I listened to an entire audio book! Twice! I mean, sure, it was basically just because I spent 12 of my 48 hours of friends and family Christmas visitI listened to an entire audio book! Twice! I mean, sure, it was basically just because I spent 12 of my 48 hours of friends and family Christmas visiting blitz-time alone in my car, and I didn't want to cause a fatal wreck by constantly readjusting the radio station on my cheap ipod plug-in or blindly sifting through scratched CD's while navigating holiday traffic, but how's this for a silver lining? Stephen Colbert reads his own book. Score! He could word-for-word recite Twilight to me like it's poetry and I would sit Indian-style on the floor just totally fucking enraptured. He's one Cool Cat(holic), that Stephen.
Since the length of this thang isn't exactly making Dirk Diggler blush, I don't want to overly quote-pluck. Also, I'm just too lazy to transcribe anything from the CD's. I get paid to enter data, and I am not at work as of approximately 30 minutes ago. Regardless, I will say that the section on pharmaceutical drugs is more than enough of a sell on the book, so maybe start there if you're having doubts about time-investment. From Ritalin (prescribed for ADHD, characterized by things like difficulty concentrating, sudden mood-swings, and being a child), to Xanax (for symptoms frequently associated with human life), to Airborne (most effective when used on patients who approach medicine with "the naive wonder of a 3rd-grader"), Stephen lays out his faves, rallies for support of Big Pharma, and lifts his nose to Obamacare. Is funny. Is very, very funny.
Here is where I get sappy. Look away, tough guys, and recommence bench-pressing. I just want to say that it sorta blows my mind in the best way that comedy like this, the views it espouses when you realize it's sarcastic--sorry, but I once had to tell an NRA-nut redneck bar-regular that Stephen Colbert is a satirist, and he didn't believe me at all--has such a large fanbase in America. I mean, it's so easy to think that most people are backwards idiots. Well, maybe not most people, but lots of people. Then again, I grew up in Oklahoma, so ya know. Any time I watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, the smoke of fatalism deep inside my chest briefly ceases choking me near-completely, and I think maybe it's all going to be alright in the end. That sounds hammy, I know, but it is Christmas, and Christmas is often associated with ham consumption.
Last thought: I very distinctly remember the first time I watched Colbert's launchpad, The Daily Show. I was a Junior in high school returning home after a night out with some friends. My head was in...let's just say "a strange place." My mother had the lights off in the living room and the television on super-loud. Thinking it wise not to do what I really, really wanted to do and run to the shelter of my room to listen to music on headphones and chew all my fingernails off, I casually (at least I think it was casually) sat down on the couch and joined her in watching what I believed to be a news broadcast. Words left the mouth of the sharply-dressed fellow on the screen, and before I knew it, the most obnoxious horsey-laugh galloped out of my mouth. I quickly covered my face with both hands to silence myself, sheer terror grasping me as the little me inside my head was smacking the insides of my stupid cranium and wanting nothing more than to take back the last 5 seconds where I totally revealed myself. I had my eyes closed just waiting for the inevitable "what the hell is wrong with you?" when a rush of relief swept over me; my mother was laughing as hard as I was. I slowly opened my eyes and noticed that rather than piercing me with her expert accusatory gaze (her cold stare of parental disappointment could freeze a blowtorch), my mother still had her back to me and was giggling like crazy, totally sucked into this strange little show. Even though she doesn't know it, it was a moment of deep bonding between us which I probably read too much into at the time, but still smile when I think about. She's...like me. I may tell her what I felt that night and why when she's on her death-bed, assuming I live that long and she has dementia at the time. How's that for an American tale, folks?
We have since watched countless hours of Colbert and Stewart together. I will be mailing this audio book to her once I've listened to it a few more times, and she will love it as much as you will. Oh, AND YOU WILL.
It's a good thing I didn't know about Palahniuk's praise of this neat little story before I started reading it, or it may have passed (gotten shoved)It's a good thing I didn't know about Palahniuk's praise of this neat little story before I started reading it, or it may have passed (gotten shoved) under my radar. Come to think of it, I hope I haven't prematurely spoiled any potential entertainment for you, assuming you're like me in that you hear "praise from Chuck Palahniuk!" and it sounds like "Ewww, taste this." No.
Ignore that madness. This is a really strong first novel about a master document forger in the 1980's whose skills were honed over the years out of necessity. Oh, and by "necessity" I mean that, on top of a rough childhood, he has six fingers on one hand and a pretty major drug and alcohol problem largely resulting from sporadic, somatoform migraines. Self-medicating these maybe real, maybe imagined headaches frequently lands him in the E.R. where he awakes to find himself being interrogated concerning his potential as a suicide risk (i.e. future mental patient). He has memorized medical books, body language cues, and psychiatric manuals in order to dance his way out of these scenarios just long enough to completely change his identity and get to planning his escape from his next overdose or incarceration, depending which one comes first.
What do you get when you cross a career criminal-slash-chameleon with the lady of his dreams? Oh, there's no punchline; you're just fucked. This is especially true when your accidental disappearing act has pissed off some organized crime guys who have consistently relied on your forgeries to continue their shadowy affairs, so they try and go all "my name is Inigo Montoya" on your ass. Your once-complicated life is now extremely fucking messy and complicated. So the story rolls on.
One of the coolest things about this book is it appeals to that side that I believe most of us have, the "disappear and start over" or "rob a rich badguy at gunpoint and move to Mexico" or "travel all over the world with a ninja sword hacking up all the assassins who I think killed my baby" fantasy. This is normal, yes? I mean, there's exactly zero chance of me succeeding at a life lived by wits and reflexes alone considering that I've actually managed to give myself a second degree burn from a nickel, added to which I sliced my hand open on a clove of garlic just last Saturday. I wish I was kidding, man.
Anyway, the methods Clevenger's narrator lays out concerning how to go about completely vanishing and re-emerging all tabula rasa style sound totally plausible to someone who knows not one thing about stealing an identity from a recently deceased person and building a verifiable imaginary history all the way from childhood to present. Not that I encourage law-breaking, but damn would it ever be nice to get those student loan assholes off my case. A girl can read books like this and dream though, right?
The easiest place to have wit is in the presence of another’s need.
Boy oh boy, there are a lot of wonderful books out there. Did you guys know this? IThe easiest place to have wit is in the presence of another’s need.
Boy oh boy, there are a lot of wonderful books out there. Did you guys know this? It's true! I picked up Airships out of that same strange magnetic pull which makes you feel compelled to engage a stranger in conversation in a bar or on a sidewalk for reasons not explained by physical attraction. And to be honest, I don't find this book's cover particularly appealing, and the gr blurb about it leaves a number of somethings to be desired. However, I found myself tracking it down, and read it mostly over a series of cigarette breaks at work and exhausted, pajama'd sprawls on the couch just before nodding off. I think this approach was better than my usual habit of gorging myself on short story collections in two or three sittings tops. Working a tedious, repetitious job, I was able to get through one story, snuff out my cigarette, then sit and mull it over for two or three hours without the interruption of additional stimuli or the nagging desire to keep on with a continuous narrative, as happens when I attempt to read plot-driven novels on my breaks. I was sated by these tidbits, and they were left to flower in my brain while I worked, to recycle and reform and quote themselves over and over again. I slowly fell in love with (most of) them.
What we are dealing with here is part O'Connor, part Tower/Saunders/insert harshly insightful, rule-less, punchy short story writer. I know a lot of you may begin to salivate at the words 'Southern Grotesque', and that is a lot of what Hannah writes. You will not be disappointed. Jumping between various 19th and 20th century American military involvements, to 'first times' between hillbillies, to neurotic obsessives spying on their exes with binoculars, to The End of Days, Hannah draws parallels between various petty, self-defeating, circular, and void-induced violent and pathetic lows birthed in the darker extremes of human emotion. He's often overwhelmingly sardonic, but there is a generosity of understanding about we sad, frail humans hidden under the murky surface, even if that surface is a guy sleeping with a strung-out 'loose woman', then beating her over the head with a tombstone. Shooting an injured animal to put it out of its misery, you see? Much like human feelings and thought-patterns, this is not an exact science, and it's certainly not pretty like a shiny pink vintage car. The covers that some of these publishers select, I tell ya.
I should mention how funny he can be. Pitch-black humor, but still...
'My beloved daughter, Thanks to you for being one of the few who never blamed me for your petty, cheerless and malign personality. But perhaps you were too busy being awful to ever think of the cause.'
'So you don't even have natural needs?' pouring myself a near beer. 'All you care about is moving chairs and pictures, from room to room. Between me and a bucket of paint to freshen up the front porch, you'd choose the paint and we both know it. Me and God hate you.'
...If only I'd married a good pagan woman who never tired of the pleasures of the flesh.
Once I cheated on her...the girl did everything. I was homesick during the whole time for Jane. When you get down to it, there isn't much to do. It's just arms and legs. It's not worth a damn.
On unrequited love:
My head's burning off and I got a heart about to bust out of my ribs. All I can do is move from chair to chair with my cigarette...Maybe I need to go to church, I said to myself. I can't stand this alone. I wish I was Jesus. Somebody who never drank or wanted nooky. Or knew Jane.
These quotes are a dozen times richer in context, but it gives you an idea of his style. Oh, and I should point out again that these are Southern stories set over a wide net of time periods, and that they are told mostly in first-person. I'm sure you have guessed where I am going with this: there are a lot of racially offensive terms. I mean, a LOT. As these are grotesques, these people are not exactly supposed to be idolized (rather, examined), but it can get a bit jarring to read so many ugly terms in such rapid-fire style from a white man who published this collection in 1974. Just a warning.
He will regret it but once, and that will be continuous....more
At first I wasn't going to compose a review about this book. Considering the adapted-to-screen version, the biographical film centering around this peAt first I wasn't going to compose a review about this book. Considering the adapted-to-screen version, the biographical film centering around this period in the author's life, the seemingly infinite number of editions printed over the last 40+ years, the massive hype surrounding the murders/murderers even today, the more than likely THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of reviews already written about the novel, and the general rock-stardom that IS Truman Capote, it seemed about as pointless as dropping a pebble into the Pacific Ocean and hoping for a wave. Then I remembered that I had the gall to write a review about Dante's Inferno and thought...hey, why start worrying about being humble now? Truman certainly wasn't. He was blingin' before bling was even a word, kids. Hell, he had to walk to school uphill both ways barefoot in the snow carting around all his bling. But enough about SlickRick...err...Truman. On with the review! (gallop, gallop, gallop)
The true-crime genre. Generally stinkier than what I would imagine that obese dude in Se7en's gaseous wind-breaks would be. I generally never peruse this section, which is why for entirely too long I was living under the assumption that the local bookstore was simply always sold out of copies of In Cold Blood. I'd been trying to read it for ages, but hadn't even considered that it could be over on the same shelf as The Stranger Beside Me (some of you, my lovely goodreads BFF's, may recall my feelings regarding THAT piece of shit). But enough with the review-nostalgia. I finally found it one day, took it home, and pounded it down like it was dressed tequila. It was the perfect book, in fact, to get me out of my reading funk. THREE CHEERS FOR MURDER! But I digress...
The novel is superbly crafted, with spot-on pacing (with the exception of the first chapter which, though necessary, does draaaaaaaaaag on a wheeeeeeeeee bit) and, more importantly, characters so real that they don't even seem real. Their conversations flow with a subtle grace rarely seen in published writing in general, and specifically (surprisingly) even less in true crime novels. You would think that you would think "the shit is, like, for real real, so it should seem more for real real when you write it down for real than other not for real shit that you write down, right?" However, part of the oddly convincing feeling that one gets from the characters in In Cold Blood is actually largely due to the fact that the dialogue is written in a novelistic style rather than through the true crime genre's irritatingly common habit of using(more often than not chopped to bits) "direct" quotations. I would argue that this approach serves to put you outside of the situation, and makes you feel detached from the horrors of the subject matter, as well as less sensitive to the most important lessons that we could possibly learn from true crime books in general: The WHO these people actually were. The WHAT drove them over the edge. The WHEN they lost their marbles. The WHERE in their pasts the pivotal damage occurred. In short, not just the HOW they did what they did, but WHY they did it to begin with. I can’t say that Capote necessarily answer all of these questions. However, he made his best effort to, setting the stage for generations of true-crime authors to follow in his footsteps and expand upon the genre-bending path he laid for them. It is really too bad that so few actually do.
I was told of this essay recently by a friend of mine in reference to her own unplanned pregnancy...she sarcastically considered using Swift's idea toI was told of this essay recently by a friend of mine in reference to her own unplanned pregnancy...she sarcastically considered using Swift's idea to...let's say... "make baby food" as one possible means of dealing with the infant once it's born. That kid is going to have some issues....more
I have been stewing on this book all night...it was 1)terrific in every and 2)completely rotten in every way and 3)scary, scary, terrifying scary withI have been stewing on this book all night...it was 1)terrific in every and 2)completely rotten in every way and 3)scary, scary, terrifying scary without trying too hard to be. O'Connor has said that she searches in the darkest, most hopeless little worlds for "god's grace" (or more specifically, "god's presence", be it dark or light). Seeing as I have no fear of the wrath of an angry god, why did this book affect me so deeply, leaving me with a stunned expression staring at a blank wall for several minutes after each little story had wrapped up? My only conclusion is that, aside from being hypnotized to terror by O'Connor's seductive prose, I must have some residual, albeit repressed fears of the religion instilled in me at a young age. Those "tales of terror" from the preacher's mouth must still rattle around in my subconscious from time to time, which would explain why the horror movies that have most scared me in my life have always centered on demons and damnation. I love a good zombie movie, but The Exorcist scared the "bejesus" out of me (so to speak), and still does to this very day. This is true despite the fact that I find the plot to 28 Days Later more feasible than that of Rosemary's Baby or any other demon bodysnatching devil takeover plot imaginable (I am far more logically afraid of "microscopic bad things" than "invisible bad things," I suppose). But I am rambling. Read this book! YOU WILL THANK ME! If I haven't peaked your interest, allow me to mention a few "buzz words" appropriate to this book: serial killer, drowning child, crooked preacher, arson, theft, country trash, unwanted pregnancy, insanity, depression, poverty, seduction, abandonment, missing limbs, prosthetic limbs, ignorance, betrayal, emotional breakdown, and total psychological meltdown. And MORE. ...more
To be honest, reading this book was sort of like having your parents give you the "birds and the bees" speech at age 16...more than a little bit poin To be honest, reading this book was sort of like having your parents give you the "birds and the bees" speech at age 16...more than a little bit pointless. Herein lies the dilemma: I feel like the people who probably should be reading this book will NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS read this book, and if they do it will only be in order to cherry pick it for their own purposes (which would clearly be at odds with the author's stated intention). All the same, the text is extremely informative due to the obviously broad scope of smarmy ole Dawkins' knowledge, from sociological and psychological motivations behind religious belief, to evolutionary science and even a bit of literary criticism (where would the written word be without wonderful biblical phrases such as "a wolf in sheep's clothing" and "the root of all evil?"). Basically, whether you're a skeptical agnostic, or a devout atheist in need of a good old scientific hand job and some motivational sweet-nothings in your ear (good job you smarty pants, you were right all along!), then this is definitely the book for you....more
The best part about this early beat novel is contrasting the temperaments of the two narrators: Kerouac comes off as a naive little boy catching firefThe best part about this early beat novel is contrasting the temperaments of the two narrators: Kerouac comes off as a naive little boy catching fireflies, while Burroughs is a grumpy old junkie codger squashing the fireflies and grumbling to himself about how stupid they were for flying near him. ...more
Left no impression whatsoever. I read it only about 2 months ago, and I can't even remember how it ended or if it ever really went anywhere. All I remLeft no impression whatsoever. I read it only about 2 months ago, and I can't even remember how it ended or if it ever really went anywhere. All I remember is feeling extremely bored and impatient the whole time. I suggest you read Paul's Case instead. Now THAT'S a story....more
A Glass-Bottomed Cadillac is one of the greatest things that I have ever read...and all that it essentiaLiving proof: don't judge a book by its cover.
A Glass-Bottomed Cadillac is one of the greatest things that I have ever read...and all that it essentially is is a story about Hank Williams Sr getting blown in the storage room of a greasy diner, then marveling at the myriad of soaps available to clean his soiled pants with. Now THAT is skillful writing....more