As of page 130-something, better than Bonfire of the Vanities. Or is it Bonfire as told by Philip K Dick? Obsessive, funny, and tragic all at once.
11.As of page 130-something, better than Bonfire of the Vanities. Or is it Bonfire as told by Philip K Dick? Obsessive, funny, and tragic all at once.
11.27 Finished this last night. Every once in a while, a book comes along that so clearly articulates how you feel about: cities, the internet (virtual realities, avatars), 9/11, NYC, love, sickness, and death. This is that book for me. My wife and I have a long running gag about a friend who refers to About a Boy as "Life changing". Well is Chronic City life changing? Perhaps. Or maybe life-affirming? Late night stoned theory-having justifying? What Lethem does here is so deftly slip in his themes and metaphors that before you realize what he's done (and when you think you see it coming from a mile away) he's already slayed you. Again. And again. Is the "grey fog over downtown" a 9/11 metaphor? Or is it something like deLillo's Great Event in White Noise: a distraction, a stand in for something unknowable, something to just tie loose ends? Is Perkus Tooth crazy, or just tuned to a finer wavelength? Does Chase Insteadman even exist? Having fairly recently come from an extended NYC trip, I read most of this as a great tight little satire of that society, almost a modern Edith Wharton. But then cracks appear. And no silly film flam with flying saucers or people ripping their masks off (though it could be argued that some version of that happens). Lethem always grounds even his most far-out passages in characters and dialogue we can relate to. And he can spin a sentence like no one since, well maybe David Foster Wallace (who gets a friendly jibing as well in the form of "Obstinate Dust"). I feel like the mark of a true piece of art is how much I want to live and spend time with those characters. I've never been a big stickler for plot, as long as I can really hang out with people I find stimulating. This is that book for me....more
This was good. Really good. Makes me want to re-watch The Long Goodbye (also Brackett) and The Big Sleep (aThis is a review of The Nemesis from Terra.
This was good. Really good. Makes me want to re-watch The Long Goodbye (also Brackett) and The Big Sleep (also Brackett, with Faulkner). This is one of those pulp stories that restores your faith in Mars tales. A little of its time, a little screwball, all good. More compelling in 120 pages than most books can work up in 300. I love it when I stumble upon things like this from random used bookstore purchases. ...more
This begins like some way too many characters-Pynchon type thing but as of page 58 it's finally taking hold. I'll stick with it, knowing what I do nowThis begins like some way too many characters-Pynchon type thing but as of page 58 it's finally taking hold. I'll stick with it, knowing what I do now about how I pretty much loathed the whole first section of Cloud Atlas.
9.12.14 This was good. Not my favorite-that would be Cloud Atlas-but good, if overlong and suffering from Chabon disease of 'too many words'. I skimmed over the bits like the English sea captain going on and on about his legacy and his gout. And I really didn't need a whole seemingly endless chapter describing one characters early sexcapades. But still worthwhile....more
Thinking about this book-and one shouldn't think about it too much-I have to reduce my star rating. This is a pretty fun read. Like a big tub of extraThinking about this book-and one shouldn't think about it too much-I have to reduce my star rating. This is a pretty fun read. Like a big tub of extra-crispy KFC is a good meal. Indulge, but move on. Very 90s early internet-hackers-are-the-coolest-dated. Ended rather abruptly. ...more
I was highly recommended this tome by my good friends at my favorite sci-fi/fantasy bookstore, Dark Carnival in Claremont. I had been lugging around aI was highly recommended this tome by my good friends at my favorite sci-fi/fantasy bookstore, Dark Carnival in Claremont. I had been lugging around a massive stack of apparently "difficult" work, so they had an idea of what I was looking for in my so-called Speculative Fiction reading.
I will usually give big books at least a couple hundred pages to get going. This is the case with most Russian literature, and this is the case with Islandia. Be prepared for NOTHING TO HAPPEN for a good I don't know....800 pages? I think the major "conflict" of the book was whether or not the protagonist was going to get into the pants of one of the local girls (SPOILER ALERT: he succeeds, but not in the manner you'd expect). This is real world building on the level of Tolkein sans magic, Elves, Wizards, and Faeries. For the longest time I had no idea why I was still reading it. I'd stop for a week, read some other crap, and come back to it, finding I was sucked in once again.
So while it won't dazzle you with wordplay and invention in the manner of Pynchon or David Foster Wallace (yes, I've read Gravity's Rainbow twice, and am preparing to read Infinite Jest a second time), what it will do is make you marvel at the sheer scope of ambition and alternate-civilization building that Wright managed all while toiling away at his day job of being a successful East Coast lawyer and professor. As some other reviewers have pointed out, after living with this book for a while you will start to question your life in the Rat Race. I call that a success.
Recommended reading for those with day jobs and daydreaming tendencies. ...more