Robert Crumb is one unique and special individual, and lo and behold, so is this book that embodies everything that Mr. Crumb is - hilarious, bitinglyRobert Crumb is one unique and special individual, and lo and behold, so is this book that embodies everything that Mr. Crumb is - hilarious, bitingly-satirical, brutally honest, challenging, and brilliant. In illustrating the human condition through all our ironies, weaknesses, lusts, terrors, and cruelties, in a style that only Mr. Crumb can do and is famous for, he also effortlessly weaves in his childhood as a kid of the 1940's to his evolution of being the enfant terrible cartoonist of the 1960's hippie culture. With over 50 personal photographs and 300 images taken from his sketchbooks and comic books, AND a CD (R. Crumb's Music Sampler) containing selected recordings from Crumb's "half-assed" music career with his band, R. Crumb And His Cheap Suit Serenaders, this is not merely a visual biography, but a masterpiece of one genius's creation. Pair this with the 1994 documentary, Crumb, and you have just about all that you need to know about the madness behind the man....more
This is intolerably gorgeous. Greenwich Village nostalgia at its finest, at its most poetic, warm, and loving, at a time when literature was queen, asThis is intolerably gorgeous. Greenwich Village nostalgia at its finest, at its most poetic, warm, and loving, at a time when literature was queen, as was New York City itself. This is one of those few books that made me smile from start to finish. And I'm still smiling. And even swooning. ...more
I've always been a fan of well-written lesbian fiction. Tipping the Velvet is by far my most favorite of the genre. It has many things that I always fI've always been a fan of well-written lesbian fiction. Tipping the Velvet is by far my most favorite of the genre. It has many things that I always found so erotic and sexy: lesbians, drag kings, Victorian-age kinky sex, dance halls, and girl-on-girl action. Not to mention, the writing is exquisite and the pacing of the novel is smooth, quick, and easy without sacrificing its emotional depth and power.
The only thing I ever found annoying about the novel is the main character Nan, who is not all that interesting and for the most part comes off as very ungrateful to those who care and love her the most. She lets years pass by without even keeping in touch with them while letting all her focus and attention on those who do her wrong. I wish Nan was stronger and had more respect for her loved ones instead of being so quick to dismiss them only to show interest in them when she's at her lowest of lows. I never felt that she ever progressed throughout the novel and is too dependent on being whatever her partner(s) want her to be, which made me wish that there was a stronger, more complex lead to this brilliant story. Her sudden change of heart for socialism and for her love for Florence at the end of the novel felt rather forced, rushed, and anti-climactic to me, as an attempt to show that "Yes Nan has changed!" but it wasn't believable at all. Even then, she as usual doesn't have a mind of her own and only does things based on what others are doing. The love between she and Kitty, though, I adored and admired and rooted for this pair to make it. Their love affair, and even the end of it, was so beautifully written, very poignant, and touching.
Also, though this book is advertised as historical fiction, let's face it, it's basically erotica. Why it's advertised as a historical fiction novel has always been beyond me. Not that there is tons of sex throughout the novel, because it's not, but I always felt that it was too sexually charged and sexually driven that it may leave those who didn't expect it to be a tad overwhelmed. However, I suppose that's part of the charm of this novel...that it isn't exactly what you expect, and it ends up being a wonderful, saucy surprise of a read. I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to the likes of Dickens and Tom Jones...but nonetheless, it's still an exceptional novel that deserved all the attention that it received.
Tipping the Velvet will always rank as one of my favorites, not just in the lesbian novel genre but in general. ...more
What I had initially thought would be a novel strictly based on the downfall of an affluent family was surprisingly something more: it’s about how theWhat I had initially thought would be a novel strictly based on the downfall of an affluent family was surprisingly something more: it’s about how the advent of one of the most important inventions known to man (the automobile) would, as one of the characters had put it, “bring a greater change in [our] life than most [of us] suspect.” It’s a tale that takes place in the most important era of American history, the Industrial Revolution, which was a time of change and development that would affect an entire nation.
This novel puts into prospective of just how much the change and growth of a nation can affect not just the country, but of the people of that time. It brings into light of how change, although good for many, can be bad for others. And most of all, it puts into perspective on not only what it was like for people of that era to deal with change, but of how people had to adjust to a different way of life and a different way of thinking. What makes this novel so wonderful is how its theme will more than likely always be relevant, because as time goes on, the arrival of a particular invention, which at first may seem like a trend, can indeed change everything (for example, the Internet, the computer, e-books, etc.)
Besides the historical context which makes The Magnificent Ambersons such a great novel, is the writing style of Booth Tarkington and the main protagonist, George Amberson Minafer. He’s a classic example of the anti-hero; he’s rude, he’s snotty, he’s self-centered, and naïve, we should not like him, throughout the novel, we don’t like him, but then near the end once he finally gets his “come-upance” we start to have an immense sympathy and respect for him. Booth Tarkinton’s writing style is surprisingly very modern, considering that it was published in 1918. His style is simple, at times amusing, extremely descriptive, and immediately engaging from the first page to the last. Most of all, it’s powerful and so beautifully well written. He has a way of having us emotionally connect with the Amberson family more than we thought we would, or could. Even if that emotion is that of irritation and anger (none of the characters are actually likeable!), the writing style, the story, and the characters still has major impact. There were times when I was overwhelmed of the harrowing experiences that the characters had to go through as the town was ever changing and growing while their family legacy was only getting smaller and disintegrating into nothing more than a memory of what used to be.
I’m surprised that this novel is practically under looked and forgotten despite being listed as #100 on the Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels.” For its historical context (yes, the story is fictional, but the time and setting is real and important), this novel should be required reading for American history classes or American literature classes. It’s a shame that it isn’t widely recognized, and that Tarkington is perhaps an author that very few people will know or recognize. It might seem dated on the surface (who uses the word come-upance and riffraff anymore?), but it’s pretty difficult to not read this novel without thinking of the current state of our economy in the 21st century, and how even fads like Facebook and Twitter have changed things in ways that will never be the same again. It was published over 93 years ago, but to this day it is still an enjoyable novel, certainly a must-read that I’ll be sure to revisit for years to come. ...more
The Ramayana is the most underrated epic in the Western world, which is a shame, because this tale is quite extraordinary and breathtakingly thrillingThe Ramayana is the most underrated epic in the Western world, which is a shame, because this tale is quite extraordinary and breathtakingly thrilling. It's a story that seems all so familiar, even if you haven't read this before. This "modern retelling" truly captures the essence of the characters, the mythology, the beauty, and the excitement of an epic that's chock full of magic, mystery, war, violence, but most of all, faith, loyalty, courage, and love. It's a story that's both exciting and entertaining, but also deep and profound, truly inspiring and uplifting to the core. This accessible translation also beautifully captures the ancient Indian culture and the literature of that world that most Westerners far too often under-look. The Ramayana, and this excellent translation of it, is by far one of the most inspiring books I've ever read, one that I will certainly read again and again for years to come. ...more
The Little Prince is one of those books that I read at least once a year. It holds a special place in my library because 1) it was the first book thatThe Little Prince is one of those books that I read at least once a year. It holds a special place in my library because 1) it was the first book that I read in French (and I still only read the French version) 2) with frequent readings I get more out of its theme and message and 3) it's simply a stellar read that captures the imagination, the heart, and the soul. It's one of my favorites, one of the most classic gems in French literature. ...more
This is what literature is all about. Just Above My Head is powerful and instantly emotional and moving from the moment I started reading. From the moThis is what literature is all about. Just Above My Head is powerful and instantly emotional and moving from the moment I started reading. From the moment I started reading, it was difficult for me to put the book down. Once I had to put the book down, I was yearning, craving for the moment when I can dive back into the story again. The story had hardly begun and I was moved to tears. I just barely started getting to know the characters, and I could hear them, see them, feel them, hell, even taste them, as if they were real and present. Very few pieces of literature are able to create this kind of feeling and reaction, and Baldwin, with his breathtaking storytelling and magical way of making his characters and their experiences come to life, manages to spark that feeling in only a sentence into reading this amazing novel. Baldwin has such a deep understanding of how people think and feel in ways that very few authors can capture. Even with an unusual writing style, he still captures the emotion, the pain, the desperation, and the various impulses and actions that not just his characters, but people in general, carry throughout their lives. Much is explored in this novel from homosexuality, to incest, religion, and race, but most of all, love, faith, courage, and perseverance. Reading this novel is truly an experience. It is a true masterpiece. It’s surprising to me that this novel isn’t considered a classic along the ranks of Go Tell It On the Mountain and Giovanni’s Room. In a sense, though, maybe it’s better that way, because then only a true Baldwin fan can be able to appreciate it in all its glory. This book, just like many of his other works, is my favorite, and further establishes my love and respect for James Baldwin, a man who was daring and far ahead of his time.
And for the record, this was the first 500+ page novel I’ve completed reading in only a week. Very few books, especially those of that length, can pull me in that instantly and deeply. Only James Baldwin can have that effect on me. ...more
No matter what one may think of Monsieur de Sade and of his infamous novel 120 Days of Sodom,I think much credit should be given to how quite revolutiNo matter what one may think of Monsieur de Sade and of his infamous novel 120 Days of Sodom,I think much credit should be given to how quite revolutionary, shocking, and unusual this novel was and still is. Even to this day and by today's standards, it's still pretty outlandish and shocking, and that's pretty extraordinary, considering how these days in the 21st century not much shocks us anymore.
I'm not gonna bother summarizing the story since anyone can simply read it for themselves. I admire the way this story is formatted; it's pretty simple and straightforward, but its execution is quite interesting, complex, and creative. Each kinky tale told within the story goes from basic kink that most of us these days would find ordinary (bondage, flogging, piss play/shit play, etc.)and escalates into very bizarre territory where you often think, how could anyone really be turned on by this? Such as a man being turned on by eating unborn fetuses after a woman miscarried, a man being turned on by having his asshole sewn shut, a man turned on by having his anus burned and practically being burned alive, and just when you thought it couldn't get any more bizarre, it does. And then it gets downright scary at how a sadist can go too far.
Yes, since this is erotica, there may be areas in this novel that will turn you on. But i would say only 10% of the novel is arousing, the rest is not, but it sure does still keep you wanting to continue reading to see just how insane de Sade's world can get. Is the novel repetitive at times? Oh yes, especially with the shit play. But is it boring? Hardly. It's not for everyone though, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart. It's a book you will either love or hate, there is really no in between. Just the history of where de Sade wrote this tale and how he nearly lost it is pretty intriguing in and of itself. Technically, this novel isn't complete, since part 2 is a rough draft and comes off more like notes than the compelling, well-written narrative it was in part 1. Still, nonetheless, even the draft is quite fascinating to read, and makes you wish that de Sade could have completed this novel entirely.
It may not be a novel that you'd want to recommend to family or friends, it may not be a novel that you'd even really like or enjoy. I for one loved it, and admire it greatly for what it was then and what it is now. Definitely a must read. ...more
I loved David Copperfield more than I thought I would. Despite its hefty length, it was really such a captivating read, and Dicken's language alone suI loved David Copperfield more than I thought I would. Despite its hefty length, it was really such a captivating read, and Dicken's language alone sucked me right into his world. The best attribute to David Copperfield is, of course, the characters (David Copperfield, Uriah Heep, Dora, Agnes, Traddles, Ham, Peggotty, the Macawbers, and so many others). Even with some of their many flaws, you just can't help but love them. David Copperfield is just as much a story about one young man's life as it is about life in general and all the people around you who love you and support you as family. I'd highly recommend anyone to read David Copperfield at least once. I for one will probably return to David Copperfield again and again just to be reminded just how wonderful of a novel this is. ...more