The book is light-hearted, imaginative, inventive, unpredictable. It kept me engaged through a long cross country flight. But it is trying so hard toThe book is light-hearted, imaginative, inventive, unpredictable. It kept me engaged through a long cross country flight. But it is trying so hard to be Hitchhiker Guide To The Galaxy and those are enormous boots to fill. That's the mountain SF writers keep trying to climb because it's there. So as enjoyable as this book was, you keep hearing echoes. You hear the writer's voice saying, look I don't have babblefish, I have translating chewing gum. I don't have a two headed sidekick, I have a two faced woman sidekick.
It was a good, entertaining book, but finishing it I was filled with a small sadness of missing Douglas Adams....more
I'm not sure Chuck Palahnuik is really the best person to write a satire about women's search for fulfillment in the modern world and how easily we arI'm not sure Chuck Palahnuik is really the best person to write a satire about women's search for fulfillment in the modern world and how easily we are distracted and waylaid by physical pleasure. It was funny enough and steam rolled along to its conclusion. He's built a career on poking fun of our need for the flavor of the month and brand name loyalty. But it left me feeling very sad and a little empty. I would not describe it as an inspirational book....more
Old money Asian billionaires seem a rather easy target for skewering on the comedic foil -- how they spend their money, what their priorities are, howOld money Asian billionaires seem a rather easy target for skewering on the comedic foil -- how they spend their money, what their priorities are, how out of touch the filthy rich are from the rest of us. But it worked for me.
A light hearted romantic comedy that didn't probe too deeply into the human condition, but pulled you along....more
I would describe The Sisters Brothers as more of anti-Western than a Western. It has all the elements of a gold-rush era Western -- the gunslingers, tI would describe The Sisters Brothers as more of anti-Western than a Western. It has all the elements of a gold-rush era Western -- the gunslingers, the horses, the dance hall whores, the prospectors, the Indians, San Francisco. But they're staged like a kabuki play of a Western by someone who's had all these elements explained to them, but never seen them first hand. Everything is flat, the short scenes are very discrete with the protagonists ride in / action / they ride out. The story is very fable-like in its simplicity. It invokes magic but doesn't embrace itself as a fantasy.
It's a book that sticks with me after finishing it more than one I particularly enjoyed reading....more
Years ago when I was a kid, after Star Wars had come out, I ended reading a paperback version of the movie and remember being surprised at how simpleYears ago when I was a kid, after Star Wars had come out, I ended reading a paperback version of the movie and remember being surprised at how simple it was. It felt more like Dick and Jane / See Spot Run book. The dialog of Stars Wars is limited so that it doesn't slow down the action. The plot is simple. The wonder of Star Wars is its larger than life, operatic staging. Which is the opposite of Shakespeare with the complex, poetic dialog and complicate themes of betrayal and identity, love, loss and courage. So this mashup sounded very appealing.
Ah, but there's the rub. This is not Shakespeare, but rather faux-Shakespeare. Shakespeare did use choruses and asides to the audience, but with a much lighter touch. Certainly not every scene had a chorus or every other speech an aside. There's a great mangling of Shakespeare's more famous speeches. I understand why the author did it, but the book never caught fire or became greater than its parts. It remained slightly amusing, but never rose above that.
I think this is the sort of thing that would be very popular on a summer night in a Portland or Austin park. Certainly as I was reading this, I kept thinking about the part in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where the kids from the plane crash gather around the fire and tell their origin myth. If you could get this kids to perform this play -- you'd really have something....more
This book was delightful. The story had me hooked from the paragraph in the prologue where the narrator describes the fate of his four completed booksThis book was delightful. The story had me hooked from the paragraph in the prologue where the narrator describes the fate of his four completed books. And even then, as you follow him through the creation and loss of each of his writing, even that is a slanted truth.
The most superficial description is about writing and not writing and one author's path through his twenties. But it's much more about truth and lies, about how we choose the stories we tell about ourselves and how that defines us, the arc between creation and letting go, about the search for meaning and who we are and how the path of that search circles back around itself because we were always right there.
It's a beautiful, well-written book with sharply defined scenes and unexpected, interlocking language. I recommend it....more
I originally gave this book a much higher star rating -- I read it as a quick library checkout while on the beach in Florida and it was a light-hearteI originally gave this book a much higher star rating -- I read it as a quick library checkout while on the beach in Florida and it was a light-hearted quick read. But then, thinking back on it later, as I sat down to write the review, I didn't remember it quite as fondly. The problem is that the message of the book is that to get great service at an American hotel, tip frequently and heavily. That the front desk and the bellmen and the doormen and everyone else is motivated by greed and there's a lot of discretion to take care of clients if they take care of you. It's all about the Benjamins,
Like everyone else who travels for a mixture of business and pleasure, I've had fabulous experiences in hotels and really horrible experiences (I can say that no terrible experience was entirely because of the hotel staff). But most of the time, I'm just passing through. So, the mindset of the writer who just laughs when people say that they'll never stay anywhere again because what does he care. Because that little I-am-taking-my-business-elsewhere is all I got.
The book itself was a fine read. I just got a little disgusted post-read about the attitude that I need to approach a hotel front desk with big bills in hand, asking what-can-I-do-for-you-because-I-don't-want-this-to-suck when really I'm not looking for a relationship with you. I am not an ATM....more
I am always thankful I don't work with the talent side of the business because the few times I've ended up in the same room with the talent it has gotI am always thankful I don't work with the talent side of the business because the few times I've ended up in the same room with the talent it has gotten very weird. These people live in a bubble where they have handlers and bodyguards and staff to make sure their feet don't touch the ground because they're the equivalent to a warm fountain of money for everyone that orbits them. And when you start considering child stars and their dysfunctional families, they have no chance to experience this concept that the world does not revolve around them.
I don't believe this book is a description of Justin Beiber, I think his life is a great deal worst than this. But it does give a couple months in the life of a child star on tour and the packaging and manipulation of his image while being an 11 year old boy. It's a great meditation on how could you live in this kind of echo chamber without becoming a flaming asshole or why our preteen girls need these "safe" fantasy figures or even the celebrity culture of why do people care.
I would recommend this as a light, quick read that will make you ask interesting questions to yourself....more
This book started out so wonderfully with a wild riff on the introduction of this pantheon of Gods spilling off the bus from spring break to create thThis book started out so wonderfully with a wild riff on the introduction of this pantheon of Gods spilling off the bus from spring break to create the universe. If it'd stayed there, I would have swan dived into the abyss with happiness. Curious that this introduction is just long enough to be the free sample for an ebook.
But the real meat of the book is a self-referential collection of critical notes and annotations about the blind drunken bards performing the epic story about a guy who might be the favorite of same of the gods or the gods might be a figment of his imagination or he might be a stone statue that is dreaming all this. The author makes a lot of references to Russian stacking dolls as he has a phrase that he repeats and adds to and then repeats that, adding to it again, and repeating that. (Hint: if you put down the book and don't mark your place, because of all the repeating phrases, it may be hard to find your spot again.) But I think this book is more of a homage to Ouroborous or the serpent swallowing his own tail. This writing (I hesitate to call it story) has no forward progress and seems to run on a short circular track.
It's so post-modern and hip, it will make your teeth hurt by the time you finish it, but you will drawn along for the ride. It's enormous and sexy and such a train wreck that you will not be able to look away. It's filled with so many "good gawd, did he just say that?" moments.
Every 5 years or so, someone convinces me that there's this English comedy of manners that I need to read because it's sooo funny, I'm going to enjoyEvery 5 years or so, someone convinces me that there's this English comedy of manners that I need to read because it's sooo funny, I'm going to enjoy it so much. And it's always the same combination of mistaken identity and foolish over-proud men trying to keep their dignity and stiff upper lip as the situation deteriorates around them. Though this one did have the added bonus of racism, because we all know that racism is just hilarious.
I plowed through it, I finished it, I have read my English comedy of manners for this half decade....more