I first heard of S-Town through a friend last summer and was immediately interested. I’ve always liked listening to murder stories and podcasts, but haven’t necessarily found one that I’ve loved until S-Town. I’ve enjoyed listening to the stories shared on “My Favorite Murder” with Georgia and Karen, but I found this one to be more interesting with Brian Reed doing a real investigation. I don’t think I’ve binged a story like this since watching Sons of Anarchy.
When I first started listening to S-Town I was lured in after the first episode. Brian Reed has a real calming voice which made it easy to follow along and remember the important details that he brings up throughout the series. The eerie setting of a rural Alabama town was something I thought that really added to the intensity of the story. There was something about this John character that made me want to continue listening after every episode. The mix of a wealthy landowner with a rural Alabama mad scientist was the perfect character to add to a fishy murder story.
My first takeaway is that I felt that the maze that John had was very representative of the story as a whole. The maze, with 64 solutions, felt like the perfect depiction of how the investigation and story unfolded. The more and more Brian spoke with John and the people of Woodstock, the crazier the story became. I think this is a reason that I and many others found it so easy to binge-listen to S-Town. As soon as you thought you know what was going to happen and where the story was headed, something would pop up that would change the entire story.
John’s witty comments and funny sayings for everything kept me intrigued, but more importantly it was the way that Brian Reed and the creators formed such a narrative for the investigation. I felt invested in this little, small town and wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. Listening to the podcast makes you feel like you’re there investigating the crime with Brian Reed. I think they did a good job of this through Brian Reed giving his personal thoughts and comments on different situations (for example: the tattoo parlor with Tyler).
I didn’t enjoy the way that the podcast ended and felt kind of empty. When John died, I really wondered what direction the story would go. I noticed that after he took his life, I found that I wasn’t as eager to listen to the next episode as I was in previous episodes. John was such an important character in this podcast and I feel like that is what made S-Town so successful. It is a story that is so weird, but you just can’t stop listening because it is so entertaining. Overall, I would recommend S-Town to anyone and think that it is one of the best podcasts in the last three years.
The OA has always been something that’s caught my eye on Netflix with its interesting title picture. I remember watching the trailer on Netflix a couple times when it first came out, but I was never able to bolster enough interest to watch it. When I started the first episode, I was interested to find out what had happened to Prairie and what the show was going to be about. Overall, I felt that it was a good first season and I’m excited to see what they have in store for the next season. I saw a lot of complaints about some of the flaws in the show and I can definitely see that, but I felt that all in all it was a good mystery that kept me wanting to watch more.
For a person that really enjoyed Stranger Things, I’ve been looking for something to fill that Sci-Fi Mystery void. The first couple of episodes were pretty confusing for me, but they kept me interested. I thought that the character development took time and that the show left a lot of information out to start. I understand how this can make it confusing or annoying sometimes, but for me it’s fun to try and guess what is going on and what will happen next. The show felt like a big puzzle that they were dragging the viewers along through. I felt that apart of the reason that I wanted to watch more was that it was because I was so confused with what was going on, but nonetheless it worked. It seems like Netflix has really honed in on this creepy Sci-Fi market of shows like The OA and Stranger Things.
I thought it was hilarious at the end when the OA led the followers to start doing a weird dance. In my opinion, it was just kind of random to have a school shooter, and then when they starting busting out into dance moves to stop him it just seemed a little too much. I thought the show was interesting up to this point, but to end like this was just kind of odd. At the end, I never really figured out what the point of Prairie’s life was which confused me. I enjoyed the constant build up and suspense throughout the season, but I felt like this final shooting season just was weird and did not help the appeal of the show.
Overall, I thought it was a good show, but not one that I would continue watching. It just seems that the show is very scattered in how it reveals details and develops the characters. I really liked the camerawork and the constant plot development throughout, but it just didn’t do it for me. It seemed like a more serious version of Stranger Things, and I felt like the character relationships in it weren’t as good as those in Stranger Things. I would recommend this to a friend that is interested in these Sci-Fi Mystery-type shows, however it’s just not for me.
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Pierre; or, The Ambiguities Review – by A.H.
This book was my first introduction to Melville and probably the last time I will encounter him. Melville seems that he has some things to figure out as a writer. I really enjoy books that build with a good exposition, but this book just builds, and builds, and builds, then rips you to shreds all at once at the end. After reading countless pages of scenic descriptions and random tangents, you think that all your work will be rewarded at the end. Nope. Everyone dies, the end. To say I was a little disappointed was an understatement. After all, Melville did write Moby Dick, so I kept telling myself “just wait, just wait, it will get better.” Nope. It just comes to an abrupt stop.
I did enjoy how Melville crafted intriguing relationships that really make you puzzled and think. I also enjoyed the satire and criticism he used through Pierre. Melville has a unique writing style that may not flow as well as most novels, but you are able to appreciate his humor. In reading why Melville wrote this book, many say that it was a response to bad reviews to one of his other works. I respect Melville for trying to do something that other writers haven’t through such ambiguities; I just don’t think it worked out.
I’m not trying to say Melville is a bad writer, but this troubled piece had me wondering what the purpose of the book was the whole time I read it. I just think it is simply not a good book. I appreciate the detail that Melville uses and how meticulous his writing style is – it just bored me to death honestly. I was glad that there was finally action at the end. However, after grueling through pages and pages to get to a very rushed ending, I was very disappointed. I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the parallels between Melville and Pierre as well as the satire he employed. The addition of 150 extra pages was most likely not necessary and I probably would have liked the original version more. I feel that this book is an accurate representation of Melville: troubled, confused, and not to be too harsh, but a failure.
Final rating: 2/5
Recommend to a friend: Not unless they are an English major.