Imagine a Blaxploitation film with all the nuance and backstory left in. Dan Curry's debut delivers on that concept, as well as on its hilarious (andImagine a Blaxploitation film with all the nuance and backstory left in. Dan Curry's debut delivers on that concept, as well as on its hilarious (and deeper than you realize) title. It's the story of a woman who is chronically underestimated and dismissed, and takes full advantage of it. Almost very character gets a funny, Tarantino-like personal history, and one of the book's great joys is the author taking a break from the fast-moving plot to let us look around in another character's closet.
There's also a perfect mix here of character, plot and setting - the book takes full advantage of its 1970s California backdrop, incorporating Black Panthers and even Jim Jones (of Jamestown infamy) into his narrative. Curry finds lots of humor without treating any of the history too lightly. And there's a thoughtful moral about being too quick to judge, hidden right there in the title.
"Kung Fu-Lesbian" is as fun as a guilty pleasure. But it's so smart that you don't end up feeling guilty. ...more
It's been a long time since I read anything so hard to put down. Between the critiques that he's a nose-in-the-air elitist and a trash-peddler, I thinIt's been a long time since I read anything so hard to put down. Between the critiques that he's a nose-in-the-air elitist and a trash-peddler, I think Franzen's nailed a perfect middle ground. He's written a thoughtful, expansive, thought-provoking book that's also a joy to read.
(Semi-spoiler alert: Very non-specific details on the plot ahead.)
Some of the criticisms of this strike me as kind of trifling. Yes, the link between mountain-top removal and war profiteering is a little far-out, but it's also at least partly satirical, a nod to the sense that Halliburton is somehow behind everything. (And the link in the book isn't as crazy, say, as Halliburton's role in the BP oil spill. Anyone see that one coming?)
The other major complaint, that it's unbelievable that Patty would write as well as she does, strikes me as misplaced. I share a strong dislike of books in which everyone writes or talks like the author. But Patty's ironic, self-consciously formal voice isn't the same as the narrator's. It feels exactly right for a rich but largely unsuccessful person who knows how spoiled and bratty she must look to outsiders. The frequent comment that a jock couldn't write like she does is absurd, first because jocks are people too and blah blah blah but also, more importantly, because she's the child of a lawyer and politician who communicate for a living. They would encourage if not demand that their kids know how to speak and write well, and for all their many, many shortcomings, Patty and her siblings all seem at least capable of functioning at a high level. Even though they often don't.
Full-tilt spoiler alert.
Given Franzen's fascination with birds, I was entertained and amused by all the horrible things Walter does in the name of protecting them. This seems to me a perfect reflection of a phenomenon that's very difficult to pin down: Trying to do something for the greater good often comes off as elitist at best and selfish at worst. Can't be troubled to eat meat like everyone else? What a pain in the ass you are. Ooh, an "alternative-fuel" car. I guess it's too fancy for our plain-folks gas stations. Walter's bird-fixation beautifully captures the strange loneliness of his attempts to do good. He somehow comes off looking worse than people who make no effort at all.
Why did Franzen choose birds to illustrate this? Does he think Walter's ultimately in the right? Does he doubt his own motives as a bird advocate, the way Patty questions her own motives in that much-maligned diary? Maybe it's neither, but I thought it was a thought-provoking and - uh-oh - fun move. ...more
This is one of the most flat-out inspiring books I've ever read. It makes you want to run and run, and when you're running and feeling tired, it reminThis is one of the most flat-out inspiring books I've ever read. It makes you want to run and run, and when you're running and feeling tired, it reminds you what human beings are capable of and pushes you on. It features jaw-dropping stories of human capability and compassion, fine profiles of some of the world's best athletes, and even practical advice about how to eat, run and live. ...more
I feel like a lot of autobiographies skip over the most interesting part of the subject's life: How he became who he is. Not true of SLASH. He and hisI feel like a lot of autobiographies skip over the most interesting part of the subject's life: How he became who he is. Not true of SLASH. He and his co-writer give us exactly the right amount of detail about his unique upbringing, how he learned to play, and his lean years, which included living with Axl Rose in a storage space. (And his description of hearing Axl for the first time, on a demo, is the best description of Axl's voice I've ever come across.) There's a sense of terror in knowing what's to come once GNR gets together: It should pain any fan of the band to watch the setting of small traps that eventually destroy the group. (I'm not sure how many times the book includes the sentence, "Axl refused to leave his room.") But the book, in a casual writing style perfect for its story, includes as much self-criticism as complaints about anyone else. And I've never been so happy to live in the age of YouTube as I was while reading this book: Everything he mentions is there for you to watch, from the early Ritz show to the Farm Aid debut of "Civil War" (Steven Adler's last night with Guns) to the St. Louis disaster. Yowzah. ...more
I could have read another 200 pages of this. I loved the tone he set - he's really good with boundaries. You get a sense of how he became the standupI could have read another 200 pages of this. I loved the tone he set - he's really good with boundaries. You get a sense of how he became the standup he did, but he's very restrained with not throwing in a lot of false modesty or internal conflict or other elements that would just feel fake. It's a very, very pleasant read. And a huge compliment to say I wish it were longer.
Anyone with a passing interest in Steve Martin, or standup, or even the 60s and 70s (is this a wide enough net?) should find this fascinating. It's fascinating to see the thought process that went into his act (and it feels like there really was one), and fun to learn the origins or the arrow through the head and the white suit.
It's also fascinating to see how he turned into a rock star of a comedian, the biggest of all time (at the time, and maybe still? Eddie Murphy? Chris Rock?). The book ends with a breezy description of his crowds growing from 200 to 40,000, and this is the one place where modesty - or perhaps his burned-out feelings toward this era - keep him from going into what would probably be compelling detail....more
The botany and business behind marijuana provide the perfect subject for Mark Haskell Smith's wily, subversive voice. The book teems with sex, drugs,The botany and business behind marijuana provide the perfect subject for Mark Haskell Smith's wily, subversive voice. The book teems with sex, drugs, and violence, but it's all so hilariously cheerful. There's no question the book is coming from a good place.
I tried recently to explain a scene in which a near-assassination is unraveled by a sex toy, but I kept laughing too much at the awesome of audacity of it. ...more
I wanted this to be better. It's grotesque without much suspense or payoff. Maybe that's the point. Maybe we're supposed to see the world as a place wI wanted this to be better. It's grotesque without much suspense or payoff. Maybe that's the point. Maybe we're supposed to see the world as a place without logic or consequences or stakes, and maybe Moore is saying this is how the world appears to the Joker. We're supposed to be overwhelmed by the feckless cruelty until we're as desensitized to it as The Joker is.
It's just... if this is really how the Joker sees the world, he isn't a very interesting character. And we all know that he is. So I have to think this story could have done more.
A masterpiece. Such imaginitive storytelling, and Chris Claremont's voice just takes me right back to being 12 years old. No science fiction storylineA masterpiece. Such imaginitive storytelling, and Chris Claremont's voice just takes me right back to being 12 years old. No science fiction storyline of the last three decades has received as many, um, homages as this one. Days of Future Past cannonball-specials past its imitators....more