I have never been punished by a writer like this, ever. 1Q84 is nothing but a second act, where doppelgangers swap sex fluids and sentences. Ugly, old...moreI have never been punished by a writer like this, ever. 1Q84 is nothing but a second act, where doppelgangers swap sex fluids and sentences. Ugly, old Ushikawa was a cool character, though. I enjoyed reading about this stupid world through his eyes because he was the only person who had any cunning or intuition at all. That said, the idea of this story really is pretty cool -- metafiction and all that -- but this book needed an editor to tell Mr. Murakami that he really doesn't get to bore the reader as much as he wants to. It's sad that Haruki Murakami thinks that an opus is required for any literary notoriety, because it's obvious he can't handle it. (less)
By the 1940s, Struggle For Justice pulls too many punches regarding socialism, but follows through with too many jabs at fascism. By that time in our...moreBy the 1940s, Struggle For Justice pulls too many punches regarding socialism, but follows through with too many jabs at fascism. By that time in our history, tyranny had found ways to flourish on both sides on the political spectrum, but this book refuses to fully acknowledge that fact. (less)
I Shared ancestor that's not as old as it was thought to be? I'll read a book about that, but I wish The Link was as exciting as the book I imagined i...moreI Shared ancestor that's not as old as it was thought to be? I'll read a book about that, but I wish The Link was as exciting as the book I imagined it to be. (less)
What the hell can I say? This is a book about nothing but big ideas -- the history of the while universe. Hawking's writing is fine, and the diagrams...moreWhat the hell can I say? This is a book about nothing but big ideas -- the history of the while universe. Hawking's writing is fine, and the diagrams and graphics and such are well done; they really make the words a little easier to believe.(less)
In a world where transsexuals are as common as streetlights, Walt Cessna makes William S. Burroughs look like Pat Robertson’s 1992 speech at the Repub...moreIn a world where transsexuals are as common as streetlights, Walt Cessna makes William S. Burroughs look like Pat Robertson’s 1992 speech at the Republican National Convention. In the sixteen stories that comprise Fukt 2 Start With: Short Stories & Broken Werd a reader slums it through a world rotten with people poisoned by their own debauchery and excess, straight into their very bones and blood. The collection’s characters are only responsible for themselves, but the world they have submerged themselves into will cradle their addictions and habits, and we, as readers, are captivated by their suicides spelled out on white pages.
The Fukt stories are about what we do in our cities and to ourselves, not what they do to us or what’s done to us. If Holden Caulfield had starting dropping MDMA, he and his observations would fit right into the book’s literary world, which is the most perverse picaresque tale I have read in a long, long time. To the book’s credit, as well as to a chaste reader’s chagrin, it delves and dwells in delinquent psychology. From kid to a Special K. fiend, to total queer to questioning one’s own sexuality, such as in “Fukt 2 Start With,” where a narrator is visually lured to a woman, against his own instincts, who is the “walking embodiment of semen depletion.” (321) Even the excess is unsure of itself, especially when compared to “The Is Not A Love Story” where incest is as normal as any other relation any of these characters are capable of having.
“Guilty by Admission” is a story which sets the AIDS epidemic as a backdrop for Cessna’s collection, which is actually a contribution to those who didn’t see the virus take the shape of a “plague” as it’s called later in the book. A boy named Levi puts a pimply face to those afflicted, as well as the vile ways the disease spread through prostituted sex—all for his love of music. For his love of the song. For a collection falling under the critical banner of “queer theory” and written by a man writing about his own experiences, the stories in the collection feature numerous female characters, as well; each is a beautifully destroyed and hood rattish as the world around them will allow them to be, such as in “Head in a Hello Kitty Bag,” which is where I learned what happens to a man when they give their special lady friend strawberry-flavored douche for Valentine’s Day.
Although the cast of characters are unethical and immoral beasts out of cages, there are no villains in the stories, each person is a victim of themselves—the users and the used make up Cessna’s world. The closer to villainy they get, the campier they are, even a pissing-drinking pedophile named Michael who was
“Smiling like Cheshire Cat and wearing a pair of Power Ranger pajamas with the feet attached and the ass cut out. Silver sequins were plastered over his shaved eyebrows and a demented, clown-like mouth was painted on in bright red lipstick. He clutched a worn-looking, stuffed Smurf doll and held a rubber novelty axe which he kept hitting people over the head with.”
His story, “Dinner with Michael,” is a PG Wodehouse story, with names like club Slimelight and a transvestite named Olestra Lucille Stools, as well as a man named Spam Goodwin. But the whimsy stops there. The title character also keeps a posse of twelve-year-olds tweaked on ketamine so they’re always…willing and accessible. Still, through all his criminal activity he is nothing but a product and not a prophet of future kings of the streets and rave scenes.
Years of photography have given Walt Cessna great, observant eyes, and he uses them well in his stories. There’s no light at the end of any tunnel, but it’s a colorful trip along the way. Since I began with a sentence of pure but honest hyperbole, I’ll end with one. Walt Cessna keeps the bleakness of Cormac McCarthy, sets in on concrete, sprinkles it with Angel dust, and gives life to it with blood the color of bar light neon.(less)
It’s hard to find a collection of poetry that borders on the nonsensical as well as the highly-imaginative, which seems to be poetry’s biggest problem...moreIt’s hard to find a collection of poetry that borders on the nonsensical as well as the highly-imaginative, which seems to be poetry’s biggest problem. It’s either one or the other, or too bland to bother with. Poetry is doomed to be poetry, but it’s not a problem if a reader allows their sanity to circle the drain in The Last Man, a collection of poems by R L Swihart, an author who isn’t afraid to close his eyes and write about the oblivion he sees: the confusion around him when his eyes are open.
Written in lines that stretch from margin to margin, the best way read The Last Man is to remember the writers own line: “From every apostrophe, comma, and fact hangs a piece of rotting flesh.” “Two Cities (Morning)” There is a great deal of the conscious world in this book, but it must be unpacked because it’s not plotted for the reader. Most times, it’s a world that is comfortably morbid is its own vivacious spirit; “The Fortress” perfectly captures love’s happy and deadly isolation. “Eternal life is death” in “The Immigrant,” a poem isolated and erotically moonlit, as well as subtly sexual as an Egon Schiele painting.
Swihart makes surreal poetry not very pesky, but he makes it feel like riding the lightening it certainly is. Even if the poetry that isn’t visually startling, it turns out to be something a reader doesn’t walk away from with being, not repulsed, but affected, such as “The Rouge Ear” and “De Selby Is Surprisingly Silent on the Subject.” These moments do startle, but it’s obvious the poet has a subdued panache for the arrested traveler, such as in “Attic Lit,” “En Passant,” “Rifle,” “Somme de Destructions” and “M,” a poem that parodies the logic of a logical thinker and the steps they take to logical murder their own actions.
It might seem like the mind is a mess, but halfway through The Last Man, the world around us seems to become a place filled with sharp and hungry horrors. In “Sanctuary,” even our homes hung with sweet water bird feeders become unsettlingly unsafe. And don’t try to go to the mall, where we think it’s safe because we spend money there:
That’s where it all came together. The white palace of fashion frenzy. The loud music to drive the frenzy. Two-storeyed goddesses to oversee the frenzy. Aspiring Sue Lyons preening beside whitewashed displays In addition he had to come back closer to closing time (I’m not privy to the excuse he gave the girls) and slip through the cracked door labeled EMPLOYEES ONLY
A large black Sharpie obliterated John 3: 16 over a thousand times and replaced it with John 11: 35
And we weep too, just like Jesus in John and “A First Step.”
There’s no self-destruction in The Last Man, our minds do it for us without our input or say in the insane matter. So relax and have a drink, think about God, and go mad. In the end, you’ll learn a lesson; it’s strange to know that were all always children learning lessons. When you read about it in The Last Man, it’s surreal and hypnagogic, but then you realize “Many fairytales end in a wedding; this one ends in sleep.” (less)
This novel is sunstroke on paper. If Cormac McCarty’s Suttree is captured drunkenness, which I would argu...more‘”Only rum is forever.” I agreed.”’
This novel is sunstroke on paper. If Cormac McCarty’s Suttree is captured drunkenness, which I would argue this novel has that going for it too, then The Stars at Noon is the dried tongue, manic mindset of a desert wander twenty minutes before her brain stops functioning. If Graham Greene had ever shot heroine and gone on South American bender with in a Volkswagen, he would have written The Stars at Noon, the 1995 novel by Denis Jonson, which takes place in Nicaragua during August of 1984—a point when the entire region was tipsy with bad politics, bad money, but maintained the same level of bad people the human race is known for. It’s all Coca-Cola and Communists as the narrator heads for Costa Rica, occasionally living off of rice and beans and whatever rum a sweaty hotel happens to have.
Denis Johnson’s sentences make this story worth the read. Here is what a reader is in for on the first page:
I’ve always been the only patron in the McDonald’s here in this hated city, because with the meat shortage you wouldn’t know absolutely, would you, what sort of a thing they were handing you in the guise of beef. But I don’t care, actually, what I eat. I just want to lean on that characteristic McDonald’s counter while they fail to take my order and read the eleven certifying documents on the wall above the broken ice-cream box, nine of them with the double-arch McDonald’s symbol and the two most recent stamped with the encircled triangle and offering the pointless endorsement of the Junta Local de Asistancia Social de Nicaragua … It’s the only Community-run McDonald’s ever. It’s the only McDonald’s where you have to give back your plastic cup … It’s the only McDonald’s staffed by people wearing military fatigues and carrying submachine guns.
This is the same McDonald’s where the narrator went to the ladies’ room “doing nothing, only sweating—needless to say, I wouldn’t go so far in such an environment to raise my skirts and pee; and the walls were too damp to hold graffiti.” Although this is same girl whose wits have curdled by the Nicaraguan heat. Maybe. She’s a journalist who pretends to be a prostitute; or a prostitute who wants to be a journalist. Either way, she expects sex and to be paid for it, until she falls in love with an Englishman with a family and a history questionable enough for the CIA to want to chat with him under the Nicaraguan sun. The dialog in her head has either been eaten away by the heat or she doesn’t practice her language professionally, and instead only survives on sex and not conversation. She’s a victim of exchange rates, dirty sheets and the heat—that endless heat. She’s also a victim of herself.
The narrator of The Stars at Noon is a hard sell to most readers who want their narrators to be their special friends throughout the tale, a contemptible demand to make on a book. The heat makes her always feel naked, possibly due to sweat melding her clothing to her body, but we read her as naked and helpless, until she starts to talk, then our pity evaporates especially as her story begins to end and Johnson offers her some epiphanies—golden moments always wasted on the witless as those nostalgic for the good opportunities they squandered. Rum and good sentence are forever, enjoy both in The Stars at Noon. (less)