they don't always howl at the moon but they do only come out at night, in all sorts of shapes, there and not-there, ready to kill and have been readythey don't always howl at the moon but they do only come out at night, in all sorts of shapes, there and not-there, ready to kill and have been ready since the beginning of mankind. The Enemy! to humans and canines alike! masters of atomic probability: turning metal into mist and walking through walls; picking just the right place for an unfortunate accident, be it bloody car crash or a great fall from a high place. only silver holds them back! Fantastic Plot
expert pacing: the plot moves like it has someplace to go and should have been there yesterday. the prose crackles and pops. the descriptions of transformation, of what it feels like to be wolf or sabretooth or giant snake or ancient flying saurian... brilliantly done. Williamson gets right in there. Outstanding Writing well, at times.
the "hero" is as interesting and dynamic as a soppy mop. this idiot mewls like a kitten to a beyond-eye-rolling degree. seriously man, how many dreams do you have to have that appear to have actually occurred, down to the last detail, until you realize these are not dreams? well apparently nine-tenths of a novel's worth. get a grip and stop moaning about it, Princess Crybaby! Tedious Protagonist
I really didn't enjoy how the novel rationalizes the burning of witches, the burning of Joan of Arc, and the Inquisition. reading that gave me a visceral and verbal reaction: I yelled BOOOO! LAME! to no one in particular, startling my cat awake. Sorry, Digsy
literary author Gilbert Adair constructs a charming bagatelle that riffs on all of the tropes and standbys of classic murder mysteries written by Agatliterary author Gilbert Adair constructs a charming bagatelle that riffs on all of the tropes and standbys of classic murder mysteries written by Agatha Christie et al. we have the Colonel and the Vicar and the Country Doctor and their various wives and we have the eccentric Authoress (named Evadne, clearly to honor Christie's own Ariadne Oliver) and the grand-standing Actress and the Plucky, Pretty Young Thing and her beau, the Stalwart Young American. best of all, we have the murder victim, dead before the first page: an incredibly venomous gossip columnist whose nastiness and over-the-top snobbery (seared into his targets' memories and thus recounted to another standby, the Retired Police Inspector) caused me to laugh out loud repeatedly. everything about this vindictive little bitch was, in a word, delicious. Adair adroitly skirts the basic problem of juggling all of his stereotypical characters - namely, that reading about stereotypes is rather a bore - by stuffing his slim tale with heaps of wonderful wit and knowing irony and brief, gleeful bits of inappropriate humor based around race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and whether or not the murder victim "looks Jewish" - humor that happily skewers the characters themselves, including the narrator. I particularly appreciated the throwaway references to Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and The Mousetrap; beyond those and other callbacks, the book was obviously written as an homage to her classic The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. the murder mystery itself is well thought-out and I was surprisingly surprised at the identity of the murderer. although I really shouldn't have been surprised at all - the clues are all there. the whole endeavor is clever, clever, clever, and overall a delightful lark... although in the end I prefer actual classic murder mysteries to murder mystery parodies.
recommended for fans of cozy mysteries who don't mind a smart spoof of their favorite genre. also recommended for snooty literary types who wouldn't dare be seen reading such bourgeois entertainments.
and by the by... have you seen Murder By Death? if you liked that film you will no doubt like this book....more
so a bunch of superheroes from World War II are discovered buried in a secret Nazi bunker. they are decanted and broughvibrantly-hued shit on a stick.
so a bunch of superheroes from World War II are discovered buried in a secret Nazi bunker. they are decanted and brought into the modern world. tedious shenanigans ensue, involving a secret killer amongst them and the various trials and tribulations of being an old salt water fish thrust into a pool of fresh water. I hope I never again have to experience Straczynski's tired, ham-handed attempts to engage with race and sexual orientation and Jewish identity - while simultaneously ignoring the plentiful issues his story has around gender. not to mention the buckets of mawkish, masturbatory nostalgia slopped all over the place. the whole thing is an ugly mess. and it's set during Marvel's asinine Civil War, making matters even more eye-rolling.
the art certainly fits the story. all the bright colors in the world (courtesy of Digikore Studios) can't disguise the fact that Chris Weston can only make characters who convey one of four expressions: blandly impassive, over-the-top insane, rat-like, and most commonly, constipated. he doesn't know how to draw characters standing or fighting or flying or talking to each other or even waking up. his favorite details to focus on: hairy legs. seriously, wtf.
what happened to Straczynski? did he bust all of his creative nut when pumping out Babylon-5 and Squadron Supreme? is he just going through the motions, churning out pseudo-intellectual drivel for DC and Marvel and makin' money? I dunno. but his vision is currently as exciting and stimulating as your average, anonymous run of the mill hack, with an obnoxious sheen of pretentiousness and queasy sentimentality to make it glossy. ugh, what a waste of my time and money....more
Crossed Volume 10 is a standalone story by Garth Ennis that takes the reader back to the beginning of the Crossed pandemic. the story details the initCrossed Volume 10 is a standalone story by Garth Ennis that takes the reader back to the beginning of the Crossed pandemic. the story details the initial outbreak from the perspective of four special agents assigned to protect the UK Prime Minister, two pilots, and most intriguingly, a potential Patient Zero.
the writing by Garth Ennis is smart and sardonic. the art by Christian Zanier is certainly not the same caliber as art by the excellent Jacen Burrows (the artist who collaborated with Ennis in prior volumes) - but it is still fairly well-done.
so why my lukewarm reaction? I'm not sure. one of the good-bad things about the two prior volumes I've read was the horrifically visceral quality to many of the scenes; that visceral quality is restrained in this volume and - surprisingly, because I am no gorehound - I miss it. maybe I just prefer an unrestrained Ennis, warts and all, to the Ennis in this story. another strength is missing: depth of characterization. Ennis was able to convey character backstories filled with regret and lost opportunities in the space of a few pages, at least within his short "Badlands" from Volume 4. but in Volume 10 the characters remain frustratingly opaque - except for the sole villainous character, who is unfortunately straight from Central Casting (Weaselly Ambitious Bureaucrat Division).
the still-ambiguous origin of the Crossed virus is interesting and gave me a little bit to contemplate. is Planet Earth inoculating itself against that notorious parasite, humanity? Patient Zero himself gave me even more to contemplate... where does violence and the urge to do harm to those we love come from? are some people just born with that tendency?
so on the one hand, some fascinating things to contemplate (at least for a few minutes). and on the other hand, a lot of uninteresting characters and a surprising lack of visceral shocks .
SYNOPSIS: young married ne'er do wells do their passive best to fight the anomie of existence by breaking into mcmansions and experiencing their usualSYNOPSIS: young married ne'er do wells do their passive best to fight the anomie of existence by breaking into mcmansions and experiencing their usual buried resentments and lack of affect in new environments rather than their own ill-tended home.
Joy Williams is often an artist with the prose. her brilliance shines when she is exercising her descriptive muscles: she knows how to paint a landscape, to construct a house, to take a snapshot of a particular locale. although she is capable of the occasional embarrassing misstep (see progress note), for the most part her writing style is expert.
SYNOPSIS: Flannery O'Connor and Don DeLillo got together, knocked boots, and made a baby named Breaking and Entering.
okay this is a literary novel that starts out by giving the impression that it will be a straightforward narrative... one that emphasizes the growth of the protagonist in contrast with the gallery of grotesque supporting characters that cross her path. something, perhaps, in the "Southern tradition". but that is not the case at all; this novel does not truck in realism, not in the kitchen sink sense of the word, nor in the sense of magic realism or even the more distinctly mannered faux-realism of authors like O'Connor or Faulkner. Williams' novel belongs on the shelf next to DeLillo and Barth and Coover and company. and this was a problem for me. an absorbing narrative is set up within a perfectly captured locale by a talented writer... and then it transforms into a series of stylized tableaux featuring bizarre un-characters monologuing - people who I not only could give a shit about, but who aren't even interesting as ideas. this is Williams' book, not mine, so it's not like I felt she did anything "wrong" - she wrote what she wanted to write. that much is clear. unfortunately for me, I can't connect with a book that not only has no interest in developing the somewhat intriguing narrative that was created (and then abandoned), but I also couldn't connect with the ideas that seemed to replace an actual story. because the story was abandoned in favor of a series of off-putting soliloquies, the themes of We Create The Boxes We Live In and He Wants To Roam While She Wants To Build Some Kind Of Life were rendered tedious and sterile.
SYNOPSIS: boring young woman remains boring.
the worst part of this novel is the protagonist. she brings nothing to the table - no insights, no quirks, no growth, not even a real point of view regarding the nitwits that cross her path, let alone their rambling monologues. she's a vacuum, a black hole - all these ideas floated by the various characters go in but nothing comes out. she has no voice. her lack of perspective and agency started off as interesting but quickly became a frustrating bore.
SYNOPSIS: a wonderful dog with a sad backstory and a loveable kid with admirable pluck are abandoned by an author who is disinterested in developing her own creations.
oh Mother, oh Father! I totally get you now, thanks to My Mortal Enemy. such a short little piece but such a powerful punch. I'd give this 5 stars foroh Mother, oh Father! I totally get you now, thanks to My Mortal Enemy. such a short little piece but such a powerful punch. I'd give this 5 stars for personal impact, but the impact was so painful and intense, I could never consider this a favorite.
once upon a time, Myra and Oswald eloped. they were, and are, the love of each other's life. such are the things of happily ever afters! but such is not reality; it is certainly not the reality I've experienced.
their lives are witnessed by a niece - initially impressionable, later a grown woman full of empathy and a desire to see life as it actually is - or as it could be, as it should be, if things could be perfect and people could be flawless. Cather does a superb job in characterizing this woman at two points in her life, and an equally excellent job at revealing all the different sides of both Myra and Oswald - how they appear to others, how they appear to each other, how they understand and misunderstand themselves. Cather's characterization is rich and deeply felt and real; it should also go without saying, given the author, that the prose itself is sublime. the ending is stark, sad, and beautiful.
can a vibrant, kindly, idiosyncratic, independent woman also be a cold-hearted, viciously critical bitch? can a sensitive, brave, strong, loving man also be a thoughtlessly straying rake who carelessly seeks comfort elsewhere? can all the disappointments in life that often have nothing to do with a shared love somehow accumulate enough so that those disappointments tarnish that love - make that love something strained, something that tastes both sweet and bitter? yes, yes and yes. I've seen it; I've experienced it firsthand. maybe I've had a block to understanding this, to understanding how my parents have acted, how I have acted, how people can be so full of love for each other yet also be the cause of so much needless pain. maybe it is something I've refused to understand because the understanding - the demystification - is too painful, so painful it becomes something to ignore and avoid. the wonderful painful thing about top tier literary fiction is that it forces the reader to look inside themselves as well - and to look at people through a different lens, one that is otherwise kept in a drawer somewhere, buried and unacknowledged. thanks, Willa Cather and My Mortal Enemy, for forcing me to look through that lens. for forcing me to understand my own parents and how their lives together have created something both glorious and completely awful. for forcing me to recognize how their lives have impacted what I have done in my own life - or what I have chosen not to do.
so yeah, thanks are definitely in order... but for some reason I am not feeling a whole lot of gratitude.
Sturm und Drang! ancient god-aliens coming back to earth to raise the people up! it's a revolution, against the Mexican government and the terrible moSturm und Drang! ancient god-aliens coming back to earth to raise the people up! it's a revolution, against the Mexican government and the terrible monster-god-aliens who come from the Evil Stars! the Aztecs rise again to commit bloody atrocities! hearts are pulled from chests! battles with lightning and thunder and rain! two mountains shall rise! original gangsters Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochitli battle it out with the kindly giants The Great Old Ones over the weaponized heart of the rain god Tlaloc! yeah baby yeah!
oh I wish. all of the above is in the narrative, sure, but one could barely tell from the offhand, minimal descriptions. it is like Davidson is actually shy about recounting anything genuinely exciting let alone pulpy and over the top. this should have been a thrill ride and instead it is just waiting in line and then being told that that was the ride. I couldn't believe the amount of time he spent with three tedious Americans abroad who are barely even a part of the story. even worse is the amount of time spent hearing one the Americans talk in baby-talk about a cat and whine endlessly about having to do the dishes. why, Avram, whyyyyy? you had such a grand story here. but such piddly execution.
still, this isn't a one star book because I do appreciate Davidson's gentle, culturally sensitive hand when depicting village life and in particular the various pre-Aztec races. he also seems to despise the revoltingly bloodthirsty Aztecs, which is fine with me....more