Maybe I've been watching too many Let's Plays on YouTube lately, but as I read Camp Concentration, I kept thinking what an interesting horror video ga...moreMaybe I've been watching too many Let's Plays on YouTube lately, but as I read Camp Concentration, I kept thinking what an interesting horror video game it would have made, say in the vein of the recent Outlast which was also about human experimentation to augment mental capacities. My friend C, who gave the book to me, described it as "[i]f a surrealist with paranoia decided to re-write Flowers for Algernon" and I think the description is apt. I love Disch's decadent jail where (most) everything is unlocked but under surveillance and the inmates are fed the finest French food while they waste away & die. My one continuing curiosity are the events that happen outside Sacchetti's journal, which makes up the book. The journal succeeds in its verisimilitude because it is self-centered, like many regular journals would be, opposed to a finely detailed narrative posing as a personal record. However, I reached the last pages & I just wanted to know what happened next in the decaying, maddening world Sacchetti portrays. Was a cure found? Did consciousness-jumping save some of the infected? Since there are editors' notes sprinkled through the text, clearly someone was around to present the journal, at least for awhile. Instead of detracting from the book, this suspense actually made it a lot more fun to tease out more clues and reread parts. A fun book if you're in the mood to play.(less)
This is my All Hallows Read gift from my bestest friend!
I was really intrigued with the world of this book and I kept reading to figure out more about...moreThis is my All Hallows Read gift from my bestest friend!
I was really intrigued with the world of this book and I kept reading to figure out more about the Ina society Butler created. So the four stars are awarded just for keeping me tied to this book nonstop. But, I was disappointed that some of the more key plot points were left open, like Shori's forgotten past life or what happens to the Silk family. But I think this makes it clear that Butler had a series planned where she could delve more deeply into Shori's story. I'm sad she didn't get a chance to create more stories.(less)
Of the three big "demonic children" movies: The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary's Baby, I've always enjoyed the last. There's a quietness to it that t...moreOf the three big "demonic children" movies: The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary's Baby, I've always enjoyed the last. There's a quietness to it that the other two don't have & it's equally amusing that the Satanists aren't glamorous or immediately sinister--they're your nosy old neighbors. (Which, in hindsight, makes Polanski's The Ninth Gate even more unintentionally hilarious.) So, when I finally read Rosemary's Baby, I was pleased to see that Polanski followed the text pretty directly. If you enjoy the movie, you'll enjoy the book & you won't be able to see Minnie Castevet as anyone other than Ruth Gordon. The edge that the novel does have over the movie, however, is that the ending scene makes the different approaches between Rosemary & Roman a bit clearer. Roman comes off like any modern fundamentalist and Rosemary isn't a broken doll of a woman: she's still clinging to a notion of faith, that her child can't be all evil. Levin is clearly having fun goosing the reader with the horrific baby, but there also seems to be an undercurrent of mourning over the mid-60s and the turmoil that it ultimately brought about. In any case, RB is a great Halloween read, so enjoy it on a dark & stormy night relatively soon.(less)
Neil Postman says in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death that American society has been drowning in trivial information since the advent of the teleph...moreNeil Postman says in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death that American society has been drowning in trivial information since the advent of the telephone. But the truth is that we have always been drawn to curious facts as well as books that promise us many factoid tidbits covering many different topics. John Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise acknowledges our long-standing interest by invoking, in his forward, Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. Areas is a modern descendent of Poor Richard's with one main difference. In an era where everyone is entitled to their own facts (truthiness much?), Areas is full of fake facts conveyed with the absolute authority that comes with being A Professional Writer. While I could easily go on a tangent about how writers play with ideas of experience and authority, I'll restrain myself. (It's just GoodReads after all, I tell myself.) Because as much as this book messes with each idea, Areas is not some snotty postmodern exercise--it's too damn fun. A chapter devoted to 700 hobo names may sound dubious, but I surprised myself by giggling over names like Maryland Sol Saynomore and Patrick Intergalactic. And anyone who has an interest in food writing must read "Top Spots for Crabs," a send-up of food magazines and the breezy articles that fill them. The pure silliness of the pieces in Areas keeps the books from taking itself too seriously and soothes our weird trivia itch. Then again, I was the kind of kid who would skim through a cultural literacy dictionary because I had read all of the books I owned or had checked out. So, Mr. Hodgman, thanks for making this book dork smile.(less)
It is one thing to create a notebook of assorted ideas & media to use as inspiration or as a research tool for yourself. It is another to publish...moreIt is one thing to create a notebook of assorted ideas & media to use as inspiration or as a research tool for yourself. It is another to publish it as a book & try to get people to get as excited about it as you. Radioactive is an interesting project, linking biographical material about Marie Curie's life to other stories or ideas about what the atomic bomb & radioactivity has done to our world. But there is very little substance to the material presented as Marie Curie's biography & the structure to the related stories is haphazard. For example, a mention of Marie Curie going to live with a friend after a social scandal segues into a section on fallout shelters. The book is pretty but ultimately a jumping off point for the reader's own research into the Curies or the atomic bomb. (less)
A weird f.ing little book. Wouldn't be surprised if there is some link between this & David Milch's Luck. Both writers show similar sensibilities...moreA weird f.ing little book. Wouldn't be surprised if there is some link between this & David Milch's Luck. Both writers show similar sensibilities of language, relationships of power, and hierarchies.(less)
An interesting look at how Faulkner struggled to tell the origins of the Snopes family. Much of these pages were eventually folded into The Hamlet as...moreAn interesting look at how Faulkner struggled to tell the origins of the Snopes family. Much of these pages were eventually folded into The Hamlet as the section The Spotted Horses. But, this volume is really more for Faulkner completists.(less)
3.5 instead of 3. I've heard & read various stories about Mary Karr & was prepared to not like her writing. However, I was captivated by Cherr...more3.5 instead of 3. I've heard & read various stories about Mary Karr & was prepared to not like her writing. However, I was captivated by Cherry & Karr's portrayal of the familiar yet stagnant life in a small Southern town. In the last section of the book, Karr mentions how she is always surprised when people think her personal stories indicate a hard childhood or how she developed personal strength. She thinks that everyone from her hometown could tell stories about how hard their life is & this matter-of-factness informs much of her writing voice. I was surprised that while this memoir is about loss of innocence in many different ways, Karr skates over a childhood incident that seems to suggest her first sexual contact was at a very young age & possibly coerced. Maybe she had already told this story in one of her other memoirs; I don't know since Cherry is the first work I've read by Karr. The timeline seems to spiral out of control a bit but is to be expected since the story she tells is of a disorienting adolescence. Overall, an interesting read & I'll be looking forward to her other books.(less)
3.5 instead of 3. Redbreast is a very different read than Snowman or Leopard. If you've ever read Woodrell's Tomato Red & Winter's Bone side-by-si...more3.5 instead of 3. Redbreast is a very different read than Snowman or Leopard. If you've ever read Woodrell's Tomato Red & Winter's Bone side-by-side, the difference in Nesbo's books is similar. Redbreast, like Winter's Bone, is slower, more character-driven, where Snowman or Leopard, like Tomato Red, is terser, plot-driven, and ready to take the reader for a ride. It's particularly poignant reading Redbreast while Anders Breivik is on trial in Norway, although I don't know if Nesbo could have anticipated the lengths someone like Breivik would go to (ie, attacking children) for his cause.(less)
3.5 instead of 3. I think what makes these novels so compelling is that I keep thinking there's going to be a big climactic shoot-em-up, mainly becaus...more3.5 instead of 3. I think what makes these novels so compelling is that I keep thinking there's going to be a big climactic shoot-em-up, mainly because the tension in these novels burns so slowly, I expect a huge bang. But, when the end does come, it is gritty, straightforward, with little fanfare and surprising poetry. Woodrell fools me every time, with excellent results. I think he must carry the Shades around with him all of the time, because I doubt there is any way that their stories don't continue. I know I keep thinking about them. Bravo sir!(less)
3.25 instead of 3. There is a girl who works at the salon that I go to who I have a rabid girl-crush on. She's about 6 feet tall, curvy, has her hair...more3.25 instead of 3. There is a girl who works at the salon that I go to who I have a rabid girl-crush on. She's about 6 feet tall, curvy, has her hair done in a Bettie Page style with blunt bangs & volume, & her arms are covered in sleeves of tattoos. Part of the attraction is the fact that she looks the way I want to.
Dorothy Parker's Elbow is a collection that inspires the same sort of desire in me. These are stories & essays by people who have explored their skins' limits & the collision of experience & the body. It reminds me of the reason why I fell in love with tattoos in the first place & leaves me hungry for the look of new ink. It's a beautiful, although somewhat lopsided collection, which is what keeps it from a 3.5 or 4. Highlights are Seth Mnookin's "It Only Hurts a Little," Karol Griffin's "Zowie," Elizabeth McCracken's "It's Bad Luck to Die," & Kafka's "In the Penal Colony." Reading Dorothy Parker's Elbow is re-experiencing what it's like to sit in a chair, under the needle & shows you a few things you might not have had the courage to see. Thanks again to my best friend for giving it to me as a present.(less)
Think The Stranger by way of trailer trash in the Ozarks. Lyrical, intense & terribly sensitive toward its characters. I can't wait to read Winter...moreThink The Stranger by way of trailer trash in the Ozarks. Lyrical, intense & terribly sensitive toward its characters. I can't wait to read Winter's Bone.(less)