so cheeky, so ingenious! Morrison takes all of the angst-ridden superhero headliners of late 90s comicdom and places them where they belong: in a worlso cheeky, so ingenious! Morrison takes all of the angst-ridden superhero headliners of late 90s comicdom and places them where they belong: in a world built by the CW network. apparently he was inspired by MTV's laughably superficial reality-soap Laguna Hills. watching these soulless plasticine twentysomethings mindlessly chat about romance, bromance, the latest party, the latest art opening, etc, while avoiding a deeper discussion of an inexplicable suicide, was malicious good fun. however Morrison's story is not simply a skin-deep bit of vicious mockery: he criticizes superficial cynicism and defiant self-absorption to not just score points off of easy targets, but to mourn the loss of depth and genuine emotion that comes from living in a pop culture world with no stakes besides enjoying the latest entertainments. his story is ably abetted by Ben Oliver's soft-focus, at times photo-realistic art and especially a cover which looks like it was torn right off of People or Us magazine. the ending - which leaves us with an army of sinister robots about to deliver mayhem and slaughter to the most exclusive of superhero parties - is evil perfection....more
all of Morrison's goals are perfectly accomplished in this ode to the pre- and post-World War 2 pulps: classic superheroes transformed into hard-punchall of Morrison's goals are perfectly accomplished in this ode to the pre- and post-World War 2 pulps: classic superheroes transformed into hard-punching everymen (and women) just trying to get the job done; monsters & threatening animals & world-stomping villains & an invasion from another dimension that all inspire a childlike feeling of glee; timeless virtues like camaraderie and honor extolled without irony; a clear but never overbearing connection to the overarching Multiversity storyline. he is perfectly supported by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story's wonderfully old-fashioned, earth-toned art. the visuals are disarmingly straightforward and excitingly cinematic. it took a lot of sophistication on the part of the writer and the artists to produce a work that feels so joyfully clean and simple....more
Sarah and her husband move to an isolated new home near the eerie New England town of Salamanca, her dissociative identity disorder in tow. Sarah andSarah and her husband move to an isolated new home near the eerie New England town of Salamanca, her dissociative identity disorder in tow. Sarah and Salamanca both have exceedingly troubled pasts that include murder, rape, and horrific monsters that are only slightly related to the human race. the results of the two coming together: tension served in thick, quivering slabs; tunnels in the cellar discovered and dark pasts exhumed; much mangling of limbs and slaughtering of the unlucky; a grim settling of old scores.
the art is in the modern European style, so that means a quite a few panels per page and art that is competent and detailed. that style is necessary to the success of a plot that interestingly juggles multiple narrative stands, each with its own dense, emotionally fraught backstory. the writing by the French Bec is also quite competent; I had no problem with his depiction of Americana in general and an insular small town in particular. he ably and empathetically conveyed Sarah's mental health challenges. and he surprised me at times with moments of menace and amiability in scenes where I'd expect the opposite.
he utterly trashed any respect I may have had for him as an author in a mere 4 pages, at the very end (not to mention a doltish epilogue that follows that). apparently he's penned over 50 graphic novels; perhaps it's time to give that pen a rest. doing so much of one thing for so long can make a person unappealingly jaded and cynical, and disinterested in approaching their work with care and intelligence. the stupid cruelty and intensely brutal sadism that Bec delivers to his sympathetic and tragic heroine - and her unborn child - disgusted and infuriated me. the viciousness was beyond belief. not only was it pointlessly and insultingly repulsive, it instantly succeeded in destroying any interest I may have had in reading his other works. I'm not sure I can recall another instance where I've wanted to literally rend a book into bloody pieces upon finishing it. I really had to control myself! but the body is intact and waiting to be delivered to its final resting place. my work's donation shelf? the basement trash bin? a cozy fire in the backyard?
sitting with my nephews in their backyard one evening, i decided it was time to scare the innocent lambs. it was a big backyard with many shadowy cornsitting with my nephews in their backyard one evening, i decided it was time to scare the innocent lambs. it was a big backyard with many shadowy corners; i pointed at the furthest dark spot and said to the duo, "Why don't you ask your friends to join us? I didn't know you invited anyone over. It's weird that they're just standing there watching us, not saying anything..." try as they may, they couldn't make out anyone in that far dark corner of their yard; unsurprisingly, neither of them ventured over to see what i was pointing at. i have a pretty good poker face when i want, so i just kept looking over at the spot while they looked back and forth between me and that shadowy place, not sure if i was joking. finally i murmured, "It's so strange that they're being so quiet..." and slowly got up to check out the corner. one of them grabbed my arm to hold me back and they both whispered nervously "No Uncle Mark, don't!"
and so The Quiet Children were born. i've used those silent lil' sentinels hanging out in dark spaces with much success over the years, scaring kids of course but also a good number of nervous adults who probably should know better. ha!
Nursery Tale is full of such creepy children, born of the earth, human in appearance but definitely not human, pattering through the yards and on the rooftops and up your staircase and into your bedrooms, curious and hungry. very hungry!
T.M. Wright's follow-up to his buried classic Strange Seed broadens the canvas while sacrificing a good amount of ambiguity. his prose didn't have quite the same hypnotic effect on me here as it did in Strange Seed, and I'm not sure that making the horrors relatively straightforward was the best decision. still, this is an enjoyable read and a good example of the Quiet Horror subgenre. Wright is an accomplished author and although he sacrificed the claustrophobic intimacy of the first novel, his decision to widen the scope made this experience quite a different kettle of children. he certainly can't be accused of sticking to a formula. a variety of characters are swiftly but carefully introduced and sometimes just as swiftly dispatched. the kids are made much more deadly, which made this novel quite a bit scarier than its predecessor. his critique of development sloppily encroaching on nature was on-point but never belabored. and his strange lil' creations remain as eerily threatening and oddly sympathetic as ever. poor tykes! all they want is to find some warmth and nourishment. like a house, with people in it!
synopsis: a range of citified homeowners and their children move into a new, upscale housing tract located next to a sprawling forest with children of its own. peculiar incidents accumulate....more
synopsis: a cross-section of humanity live out their squalid, horror-filled lives aboard the mega-ship The Hope.
ugh. I wonder if this novel was attempsynopsis: a cross-section of humanity live out their squalid, horror-filled lives aboard the mega-ship The Hope.
ugh. I wonder if this novel was attempting to accomplish something along the lines of Ballard's excellent High-Rise; namely, offering up a stylized tableau of humanity placed within a theatrically artificial setting. all the better to contemplate the various downward spirals, I suppose. unfortunately this is less Ballard and more akin to the sour, complacent misanthropy of John Shirley's execrable Black Butterflies.
I think if an author is going to write about the human condition, they should actually be able to empathize with humans. this collection of interlocking stories features repulsive excoriations of things like young love and the obsessive tunnel vision that young love sometimes brings, a poverty stricken single mother, young toughs enacting a gang war, a librarian's solitary life, a vile preacher and his hypocritical organist, an insane person, a fellow who has to deal with bad neighbors, etc. the tone is relentlessly bleak; that relentlessness made the endeavor feel more pretentious than eye-opening. the lack of empathy from the author made me care less about what happened to his characters. I will give Lovegrove props for attempting one ray of light in the story of a young woman escaping her life; I'll give him more props for the one genuinely tense tale - a rather straightforward monster adventure featuring an excitingly horrible run-in with weird mutant beasties in the bowels of the ship. but neither story lifted this book out of its quagmire of juvenile nihilism.
I don't mind nihilism in my horror novels. Thomas Ligotti is perhaps the most nihilistic horror author around and he's amazing. but if you are going to be nihilistic, it is important to either have something new to say or to have the ability to get your nihilistic messages across in an interesting or challenging fashion. the only I challenge I experienced in The Hope was finishing the book....more
a long day at work with a lot of that work left unfinished + happy hour drinks with colleagues, no they're more than that, with friends + I have to geta long day at work with a lot of that work left unfinished + happy hour drinks with colleagues, no they're more than that, with friends + I have to get around to reviewing a book by mutterfookin' AYN RAND of all things =
DRUNK ЯEVIEW #?
so I've been on a hiring spree lately, just hiring people left and right because yay my work is actually getting multiple contracts and that means we can actually hire people instead of everyone doing two jobs per usual nonprofit social services type staffing patterns, so anyway I hired this one young lady who is clearly super smart and super organized and super perfect for the job I hired her for, good job mark, yet again, but she is 21 and so I wonder sometimes if her big brain is the tail wagging the 21 year old, who is very, very much 21 years of age, or at least what I remember of myself when I was 21. namely, emotional. and critical. and all about RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. still, I'm pleased with the hire, she's great, I love her. and what does everything I just wrote even mean? in the context of this book? i dunno but it sorta made sense to me as I wrote it.
anyway, she somehow found out that I am a quote unquote Reader, and so she loaned me one of her favorite books. namely, this book. Anthem. my reaction was decidedly undecided when she mentioned this was one of her favorites. I hate everything I know about Ayn Rand. I am the sort of ass who, way back when i was 21 and in college, actually broke up with a lady I was dating because it was clear that all of the Ayn Rand she was reading was influencing her, she was quoting Ayn Rand for crissakes, anyway it was too much because Ayn Rand's ME ME ME style of libertarian philosofuckery just drives me up the wall and I can't have that in someone I'm dating. so she turned around and started dating my roommate, so someone got that last laugh there and it wasn't mark monday.
so my new staffer loaned me this book and i was all UH UH BUT AYN RAND SUCKS ARE YOU SERIOUS?? and she was all OH MY GOD JUST FUCKING TRY IT. so i did!
if you are one of the unwashed masses who doesn't know what Ayn Rand is all about, and God bless you if you are, here are some things about her (that I despise):
- totally against all forms of socialism because to Rand, socialism = the death of the individual
- the most important thing about this curious concept called "Self" is "Ego". Rand worships at the altar of EGO. per Rand, if you aren't your own #1, you may as well be dead. there are aspects of that mentality that I totally get and support, but Rand carries this to the point where concepts like "altruism" are inherently corrupt to her. an altruistic person per Rand is pretty much the definition of a total loser
- you are the captain of your own ship; if your ship carries important supplies that could help other people, who gives a fuck, fuck them; your ship needs to sail alone unless people are happy to sail under your personal captaincy. e.g. if you are a brilliant architect who designs a brilliant housing complex and then finds out that that your design is being used for public housing, God forbid, then you are fully entitled to blow up said brilliant housing complex because it is being used for the public good rather than for what you intended. YOUR PERSONAL DREAMS ÜBER ALLES!
which reminds me: one of my favorite films is King Vidor's insane adaptation of Rand's novel The Fountainhead, where what I just mentioned is the central struggle of the film (and I assume the novel). this over the top thing of beauty features a berserk plotline, berserk characters, a brilliant housing complex being blown up because God fucking forbid it may be used for public housing, and an incredible scene where architect Gary Cooper is drilling something and neurotic Patricia Neal is watching him drill and gets so worked up she uncontrollably starts beating the literal horse she rode in on, and then rides off, in a Randian heat over the studly I Am My Own Man-ishness of the Gary Cooper character. she gets so hot & bothered she actually delivers a smart slash of her riding crop before riding off. hot stuff!
but back to this book, finally
I was surprised at how much I liked it, at first. it is one of those dystopic post-apocalyptic books where we are experiencing the day-to-day life of some poor zombie sap who is slowly realizing that he is living in a world of sad automatons and he is one of the few who gets how pathetic his life is. because everyone is supposed to be like everyone else, and he is an actual someone. as always, this is an automatically enjoyable narrative to live in because who doesn't think that way, at certain points in their lives (or at certain points in their day, cough)
the style and the prose itself impressed me. Rand is one of those surprising writers whose prose is stripped-down, clean, and neat while also being oddly poetic: phrases and sentences that are child-like, eager, but also full of longing and melancholy. she's a fully-formed writer as of Anthem, surprisingly only her second novel. even more impressive was her replacement of the word "I" with the word "We" which functioned as an implicit criticism of the communist mindset while giving the storytelling itself an excitingly declamatory feel. on a stylistic level, Anthem is a genuine pleasure to read.
oh I just got a text from a friend that was a link saying "typhoon pork bun woman" and I think I'm just not going to check that out right now. whatever could that mean??
anyway, this was turning out to be a from-leftfield 4 star book for me but then the last two chapters happened. there were hints before that, here and there, but I chose to ignore them. but Ayn Rand is gonna do Ayn Rand, and that's only bad news where women are concerned. per Rand, a person with a dick is a person who needs to make himself into his own man; a person without a dick should probably just follow and promise obedience to said dick.
THAT IS FUCKING DISAPPOINTING. but I suppose not surprising. and yet I am surprised! I'm always surprised when a woman is all about freedom and rugged individuality and notgivingaflyingfuckeroo about what society says... but for men only! not for the womenfolk! apparently women should just support their man, they are incapable of forging their own hard-won individuality because EMOTIONS. I wish this was a unique perspective but God knows I have come across it many times, in literature and ugh in real life too. my own experience of my own uh experiences but also of my male friends is that I, and they, are all super fucking emotional. this is not just a female trait! argh. but more to the point: the sole female in Anthem shows her worth by declaring her obedience to her ruggedly individualistic, freedom-living man. that's just fucking gross and I don't get it. self-hate much?
so anyway, looks like Survivor is on so time for me to end this review. also feels like I am going to have an interesting time reporting my findings to the person who loaned me this book. wish me luck!
into an exaltation of larks rides a lone ranger, an American abroad; into the mouth of modernism flew Mary Butts, an author now sada flight of birds:
into an exaltation of larks rides a lone ranger, an American abroad; into the mouth of modernism flew Mary Butts, an author now sadly obscure. five fanciful English, young and feckless and rich and poisonous; more than five streams of consciousness and Butts balances them all, their thoughts and motives and reactions ebbing and flowing and creating patterns melancholy and frustrating and possibly tragic.
an unkindness of ravens swarm and mock and toy with the poor American, or at least that is the situation from his rather limited perspective; Butts makes certain the reader understands the untruth of that point of view, the myopia, as well the fragility of the situation itself: five childish English who barely understand themselves, let alone each other, living in a castle made of snowflakes.
a siege of herons... a lamentation of swans... or perhaps more appropriately, a clattering of jackdaws... these sheltered, self-absorbed English birds frustrated me to no end. I did not enjoy learning about their lives. overlaying their antics with a veneer of mythic mysticism only served to make those antics appear all the more foolish. but I did sense intentionality in that decision. and I enjoyed Butts' marvelous prose! winsome yet coolly precise, detached but at times vibrantly alive. her appreciation of the absurd, of silly misunderstandings and even sillier egotism, made the experience rather fun. her references to primitive ritual made the telling of the story constantly intriguing, despite the banality of the characters themselves.
in the end, at last, after all of the ambiguous banter and unspoken words and la-di-da betrayals, all of the flights of poetic, hermetic navel-gazing... a murder of crows come to visit. but perhaps the less said the better. here's a lesson for the fanciful English: if played with too roughly, your toys will break, cut, and infect. inevitably, shit will get real.
a slight but winning intro into a phenomenal series. this opening book follows the Drew children on summer holiday in Cornwall as they hurtle breathlea slight but winning intro into a phenomenal series. this opening book follows the Drew children on summer holiday in Cornwall as they hurtle breathlessly from place to place, ancient map in hand and Arthurian treasure awaiting them as they skillfully avoid the forces of evil.
this is probably my 3rd or 4th time reading this book, and this particular time found me more amused than impatient. once upon a time, a long time ago, I started this series by reading The Dark Is Rising - and Over Sea, Over Stone was rather unimpressive to read after that classic work. but perhaps enough time has passed. the swift pace and uncluttered prose, the nonchalant realism of how the children relate to each other, the process in which the clues on the map are discovered, the mysterious Grey House, the pleasant atmosphere of Cornwall itself... I found it all to be quite charming. I appreciated the often ambiguous menace of the forces threatening the protagonists, in particular the idea of Evil wearing a pleasant, cheerful face while bringing you sandwiches or tucking you in for bedtime. this book also features Rufus, who is not just a good dog, but a smart dog as well. he knows something bad's afoot when owls hoot in the daytime. plus he is able to control his barking when necessary, for example when Evil is looking for him and the children as they hide in the grass. good Rufus!...more