I felt a tinge of nostalgia and wanted to read about hardcore, esp. about the D.C. scene which I was never a part of andI really wanted to like this.
I felt a tinge of nostalgia and wanted to read about hardcore, esp. about the D.C. scene which I was never a part of and which sounded mythical to my teenage self. We had this at our store and I picked it up, wondering why I'd never read it before. It was structured like Please Kill Me, a book I fucking loved, so I knew it would be good—
Except it wasn't. It is a poor attempt at an oral history. Whereas Please Kill Me is filled with tons of amazing voices, contradicting each other, and full of weirdness and wonder, everyone in American Hardcore comes off as boring and self-obsessed bros. Now I've met a few people who were a part of the mythic scene I so wanted to be a part of as a kid and they are not boring, not self-obsessed, and not bros. And I've heard of plenty of stories from people who were there, and they're all great stories! Worse, the book is insanely one-sided and, even worse, misogynist. But its biggest failure is that it's boring. How the hell is an oral history boring?...more
It took awhile for this to get cranking, which is a bit of a surprise. Typically Greene is the author I turn to when I can't read. His plots are alwayIt took awhile for this to get cranking, which is a bit of a surprise. Typically Greene is the author I turn to when I can't read. His plots are always fast and engaging, and he's a fantastic writer, and he's never stupid, and he writes fully dimensional people who are constantly surprising.
But this is a bit dull for awhile and although the conspiracy at the heart of things is fun, it's not as much fun as I expect from Mr. Greene. And the one major female character isn't well drawn at all, and often seems to exist in the story merely as something for our protagonist to pine for. Still, a damn good book. I'm not sure if it's only three stars, esp. when I'm giving Gibson's Count Zero four stars, but still... the bar is higher for Mr. Greene....more
I've been in a noir kick, and was wondering how Gibson's "Sprawl trilogy" holds up. The three books (Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive)I've been in a noir kick, and was wondering how Gibson's "Sprawl trilogy" holds up. The three books (Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive) were a massive impact on my teenage brain. I wanted to be a cybernetic cowboy, hacking into the mainframe, jake. I wanted silver mirror shades implanted in my eye sockets and retractable razor nails in my fingers. And Count Zero is still good. The prose gets a bit clunky in parts, but only rarely. The noir aspect is as strong as I remember, and the use of two teenaged protagonists was a huge draw for me. And he still paints the kids well. But surprisingly to my older self, the teens are not the proxies for the reader. The sad and grizzled warrior and the depressed and scandalized gallerist are our proxies, and they are inundated with sadness and loss, as are the Joseph Cornell art boxes that serve as a McGuffin.
As an adult, I'd guess that Gibson wrote this after a break up or the loss of someone close to him. The only characters not inscribed with loss are the rich antagonist who is trying to cheat death, a bunch of voudon searching for Voodoo lau/gods in cyberspace (and they come off more as mysterious McGuffins as well, a little too close to The Magical Negro), and the two kids, who are thrust in a world they don't know or understand.
Anyway, if you like both noir and sci-fi and haven't read this, give it a shot....more
It took me awhile to get into this. I've been in a reading malaise this summer, and I nearly put the book down while reading the first quarter. It's sIt took me awhile to get into this. I've been in a reading malaise this summer, and I nearly put the book down while reading the first quarter. It's straight Mad Man territory, full of delusional drunk sexist assholes who aren't nearly as self-aware as they think they are. The main protagonist is a philandering salaryman with an outsized sense of self-worth.
But then there's a death. And an investigation. And our asshole salaryman protagonist is now heading up a sham investigation whose prime purpose is to frame him as The Killer! From there the book became impossible to put down, and until I finished it, I stopped everything.
I don't want to say too much, except: Go read it if you like noir.
The ending is abrupt and a bit slapdash, but the structure of the book is fantastic (we quickly expand our points of view from the protagonist's to several other supporting characters, all of whom are interesting, and all of whom talk shit about the other characters; shit that is usually astute and cutting). The writing is damn good, and the vicious insight into corporate culture, the artistic world, and capitalism in general is devastating....more
Before O'Hara, my favorite poets were largely depressing goths, wallowing in booze, despair, and self-hatred. And then I read O'Hara! Joy and a love tBefore O'Hara, my favorite poets were largely depressing goths, wallowing in booze, despair, and self-hatred. And then I read O'Hara! Joy and a love that's not in the abstract, but in the concrete everyday, and brings out joy and a love in me. O'Hara captures the pleasure of walking with someone you love and suddenly you notice a magazine cover in a window with an actor you both love, and look how the light reflects the leaves on the sidewalk over the window, and, damn, it's pretty amazing to be sharing this with you right now. O'Hara captures joy. He captures falling in love, or being in love, not just with a person, but with the moment, or with the word, or with the world. It's rare for a writer to capture that without feeling false or schmaltzy. And perhaps more amazingly, there's a blazing intellect beneath it all; an intellect focusing on the ephemeral and quotidian, and making it profound and timeless. It's all great, but here's a quick sample:
It's my lunch hour, so I go for a walk among the hum-colored cabs. First, down the sidewalk where laborers feed their dirty glistening torsos sandwiches and Cocoa-Cola, with yellow helmets on. They protect them from falling bricks, I guess. Then onto the avenue where skirts are flipping above heels and blow up over grates. The sun is hot, but the cabs stir up the air. I look at bargain in wristwatches. There are cats playing in sawdust. .......more
Lately, when I can read, I mainly read escapist fantasy. So when an advance copy of The Bone Clocks came into my book store I snatched it up.
MitchellLately, when I can read, I mainly read escapist fantasy. So when an advance copy of The Bone Clocks came into my book store I snatched it up.
Mitchell is a fine writer of wondrous imagination, so I expected wild and literary fantasy, like Neil Gaimen or China Miéville, but better. And since I enjoyed Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I figured outright fantasy and Mitchell are a perfect match. Hell, there were always aspects of the fantastic in Mitchell’s books, so it seemed a logical progression to bring it to the forefront.
But The Bone Clocks was disappointing. It was well written, sure. But fantasy is for me about wild leaps of imagination veering into territory I never thought of. It’s magical thinking extruded into text; that is, metaphorical leaps that connect disparate things in surprising chthonic ways; weird paths and odd connections that tie together the bubbling fears and dreams that we’re not quite aware of. Something like Gogol’s disappearing nose reappearing wearing an officer’s uniform and riding a stagecoach, or Burroughs’ Mugwump juice, talking assholes, and debased Tangiers, or Miéville’s origami magic, a living tattoo face, and underground fiefdoms. But The Bone Clocks’ fantasy, when it appears, is remarkably mundane, and frankly, boring. Magic may be the driving force of the plot, but it is nearly a MacGuffin, and it is not Mitchell’s strength as a writer. What is great in The Bone Clocks is what is great in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, that is, quick in depth character studies, beautiful turns of phrase, and succinct and deft descriptions. His rehashings of genre tropes (post-apocalypse, hard science futureworld, etc.) are about as quickly and lazily sketched as his general period pieces (here The Talking Heads and some clothes mark the 80s, now the same for the 90s, and here's the same for the 00s, etc.). He’s good at settings grounded by tropes we recognize, but his ability to conjure up new settings is cobbled together from reams of predecessors, and in this case, that’s not a compliment.
Last, there's a long naval-graving passage about an asshole formerly famous writer; a l'enfant terrible who is simply annoying. I'm sick of passages about writers "exploring" the craft and culture of writing in a story that doesn't need the character nor the explorations. The character was route and cliche, and like the formerly boring trope of Connecticut Thanksgivings, not something I ever want to read about again. A LOT of writers have written about this crap. Writers, please, let it die....more