Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


What I've been reading

Getting Lost: Survival, Baggage and Starting Over in J. J. Abrams' Lost, edited by Orson Scott Card. 260 pages, 2006, Benbella Books.

Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: An Unauthorized Guide by Lynnette Porter and David Lavery. 293 pages, 2006, Sourcebooks, Inc.

I haven't spoken of my love for Lost too often (occasionally, but not too often) because other sites delve into it so much better, while I am content to sit back and enjoy the ride. I don't have six hours a day to devote to watching each episode on TiVo and pause it to spot the Dharma Initiative logo on the shark that menaces Sawyer in the water (of course, when I buy Season Two on DVD I will have to look for it) or to surf the Internet and engage in discussion with other Lostaways about the significance of Watership Down. I just don't have the time, nor, to be honest, the inclination.

However, I love the show, and I love reading about behind-the-scenes entertainment stuff (see here and here), so I thought I'd get these two books before Season 3 started and catch up on my Lost mythology. Both books are very interesting if you're a fan, and I'd recommend them. The first one is better, though.

Getting Lost is a series of essays about various aspects of the show. Card, one of my favorite writers, has a very interesting introduction about why Lost is such a great show. He goes into the history of television and what Lost might mean for the future of TV, and it's very well done. The essays in the book look at theories about the show (is it a video game?) and who the leader of the group might be (not who you think). Most are done with tongue firmly in cheek, which makes them much more entertaining. These are people who obviously love the show but know not to take it too seriously. Therefore Adam Troy-Castro gives us the eerie similarities between the Lost island and another one from a certain 1960s situation comedy. Even with the spirit of jocularity, the writers do treat Lost as a text, and this is a good book about deconstructing that text. Bill Spangler examines the books on the island, including The Third Policeman, which Desmond was reading down in the hatch. The Third Policeman was published in 1937 and sounds like a really neat book. Of course, it has sold a bunch of copies in the past year. We also get longer essays about Atlantis and Lost's Locke connection to the real John Locke, as well as a brief examination of the plane crash by a pilot who tells us the whole thing is ridiculous. The highlight of the book is G. O. Likeskill's essay about trying to connect all the members of the cast in a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon way. He writes it as a journal, and it's very funny to read as he slowly goes crazy with all the connections. His Holy Grail is Yunjin Kim, who plays Sun. Before Lost she had only appeared in South Korean television and movies, so he has a hard time connecting her. His quest is very humorous. Interestingly enough, for such a large cast, none of the cast members had ever worked together before Lost.

Unlocking the Meaning of Lost is a more standard book in that the authors examine some of the themes of the show and some of its antecedents. It's an interesting book without the irreverence of the first, but the chapters on the texts that influence Lost and the fandom of the show are very good. Porter and Lavery mention some obvious influences (Lord of the Flies, Alias, Cast Away, Robinson Crusoe) and some not so much (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Alice in Wonderland, The Stand, The Turn of the Screw, A Wrinkle in Time). The fan chapter at the end of the book is the strongest in it, as the authors delve into the way Lost became an Internet phenomenon before it even aired, with special attention paid to how fans in the spring of 2004 may have saved the show before it began. The chapter also gets into the many theories about the show, and although it seems like the authors take it much more seriously than the essayists in the first book, they do a very good job covering all the many ideas circling cyberspace about the show. It's an interesting chapter to read because it shows how Lost's creators, most notably J. J. Abrams but also Damon Lindelof and the cast, help cultivate the obsessive cult of fans and even conspire with them. Apparently there is even "fake" information on the Internet (I know, shocking), planted by the show's creators to throw people off the scent. Both books do a fine job of showing how this has outgrown a simple television show, but this chapter does it particularly well.

Both books have glossaries, which are very helpful for people like me who don't obsess over the show on-line. There are many things that I have missed about the show, and it will be fun to sit down in the future and watch the DVDs. Lost is a show that demands multiple viewings, and I haven't really had the time to do so. The weakness of the books is, of course, that they were published before the second season ended, so there's a good deal missing from them, especially about The Others (and why that statue has four toes - what's up with that????). That's always the problem with books about ongoing series, and why I usually avoid them until the show is done. But with a show like Lost, there's so much going on that it's good to have a guide. If you're a fan of the show, either one of these books is a good read. The first book is better for esoteric thoughts about the show, while the second is stronger in the nuts-and-bolts way the show is constructed. They're quick reads, too, because they are both so interesting.

Man, I can't wait for the third season. What a good show.

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Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

The LostPedia, a Lost-centered wiki, is a fun way to waste oodles of time.

A great show. I love coming up with crackpot theories about the island. The gradual explanation of the situation is rawkin'.

Mrs. Jerkwater has decreed that Naveen Andrews is forever known in our house as "Mister Sexy." In the interests of marital comity, my name for Evangeline Lilly remains unspoken.


The four-toed statue? Obviously, the previous inhabitants of the island worshipped Homer Simpson.

As should we all.

22/8/06 9:17 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I like checking things out on-line, but like the Luddite I often am, books are more to my liking. I get a headache reading too much on-line, and I can take my books to bed with me. Of course, those cool sites are handy to check out every so often.

And my wife like Naveen Andrews, too. Apparently he's smoldering.

22/8/06 3:17 PM  
Blogger Krys said...

C'mon, everyone knows Sayid is totally hot! Jack is way too much of a whiner & let's face it, Sawyer is just going to fold under pressure. I like a man who can torture someone for information, and then still take me for a nice picnic on the beach.

23/8/06 9:45 AM  

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