BOOK & BLOG
June 16, 2010
Book of the Week: The Passage, by Justin Cronin
I’m still plowing my way through Cronin’s book, which is reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand both in subject matter and length. Like King’s book, Cronin’s is a major work and it’s about the apocalypse and its aftermath. Justin Cronin brings about the end of America as we know it by the spread of a virus cultivated by American scientists, who first encounter it in South America. The virus, which has several strains, causes the human host to undergo a vampire-like transformation. Though I haven’t finished the book yet and some of this may change before I reach the end, these creatures aren’t capable of verbal communication and seem to have a kind of hive mentality. They live for a long time, can only be killed in a very specific way, and eat blood, whether human or animal. Any human being they bite becomes infected.
The scene changes during the book. After we go through the actual downfall of America with an FBI agent and a mysterious girl infected with a much later strain of the virus, we visit a compound where a stubborn group of survivors are holding out. They’ve developed a rigid protocol to maintain their safety, but of course any system is only as good as the people who enforce it. There are plenty of holes that develop in this system.
I estimate I’m two thirds of the way through The Passage, and my interest hasn’t flagged. I’m going to have to put it aside for my trip, though. There’s no way I’m lugging that thing on the plane with me. I’ll have to set it aside and take a couple of paperbacks. If I hadn’t already received a copy from my British publisher, I’d ask my husband to put it on his Kindle!
I’m sure I’ll see some of you in Iowa either at the Thursday event or the Friday. Till then!
I’ve been asked by more than one reader to give a better account of what actually happens at a premiere, so here goes.
The premiere for “True Blood” has been held every time at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. For those of you who don’t remember what Cinerama was, it was a new way of filming back in the sixties, and you could go to special theaters and view the action on a sort of curved semicircular screen. This Cinerama is the original one, but now the building has a regular flat screen, as far as I know. You can Google it if you’re interested. This theater seats 800.
The arrivals of the principal people are orchestrated. I was an early arrival, since I’m not that important in the “True Blood” scheme of things, and I have no problem with this. Premiere night is to celebrate the show and the people who work on it, particularly the actors. So us lesser fry (the woman who plays Ivetta, the young man who plays the lover of the King of Mississippi) get there earlier. Then come the more important people like Todd Lowe, Rutina Wesley, Kristin Bauer Van Straten. Then the even more important people come Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard. So the event always starts late. We had a start time of 7:30, and we finally all got seated at 8:15.
Anyway, to get back to drop-off time. There actually is a red carpet. When I scramble out of the limo, my family is ushered inside the theater and they’re checked off the list and given special bracelets to wear to verify that they’re invited guests. I’m assigned a handler from HBO who takes me along the red carpet where the press stands behind a waist-high barrier. Every reporter is backed up with a cameraman or two and usually one or two other people. They’re from all over, and represent very big organizations to very small ones. HBO itself, MTV, and on and one; some French, some Spanish, most American.
The handler very kindly explains who I am to the reporter, I step close to the barrier and answer four or five questions, we indicate we’re through with each other by saying “Thank you!” I step back, and my handler and I wait for the next free reporter.
So that’s how it works, and if I’ve described this before, I’m sorry. All the seating in the theater is assigned, too. The HBO executives are there, the actors and their plus ones are there, and I was able to bring my agent, my husband, and my three kids. I noticed that Alan got a whole row to invite I was envious!
The after-party was held a few blocks away at a place that specializes in such things. The decorations were amazing; stuffed wolves, fountains, a huge projection of the poster on the wall, various food stations with “southern” food (much fancier than the real thing) and about a million waiters who picked up used glasses and plates, brought drinks, and generally kept very busy. I had a designated table there, again not in the Great People corral, but special enough. Some readers stopped by to have their pictures made with me, I got to have a nice conversation at the theater with Michael Emerson from “Lost,” and director Alexander Woo. Rutina was as warm and charming as she always is. I did get to speak to Anna and Stephen briefly at the after-party, and Alexander (Skarsgard) was sweet enough to let me get a picture of him with my daughter.
So, that’s how it works. We were glad to get into our car and go back to the hotel afterward, and I reflected that it’s oddly easy to get used to almost anything.
© 2010 Charlaine Harris