RiffTrax Forum

General Discussion => Books 'n Readin' => Topic started by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 09, 2013, 01:41:03 PM

Title: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 09, 2013, 01:41:03 PM
Here's my review of Conor's new novel, Gone Whalin'. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1492966851/)

Quote
I purchased this novel because I happen to know that it's writer, Conor Lastowka, is a very funny person. How do I know this? Let's say that I am an enthusiast of RiffTrax commentaries. For those of you who don't know, RiffTrax is the online incarnation of Mystery Science Theater 3000, starring the team of the final three seasons, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. Now, MST3K, especially in its last three seasons, is incredibly funny. But I have to say that I think RiffTrax is a lot better, and one of the reasons is that they have at least two writers who are writing jokes that my generation (born in the 80s, grew up in the 90s) will appreciate and laugh at. Whenever I hear jokes that reference 8-bit Nintendo games or certain Saturday morning cartoons, I know that they had to have been written by either Lastowka or his writing partner, Sean. So that long, rambling paragraph explains WHY I bought the book.

Now, whether or not the book is actually funny and/or entertaining is a totally different thing. Just because somebody can write RiffTrax jokes doesn't necessarily mean that their humor will translate well into prose. I took this into consideration as I started reading the Kindle version yesterday (to get a head start on it while I wait for the paperback version to reach me,) and I gotta say that I forgot about any such consideration before I even finished the first chapter (or day.) Lastowka makes the funniest jokes I have read in prose novels in all of 2013. I don't want to give them all away, but this was the joke that pretty much locked the whole book for me.

"How does one measure something like "percentage of mobility loss on your right side" anyways? It sure looked like less than 90 percent every time Cormac saw him wheel by."

So yeah. If you're in it for the LOLs, which I definitely am, there are more than enough. It's rare when a book claiming to be a laugh-riot actually turns out to be a laugh-riot. Gone Whalin' actually delivers what it promises. So all aboard and argh, matey! I'm first in line for this and whatever comes after. Thumbs up and so on.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 10, 2013, 04:07:28 PM
Thanks Dodge. I meant to create a post about my book in here but didn't have a chance to last week. But yes! I wrote a novel, and it's funny, and I hope you will read it and that it will make you laugh.

It's available in paperback and on kindle (Just 2.99 on kindle!) right here: http://amzn.to/1bYuUwJ

If you'd like to read the first three chapters, you can do so at http://gonewhalin.com

Here is the book trailer, which Mike was kind enough to provide voiceover for:
http://www.youtube.com/v/ys7FasgNxuw

It was awesome of SRD to write that amazing review, and Mr Torso already sent me a pic of the book on his Kindle Fire. If you get one, send me a pic or let me know how you're enjoying it!
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Compound on November 10, 2013, 05:22:11 PM
Sigh.

Fine. I bought it. Your linking to it on Twitter over and over wore down my defenses:

(http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/9009/ma33.png)

No, I don't know why Citation is showing up twice. I'm pretty sure I didn't buy it twice.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Darth Geek on November 10, 2013, 05:37:42 PM
Thanks Dodge. I meant to create a post about my book in here but didn't have a chance to last week. But yes! I wrote a novel, and it's funny, and I hope you will read it and that it will make you laugh.

It's available in paperback and on kindle (Just 2.99 on kindle!) right here: http://amzn.to/1bYuUwJ

If you'd like to read the first three chapters, you can do so at http://gonewhalin.com

Here is the book trailer, which Mike was kind enough to provide voiceover for:
http://www.youtube.com/v/ys7FasgNxuw

It was awesome of SRD to write that amazing review, and Mr Torso already sent me a pic of the book on his Kindle Fire. If you get one, send me a pic or let me know how you're enjoying it!
Wait, so this ISN'T a fanfic sequel to the 1997 Joe Pesci and Danny Glover movie Gone Fishin' ?! I am disappointed.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Johnny Unusual on November 10, 2013, 05:53:31 PM
Only tangentially related:

I was at a whale watching tour that turned out to be not that (the weather wasn't so good, so we just stayed on the boat, which went nowhere, and we ate and drank) and they gave us a city map, a mousepad shaped like a whale chart and a book about Ulsan's whale history called "Yes, Whale", which has become my favourite thing ever for the title alone.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 11, 2013, 02:02:45 PM
Nice! Thanks compound! Perhaps the double [CN] is when we released an updated file that fixed a few typos? Not sure...

Hope you enjoy Gone Whalin'!
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 11, 2013, 03:45:40 PM
The paperback is taking forever to get here. The mail didn't come today for some reason...

(I know it's Veteran's Day, that's the joke.)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 12, 2013, 09:31:51 PM
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BY7TEcJCQAAIiux.jpg)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 13, 2013, 08:09:55 AM
I didn't realize how much page count would affect a book's cost. I assumed/hoped I'd be able to sell a paperback for under ten bucks, like the [Citation Needed] books. Because it was over 600 pages, the minimum price you could set it at was $14.50, which would net you exactly 0.00 if you sold a copy.

Fortunately, Amazon has strange methods of reducing books down from the list price, so this one has already been available for 12, 14 and 13.50, which is where it is now.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 13, 2013, 09:16:11 AM
Well, considering that a lot of first time novelists like to stick a $20 price tag on their 50k-word Nanowrimo novel that has poor formatting and AWFUL graphics (if I may say as a designer), your price is actually quite reasonable.

Speaking of covers, who made the cover graphic? It's a pretty good one.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 13, 2013, 09:47:11 AM
The cover is by Adam Koford, http://apelad.blogspot.com/

Adam designed the RiffTrax "Made Funny By" logo with the caricatures of Mike, Kevin, and Bill. He also did the Starship Troopers "Greetings from Zegema Beach" tshirt:

(https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/projects/416868/posts/556896/image-302716-full.jpg?1375475606)

I'd liked his illustrations for a long time and was really happy he agreed to do a cover.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Blasarius Yonder on November 13, 2013, 01:03:38 PM
Cormac Mcllhenney, huh?  Is the name a coincidence or can I expect to find some Cormac McCarthy references? 
Mine should get to me Friday.  Looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 13, 2013, 01:12:42 PM
That's cool. I wish more people would realize how important design is to their books. So many people can't be bothered to care what the OUTSIDE of their books look like, let alone the INTERIOR. But this book is very well designed, it means that you give a damn.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 13, 2013, 02:06:48 PM
Cormac Mcllhenney, huh?  Is the name a coincidence or can I expect to find some Cormac McCarthy references? 
Mine should get to me Friday.  Looking forward to it.

I guess it's a coincidence, though I was certainly aware of the similarity. McIlhenney is the last name of the folks who run the Alpine Brewery in San Diego, and I always thought it was a cool last name. The main character in the comic strip I drew in college was named Corbin, so I guess I have a thing for leads with COR___ names! Hope you enjoy it when it arrives!
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 13, 2013, 02:09:58 PM
That's cool. I wish more people would realize how important design is to their books. So many people can't be bothered to care what the OUTSIDE of their books look like, let alone the INTERIOR. But this book is very well designed, it means that you give a damn.

Yeah, the book interior was the trickiest, most terrifying part. I have no visual eye whatsoever, so figuring out not only how InDesign works, but what would look good in InDesign, took quite some time. Fortunately, there's a lot of resources that recommend stuff like fonts, and things like margins are laid out on the createspace forums. I found a font that I thought looked good and ran with it. Still had to adjust the margins in the whole thing once I realized it would be over 600 pages.

Then there was stuff like Orphans/widows, which are single lines that go on to the next page, which you don't realize never happen in professional books, but they look pretty crappy once you notice them. That was almost entirely a manual process to go through and adjust page margins for them.

The best part is, most people will read it on Kindle and never even encounter these things you labored over  :)

But I was also lucky enough to have a friend to help with the back cover layout as well as my ex-comic partner to do interior illustrations for each chapter, which I feel add a lot.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: MrTorso on November 13, 2013, 02:28:38 PM

The best part is, most people will read it on Kindle and never even encounter these things you labored over  :)

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BYfnEd3IcAA85EI.jpg:large)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 13, 2013, 02:37:11 PM
That's cool. I wish more people would realize how important design is to their books. So many people can't be bothered to care what the OUTSIDE of their books look like, let alone the INTERIOR. But this book is very well designed, it means that you give a damn.

Yeah, the book interior was the trickiest, most terrifying part. I have no visual eye whatsoever, so figuring out not only how InDesign works, but what would look good in InDesign, took quite some time. Fortunately, there's a lot of resources that recommend stuff like fonts, and things like margins are laid out on the createspace forums. I found a font that I thought looked good and ran with it. Still had to adjust the margins in the whole thing once I realized it would be over 600 pages.

I have never liked InDesign. I find it needlessly complicated, and for what I do in my style, I actually prefer working in Photoshop and Illustrator. There's not a lot InDesign can do for me that those two programs can't do easier and more effectively. I also think that if you know your way around MS Word and are willing to be somewhat minimalist with your block (text,) you can do it all in Word and still have it look professional. I know a lot of other people think InDesign is the best program you could possibly use, and I respect that, but for some reason I've never been able to discern its benefits.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 13, 2013, 03:20:12 PM
I just used it because that's how we arbitrarily laid out the Wikipedia books.

And there's nothing wrong with Kindle MrTorso! That's how I've read every book for the past three years. I just wanted to have a good looking paperback as a matter of pride, even thought I wouldn't have wanted to carry the thing around with me either.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 13, 2013, 06:49:12 PM
I just used it because that's how we arbitrarily laid out the Wikipedia books.

That's totally understandable. I know not everybody does things the way I would do them, and it totally works in your case. It's the little things, though, that people don't think are important that bug me. Like using "justify left" instead of "justify all" makes the book like a sideways, unfinished Tetris puzzle. Or something as simple as using a sans serif font, which is a huge strain on the eyeballs. Consistent titling from chapter to chapter is a big one too. You'd think people would care about this stuff, but a lot of them don't. It's like they can't be bothered to care how their own work looks, which doesn't do it any favors. So, again, the fact that you took the time to do all this stuff, ESPECIALLY with a book this size, some 200k words, shows that you DO care.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 16, 2013, 09:26:19 AM
Oh man, I stayed up WAY TOO LATE last night. I started reading the book in earnest at about 7:20, only intending to read a few chapters. At 4 AM I finally ran out of gas. Every time I thought "Okay, this is a good spot to call it a night and come back to it tomorrow," something TOTALLY CRAZY happens and I'm all "WHAT?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" and I was compelled to press forward to see where it all was going. For my money, the reveal on page 154 is the defining WTF moment of the entire book. There are plenty more after it, but I can say with absolute certainty that that is where the book comes into its own and goes in a direction that I totally did not see coming. It's insanity in the best possible sense of the word. This really is one of the most unique books I've ever read. I'm 2/3rds done and I'll probably finish it off sometime in the next few hours because I'm all "I HAVE to know how all this resolves itself."
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 16, 2013, 02:27:13 PM
I have finished the book, and like with a lot of books I read that I really, REALLY like, all I want to do is talk about it. Here are the problems, though. (With talking about it, that is.)

1) You can really only talk about it with people who have read it, and not very many people have read it yet. I really hope that changes soon. I could blab on and on about a very specific moment in the book where everything about it totally changed for me, and not in a bad way. Everything I wrote in my review last week still stands. I was confident enough after two "days" (chapters) on the Kindle to be able to say what I said about it, because it was mostly about how funny the book was and I couldn't fathom that changing. But I waited for the paperback to arrive so actually read the whole thing in earnest. But NOW all I want to talk about is how creatively brilliant it is. Conor does something in this book that I think if a lesser author tried to do, it would destroy the credibility of the book. And when I read it and realized this was the direction the story was going, it took me a few minutes to process what the hell had just happened, and the inescapable conclusion was that this was utter brilliance. Doing something like this EXTREMELY risky, but the execution of it and what comes after it is almost flawless, and it was then I realized that I wasn't going to sleep for a while. All of this is to say that I don't want to spoil this brilliant piece of whiplash fiction for others by talking about it in detail, but until more people read it it's going to be somewhat frustrating that there are very few people to actually talk about it with.

2) I don't want to become overbearing or sound like some weird stalker who is obsessed with it. Basically, I don't want to become a real life version of Brock from the story (when you read the story, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.) I've been talking about it on Twitter and here quite a bit lately, and I don't really want to be so overbearing with my praise of it that I become an annoyance. I basically don't want people to say "Okay, we get it, you like it! Now STFU!" That doesn't do anybody any favors, especially me. I don't want my enthusiasm to take away from the experience others will have with the book.

So, in the end, I guess what I'm saying is READ THE DAMN BOOK, GUYS! I'm all alone over here, dammit! It's a great story that deserves to be discussed. :)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 17, 2013, 10:16:22 AM
Nice! Really glad it got this kind of reaction! How can the rest of you read this and not want to check it out? :)

Not coming off as Brock-ish at all, though I appreciate the reference. What's funny is that i originally had the plot development you're talking about on the back cover. I figured it was such a prominent part of the book that it might hook people. My wife talked me out of it though, saying I should keep it a surprise. It definitely changes the way people would perceive the book, I think, but I do think it's best to come as a surprise.

Again, really glad you liked it, and hope some more people read it so we can talk about it.

Buckler, er I mean, Lastowka out!
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 17, 2013, 02:55:05 PM
Yeah, it was definitely the right move to make it a surprise. And don't worry, everybody, there is NO WAY you could possibly guess, predict or otherwise intuit what this plot point might be. Trust me, you'll be just as shocked as I was and it'll take you a minute or two to wrap your brain around it. I think if I knew it going on that it wouldn't have been as memorable an experience.

And not for nothing, but every time G-Dimes showed up I had to actively push the images of the sex scenes from The Room out of my head. Little deep cut there, I know, but I kept hearing Disembaudio and his friends talking in the background when G-Dimes was around.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 17, 2013, 05:51:32 PM
Ha! I completely forgot about that, I had to look up the script. Guess I thought the name had some promise a while ago. It was actually a friend named Gavin's nickname back in college.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 19, 2013, 03:51:53 PM
I'll say this much with a spoiler warning,

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on November 20, 2013, 11:24:34 AM
Threw this together before work this morning.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BZiBImoCQAEdPkA.png:large)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Johnny Unusual on November 21, 2013, 01:27:54 AM
Make that into a banner for whenever the banner thing is fixed (it's been mentioned).
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Darth Geek on November 21, 2013, 08:25:04 AM
So will the sequel take place on the Moon?
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Blasarius Yonder on November 26, 2013, 01:04:59 PM
Just started it.  I'm already surprised by how well-written it is.  I expected it to be outrageous and hilarious, but I'm really happy to see how readable it is too.
Hopefully I can squeeze in some reading time over the holidays.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on November 26, 2013, 02:18:50 PM
Awesome! Glad you are liking it Blasarius! Hope you can find some time amidst the gorging and walmart clerk trampling this weekend.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Blasarius Yonder on November 27, 2013, 09:52:04 AM
"Dear Ellenore... Please call me Captain from now on." 
This has entered my household.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on December 12, 2013, 02:36:24 PM
Dear Amazon, thanks for making it look like I didn't think the book was funny, you bunch of pricks! This makes me look like an asshole! I mean, I AM an asshole, but not because of this! I actually liked this, goddammit! When I don't like something, trust me, I'll say something. But when I really like something, I say it too! If I wasn't such a goddamn nice Mormon guy who never fucking swears or uses profane language (CUNTFUCKASSBALLS!), I would complain about this a lot more than just this post here and what I said over on Twitter.

There I said it.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BbUYCxoCUAAaP73.png:large)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Locuststakethesky on January 14, 2014, 08:09:56 AM
Finished this last week.  Absolutely loved it.  I read but usually it takes me a long time to finish a book.  This one I read in about a week.

I was in the middle of reading another book, A Confederacy of Dunces, when I noticed I could borrow Gone Whalin' for free with the Amazon Prime Kindle lending library or whatever it is.  Now that I've finished Whalin', I'm going back to Dunces.  I'm not much of a literature scholar (I'm an engineer, logical mind, not exactly artistic), but I noticed a similarity between the two books.  I think it had to do with how we keep getting introduced to these ridiculous characters, each more ridiculous than the last.  I looked in to Dunces today, and it's apparently considered a picaresqure novel.  I think Gone Whalin' shares some of the elements of picaresque.

I wasn't going to mention this until I noticed Conor made a reference to Dunces yesterday on twitter and I put two and two together.  Anyway, loved the book, Conor.  Definitely looking forward to anything else you write (including more Rifftrax!).
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on January 14, 2014, 09:41:15 AM
Hey Locuststakethesky, thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed the book, it means a lot to hear that.

Confederacy of Dunces is definitely an influence. I'd never claim to be able to describe people the way Toole does, he's on a level of his own the way he creates the vividly hilarious images of the characters and their squalid lives. But I did re-read the book before writing GW and was encouraged by its structure, in the way that the characters tie together but mostly how episodic I found it. It really does frame itself by certain distinct incidents Ignatius finds himself in, and I was happy to see that this was not perceived as a detriment to it. My main goal was always to be funny, and this was easier to do in a more loosely structured book.

So thanks again for the kind words and kudos on the eagle eye! Enjoy the rest of Confederacy, and pray that they never turn it into a terrible movie.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Conor on January 14, 2014, 10:25:13 AM
Probably doesn't come through well online, but I'm exceedingly grateful to everyone that took a chance on this book. I know it would take a lot to get me to read a book by a first time author, and for you all to invest the hours it takes to read the book is quite a commitment. So once again, thanks for giving it a shot.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: Sugar Ray Dodge on March 10, 2014, 09:42:22 PM
House sitting for my brother WHO'S IN FRICKIN' DISNEYLAND THE BASTARD, and I was passing the time by reading the Hunger Games Trilogy because my little sister (who is 22) kept bugging me to read the goddamn Hunger Games. So I read the goddamn Hunger Games, and the whole time I'm thinking "Why can't this be more like Gone Whalin'." True story.
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: MightyBombJack on October 30, 2014, 11:24:17 PM
One of the Anaconda goodies is supposed to be a free Kindle copy of Gone Whalin, but it's not free yet:

http://www.rifftrax.com/snake
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: MightyBombJack on October 31, 2014, 10:37:57 AM
I checked again and it's free now. :)
Title: Re: Gone Whalin' by Conor Lastowka
Post by: wihogfan on November 27, 2014, 09:23:29 PM
Got it for free thanks to the Anaconda give away. Really funny. Here's hoping Connor writes another because I'd definitely pay for it.