A strange book with a surprising amount of heart. Part dystopia, part Animal Farm, part 1984. If you like any of those "parts," you'll like this book.A strange book with a surprising amount of heart. Part dystopia, part Animal Farm, part 1984. If you like any of those "parts," you'll like this book.
Legion by Brandon Sanderson is a quick, fun, enjoyable read. The problem for me may be that it’s ONLY a quick, fun,
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Legion by Brandon Sanderson is a quick, fun, enjoyable read. The problem for me may be that it’s ONLY a quick, fun, enjoyable read. But that’s my personal crap, I understand. I generally like a different kind of book, one that forces me to think a bit more. But again, that my personal, elitist crap. Why shouldn’t I be able to simply enjoy a book rather than deconstruct it? It makes no sense. In fact, I should read more stories like Legion by Brandon Sanderson. I’m not being snide here; I really should.
At times William Gay, at times Carlton Mellick III, but always, I’d say, he dodges what would traditionally be called Bizarro fiction by way of empathy for his characters. He’s Bizarro with heart…so, magical realist, I suppose. He’d fit in more with Amy Bender and Gabriel García Márquez than with Carlton Mellick III or even Bradley Sands, but is strong enough in the world of any to be welcomed by them.
Wallwork isn’t afraid to take a strange, even repulsive concept, and build a touching story around it. A story of a man shitting out his own nerves? Sounds ridiculous, but Wallwork makes it work. A sexual sideshow couple famous of inserting increasingly large objects into the woman’s vagina? Yep, but it gets even weirder, yet Wallwork knows how to approach situations like these with heart....more
This stories of Fuckload of Shorts by Jedidiah Ayres, which includes the stories that inspired the short film Fuckload of Scotch Tape, are the best k
This stories of Fuckload of Shorts by Jedidiah Ayres, which includes the stories that inspired the short film Fuckload of Scotch Tape, are the best kind of short stories. Each one takes an idea that, realistically should make for a horrible, shock-driven story, and instead delivers amazing noir fiction with beautifully rendered characters. Ejaculating a dead man? Yep. Selling corpses to a dog foot plant? Yep. In the hands of a lesser writer, these ideas would amount to nothing more than throwaway snuff fiction. But in the hands of Jedidiah Ayres, these ideas are simply climaxes of and catalysts for truly compelling stories.
This video book review examines one of those scenarios in-depth: how exactly, logistically speaking, can one ejaculate a dead man? Yes, there is a whiteboard and drawings included....more
The Orphan Master’s Son is a remarkable book. I’ve been a fan of Adam Johnson’s work since his story cClick the image below to watch the video review
The Orphan Master’s Son is a remarkable book. I’ve been a fan of Adam Johnson’s work since his story collection Emporium (which I credit as being a primary impetus to my own fiction writing), and though both books are stellar, they are so in such different ways. It’s hard to believe that the man who wrote Emporium is the same guy who wrote The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the two personalities are a Jun Do/Commander Ga thing (reference to the book).
In this video review you’ll suffer through my overt praise as well as my amazing Photoshop skills. Who knew Adam Johnson could so easily become Kim Jong Il?...more
Immobility is about an amnesiac man named Horkai, and in typical amnesic style Horkai begins this noveClick the image below to watch the video review
Immobility is about an amnesiac man named Horkai, and in typical amnesic style Horkai begins this novel having no idea who he is, where he is, or who those around him are. So, he must trust the word of those around him, namely a man named Rasmus. Rasmus tells Horkai that he has been brought out of a cryogenic state after 30 or so years and must go on a mission to retrieve something for Rasmus. So, Horkai does.
Now the first half of the novel plays around with Horkai's alternating discovery of and hesitation to accept his surrounds. It's a typical blank memory novel for a while. But then, the novel quickly becomes so much more. It becomes, what I interpret, as a commentary on organized religion, specifically the aggressive, and perhaps selfish, nature of religions missionaries.
See, during Horkai's journey, he finds people who seem very willing, eager even, to help him. They seem trustworthy. And each time, the reader is lulled into a sense of trust. We want to believe these people are truly out to help Horkai. But they never are.
Evenson's own struggles with organized religion are documented online, so I won't go into them here, but this book feels to me like perhaps his most personal. And this includes The Open Curtain which very much plays with the conventions of Mormonism, and until Immobility, I would have called his most religion-conscious book. And what's interesting is that Immobility does this without overtly calling attention to itself as an exploration of religion.
So even if you don't like long form detestation of religion--all two of you out there, right, because I know you guys like to party heathen style--even if you don't like this kind of book, don't discount it. There's a lot more to love here. For instance, the story takes place in an alternate history setting, post-apocalyptic, similar to Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The main character, Horkai, has no legs and must be carried by two people who are referred to as mules, and who refer to Horkai as a burden. Mix in a bit of The Matrix, some sci-fi elements, and sprinkle a bit of pestled viagra, which must be in there because I was rock hard while reading this....more
The Soul Consortium not only spans multiple universes but also manages to bring to life the spaces between the universes. This is by far the most expaThe Soul Consortium not only spans multiple universes but also manages to bring to life the spaces between the universes. This is by far the most expansive book, in terms of setting and chronology, I’ve ever read. The Soul Consortium redefines epic as a literary form....more
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This, Gordon Highland’s second novel, contains all the quick-pacing of an airportClick the image below to watch the quick Wordless Video Book Review
This, Gordon Highland’s second novel, contains all the quick-pacing of an airport bestseller with the methodical attention to sentence structure and language of a high-literary life’s work. Though the premise isn’t earth-shattering in its concept (the author would tell you this himself) the execution of the premise is absolutely unique. Not much can be said here without spoiling, so I’ll leave the official synopsis to speak for the premise.
I was most impressed by the way that Highland is able to explore multiple timelines simultaneously without compromising the individual effectiveness of any of them. He teaches the reader how to read his book, which is something only the very best authors know how to do well.
If you’ve read his previous novel (Major Inversions) you’ll know well Highland’s clever twists of phrase and perfect comedic timing. If you haven’t read Major Inversions, I recommend you start with Flashover. Get a taste for what this amazing author can do, then go back and take in the first novel. Finally, write your congress person and ask that he support a proposition to get Gordon Highland to write another novel....more
It helps to know what you're getting into with this book (though isn't that the case with all books?). Roulettetown is a very stream of conscious narrIt helps to know what you're getting into with this book (though isn't that the case with all books?). Roulettetown is a very stream of conscious narrative about a woman at a roulette table in a casino (assumed) during the course of a single night. So, at 88 pages, you can imagine just how stream of conscious this book will be.
This quiet, slow (in a traditional, vs. James Patterson commercial way, slow) book captures the ever-observant narrator's obsessive, yet honestly, quite honest, view of her small world, her Roulette Town. We aren't meant to infer anything about this character. We aren't meant to expect a twist. We are meant to em-mind the narrator, filling her static shoes for a few pages.
The reader ends up feeling like the narrator herself, looking for temporary companionship in the strangers around her, searching every muscle twitch, every blink, every stupid bet and assumed gambling "trick" from those around the table for a sense of community. And that's the magic of this book: we ride the logic of community inside the narrator's head, where community for all of us begins: our head....more
Slumber reads like a contemporary extraction of the author’s current mental state—of all Pablo’s work, this one seems the most autobiographical. FromSlumber reads like a contemporary extraction of the author’s current mental state—of all Pablo’s work, this one seems the most autobiographical. From the talk of forcing bourbon shots on bar-mates to writing as a subconscious evocation, Slumber is, for those not lucky enough to have shared bar-space with Mr. D’Stair, a window into the man unlike any of his other writings. He’d force you to swim in bourbon if given the chance.
Jose Saramago’s influence on D’Stair’s work is apparent with everything he writes, but Slumber reflects perhaps the most direct type of influence: concept extracted beyond the implied limitations of the form. With The Double (which seems to have inspired Slumber more directly than other Saramago work) the idea of a man seeing a duplicate version of himself on TV, is explored well beyond the handful of pages that such a simple concept would imply. In the hands of lesser writers, duplicity—especially when set amid a relatively unchanging context (compared to much commercial writing) is a clever conceit at worst and an average Michael Keaton comedy at best. But for The Double’s 336 pages, the idea remains incredibly engaging. I credit Saramago’s linguistic skill and his unmatched ability to extrapolate questions that never before seemed worth asking. That’s the germ with a Saramago novel: one idea seeds hundreds more.
Similar with D’Stair, Slumber takes a simple concept—a man discovers that another man has been breaking into his home to use his typewriter—and nurtures it into seemingly endless dimensions, never straying too far from the core concept, but never saturating the page with monotony and unnecessary girth. Slumber follows the protagonist as he discovers the mysterious apartment-dwelling writing, as he meets a convenience store employee/ fan of his own writing, as the should-he-or-shouldn’t-he materializes during subsequent meetings with the fan , as the narrator follows the mysterious writer to his own apartment, each node laying new paths to follow, new questions never thought to be asked. D’Stair always delivers. Slumber may be the best introduction to his work (or Man Standing Behind)....more
I've always had a nostalgic association with gas stations, so reading this book, taking in it's non-stop sex capades, hit me strangely. But associatioI've always had a nostalgic association with gas stations, so reading this book, taking in it's non-stop sex capades, hit me strangely. But associations aside, this book is quick, super fun, and quite intelligent. A great intro to Bradley's work....more
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a near-future, dystopian, homage to 1940s(ish) film noir, and reads with the smooth confidence of those very detectivTobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a near-future, dystopian, homage to 1940s(ish) film noir, and reads with the smooth confidence of those very detectives. And, I've got One Hundred Years of Vicissitude queued up to read soon....more