AIR, by Ryan Gattis, is one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Grey is a guy who loves to get air – to ride his bicycle as fast as possible before taking off of a ramp or other stable structure and doing flips or other risky stunts. He doesn’t do this to be a risk-taker. He does it for the satisfaction of accomplishing something that seems to be impossible. He lives for the feeling of the air rushing past him and the pride he takes in planning and executing a difficult move.
Upon the murder of his mother, Grey is forced to move to Baltimore to live with his Aunt Blue. Once there, he finds that it’s not only his bi-racial heritage that makes him different, but the fact that he is new to town. He doesn’t get the jokes, have the accent, or know his way around. He also doesn’t live with his brothers and sisters any more. It’s a difficult adjustment and in the course of settling in, he is befriended by Akil Williams. Continue reading →
I’ve just listened to a book about the creative process and managing creative people. This book – Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – traces Catmull’s career, the genesis of computer animation, and the growth of Pixar, both pre- and post-Disney. As a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of computer graphics, Catmull definitely has the experience to back up his theories on the role and sustenance of creativity in the work place. His use of actual events to illustrate his points made the book even more useful to me.
This book piqued my interest for a number of reasons:
1. The switch from mainframes to PDAs has taken place in my professional lifetime.
2. I’ve always been curious about the development and introduction of computers in animation.
3. I often write about business and have an interest in Best Practices.
4. As a writer I find that I have a number of tricks that get me started and keep me going – but I could always use more.
5. I wanted to know if there was a replicable system or articulated set of assumptions and practices that led to the string of Pixar successes.
I found material that covered all of the above, as well as a very loving remembrance of Steve Jobs that I did not expect.
I just finished reading The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. This stunning book is comprised of related short stories that are based on O’Brien’s experiences in Viet Nam. That makes them war stories, but labeling them as such imposes a genre on writing that is so incredible it defies a designation. These stories are of struggle, excruciating choices, love, loss, and celebration. O’Brien’s strong and masterful voice leads you through it all.
I started reading Dune last week. It wasn’t until mention was made of the melting polar ice caps that Frank Herbert’s prescience struck me. Dune was published in 1965. It immediately won the Hugo and the very first Nebula. Those are surely reasons enough to read this scifi novel, but for me there is something more. With Dune I glimpse the adult vision of the future that was taking hold at the same time I was being asked to formulate my own nine-year old view of that future. Continue reading →