FRAGMENTATION. HECK, IN SOME MOMENTS IT SEEMS LIKE THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON DFW AND AT OTHER TIMES IT WILL SEEM LIKE THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON... TODD SOLONDZ'S STORYTELLING!?!?! EITHER WAY, IRIS MURDOCH IS AWESOME AND YOU'LL TOTALLY DIG IT.

Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories BY RAYMOND CARVER - IF YOU NEVER HAD YOUR "I want to write terse and emotionally cavernous short stories about emotionally stunted people and smoke cigarettes like Raymond Carver!" PHASE, THEN NOW IS THE TIME!

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir BY BILL BRYSON - YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS THE FAMED AUTHOR OF THE (PROBABLY EVEN BETTER) A WALK IN THE WOODS. BRYSON IS UNDOUBTEDLY A MASTER OF UNDERSTATED HUMOR THAT ZOOMS IN ON ESSENTIAL TRUTHS. THINK OF A LESS BASE, MURE ERUDITE LOUIS C.K AND YOU GOT YOUR MAN. THIS BOOK IS A COLLECTION OF HIS OBSERVATIONS ABOUT GROWING UP IN IOWA AND IT'S INCREDIBLE FOR BOTH ITS PERSONAL TOUCHES AND DISTILLATION OF AMERICANA. ALSO CHECK OUT IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY. AND I'M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF. THEY'RE ALL GREAT.

Getting Even and Without Feathers BY WOODY ALLEN - SOME OF THE BEST COMEDIC ESSAYS AND WRITING BY WOODY ALLEN AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS ABILITIES. DO YOU NEED ANYTHING MORE TO SELL YOU ON THIS?

Dead Souls BY NIKOLAI GOGOL - MORE RUSSIANS! THIS TIME IT'S GOGOL EXPOSING CORRUPTION THROUGH THE USE OF THE MILD BRAND OF ABSURDISM BETTER KNOWN AS REALISM... TO THOSE OF YOU NOT UP ON YOUR LITERARY TERMINOLOGY THAT MAY SOUND COUNTERINTUITIVE, BUT IT MAKES WEIRDLY PERFECT SENSE... MAYBE.

*The His Dark Materials Trilogy: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, THE SUBTLE KNIFE, THE AMBER SPYGLASS BY PHILIP PULLMAN - THESE ARE EASILY THE MOST INTELLIGENT AND PROBABLY SUBVERSIVE "KIDS BOOKS" THAT HULK HAS EVER READ. HULK MEANS THAT IN THE SENSE THAT THEY ARE INDEED STEEPED IN THE MODUS OPERANDI OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, ONLY THEY ARE MEANT TO UPHOLD EVERYTHING THAT IS DEAR TO MODERN SECULARISM. SERIOUSLY, WITHOUT EVER BEING ANTAGONISTIC OR LACKING IN HUMANE CONCERN, THESE BOOKS ARE QUITE BLATANTLY ABOUT TEACHING KIDS THE EVILS OF RELIGION, THE POWER OF CORRUPTION, THE REAL MEANING OF SCIENCE AND THAT SEX IS TOTALLY NOT A BAD THING TO BE FEARED AND MAYBE EVEN A BEAUTIFUL THING WHEN LOVE IS INVOLVED. SO NATURALLY, A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THESE BOOKS ARE EVIL. LUCKILY, HULK THINKS THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL AND GREAT FOR YOUNG, THOUGHTFUL KIDS.

Empire Falls BY RICHARD RUSSO - A LOT OF PEOPLE MIGHT ROLL THEIR EYES AT THIS ONE AS IT WAS SORT OF ONE OF THOSE REALLY POPULAR BOOKS OF THE YEAR THAT AVERAGE READING ADULTS LIKED AND PROBABLY GAVE OUT AT CHRISTMAS, BUT WHATEVER. HULK THINKS THIS BOOK IS WONDERFUL AND ONE OF THE BEST EXAMINATIONS OF HISTORY AND CONSEQUENCE IN TOWNIE NEW ENGLAND LIFE. IT'S SOMETHING HULK'S GOT PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE WITH AND CAN ATTEST TO THE VERACITY.

*The Bluest Eye BY TONI MORRISON - OOF. THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THE MOST DEVASTATING EXTENDED METAPHORS IMAGINABLE AND YET AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ. HULK WENT BACK AND READ IT AGAIN JUST A FEW YEARS AGO AND IT'S AMAZING TO THINK HOW IT WAS WRITTEN IN 1970 IN A REVOLUTIONARY ENVIRONMENT AND HOW MUCH IT IS TRYING TO ARTICULATE ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF THAT TIME AND HOW MUCH IT HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE TIME WE LIVE IN NOW... IT'S JUST AMAZING.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale: MY FATHER BLEEDS HISTORY AND AND HERE MY TROUBLES BEGAN BY ART SPIEGELMAN - THE CONCEIT WAS SIMPLE: SPIEGELMAN WAS A CARTOONIST WHO DECIDED TO WRITE A COMIC BOOK ABOUT HIS FATHER'S DEEPLY PERSONAL STORY OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVAL BY TELLING THAT STORY THROUGH DRAWN ANIMAL REPRESENTATIONS. GIVEN THE INCREDIBLE STATUS OF THE BOOKS TODAY, IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THERE WERE MANY PEOPLE WHO WERE UPSET ABOUT THE CHOICE, AND BELIEVED THAT IT TRIVIALIZED THE HOLOCAUST AND UPENDED THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE EVENT... AND THAT IS A MODE OF THINKING THAT HULK CANNOT GET BEHIND IN ANY WAY, SHAPE FOR FORM. NOT ONLY IS THE MAUS SAGA AN INCREDIBLE STORY, BUT THE MODE OF HIGH/LOW LANGUAGE AND SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION IS SOMETHING THAT HULK FINDS INCREDIBLY RESONANT (PERHAPS FOR OBVIOUS REASONS). BUT WHAT IS EVEN MORE TREMENDOUS IS HOW MUCH SPIEGELMAN KNEW TO REFLECT ON THE WAYS THE STORY HAD IMPACTED HIS FATHER AND SHOW THE CONSEQUENCES OF IT ALL IN THE PRESENT. IN MANY WAYS, IT IS ABOUT HOW EXPOSURE TO INHUMANITY CAN DEEPLY AFFECT ONE'S HUMANITY ALL TOGETHER (AND IT IS UNFLINCHINGLY HONEST IN THAT PORTRAYAL). TO THIS DAY, IT REMAINS ONE OF HULK'S GO-TO PIECES OF LITERATURE IN TRYING TO EDUCATE YOUTH NOT JUST ON THE REALITIES OF THE HOLOCAUST, BUT THE COMPLEXITY OF IT.

Facing Mount Kenya BY JOMO KENYATTA - WRITTEN BY A MAN WHO WOULD GO ON TO BECOME THE FUTURE PRESIDENT OF KENYA, THIS BOOK REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST ENLIGHTENING THINGS HULK HAS EVER READ WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING THE CULTURE AND DEEP TROUBLES OF AFRICA (AND THE BOOK IS EVEN MORE JAW-DROPPING WHEN YOU SEE HIM ACCURATELY PREDICT THE TRAGEDIES THEY WOULD FACE WERE THEY NOT TO OVERCOME SAID PROBLEMS).

Middlesex BY JEFFREY EUGENIDES - A LOT COULD BE SAID OF THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK, BUT ITS GREATEST VALUE LIES IN THE FACT THAT IT IS REALLY ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THE PROBLEMS IN THE TREATMENT OF OUR RUDIMENTARY UNDERSTANDINGS OF GENDER IDENTIFICATION AND THE POWER OF CONTEXT THAT RULES THEM.

*Le Morte Darthur BY SIR THOMAS MALORY - EASILY THE BEST VERSION OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGENDS (YES, EVEN BETTER THAN EXCALIBUR!). REALLY, IF YOU'VE NEVER READ THIS VERSION AND YOU LOVE THIS STUFF THEN YOU TRULY OWE IT TO YOURSELF. THE TREATMENT OF SIR GAWAIN HELPS TURN HIM INTO ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE CHARACTERS EVER. AND IT IS BEST READ IN THE ORIGINAL MIDDLE FRENCH! ... OKAY HULK DOESN'T SPEAK MIDDLE FRENCH SO THAT WAS A JOKE.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle BY GEORGE V. HIGGINS - IT'S PRETTY MUCH A RULE: YOU CAN'T BE FROM BOSTON AND NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. BUT THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT MAKE IT SING. IT ALSO MIGHT BE THE MOST UNGLAMOROUS LOOK AT THE (OFT-ROMANTICIZED) MOB, BUT THAT'S WHY WE LOVE THOSE NON-POSING BOSTON IRISH CATHOLICS. THEY'RE PRACTICALLY MADE OF SALT (AND THE REAL ONES DON'T ROMANTICIZE THAT FACT).

Mansfield Park BY JANE AUSTEN - OH OKAY, HULK IS JUST GIVING ATTENTION TO THE AUSTEN BOOK NO ONE READS AS MUCH, BUT WHATEVER. IT'S STILL REALLY GOOD.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Outliers: The Story of Success BY MALCOLM GLADWELL - DEPENDING ON YOUR PROSPECTIVE YOU MAY THINK MALCOLM GLADWELL IS 1) PROPERLY LIONIZED. 2) SOME KIND OF GROSS FALSE IDOL OF HIPSTER FAUX-INTELLECTUALISM. 3) SOME KIND OF HORRIBLE DUPING SELLOUT BECAUSE HE HAS MODERATE POLITICS AND "TRICKS LIBERALS" INTO LIKING HIM. OR 4) AN IDIOT COMPLETELY LACKING IN VALUE BECAUSE HE DOESN'T SCEINTIFICALLY TEST HIS HYPOTHESIS. THE TRUTH IS THAT GLADWELL IS NONE OF THESE THINGS. WHAT HE IS, AND THIS IS ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS, IS A GREAT OUTSIDE-THE-BOX THINKER WHO ASKS ALL THE RIGHT QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO CAUSATION AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE. PROVABLE OR NOT, HIS BOOKS REALLY DO TAP INTO YOUR MIND IN A MEANINGFUL, PHILOSOPHICAL WAY AND CAN MOST DEFINITELY CHANGE YOUR APPROACH TO LIFE IN A TON OF REALLY HELPFUL WAYS. HULK CANNOT RECOMMEND YOU READ THESE BOOKS HIGHLY ENOUGH.

Sons and Lovers BY DH LAWRENCE - YEAH, YEAH MORE BRITISH CLASS STUFF. WHATEVER. IT'S ENTHRALLING. READ IT!

All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers BY LARRY MCMURTRY - FOR SOME REASON PEOPLE EITHER WRITE MCMURTRY OFF AS MERELY A TEXAS INSTITUTION, OR THE ONE TIME GENIUS OF THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, OR AS "THAT LONESOME DOVE GUY," BUT NONE OF THOSE TITLES SEEM RIGHT GIVEN HOW WEIRD HIS WRITING IS IN REALITY. AND THERE'S NOTHING THAT SHOWCASES THAT WEIRDNESS BETTER ONE OF HIS EARLY NOVELS, ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO BE STRANGERS. BUT RATHER THAN SUMMARIZE, HULK'S GONNA LET JIM HARRISON DO IT INSTEAD: "It is difficult to characterize a talent as outsized as McMurtry's. Often his work seems disproportionately sensual and violent, but these qualities in 'All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers' are tempered by his comic genius, his ability to render a sense of landscape and place, and an interior intellectual tension that resembles in intensity that of Saul Bellow's 'Mr. Sammler's Planet.' McMurtry will flash back and forth between the splendidly brilliant and the sloppily inane but has a sense of construction and proper velocity that always saves him." SEE? HE DID MUCH BETTER.

Agnes Grey BY ANNE BRONTE - WAIT... ANNE BRONTE? YES. ANNE. THERE WERE THREE BRONTE SISTERS FOR YOUR INFORMATION. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING BECAUSE HULK HAS PROBLEMS WITH CHARLOTTE AND EMILY TO BE RATHER FRANK. ADMITTEDLY, THESE PROBLEMS ARE PURELY THROUGH THE UNIQUE MIND OF THE MODERN READER, WHO SEES THEIR WORK UPHOLDING THE HORRIBLE LITERARY (AND SOCIETAL) TRADITION OF PROTAGONISTS (WURTHERING HEIGHTS AND JANE EYRE) AS DUTIFUL WOMEN WHO STAND BEHIND THEIR BROODY, ASSHOLE LOVE INTERESTS AND ARE THUS REWARDED. YES, IT'S A DECIDEDLY MODERN LENS, BUT HULK SAYS SCREW THAT. BECAUSE ANNE OUTRIGHT REJECTED THAT NOTION DURING HER TIME AND WROTE ABOUT IT EXTENSIVELY. INSTEAD, SHE TAKES THE VERY SAME GROUND THEY WERE COVERING AND TURNS IT INTO BITING SOCIAL COMMENTARY AND HAS SOME RADICAL PROGRESSIVE IDEAS. THANKFULLY, ANNE'S AWESOMENESS IS NOT LOST ON OTHERS AND EVEN GAVE US ONE OF KATE BEATON'S VERY BEST CARTOONS.

Wide Sargasso Sea BY JEAN RHYS - BADASS' OWN FREQUENT AND ERUDITE COMMENTER LA.DONNA.PIETRA RECENTLY BROUGHT UP THIS BOOK WHILE MAKING A GREAT POINT ON THE HISTORICAL TRADITION OF "FAN FICTION" AND OUR MODERN POPULAR DISMISSAL OF IT. FOR THOSE UNAWARE, WIDE SARGASSO SEA IS AN AUTHOR REVISING JANE EYRE (SEE HULK'S PROBLEMS WITH ABOVE) AND THIS TIME, SHE'S TELLING THE STORY OF MR. ROCHESTER AND THE TRUE NATURE OF HIS MARRIAGE TO "THE MAD WOMAN IN THE ATTIC," AND IN TURN RHYS CRAFTS ONE OF THE MOST VIVID AND DAMNING RE-EVALUATIONS OF THE PATRIARCHAL AND COLONIAL IMPLICATIONS OF ANOTHER FAMOUS NOVEL. THE CHIEF LESSON BEING THAT THE MODERN WAY WE THINK OF "FAN FICTION" JUST COMES FROM THE FACT THAT SO MUCH OF IT IS INDULGENT AND BASED ON OUR BASE WANTS, WHEN THE TRUTH IS THAT RE-EVALUATIVE WAYS WE CAN TELL STORIES TO MAKE GRANDER POINTS ARE NOT JUST VALID, BUT UPHOLD A HUGE TRADITION OF LITERATURE, WHERE WE CREATE NEW MODELS TO FIT OUR EVOLUTION.

Feminism and Pornography BY DRUCILLA CORNELL - HULK WORRIES ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY. THIS IS NOT THE STATEMENT OF A PRUDE. OUR COLLECTIVE SEXUAL INCLINATION IS NOT ONLY AWESOME, BUT PART OF WHAT MAKES HUMAN BEINGS WONDERFUL. THE PROBLEM IS THAT OUR CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY REGARDING SEXUALITY IS SO HORRIBLY MUTATED THAT WE ARE BORDERING ON A NEAR-VICTORIAN DICHOTOMY BETWEEN "PROPRIETY" AND THE UNSAVORY RESULTS OF THAT PROPRIETY. PLEASE NOTE: HULK IS NOT USING CODIFIED LANGUAGE TO UPHOLD RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, BUT IS IN FACT ARGUING FOR THE OPPOSITE. THE OBVIOUS, NATURAL NEED TO BE SEXUAL BEINGS HAS DIRECTLY CLASHED WITH OUR PURITANICAL CULTURE AND THUS WE EMPTY ALL OF OUR PROPER ART OF ANY KIND OF MEANINGFUL SEX, DROP VACANT SEX CASUALLY INTO OUR ADVERTISING, AND THEN PUT THE MOST VACUOUS, VIOLENT AND GENDER-DETRIMENTAL PORNOGRAPHY OUT THERE FOR THE MODES OF ACTUAL AROUSAL. AND HULK ARGUES THIS ACTUALLY SUCKS FOR EVERYONE, MEN INCLUDED. LUCKILY, THIS BOOK IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. IT IS ONE OF THE BEST COLLECTIONS ON THE THOUGHTS, PROCESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF PORNOGRAPHY AND ITS ROLE IN SOCIETY AND HOW IT CAN MANIFEST BOTH EXTREMELY POSITIVELY AND EXTREMELY NEGATIVELY. THERE IS NO "ANSWER" BUT IT AIMS FOR THE HEALTHIEST DIALOGUE AND, LIKE ALL GOOD THINGS, IT UNDERSTANDS THE GREATEST VALUE IS TO SIMPLY ADVOCATE AWARENESS.

Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States BY DAVE BARRY - HULK HASN'T READ THIS SINCE IT CAME OUT, BUT HULK REMEMBERS IT BEING PRETTY HILARIOUS? WAS HULK JUST A YOUNG IDIOT OR IS IT STILL GOOD? HULK HAS NO IDEA WHERE HULK'S COPY IS... PROBABLY GAVE IT TO IRON MAN OR SOMETHING. ANWAY, LET HULK KNOW.

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON - THE MAN HAS BEEN LIONIZED BY CULTURE TO THE POINT THAT IT'S ALMOST TROUBLING FOR HULK. HE IS, IN LARGE PART, A ROCK STAR WITH ROUGH EDGES. SO WHAT HULK LOVES ABOUT THIS BOOK IS HOW IT ACTUALLY COLORS HIS ROUGH EDGES IN A CONTEXT THAT MAKES IT LESS GLAMOROUS (YOU'LL KNOW EXACTLY WHERE IT ALL STANDS AFTER HIS TAKE ON THE GHETTOIZATION OF WASHINGTON).

GROUP 3 - POETRY

LITTLE KNOWN FACT! HULK LOOOOOOOOOOOVES POETRY AND HAS EVEN STUDIED UNDER SOME OF THE PEOPLE ON THIS LIST. SO LET'S GET CRACKING!

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems BY BILLY COLLINS - NOT INTO POETRY? THAT'S OKAY. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT BILLY COLLINS IS HERE TO CONVERT YOU. HE'S JUST ONE OF THOSE PERFECT MODERN POETS WITH DOWN TO EARTH SENSIBILITIES AND KILLER DEADPAN HUMOR, ALL WHILE MAINTAINING THE HIGH-MINDED THOUGHTFULNESS TO RENDER HIS WORK FAR ABOVE THE LAME POET-AS-COMEDIAN LIMITATION. THERE'S, LIKE, A REASON HE WAS A POET LAUREATE. JUST WATCH:

*The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson BY EMILY DICKINSON, EDITED BY THOMAS H. JOHNSON - EMILY DICKINSON MIGHT BE THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD POET IN AMERICAN HISTORY, WHICH IS REALLY SAYING SOMETHING BECAUSE WE HAVE A LOT OF MISUNDERSTOOD POETS. YOU PROBABLY GOT A FEW HIGH SCHOOL MENTIONS OF HER AS "that crazy lady!" WHO WAS POSSESSED BY MADNESS AND A TOTAL RECLUSE... IT'S ALL HOGWASH. SHE WAS SUCH A WELL-ROUNDED, BRILLIANT AND ALL-TOGETHER NORMAL HUMAN BEING. SHE WAS BOTH FORTHRIGHT AND PASSIONATE, SO HER POEMS ABOUT "MADNESS" WERE LARGELY A METAPHOR FOR SOCIETY'S TREATMENT OF HER "FEMININE CONDITION." SHE JUST LIKED TIME ALONE AND SHE DIDN'T LIKE PUTTING UP WITH ALL THE SOCIETAL REQUIREMENTS OF BEING A LADY. SHE TALKED ABOUT THIS DYNAMIC CONSTANTLY IN HER LETTERS (WHICH WERE A PART OF ALL HER WILD FLINGS!) ... IS THIS BLOWING YOUR MIND? SHE'S NO DIFFERENT FROM "THE MAD WOMAN IN THE ATTIC," ONLY IT'S GOTTEN SO BAD THAT WE HAVE ENTIRE GENERATIONS OF PEOPLE BRUSHING HER OFF... UGH.

The Arkansas Testament AND Omeros BY DEREK WALCOTT - HULK HAS A REAL AFFINITY FOR CARIBBEAN POETRY AND HAS ACTUALLY STUDIED THE SUBJECT QUITE EXTENSIVELY. IT'S A WEIRD DISCIPLINE BECAUSE IT CENTERS AROUND ONE OF THE MOST VIBRANT AREAS OF THE WORLD; A TRUE MELTING POT CULTURE IN RELATIVE PARADISE. A PLACE WHERE POLITICS AND RACE CLASH AT ONE OF THE FOREFRONTS OF COLONIZATION AND STILL TO THIS VERY DAY. A PLACE WHERE THE SPELLING OF THE WORD PATWAH VS. PATOIS CAN HAVE BAR-FIGHT-LEVEL RAMIFCATIONS. AND IN THIS WORLD, THE MOST BOOMING VOICE OF ALL OF THEM WAS DEREK WALCOTT, A MAN WHO HAS CRAFTED SOME OF THE MOST HEARTBREAKING AND BEAUTIFUL WORDS IMAGINABLE.  IN THE FIRST COLLECTION MENTIONED ABOVE YOU WILL FIND HIS REMARKABLE "THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" AND THEN OMEROS IS HIS DEFINITIVE EPIC.

Poems of Passion BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX - YOU MAY KNOW HER AS THE UTTERER OF SUCH FAMOUS WORDS AS "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone." AND BECAUSE OF THE POPULARITY OF SUCH WORDS SHE'S OFTEN MISTAKEN FOR A BANAL PLATITUDE-WIELDING FLUFFY-HEAD. WAS SHE A MORALIST? ABSOLUTELY, BUT ONE LOOK AT THE BROADER SPECTRUM OF HER WORK REVEALS A POSITIVELY INTREPID POET AND LATERAL THINKER, ONE WHO SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BE READ.

The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (Bilingual Edition) BY PABLO NERUDA, EDITED BY MARK EISNER - IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE LIFE STORY OF NERUDA, HE MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO EVER LIVED. THERE ARE ARTISTS WHO BECOME ARTISTS BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE FREEDOM AND PATRONAGE TO DO SO. AND THERE ARE ARTISTS BORN FROM THE FIRES OF POLITICAL UPHEAVAL AND SOCIAL UNREST. NERUDA IS THE LATTER. AND HE USED THAT FIRE TO CREATE POETRY THAT EXEMPLIFIED THE PERFECT SYMBIOSIS OF OFF-KILTER VISUALS "EXPLAINING" ABSTRACT IDEAS. NOTE: EVEN IF YOU HAVE ONLY OKAY SPANISH SKILLS, THE BILINGUAL EDITION IS A MUST.

*Enough Rope: Poems BY DOROTHY PARKER - PARKER MIGHT BE ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE POETS, PERIOD. SHE IS SOMEWHAT FAMOUS FOR BEING THE LONE LADY OF THE ALGONQUIN ROUND TABLE, BUT HULK THINKS SHE'S HOPEFULLY MORE FAMOUS FOR BEING FUCKING HILARIOUS. BUT EVEN THEN, YOU'D MORE LIKELY KNOW HER FROM BEING ONE OF THE WRITERS OF 1937'S SEMINAL CLASSIC FILM A STAR IS BORN.

UH... SLAM POETRY! OKAY THERE'S NO ACTUAL BOOK REC WITH THIS ONE, BUT IT'S WORTH TALKING ABOUT. THE RELATIVE POPULARITY OF SLAM POETRY TENDS TO GO IN SHORT CYCLES, BUT THE GREAT THING ABOUT IT IS THAT IT'S A REAL, VIBRANT PART OF THE ORAL TRADITION. JUST AS IT'S BEST TO HEAR POETS READ THEIR OWN WORK, THERE IS A SPOKEN, AUDIENCE-CENTRIC COMPONENT TO THIS STUFF THAT STRETCHES BACK TO THE REAL ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF POETRY ON THE WHOLE. AND ANYTHING THAT KEEPS THAT TRADITION ALIVE SHOULD BE CHERISHED.

An Explanation of America AND History of My Heart BY ROBERT PINSKY - STYLISTICALLY SPEAKING, HE'S PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL POETS ON HULK (AND PROBABLY EVERYBODY ELSE). HE'S AN UTTER MASTER OF FLEXIBLE, NON-OBVIOUS LANGUAGE, BUT ONE OF HIS BEST QUALITIES IS THAT HE HAS GONE ON TO BECOME A REMARKABLE AMBASSADOR OF POETRY TO OUR CULTURE AT LARGE... HE ALSO HAS AN AWESOME COLBERT APPEARANCE.

A COLD SPRING BY ELIZABETH BISHOP (SEEMS TO BE OUT OF PRINT. THIS LARGER COLLECTION MAY DO) - SHE'S DEFINITELY A MUST READ AND A RATHER INTERESTING, POLARIZING FIGURE OF THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT. SHE REPRESENTED ALMOST ALL PROGRESS ON THE PAGE AND IN HER LIFE, BUT WANTED NO PART OF THE POLITICIZATION OF THOSE THINGS. A LOT OF PEOPLE ACTUALLY FIND HER TO BE AN INTERESTING MIRROR OF JODIE FOSTER, BUT THAT'S SORT OF HERE NOR THERE. HER WORK IS INCREDIBLE AND THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS TO YOU AND HULK.

Plus Shipping BY BOB HICOK - HE'S THE SPRINGSTEEN OF POETRY. NUFF SAID.

GROUP 4 - CRIME / MYSTERY / DETECTIVE FICTION

HOOO BOY. THIS SECTION. IT COULD BE HULK-SIZED. MYSTERY AND CRIME FICTION IS UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR GENRES OF LITERATURE, BUT HULK FINDS A WEIRD HABIT LATELY: MOST MODERN MOVIE AND TV PEOPLE (PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO WRITE ON PROCEDURALS, ODDLY ENOUGH) DON'T ACTUALLY READ ENOUGH OF THIS STUFF. IT'S BEEN A SUDDEN AND WEIRD SHIFT. MOST OF THEM WERE JUST RAISED ON... OLDER PROCEDURALS. AND AS A RESULT, MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO WRITE A PLOT INVOLVING MYSTERY TURN TO CSI MODELS WITH ALL ITS BULLSHIT INCLUDING THE PATENTED NONSENSICAL DOUBLE TWIST (SORRY HULK REALLY HAS PROBLEMS WITH THAT SHOW AND ITS EFFECT ON PROCEDURAL STORYTELLING). THE TRUTH IS THAT ONE OF THE MOST DEPENDABLE GENRES WE HAD IN TV/MOVIES KIND OF SUCKS NOW BECAUSE WE MISTAKE "MYSTERY" STORYTELLING FOR "MYSTERIOUS" STORYTELLING, WHICH ARE ACTUALLY QUITE DIFFERENT THINGS. ONE IS THE IDEA OF BUILDING A STORY. THE OTHER IS JUST HAVING NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON. ALSO, CRIME FICTION IS A GREAT WAY TO BEAT INTO YOUR HEAD WHAT REALLY MATTERS ABOUT STORYTELLING: THAT IS INHERENTLY TIED TO PLOT. CHECK THIS KICK-ASS RAYMOND CHANDLER QUOTE:

A long time ago, when I was writing for the pulps I put into a story a line like ‘he got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water’. They took it out when they published the story. Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing: just held up the action. And I set out to prove them wrong. My theory was that they just thought they cared nothing about anything but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, they cared very little about the action. The things they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half opened in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death. He didn’t even hear death knock on the door. That damn paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just wouldn’t push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell.

With kindest regards,

Raymond Chandler

BRILLIANT.

SO HERE'S HULK'S RECOMMENDATIONS ON WHICH BOOKS CAN REALLY HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHERE THE VALUE LIES IN PLOT AND ACTION, BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY IT WILL HELP YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION : "WHAT IS A MYSTERY AND HOW DO YOU TELL A STORY WITH ONE?"

The Moonstone BY WILKIE COLLINS - WIDELY CONSIDERED THE FIRST EXAMPLE OF TRUE "DETECTIVE FICTION" AND IT'S STILL REMARKABLE HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes BY ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE - YOU ALREADY KNOW WHY HE'S FAMOUS AND A BIG DEAL AND STUFF, BUT THE GREAT THING ABOUT HOLMES STORIES IS THEY PERFECTLY ILLUSTRATE ONE OF THE TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT REGARDING MYSTERIES. ON ONE SIDE THERE ARE MYSTERIES THAT THE READER CAN FIGURE OUT BASED ON THE INFORMATION PRESENTED. ON THE OTHER SIDE, THERE ARE MYSTERIES WHERE ONLY THE DETECTIVE CHARACTER CAN FIGURE THEM OUT, AS THEY ARE AHEAD OF EVERYONE. THE INTENTION OF THIS SECOND KIND, IS THAT WE ARE MEANT TO MARVEL AT THEM. THEY ARE ALMOST QUASI-SUPERHEROES. AND HOLMES REPRESENTS THE PERFECT VERSION OF THE LATTER. WE READ HOLMES BECAUSE WE LOVE THE CHARACTERIZATION, BUT THE MYSTERY DYNAMIC ITSELF IS LARGELY A RIDE THAT WE MARVEL AT. AND WHILE THE STORIES THEMSELVES OFTEN MAKE SENSE, THEY STILL OFTEN "CHEAT" IN TERMS OF CONSTRUCTION. BECAUSE HOLMES WILL ALWAYS REVEAL ON THE LAST PAGE SOMETHING LIKE "I noticed that thing 4 days ago which is the key to everything!" AND WE WEREN'T PRIVY TO IT. SO, WHAT'S THE KEY TO MAKING ALL THIS KIND OF STORYTELLING WORK? WATSON, OF COURSE. BY HAVING A NARRATOR WITH OUR OWN COMMON ABILITIES, THEN THEY BECOME OUR VIEWPOINT INTO THE STORY ITSELF. THIS DIFFERENCE IS CRITICAL (AND OFTEN WHY SO MANY SUPERHERO-DETECTIVES FAIL WHEN WE'RE NOT VIEWING THEM THROUGH THE PRISM OF NORMALCY).

Miami Blues AND Cockfighter BY CHARLES WILLEFORD - OF ALL THE TOUGH GUY, BREAKNECK DETECTION FICTION IT'S WILLEFORD'S WORK THAT IS THE LEAST BULLSHITTY. THERE'S VERY LITTLE POSTURING. IN FACT, THERE'S VERY LITTLE REGARD FOR PUTTING ON AIRS AT ALL. WILLFORD TELLS THE STORY HE WANTS IN THE WAY HE WANTS AND DAMNED IF HE'S GOING TO LET ANY "SUPPOSED TO'S" GET IN THE WAY.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood BY CHARLES DICKENS - THIS BOOK WOULD BE AWESOME ON ITS OWN BECAUSE IT'S, LIKE, DICKENS DOING A MYSTERY AND STUFF, BUT THE NOVEL IS ACTUALLY AN UNFINISHED WORK DUE TO HIS DEATH. AS SUCH, THE IDENTITY OF THE MURDERER IS STILL UP IN THE AIR AND HAS GONE ON TO FASCINATE PEOPLE FOR YEARS TO COME... IN A META WAY, IT ACTUALLY MAKES FOR A PERFECT MYSTERY.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold BY JOHN LE CARRE - THE BENCHMARK OF COLD WAR SPY NOVELS, FROM A MAN WHO WAS FROM THE TRENCHES OF THE COLD WAR ITSELF (AND TOTALLY KNEW HOW MUCH OF IT IS CENTERED AROUND THE PROVERBIAL MUNDANE DETAIL). THE SILVER LINING OF SUCH EXPERIENCE IS, OF COURSE, THE FACT THAT HE IS A DAMN FINE WRITER. IT'S TOTALLY WORTH READING EVERY BOOK HE WROTE IN THIS SERIES.

The Daughter of Time BY JOSEPHINE TEY - OOOH, IT'S FUN WITH HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION! THIS ONE IS A SUPER POPULAR BOOK IN THE UK THAT PRESUMES THE INNOCENCE OF RICHARD III... MOST OF THE DISCUSSION OF THIS BOOK IS AROUND THE LEGITIMACY OF THE CENTRAL CLAIM, BUT HULK LIKES IT BECAUSE IT'S REALLY WELL-WRITTEN.

*The Long Goodbye BY RAYMOND CHANDLER - HE'S THE BEST CRIME FICTION WRITER OF ALL TIME. HULK WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY ARGUMENTS FOR ANYONE ELSE (JUST LOOK AT THE QUOTE ABOVE!). AND SURE, THE BIG SLEEP IS PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS AND WORTHY BOOK, BUT IT'S THIS ONE THAT STILL STICKS WITH HULK ALL THESE YEARS LATER. YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ THEM ALL CHRONOLOGICALLY, BUT JUST KNOW THIS ONE IS HULK'S FAVORITE. ALSO WORTH MENTIONING! CHANDLER WAS AN INCREDIBLE SCREENWRITER TO BOOT. TO WIT: THE BLUE DAHLIA, DOUBLE INDEMNITY AND STRANGERS ON A TRAIN... YEAH. THAT'S PRETTY FREAKING GREAT WORK.

"F" is for Fugitive BY SUE GRAFTON - IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO THE WHOLE "ALPHABET SERIES," AS IT'S KNOWN, THEN YEAH IT'S PROBABLY BEST TO START WITH A IS FOR ALIBI, BUT IT'S THIS ONE THAT HULK JUST PLAIN THINKS IS HER BEST WORK. NOT ONLY HAD SHE REALLY HIT A NICE RHYTHM WITH THE CHARACTER, BUT THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY IS FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS ON THIS ONE.

*Devil in a Blue Dress BY WALTER MOSLEY - THE POLITICS OF CRIME FICTION AND THE POLITICS OF RACE MEET HEAD ON IN MOSLEY'S WORK. HE'S ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE AUTHORS.

Roseanna BY MAJ SJOWALL AND PER WAHLOO - LONG BEFORE THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO SERIES, IT WAS REALLY THESE TWO FOLKS THAT STARTED THE DISTINCT BRAND OF SWEDISH CRIME FICTION THAT WE'VE  EMBRACED THE LAST FEW YEARS. YOU CAN SEE IT ALL ON DISPLAY IN THIS BOOK: THE AFFECT OF LOSS ON FAMILIES, THE TOLL IT TAKES ON THE DETECTIVES, THE QUIET DESPERATION OF A SEARCH, THE WINTER LANDSCAPES. THIS BOOK IN PARTICULAR WAS A HUGE INFLUENCE ON THE SWEDISH VERSION OF THE KILLING (AND IN TURN, THE U.S. VERSION).

A Great DeliveranceBY ELIZABETH GEORGE - THIS IS THE FIRST ENTRY IN THE OUTRAGEOUSLY CONSISTENT INSPECTOR LYNLEY SERIES (CALLING A DETECTIVE SERIES OUTRAGEOUSLY CONSISTENT MAKES MORE SENSE IF YOU READ A LOT OF THEM). THIS IS ALSO BROAD IN A LOT OF WAYS, BUT HULK ARGUES IF YOU WANT TO LEARN YOUR FUNCTIONAL STUFF, THEN THIS SERIES IS A GREAT WAY TO DISCOVER HOW TO APPROACH TRADITIONAL MYSTERY IN ALL THE OBVIOUS TROPES.

Killshot BY ELMORE LEONARD - A WEIRD ONE TO PICK FROM LEONARD, BUT HULK LOVES THIS BOOK. IT'S GOT A LOT TO SAY ABOUT AMERICANA, NOT TO MENTION A LOT OF INTEREST IN THE SUBCULTURE OF NATIVE AMERICAN STEEL WORKERS (IT'S A THING!). IT'S WEIRD TO THINK HOW RELEVANT AND YET CONSTANT LEONARD HAS BEEN FOR DECADES. HULK FOR ONE JUST HOPES HE KEEPS ON TRUCKING WITH MORE GREAT WORK (NOTE: HULK WROTE THIS SENTENCE ABOUT FOUR WEEKS AGO... UGH.... JUST UGH).

A Kiss Before Dying BY IRA LEVIN - THIS BOOK HAS SHADES OF MR. RIPLEY (WHICH WOULD FOLLOW JUST A FEW YEARS LATER), BUT THIS ONE TACKLES THE IDEA OF SOCIAL CLIMBING AND TREATS IT MORE SUBTLY, EVEN IMBUING THE NOTION WITH THE FALLOUT OF POST-WORLD WAR II EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCES. (YOU WILL ALSO NOTICE THAT LEVIN WENT ON TO BE ONE OF THE MOST WONDERFULLY DIVERSE WRITERS EVER).

L.A. Confidential BY JAMES ELLROY - YEAH, YOU'VE PROBABLY SEEN THE MOVIE AND KNOW THE STORY ALREADY. BUT YOU JUST HAVE TO READ ELLROY FOR HIS DRIPPING WET PROSE. AND THIS ONE IS THE BEST OF THE BUNCH.

Gone, Baby, Gone BY DENNIS LEHANE - LEHANE UNDERSTANDS REGIONALISM AND CLASS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER MYSTERY AUTHOR THAT HULK CAN THINK OF (IT'S ACTUALLY WHY DAVID SIMON HANDPICKED HIM TO WRITE FOR THE WIRE). AND OF ALL HIS STORIES, THIS ONE EXEMPLIFIES THOSE QUALITIES THE BEST.

GROUP 5 - FILM / STORYTELLING / ADVICE / BUSINESS BOOKS

WHEN PEOPLE ASK HULK FOR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS THEY ARE USUALLY ASKING FOR PRECISELY THESE KIND OF FILM-CENTRIC HOW-TO BOOKS. NOW. ARE THESE KIND OF BOOKS HELPFUL? YOU BET YOUR BUTT THEY ARE. BUT HULK FINDS THAT SOME PEOPLE LOOK TO THEM FOR ALL THE ANSWERS, AS KIND OF "STORYTELLING AND FILM CAREER MADE EASY!" TYPE OF THING AND THAT'S SOOOOOOOOO NOT THE WAY TO GO. HULK SWEARS TO YOU, ALL THE PLAYS / FICTION / NON-FICTION BOOKS HULK HAS ALREADY MENTIONED ABOVE WILL DO 1000X MORE FOR YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS THAN ANY OF THESE INSTRUCTIONAL OR BACKGROUND TEXTS. YES, THESE BOOKS ARE AWESOME, BUT THEY ARE NOT CURE-ALLS. AND THUS THEY'RE SUPPLEMENTAL AT BEST. THAT COOL?

*In the Blink of an Eye Revised 2nd Edition BY WALTER MURCH - THIS BOOK IS TECHNICALLY ABOUT EDITING, BUT REALLY IT'S ABOUT MISE EN SCENE, WHICH MEANS IT'S REALLY ABOUT CINEMA IN TOTALITY... AND SO MUCH MORE. HULK THINKS IT'S PROBABLY THE MOST CLEAR, DIRECT AND HELPFUL BOOK EVER WRITTEN ON THE SUBJECT. IT'S PERFECT. A MUST READ.

The Art of Dramatic Writing BY LAJOS EGRI - AT THIS MOMENT, HULK CONSIDERS THIS TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK FOR FILM WRITING BECAUSE IT IS THE THING UNDERSTOOD THE LEAST BY MOST OF TODAY'S SCREENWRITERS. MOST OF US GET THE IDEA OF CHARACTER ARCS AND SCALE AND ACTION... BUT WE DON'T GET THE SIMPLICITY OF DRAMA. WE DON'T GET HAVING TWO CHARACTERS WANTING THINGS AND WATCHING THOSE WANTS CLASH. WE DON'T GET THE DRAMATIC PRINCIPLE AT THE CORE OF MAKING SCENES AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT COMPELLING. AND THAT'S WHY THIS BOOK (EVEN IF PROBLEMATIC IN SOME WAYS) MATTERS MORE THAN EVER.

Sculpting in Time BY ANDREI TARKOVSKY - IF IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE CAREFULLY EXPLAINS THE LOGISTICS OF FILM CONSTRUCTION, IT IS TARKOVSKY'S BRILLIANT BOOK WHICH BEST CAPTURES THE POETIC ESSENCE OF FILM. WHICH OF COURSE MEANS THAT IT CAN EQUALLY CAPTURE THE POETIC ESSENCE OF LIFE ITSELF: "The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as an example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good." ... WHOA.

Making Movies BY SIDNEY LUMET - A FITTING PARTNER FOR IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, LUMET'S TREATMENT OF THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF FILMMAKING LINES UP SO SUCCINCTLY WITH HIS PERSONAL ETHOS AND APPROACH TO HIS WORK. WHICH JUST MEANS IT'S AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ FROM ONE OF THE BEST DIRECTORS EVER.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood AND Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film BY PETER BISKIND - FORGET HIGH-MINDED INSIGHT, THESE BOOKS PRACTICALLY BORDER ON GOSSIP. THROUGH INTERVIEWS AND RESEARCH, EASY RIDERS COVERS THE MYTHIC RISE OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA OF THE LATE 60'S / 70'S, WHICH IS RIGHTFULLY REGARDED AS THE MOST ARTISTICALLY VIBRANT PERIOD IN AMERICAN FILM HISTORY. BUT INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, THE BOOK'S CANDID NATURE DOES SO MUCH TO BRING DOWN THE MYTHOS OF ARTISTIC PURITY THAT IS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THOSE FILMS, WHICH ACTUALLY TURNS IT INTO KIND OF A BUMMER FOR SOME PEOPLE. BUT FOR HULK IT'S JUST PERFECT, FOR THERE ARE FEW THINGS MORE REFRESHING THAN THE SIMPLE TRUTH THAT GREAT ART AND ENTERTAINING PULP OFTEN IS JUST THE RESULT OF DEDICATED, REGULAR PEOPLE WHO DID THEIR BEST WHILE WORKING NECK-DEEP IN THE UTTER CHAOS THAT IS MAKING MOVIES. MEANWHILE, DOWN AND DIRTY IS MUCH LESS A GRAND, IRREVERENT LOOK BACK ON THE RISE OF INDEPENDENT FILM AS IT IS AN EXPOSÉ FROM ALL THE PEOPLE FUCKED OVER BY THE WEINSTEINS, WHO WERE EAGER TO WHISPER THE UGLY, INSANE TRUTHS UNDERNEATH MIRAMAX'S RISE TO POWER.

Kieslowski on Kieslowski BY KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI - ONE OF HULK'S HEROES TALKS ABOUT CINEMA, LIFE AND ART WHILE DOING SO IN AN IDEALLY HUMBLE FASHION.

Getting Away With It: Or: The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw BY STEVEN SODERBERGH AND RICHARD LESTER - A COMMENTER HERE ON BADASS ONCE SAID THAT HE ENJOYED SODERBERGH TALKING ABOUT FILM EVEN MORE THAN HE/SHE ENJOYED HIS ACTUAL FILMS. WELL, THEY ARE IN LUCK BECAUSE THIS GREAT BOOK IS BASED ON A SERIES OF CONVERSATIONS WITH RICHARD LESTER ABOUT FILMMAKING (COMING RIGHT AFTER SODERBERGH'S FIRST SURGE INTO MAINSTREAM SUCCESS AND ADORATION).

The Kid Stays in the Picture (AUDIOBOOK) BY ROBERT EVANS - LISTENING TO THIS RIDICULOUS PERSON TALK ABOUT HIS LIFE IS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE THINGS EVER. TRUST HULK. GO CD / AUDIOBOOK ON THIS ONE.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter BY TOM BISSELL - MEDIA IS CHANGING. AND IT WAS THIS BOOK BY BISSELL THAT HELPED SHAPED HULK'S UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT VIDEO GAMES ARE, HOW THEY'RE DIFFERENT, WHAT THEY CAN DO, WHAT THEY CAN'T DO AND HOW IT NOT ONLY ALL FITS INTO HULK'S UNDERSTANDING OF CINEMA, BUT THE MODES OF MEDIA AND ART AND PURPOSE THAT EXIST ALL AROUND US. AND IT'S ALL STILL TAKING SHAPE. THERE IS A REASON GAME CRITICISM IS REALLY EXCITING RIGHT NOW.

EVERY BOOK BY PAULINE KAEL, BUT IF HULK HAS TO PICK ONE, UM, CRAP THIS IS HARD. OKAY JUST GO WITH Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (YES, THAT'S WHERE SHANE GOT THE TITLE) - BUT REALLY. READ EVERYTHING KAEL EVER WROTE. PEOPLE ASK HULK ALL THE TIME WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A CRITIC, BUT IN THE END IT'S ABOUT UNDERSTANDING YOUR VOICE, YOUR POINT OF VIEW, WHAT YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU DON'T AND HAVING THE WILLINGNESS TO CONSTANTLY EVOLVE. READING THE LIFE'S WORK OF KAEL WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THAT ARC BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE. ALSO, SHE'S FUN AS ALL HELL. WHICH HELPS.

What Is Cinema? Vol. I AND II BY ANDRÉ BAZIN - A MUST FOR ASPIRING CRITICS. AS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF CAHIERS DU CINÉMA, HE POSTULATES THAT CENTRAL QUESTION AND DIGS IN IN A WAY REMINISCENT OF TARKOVSKY'S GREAT CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING.

Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons BY JONATHAN ROSENBAUM - HIS ARGUMENT FOR GREAT FILM IS IN ESSENCE AN ARGUMENT FOR THE VALUE OF HAVING A FILM CULTURE, WHICH IS THEN IN ESSENCE AN ARGUMENT FOR CULTURE ITSELF.

Joe Bob Goes To the Drive-In BY JOE BOB BRIGGS - HE'S A RIDICULOUSLY FUNNY MAN WHO HAS COME TO SYMBOLIZE SOME MANY GREAT THINGS ABOUT B-MOVIE CINEMA, MOSTLY THE BEAUTY OF BLOOD AND BOOBS. BUT FEW HAVE SO SUCCINCTLY UNDERSTOOD THE NAKED JOY OF THESE JUVENILE IMPULSES AND "GETS" WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS ABOUT THIS KIND OF STUFF. HIS BOOKS SHINE, BUT GETTING TO WATCH BRIGGS ON TV FOR YEARS AND YEARS WAS JUST AN UTTER DELIGHT.

Hitchcock's Films Revisited BY ROBIN WOOD - NORMALLY HULK WOULD LINK TO THE ORIGINAL VERSION, BUT YOU CAN'T FIND A COPY OF THAT SUCKER FOR LESS THAN 120 BUCKS. SO REVISITED IT IS! WHICH IS NOT WITHOUT MERIT. WOOD TAKES HIS SEMINAL TEXT ON THE WORK OF HITCHCOCK AND CONTEXTUALIZES IT INTO HIS OWN DEVELOPMENT AS A CRITIC. WHAT MIGHT SEEM A BIT META IS IN FACT ANOTHER LAYER OF ILLUMINATION TO THE WORK OF ONE OF THE MEDIUM'S TRUE MASTERS.

The Films in My Life BY FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT - NOT A BOOK ABOUT TRUFFAUT, BUT A COLLECTION OF HIS CRITICISM FROM HIS CAHIERS DAYS!

A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking BY SAM FULLER - YOU SERIOUSLY DON'T WANT TO READ A BOOK BY CINEMA'S VERSION OF BUKOWSKI?

Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste BY JOHN WATERS - THE OPENING LINE: "To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits watching one of my films, it's like getting a standing ovation." BOOK IT. DONE.

AND THE LAST ONE... SO PEOPLE ASK HULK FOR GOOD SCREENWRITING / STORYTELLING BOOKS AND THE TRUTH IS THAT THERE ISN'T ONE ON THE MARKET THAT HULK IS SATISFIED WITH...

THAT'S WHY HULK WROTE ONE AND HULK SWEARS IT'S COMING OUT SOON!

GROUP 6 - SCREENPLAYS

*The Collected Works of Paddy Chayefsky: The Screenplays Volume 2: THE HOSPITAL, NETWORK AND ALTERED STATES -  HULK'S SAID IT BEFORE, BUT HE'S PROBABLY THE MOST BRILLIANT SCREENWRITER OF ALL TIME. SEE WHY HERE.

QUIZ SHOW BY PAUL ATTANASIO (CAN'T FIND A COPY OF THE BOOK TO LINK!) - NOBODY MATCHES THE ABILITY TO BE LYRICAL WITH THE CONCISE, ECONOMICAL NEEDS OF ACTION LINES QUITE LIKE ATTANASIO. HE'S SO GREAT AT SPEAKING TO THE ESSENCE OF THE THING WITHOUT EVER OVER-DESCRIBING IT. IT'S AN INCREDIBLE SKILL YOU TRULY NEED TO BE A GOOD SCREENWRITER.

Chinatown BY ROBERT TOWNE - MEANWHILE, THIS IS... NOT CONCISE. THAT'S 'CAUSE ROBERT TOWNE WROTE SCREENPLAYS LIKE FUCKING NOVELS. BUT HE'S MASTER OF CONVEYING CHARACTER AND STORY THROUGH SMALL DETAILS AND SIMPLY HAS TO BE READ.

Magnolia: The Shooting Script BY P.T. ANDERSON - PLEASE NOTE! DO NOT USE THIS SCRIPT TO LEARN HOW TO WRITE SCREENPLAY FORMATS. IT USES HYPER SHORTHAND WITH CAMERA MOVEMENTS AND A BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF THAT ONLY WORKS FOR SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY SET TO DIRECT THEIR OWN WORK. SO UNLESS YOU ARE IN THAT TRULY RARE SCENARIO, DON'T DO IT.

*Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red BY KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI AND KRZYSZTOF PIESIEWICZ- OF ALL OF KIESLOWSKI'S MANY TALENTS, IT IS PERHAPS HIS ABILITY TO WRITE WHICH IS THE MOST UNDERVALUED. TOGETHER WITH HIS PARTER PIESIEWICZ, THEY HAVE CRAFTED ONE OF THE MORE HUMANE AND REMARKABLE FEATS OF CINEMA IMAGINABLE.

MALCOLM X BY SPIKE LEE AND ARNOLD PERL (ALSO CAN'T FIND A GOOD LINK) - HULK HAS A REALLY HARD TIME WITH BIOPICS. SO OFTEN THEY ARE CONSTRAINED BY REALITY AND AS A RESULT THE "STORY" JUST BECOMES A LIST OF A GREATEST HITS. AS A RESULT, IT'S NOTHING BUT "AND THEN" FILMMAKING. TO BOOT, SO MANY BIOPICS ADOPT A VERY DOCU-LIKE STYLE TO HELP CONVINCE VIEWERS OF "THE REALITY" OF EVERYTHING. SO MALCOLM X PROVIDES A GREAT LESSON FOR BIOPICS AND INSTEAD GOES IN THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. MALCOLM X COVERS THE ENTIRE STORY OF HIS LIFE BUT EFFECTIVELY TREATS EACH CHAPTER AS ITS OWN HEIGHTENED MINI-MOVIE, FULL OF ALL SORTS OF CINEMATIC BOMBAST. AND IN THE END THE STORY ISN'T JUST TRUE TO THE STORY OF MALCOLM X - IT ACCENTUATES IT. HULK ARGUES THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE WAY TO APPROACH BIOPICS.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD: THE INTERACTIVE SCREENPLAY AND HOT FUZZ BY EDGAR WRIGHT AND SIMON PEGG - AN INTERACTIVE SCREENPLAY? YUP. THESE TWO SITES ARE SO RIDICULOUSLY HELPFUL IN CLARIFYING THE PROCESS ON THE PAGE AND HOW IT DIRECTLY TRANSLATES TO SCREEN.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The Shooting Script BY CHARLIE KAUFMAN - YOU KNOW WHY.

KISS KISS BANG BANG BY SHANE BLACK (CAN'T FIND LINK AGAIN) - A MASTER AT OF-THE-CUFF PROSE. OKAY... A LOT OF YOU ARE GOING TO READ SHANE BLACK SCRIPTS AND WANT TO BE FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING AND ALL THAT, BUT HERE'S THE THING... IF YOU ARE GOING TO FILL YOUR SCRIPT WITH JOKES THAT ONLY THE READER CAN SEE (AND HAVE ZERO FUCKING BEARING ON THE ACTUAL MOVIE) THEN KNOW THIS... YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY FUNNY. THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN SOMEONE COLORING OUTSIDE THE LINES AND IT'S NOT FUNNY AT ALL AND THUS YOU JUST END UP WASTING THE READER'S TIME. HULK ADVISES YOU TO NOT DO IT AT ALL, BUT HEY... WE ALL CAN'T BE SHANE BLACK.

Daughters of the Dust BY JULIE DASH - SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST STORIES-AS-METAHPOR ABOUT AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY. THIS IS LESS A PURE SCRIPT AND MORE AN EXPLANATION OF THE MAKING, BUT TRUST HULK ON THIS ONE. SEE THE UNDERRATED, LITTLE-SEEN GEM AND THEN READ THIS TO GET THE FULL STORY.

Prick Up Your Ears BY ALAN BENNET - THIS IS THE SCRIPT OF THE AFOREMENTIONED MOVIE ON THE LIFE OF JOE ORTON. IT'S HILARIOUS AND FEATURES ONE OF GARY OLDMAN'S BEST PERFORMANCES. SEE IT! READ IT!

Smoke Signals BY SHERMAN ALEXIE - ALEXIE IS ONE OF OUR BEST WRITERS AND THIS FILM SORT OF SUFFERS A BIT FROM PRODUCTIONITIS, BUT IT ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HIDE WHAT IS A REMARKABLE SCREENPLAY.

Trash Trio: Three Screenplays: PINK FLAMINGOS, DESPERATE LIVING, FLAMINGOS FOREVER BY JOHN WATERS - MORE WATERS!

GROUP 7 - RANDOM STUFF

The Harry Potter Complete Series BY JK ROWLING - ... BECAUSE THEY'RE FUCKIN' GOOD, THAT'S WHY.

Complete Saga of the Swamp Thing BY ALAN MOORE - WATCHMEN IS THE SEMINAL CLASSIC, BUT HULK MAY ACTUALLY PREFER ALAN MOORES TREATMENT OF OUR CHLOROPHYLL-FILLED FRIEND. WHAT STARTS AS A SERIES ABOUT PURIST HORROR EVENTUALLY TURNS INTO ONE OF THE MOST THOUGHTFUL MEDITATIONS ON THE NATURE OF LIFE... ALSO, AT ONE POINT SWAMP THING FIGHTS BATMAN. SO, YEAH. AWESOME.

They Also Ran BY IRVING STONE - A BOOK PRIMARILY FOR HISTORY BUFFS, BUT IT'S ONE OF THE MOST MIND-BENDING BITS THAT HULK'S EVER READ. YOU SEE, IT'S ABOUT EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND THE LOSERS WHO LOST THEM AND HOW THEIR POLITICS COULD HAVE AND WOULD HAVE DRAMATICALLY AFFECTED HISTORY. IT'S FASCINATING.

The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy BY BILL SIMMONS - AT A CERTAIN POINT THE BOOK JUST BECOMES A LARGER ARGUMENT OF WHICH PLAYERS ARE BETTER THAN WHICH PLAYERS, BUT MUCH OF THIS BOOK IS GREAT IN THAT IT READILY TRANSLATES WHAT MAKES THE SPORT SO SPECIAL AND HOW MUCH PLAY STYLE AND SACRIFICE FUNCTIONS INTO SUCCESS. OH BY THE WAY, HULK LOVES SPORTS AND SPECIFICALLY BASKETBALL.

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract BY BILL JAMES - SPEAKING OF SPORTS, JAMES MAY BE THE KING OF ALL THEM... AND BOY DOES HULK LOVE THIS GUY... HULK HAS SOME STORIES TOO.

Where the Wild Things Are BY MAURICE SENDAK - THE BEST CHILDRENS' BOOKS ARE ABOUT THE COMPLICATION OF EMOTION. NONE MORE RESONANT THAN THIS ONE. (BTW, HULK STILL THINKS THE MOVIE IS A MASTERPIECE).

How to Cook Everything  BY MARK BITTMAN - THE BEST INTRODUCTORY COOK BOOK EVER. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS. THAT'S BECAUSE IT ACTUALLY TEACHES YOU HOW TO COOK THROUGH THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROCESS AND NOT JUST RECIPE RECREATION. IN FACT, THERE ARE ONLY THE MOST BASIC INGREDIENTS IN THE RECIPES AND HE TEACHES YOU HOW TO AUGMENT THEM BASED ON YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF TASTE. IT IS INCREDIBLE.

The Holy Bible - "Have you ever read this thing? Talk about a preachy book! And everybody's a sinner! ... except this guy." HOMER SIMPSON QUOTES ASIDE, IT'S A INTERESTING THING TO TALK ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO FORMATIVE READING. SO LET'S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY: HULK IS AN ATHIEST, BUT GREW UP AS A SKEPTICAL CATHOLIC (TO THE POINT OF EVEN BEING CONFIRMED). BUT AS A GOOD LIL CATHOLIC HULK NEVER ACTUALLY HAD TO READ THE THING. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS A LOT IN EAST COAST CATHOLICISM. IT'S ALL "TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT" AND YOU DON'T LEARN MUCH. BUT WHEN YOU ACTUALLY READ THIS SUCKER LIKE HULK FINALLY DID IN THEOLOGY CLASSES, YOU FINALLY LEARN MUCH MORE THAN WHAT IS AND ISN'T MEANT BY IT. TO TAKE THE SECULAR VIEW ON THIS, HULK SEES THE BOOK AS A GROUP OF CLASSIC SHORT STORIES, WRITTEN LONG AGO ABOUT THE NATURE OF MORALITY AND THEY JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE A LOT OF REVERENCE IN THEM. AND YES, THAT JESUS GUY WAS PRETTY GROOVY AND UNDERSTANDING. BUT THE VALUE TO YOU, AS A STORYTELLER, IS TO RECOGNIZE THE INHERENT VALUE IN OF KNOWING THESE STORIES AND THEIR PLACE IN OUR OWN CULTURE / HISTORY OF STORY. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? RELIGIOUS FEELINGS ASIDE, IT'S SIMPLY A FORMATIVE STORY TEXT.

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven BY MARK TWAIN - TWAIN IS, QUITE POSSIBLY, THE BEST. A MAN WHO SIMPLY SAW THE WORLD IN SUCH CRYSTALLINE, IMPOSSIBLY FUNNY LIGHT. HIS WIT NEEDS TO BE TREASURED FOR THE REST OF HISTORY. THIS ONE IS JUST A SHORT STORY, BUT HULK THOUGHT LONG AND HARD ABOUT WHICH RECOMMENDATION TO GO OUT WITH. AND IT'S ALL ABOUT DEATH AND NOT-SO-COINCIDENTALLY HAPPENS TO BE THE ONE TWAIN WENT OUT WITH HIMSELF. AND SO IT'S THE ONE HULK WILL GO OUT WITH TOO. PERHAPS IT'S ALL JUST TOO FITTING.

* * *

AND SO THAT ABOUT COVERS IT. WRAPS HER ALL UP. HULK REALLY DOESN'T HAVE MUCH TO ADD TO ALL THIS. IT'S SORT OF ALL A GARGANTUAN UNDERTAKING THAT CAN TAKE A WHOLE LIFETIME TO WADE THROUGH.

JUST KNOW THAT YOUR BIG GREEN FRIEND IS WISHING YOU NOTHING BUT THE HAPPIEST OF READING.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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