A major improvement over Palahniuk's most recent works. Nonetheless, despite its savage cleverness and witty dialogue, Palahniuk leaves too many eleme...moreA major improvement over Palahniuk's most recent works. Nonetheless, despite its savage cleverness and witty dialogue, Palahniuk leaves too many elements underdeveloped and too many subplots unexplored.(less)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an anomaly. It was a re-working of a literary classic that retained its cultural significance, while adding in a h...morePride and Prejudice and Zombies was an anomaly. It was a re-working of a literary classic that retained its cultural significance, while adding in a hilarious subplot that actually worked with the original text. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, a prequel to the original novel, seriously pales in comparison. However, there's nothing terribly wrong with it, either.
Set in the early days of the second zombie apocalypse in England, author Steve Hockensmith gives us a look at what happened before the Bennet sisters became such efficient warriors of the deadly arts. While the story is frequently very clever and very original, Hockensmith seems to forget what made the original so brilliant: the context. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies worked because it wasn't an author re-writing the original work, it was the author presenting "an extended edition" to the original work, leaving the original language intact. Hockensmith's writing is very modern, which I cannot fault him for. The problem is simply this: the humor works so much better when it's thrown into Jane Austen's words.
One thing that I can fault the author for is his own English. While reading the ARC of this novel, I frequently got the impression that this was an unedited manuscript. Mr. Hockensmith, in what appears to be an attempt to emulate Austen's language, goes so overboard with the comic details that it feels like beating a dead horse. We understand the scene, we understand the humor, but we don't need all the extra, extra reminders of why it's funny.
However, despite its flaws, I cannot dismiss Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. On many, many occasions it made me laugh, sometimes very hard. There's no denying that Mr. Hockensmith has a lot of clever ideas up his sleeve, but reading this book made me think that it was rushed into publication too soon. Had the author and an editor spent a few more months on it, then they probably would have had something great, possibly comparable to the original. But still, I have to say that I recommend it. It's good for a few great laughs, and a lot of great zombie mayhem.(less)
If there's one thing that David Sedaris never fails at doing, it's making you laugh at even the most tragic family memory. Naked, Sedaris's second boo...moreIf there's one thing that David Sedaris never fails at doing, it's making you laugh at even the most tragic family memory. Naked, Sedaris's second book, is as heartwarming as it is side-splitting, giving you a vivid look at the American humorist growing up. Even though some of the essays drag on longer than they have to, you're never bored. The worst thing that can come from reading a David Sedaris book as good as this one is realizing how boring your life is in comparison.
I've liked David Sedaris for a while, now. I've caught his essays in various magazines, I've heard him speak, and I've seen interviews with him. I've...moreI've liked David Sedaris for a while, now. I've caught his essays in various magazines, I've heard him speak, and I've seen interviews with him. I've always found him very funny and quick-witted, but I've never sat down and read one of his books.
When You Are Engulfed In Flames is not as side-splittingly funny as Mr. Sedaris's previous works, but that in no way detracts from its incredible genius. For such a neurotic, self-depracating man as himself, he is just so inherently likable. From the first to the last page, you find yourself completely enthralled by all of his hilariously ordinary adventures across the world.
This particular collection of essays revolves around the theme of death and dying. Growing into middle-age finds Mr. Sedaris reflecting on his life: the events that formed him into the man he is today, and the events that continue to unfold around him. Topics include (but are definitely not limited to) bi-curious truck drivers, modern art, living across the street from a supposed pedophile, rude passengers on airplanes, the continued absurd adventures between Mr. Sedaris and his long-time boyfriend Hugh, and the pains of quitting smoking.
The sardonic tone and deadpan delivery that made Mr. Sedaris famous still feel just as fresh and funny as they always have. Though it's not as laugh-out-loud-funny as a lot of his previous work, When You Are Engulfed In Flames is funny in a quieter, more personally identifiable way.