Sci-fi with a candy coating (that candy being the high school coming-of-age-ish story) and lots of hilarious observation. LiRight up my fucking alley.
Sci-fi with a candy coating (that candy being the high school coming-of-age-ish story) and lots of hilarious observation. Life as a sixteen-year-old who girls didn't want to sleep with. Reading books and playing video games about stuff of scifi and fantasy that you just wish - not seriously, but maybekindasortaforhalfasecond semi-seriously - was true and possible but, again, we live in the real world and the real world doesn't just pick you, the protagonist of your world and story, sure, to be exactly that for the whole world. It is OK to wish you had superpowers when you're a little kid, but the metaphor is far more apt and the wishing should be tenfold for awkward teenagers.
Just, a great book.
I also love the dedication. Everyone had a first best friend, and Pierson captures exactly how much fun that it can be to form an "us-vs-the-world" outlook at that age. Pierson, of course, literalizes this....more
Funny, yes. Using a "second consciousness," Amis basically has you, the reader, wake up in an old man's head after (or before) he's kicked the bucketFunny, yes. Using a "second consciousness," Amis basically has you, the reader, wake up in an old man's head after (or before) he's kicked the bucket working in his garden.
What proceeds (ahem) is a reverse-account of everything that's happened in this guy's life. If you don't read the back of the book, any of these reviews, the wiki page, or any of the like, then we'll keep Tom T. Friendly's secret out of the review.
But what is great about this novel is that it begins with quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek irony ... describing the protagonist as a thief (he removes large bills from the plate at church) or a horrible gardener (over a few years, he completely destroys what was once a beautiful setting) ... or, most importantly, a horrible surgeon, who mangles patients and sends them away in hysterics.
This is clever enough to sustain 100 pages - however, Amis gradually removes the layers of the protagonist's secret life and gives us a much more important novel.
The last third of this novel (and the use of an internal conscience who can't-quite-understand-what's-happening) are a horrifyingly honest approach to something that is, while never overwritten, rare to see discussed from new angles. Amis decides that there is something truly backwards about the significant events (and perpetrators) in Time's Arrow, and at the very end, concedes this.
Never read Amis before this, and I understand that he usually sticks to a traditionalt narrative structure. Still, the cleverness, the exacting and sometimes hilarious prose ... I'll be back for more....more
Some of the science is hastily-conceived (yes, I know a lot of it is just metaphor), but Lethem manages to dEqual parts satire and sincere love story.
Some of the science is hastily-conceived (yes, I know a lot of it is just metaphor), but Lethem manages to drop as much layman-level philosophy in the last 40 pages of this as Wallace does in 500 of Broom of the System ...
Lethem writes to impress, but for this reader a mad scientist/showoff novelist is a plus. Not the best book I've ever read, but absolutely my favorite this year! I love short ones like this......more
A thoroughly engrossing mystery. I love the set-up: the ever-extending family tree of recluses, Nazi sympathizers, and mysterious vixens ... it's allA thoroughly engrossing mystery. I love the set-up: the ever-extending family tree of recluses, Nazi sympathizers, and mysterious vixens ... it's all there. Also attractive is how damn dark this book gets at times. Lisbeth Salander is a viscious bitch in absolutely the most refreshing way - Part 2 with the Advokat (which I now prefer to the English "advocate"), her sexually abusive government-appointed counselor, is as thorough a smack-down as I've read.
Sure, Blomkvist is ungodly altruistic, and gets more ass than a toilet seat, but I reject that he is a static character. Where someone like Robert Langdon (a very static character) is whimsically strewn from location to location and puzzle to puzzle, all criticism of Blomkvist must be tempered with the fact that he actually, hands-in and nose-deep, solves his mystery. And in good time. Plus, maybe he just plain looks like Brad Pitt, and all these fictitious women can't help it any more that Blomkvist can himself.
The last 100 pages, after the disappearance mystery is concluded, are shamelessly "pull-for-the-good-guys-to-bring-it-all-home," but you'll be fist-pumping for the payoff just as I was. The actual mystery (and its payoff/chase/action segments) is less interesting than Larsson's condemnation of the treatment of women in Sweden, and the ripples and lingering chills of Nazism. These are things about which I know very little, but Larsson certainly wanted to do more with his first and last stabs at novelization than just knock out a quick little caper.
Still, there's something we need to talk about here. The central mystery of this novel really is, to me, whether Stieg Larsson was as erudite as a seashell or if a little isn't occasionally lost in translation. Some stretches of this novel sound like they were written by a 4th grader with Asperger's; or, perhaps, transcribed by Salander herself. Detail enriches, but not in the sense of the (oft-slammed on goodreads) three- and four-page passages describing the specifications of the laptop a character has vs. the laptop a character wants.
After 60 pages you get used to any style, and this novel is no different. But don't set it down for long, or the "Blomkvist felt very sad about this" and "Vanger suddenly was upset" descriptors will have you pulling your hair out. It is the most-detailed sparsely-detailed novel of all time.
Again... very cool stuff. Makes me want to find more Swedish crime (which I'm told has been all the rage the past few years), and I will certainly be reading the next two in this series....more
Blowing someone's head off, while extremely visceral/ shocking, and probably just plain disgusting, is also incredibly easy to do if you havVery cool.
Blowing someone's head off, while extremely visceral/ shocking, and probably just plain disgusting, is also incredibly easy to do if you have a gun. I know this sounds dumb, but think about it. Johnson's instances of violence in this novel seem to come almost too incredibly easy to his characters, and I'd submit that it isn't because they're all one-dimension amoral PIGS ... but because, hey, if you're in this situation, it probably IS pretty damn easy to just shoot someone.
The decisions, bad and good, in this novel come naturally to the players (and the sentences flow effortlessly out of Johnson - or, at least, his genius is that they appear to), and while it isn't exactly registering Richter levels of emotional depth, there's some good characterization.
Definitely worth the several-hour investment....more
Funny and endearing. The book is divided into two parts, and, out of coincidence (being legitimately busy), I actually read it as such ... with a weekFunny and endearing. The book is divided into two parts, and, out of coincidence (being legitimately busy), I actually read it as such ... with a week or two between segments. Not sure if this helped or hurt. It is certainly the kind of reading where you need to shift your reading brain to the writer's particular groove - the next book you pick up will almost certainly feel less ... something. Less like an explosion of a brain onto the page, and more like a novel.
And that's what's cool about BROOM. The whole point of the book is to say ... if we're all just linguistic creations, what's the difference between us and a character in a story? And it goes about nine-hundred places with this where you or I would just smile at the suggestion and move on.
All flawed, all interesting characters, most of whom act like children and most of whom should fall out of your graces/empathy as a reader but don't.
An absolutely absurd plot that, when I tried to describe it to my girlfriend, sounded like total gibberish. "She thinks her grandmother's disappearance is a meta-linguistic puzzle." WAT. Now I'm not even sure what that means.
But extremely readable for what's happening here. DFW is, as we've all been told, talented. Turns out he's mostrously, world-defyingly talented. Worth it for the funnies, worth it for the "hmm" moments, and certainly worth it for RV's stories.
I want the Monroe Fielderbinder collection, and I want it NOW.
p.s. He takes some nice potshots at fraternities, boat shoes, and drinking games in this book, too. I agree....more
Wonderful, wonderful. This book flies by in 50-page increments until you've read the whole thing in but a few sittings. In fact, I'd recommend one. BuWonderful, wonderful. This book flies by in 50-page increments until you've read the whole thing in but a few sittings. In fact, I'd recommend one. But not on the beach. Wait for a rainy day ...
I love that the best works of genre are always genre-bending, and at this point I don't see Lehane dipping back into the straight Boston mystery. Patrick and Angie seem SO five years (or, really, ten years) ago at this point.
As always, his prose is wonderfully straightforward, and his worldview is hideously demented while always maintaining levity. And the man can end a chapter with the best of 'em.
Here we have a "dark and stormy night" thriller with pretty archetypal characters, but we also get a whodunnit, psychological insight, a little postwar introspection, and exciting set pieces.
And, as people have noted, you can see the ending coming from a mile away (but less so if you tear through it) ... but that's OK. When you're given a MENTAL HOSPITAL SLASH PRISON and a bunch of CREEPY SHIT GOING ON ... there are only so many ways this can go.
Outstanding writing. Just ... great great great passages all around. The last few paragraphs of nearly every chapter are worth rereading instantly ...Outstanding writing. Just ... great great great passages all around. The last few paragraphs of nearly every chapter are worth rereading instantly ... not from boilerplate mystery novel TWISTS, but just for the wonderful writing. Nearly every character in this book finds the time to sit down and SIGH. These characters that never quite got to California, or didn't want to stay ... are exhausted.
Having read Pelecanos, Price, and the other guys who take the crime genre to brutal, non-mystery-centric heights, it is awesome to now read their immediate predecessor. Interesting, also, to read characters that are newly-removed from Vietnam in a genre novel. That ghost less often haunts contemporary crime that I've read (Harry Bosh excepting).
Hard-boiled as fuck. Makes you wanna get your own El Camino and go on a weeks-long bender across the Midwest, though, like C.W. Sughrue, you'd know it wouldn't turn out too well.
(Lastly, I WILL own a bulldog named Fireball Roberts some day. A high-water mark in alcoholic-animal fiction)...more
1) A type of writer's project, clearly, where Haddon has effectively captured (to borrow from every review on the book jacketTwo things going on here:
1) A type of writer's project, clearly, where Haddon has effectively captured (to borrow from every review on the book jacket) with immense empathy, what must be going on in the mind of an autistic child. Artistic licenses considered, a fascinating study.
2) A novel. Not necessarily a mystery or detective novel as some will suggest, but, really, a novel about a family and what happens when the parents can't really wrap their heads around the first part - the understanding.
As for #1, this thing reads fast, is clever, and there are a wonderful amount of digressions and mathspeak to self-apply and really get into what's happening in a mind that works only in the realm of logic.
As for #2, there's the more challenging stuff. Parts of this novel, and the behavior of every adult in it, are incredibly sad. The child is wholly innocent and the adults are incredibly selfish and in no situation does or narrator need to be heroic or even autistic for us to pull for him against the world.
I'd imagine there are many children who've felt the way Christopher can't.
Stark, poetic ... like a transcendentalist drug nightmare.
It gives me goosebumps to think about some of these stories.
These aren't self-realization taStark, poetic ... like a transcendentalist drug nightmare.
It gives me goosebumps to think about some of these stories.
These aren't self-realization tales... sure, the narrator has a drug problem and then doesn't and then maybe does and it isn't really important ... tying them together lessens the whole. If this were a novel it'd seem too conveniently thrown together, but as some stories in no particular order, it is exemplary. Easily the best thing I've read so far this year.
I can't imagine why it was important to make a movie version of this, because what could capture the following exceprt from DUNDUN accurately?:
"Dundun tortured Jack Hotel at the lake outside of Denver. He did this to get information about a stolen item, a stereo belonging to Dundun’s girlfriend, or perhaps to his sister. Later, Dundun beat a man almost to death with a tire iron right on the street in Austin, Texas, for which he’ll also someday have to answer, but now he is, I think, in the state prison in Colorado.
Will you believe me when I tell you there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It was only that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that."
Sometimes a brief glimpse is better than the long haul.
Strong stories. I particularly enjoyed "Fiesta, 1980" and "Edison, New Jersey." An absent fatheSometimes a brief glimpse is better than the long haul.
Strong stories. I particularly enjoyed "Fiesta, 1980" and "Edison, New Jersey." An absent father figure and the struggle to understand the hole in his narrator's world are at the heart of Diaz's collection.
We spend 150-odd pages* with Yunior in the slums of the DR, delivering furniture in New Jersey, going on surreptitious "dates," reconciling lost relationships, or just struggling with carsickness... and then, an amazing thing happens. NEGOCIOS. The sky clears. Giving the end of the collection to that missing dad, and finding out WHERE and WHY and WITH WHOM really brings Drown to the point where it isn't just a Diaz collating enough to publish, finally. This is a powerful, strong debut and should be looked at as a complete work of fiction that can't spare a piece without losing the whole.
It kinda boggles the mind when you read collections that have such a strong and consistent voice (I'm thinking also of "Jesus' Son" by Denis Johnson) that our author didn't just sit down and marathon all these stories in a few weeks' time. That these were solo stories, published in separate journals and reviews.
Diaz's Yunior writes with ... restrained intensity and a big heart. The result is pretty fantastic.
*(and I'd recommend reading straight-through ... or at the very least, saving the last, and best, for last)...more
So, there's a story about a retired superhero named Super Goat Man. Super Goat Man has round table, wine-and-pot-soaked communals with students at a sSo, there's a story about a retired superhero named Super Goat Man. Super Goat Man has round table, wine-and-pot-soaked communals with students at a small New England liberal arts college. Everyone digs the goat man. Our narrator knew him as a kid and then meets him again at the college. SGM is part creepy uncle, part cool older brother, but, mostly ... as someone up here mentioned, an icon for the failures of the boomer generation to (a) properly inspire their children, and (b) fulfill the promises of that postwar boon. Some stuff happens, and our narrator ends up being mean to Super Goat Man. The father's (or SGM's) failure is now his son's, and like almost all of Lethem's characters ... the inability to communicate internal rumblings, connect desire to action, recognize said desire, and half a dozen other wonderfully rich characterizations ... has doomed himself to the not-so-terrible (not-so-good, either) fate called the middle ground.
There's this other story about a giant talking crab that used to be on a TV show that sounds familiarly like ALF, but with a crab. He's past his prime, reclusive and ornery in his latter days. Jonathan Lethem, in the story, goes to talk to this crab, and finds out that he's got lots of little crabbies in tanks, ready to take over the world when global warning, as is expected, properly destroys us all. To me, this story was nothing more than pretty quirky and pretty hilarious.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is... whether you're reading at face-value, deeply introspective, or anywhere in between, you can find something to love about any one of the eleven stories in this collection. "The Vision," "Vivian Relf," and "Access Fantasy" were my other favorites.
Lethem's stories are clearly conceived and sharply written. I want to read one of his novels, and soon....more