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
I really liked this book. Have to admit to feeling a little removed from the material as I read it on one of those Kindle-type things without the pictI really liked this book. Have to admit to feeling a little removed from the material as I read it on one of those Kindle-type things without the pictures. But that's what the internet is for. My secondary research brought me to at least one good site-cielodrive.com, and at least one semi-interesting made for TV movie with Jeremy Davies as Charlie and one of the actresses from Mr Show as Squeaky.
I recall being frightened by the mere presence of this book as a kid. But being a lifelong California resident and an avid follower of all things Angeleno, felt like the time had come to give it a chance. The biggest impression I get is that these were people I have known or could have known-maybe friends of my sisters, or slightly off hippie girls from Santa Cruz. I no longer think of the 60s as an innocent time....more
For some reason had to give Heinlein a second chance after the mildly amusing Stranger grok book. I found this one much more readable-at times excitinFor some reason had to give Heinlein a second chance after the mildly amusing Stranger grok book. I found this one much more readable-at times exciting and cringeworthy (in that imagining slugs crawling on my bare skin way). I don't know if he was a total ass or just really liked to write characters who were total asses. And I don't know if the last sentences are to be read as a satire of gung-ho military speak, or if he was rally as much of a jarhead as he comes across. I'm confused. Was Heinlein progressive, or "progressive" like the MC5: calling for revolution but keeping women as "wenches"?
But regardless, this is a pretty decent sci fi invasion yarn. It won't reconfigure your worldview, and nope-it's not as chilling and batshit crazy as the original Body Snatchers. But I liked it enough to finish it and not roll my eyes too much. That's more than I can say for that morally questionable Stranger in a Strange Land book....more
This is a good fkn book! Not one to usually be into Space Operas, it still had me hooked from the first word to the last. While the so-called "big re
This is a good fkn book! Not one to usually be into Space Operas, it still had me hooked from the first word to the last. While the so-called "big reveal" isn't such a surprise, you don't care because the quality of story craft is so consistently strong. Highly recommended to anyone, sci fi fan or not....more
This is a good book. Not Faulkner's best book by a mile. But a good book nonetheless.
Some glimpses at the brilliance to come are littered throughoutThis is a good book. Not Faulkner's best book by a mile. But a good book nonetheless.
Some glimpses at the brilliance to come are littered throughout a Felliniesque tale of Bohemians and the idle rich aboard a boat in New Orleans. Characters aside from the two young girls, the old biddy, the older perv, and the sculptor are a bit interchangeable. For the life of me I will not ever remember the difference between Ayers, Fairchild, and "the Semitic Man", but no worries. What you're getting here is Faulkner's demos-the raw nuggets that will flower in the later Yoknapatawpha County series.
You'll also get a completely engrossing opening riff (seemingly covering everything from the title bug to Love and Art and the too-fleeting nature of Life Itself, and of course Girls) and a drunken ending right out of a 20s Screwball Comedy-or perhaps a peek into the troubled Faulkner screenplay for The Big Sleep.
I'll admit, a lot of it droned by. Like one of those Fellini movies with the wacky characters whose dialogue never quite matches the movement of their lips. But it is worth it for the language, and the scattered scenes of the ridiculousness of taming Nature....more