I liked this book quite a lot; it's spare and direct, but with associative leaps that explode, but quietly and in sun-faded colors. The writing bears...moreI liked this book quite a lot; it's spare and direct, but with associative leaps that explode, but quietly and in sun-faded colors. The writing bears many of the hallmarks of the 'style' usually associated with Tao Lin, but it does so in a way that felt earnest (one nickname among many for this style seems to be the 'new sincerity' movement, which seems bizarre). Emotionally charged but at a remove--the real resonance for me comes from all its strangeness and surprises, the odd and lonely scenes in each poem. The book engages with the paradox of loneliness and closeness better than most that try, as the speaker is constantly hyper self-aware not only in index-like cataloging of emotions and thoughts but even more so with physicality, with frequent lines about desiring to not just engage a physical body with her own but to occupy the exact same space, down to the empty space between each other's atoms.
It's an incredibly smart book, making deft and highly insightful gestures that are subtle and easily misunderstood to be simplistic or banal. There's also a lot of nostalgia and retracing, time becoming an odd thing as past and present seem (like the speaker's body) to occupy / want to occupy impossible spaces. With all this a constant self-reminder that emotional singularity is a lie, that everything felt has been felt before and almost nothing we ever experience is unique outside of our subjective existence. This tightens the emphasis on self, brings added scrutiny to interactions with others, how they perceive us, and how we act with that magnified gaze constantly feeding back. (less)
Very enjoyable, Ellis's unique style is always incredibly satisfying to me, and it continues to work well even in this bite-sized, Kindle Single varie...moreVery enjoyable, Ellis's unique style is always incredibly satisfying to me, and it continues to work well even in this bite-sized, Kindle Single variety. It's probably a good thing when my biggest complaint is that it runs so short and I wanted to enjoy this peek of a very dark protagonist a great deal longer. It may be for the best, though, as the grotesque and compelling sheen might have worn off a bit with too much exposure.
Ellis made his name in graphic novels and it shows here; he's an adept storyteller and knows how to write in a shorter, ready-to-be-serialized mode. One is tempted to ask when the graphic novel adaptation can be expected--I do think a series of vignettes (perhaps not of this exact character, but the world hinted at) would an extremely seductive volume.(less)
A languid, lazy lightning bolt occasionally striking, a drunk cobra coiling and uncoiling between orgasm and lethal strike. Sleepy and violent, medita...moreA languid, lazy lightning bolt occasionally striking, a drunk cobra coiling and uncoiling between orgasm and lethal strike. Sleepy and violent, meditative and throwing a tantrum. Abbreviated and floating out into the ether. TKO, simultaneously winning and losing by submission. All its identifying numbers filed off for no good reason. (less)
Very dull, superficial writing. The characters are so cardboard it's like the entire thing is a satire of bad sci-fi. It's an amalgamation of fifth-ra...moreVery dull, superficial writing. The characters are so cardboard it's like the entire thing is a satire of bad sci-fi. It's an amalgamation of fifth-rate tropes and every conceivable cliche of the genre, without bothering to even do -that- very well.(less)
While it admittedly sounds harsher than I really intend, what I want to say about this book is that I don't have much to say at all, because neither d...moreWhile it admittedly sounds harsher than I really intend, what I want to say about this book is that I don't have much to say at all, because neither does PZ Myers. By this I don't mean at all that he is unintelligent or inarticulate in his criticisms and observations; he is obviously both of these things and has a relatively commensurate following in the skeptical community. Arguably worse, this book largely commits the cardinal sin that the late and indelible Christopher Hitchens warned against above all others: this book is boring. 'Chapter' (edited blog post) after 'chapter', the same metaphor kept struggling to take shape in my mind -- something about low-hanging fruit that wasn't quite right, but more something along the lines of PZ Meyers wandering alone in the fruit orchard that has been picked clean. He's not looking for a new orchard, or planting new trees, so to speak.
Every single criticism here is well worn, every argument is an argument rehashed, every snarky aside not only a second act but a second act that can't live up to the first. I honestly cannot locate one point raised here that is either original or at least an entertaining and engaging re-interaction with a point familiar to Myers' audience. Anyone remotely familiar with the work of the New Atheists will feel, probably, both bored and shorted, page by page. Missing both depth and any rich rhetorical work, it just feels like a hollow collection of prose. Revisit Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennett, Krauss, Stenger, et al, and feel assured you'll find the same ground and find it better guided. It's not that Myers is wrong or bearing any great argumentative faults, and I'd argue if he were it'd actually make for a more worthwhile book. But it seems that Myers shies away from anything but the most superficial and cozily familiar ground, doesn't seem to want to step more than a couple feet into the more challenging terrain. His writing and personality have never struck me as terribly lazy or insecure, so I'm at a loss to explain this. I'd like to see someone of Myers' intellect and at least affected confidence put more skin in the game and dig a little deeper. It's certainly telling that I am about as deep in his targeted audience as one could be and I couldn't force myself to finish the last 1/4 of the book out of sheer disinterest.
'The Happy Atheist' is like a third-rate cover band; loving the original only makes you all the more disappointed, and you wish the frontman would apply himself a bit more. (less)