This is a book that I will return to at least once a year. The prose reminds me of Saul Williams’ poetry, although Saul was born a mere five years bef...moreThis is a book that I will return to at least once a year. The prose reminds me of Saul Williams’ poetry, although Saul was born a mere five years before Lispector died in 1977, so any thoughts of reincarnation do not hold in this particular instance.
A bricolage of paragraphs longing for understanding on the present moment are placed like Tibetan prayer flags in the work -- there seems to be a thread or current running throughout the pieces. Of course Água Viva means The Stream of Life, so she spends much of the book’s length on coming to grips with mortality. Translator Stefan Tobler did a fine job in presenting this in English.
It’s a wonderful work and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even to thumb through it a paragraph at a time seems to offer quite a payback. The book reads more like music or a painting than a novel, in fact. It is no wonder that it has influenced a great number of Brazilian artists, including musician Cazuza who read it 111 times. (less)
Saunders is a storytelling master. His innovative prose style makes for individually distinct stories while maintaining his authorial voice. 'Tenth' p...moreSaunders is a storytelling master. His innovative prose style makes for individually distinct stories while maintaining his authorial voice. 'Tenth' portrays many characters in compromising positions or situations, and artfully and heartfully(sic) portrays their [re]/[in]actions in dazzling ways.(less)
INTIMIDATION FACTORS Over 800 pages (though the pages span over three books) Who in the world are these authors? You don't want to be caught in public ho...moreINTIMIDATION FACTORS Over 800 pages (though the pages span over three books) Who in the world are these authors? You don't want to be caught in public holding a book that looks like this. Not for the dogmatically sensitive.
The plot of Illuminatus! is difficult to describe, but I'll try. The offices of a magazine are bombed, supposedly by a conservative group of some sort. The editor of the magazine has disappeared without a trace. Detectives assigned to the case find out that the cause is actually much more confusing than originally supposed. Yes, this sounds similar to plots from other books you've read. But involved here is a likely conspiracy that may go back 18,000 years in the past. Or perhaps just back to the eighteenth century. Or maybe it's all made up. It really is up to the way you interpret it on your own. Okay, that also sounds like other books you've read. But Illuminatus! isn't hack writing like Dan Brown. Could I convince you to read it knowing that you can expect talking dolphin poets fighting off a secret government's pop stars' zombie Nazi army during a Woodstock type of a rock festival? Or that it is full of Zen philosophy, Discordian ideals(look it up online), Freudianism, nympho free masons, and outright nonsense? It is also chock-full of secrets societies, conspiracies, LSD, giant golden submarines, and escalating cold war issues. The humor and blatant non-seriousness of these woven stories leaves a reader with a feeling of not knowing what to believe. The overall feel like you're reading a parallel universe of alternate history book. The book sets out to break the readers mind down by stripping away your preconceived ideas on each of the above topics and will have your head spinning after the first few pages. The authors themselves were kind enough to review their own book on page 238; "It's a dreadfully long monster of a book..." "The authors are utterly incompetent -- no sense of style or structure at all. It starts out as a detective story, switches to science-fiction, then goes off into the supernatural, and is full of the most detailed information of dozens of ghastly boring subjects. And the time sequence is all out of order in a very pretentious imitation of Faulkner and Joyce. Worst yet, it has the most raunchy sex scenes, thrown in just to make it sell, I'm sure, and the authors -- whom I've never heard of -- have the supreme bad taste to introduce real political figures into this mismash and pretend to be exposing a real conspiracy." What the Illuminatus! Trilogy is really like -- imagine your uncle leading you along in an interesting and likely emotionally-drenched story, and then cracks a joke seemingly out of nowhere, at which point you are likely not going to be able to ascertain whether it's really funny, or really messed up. Or like the feeling of watching a really good History Channel documentary delving deep into secret societies or regimes and then sitting on the remote, causing the channel to change abruptly to Family Guy. It clumps chronologically separated moments into a thread of continuity that actually makes the books better off for doing such. History nuts aside, who really remembers precisely when historical events took place, rather than ‘in the past’ or ‘in my textbook?’ Put your Dan Brown and Hot Chocolate down, and request that the bookstore orders a copy of the Illuminatus! Trilogy. I had to get my copy at Ken Sanders Rare Books in SLC, and it was on a bookseller’s recommendation that I got the book. I have yet to see a purchasable copy in Utah County. Call the store beforehand. Illuminatus! is a ‘Rated R’ to Dan Browns ‘Rated PG-13’ if that makes sense. You'll be happy you did.(less)
Love DeLillo, love End Zone. D.F. Wallace, my favorite author, clearly borrowed a few pages late in this novel for his incredible 'Eschaton' section o...moreLove DeLillo, love End Zone. D.F. Wallace, my favorite author, clearly borrowed a few pages late in this novel for his incredible 'Eschaton' section of Infinite Jest. (less)
Infinite variables at play interact with slightly enough displacement to alter trajectories, plans, ordered assumption.
So then, football. War. The hum...moreInfinite variables at play interact with slightly enough displacement to alter trajectories, plans, ordered assumption.
So then, football. War. The human search for meaning.
Regardless of planned action, injurious results are to be expected. Nonetheless, it leaves witnesses aghast.
Spit intended to hit the ground instead of pants; a triply-converged-tackle killing a footballer; a set of pale legs distended from a wrecked auto. The effects churn the affected state; are you altered, or is the course an alter? Are you content with the intent or result?
“What you see, in fact, is exactly what you think you see.”
End Zone is the Sermon on the Mount to Infinite Jest’s The Gospels, ya dig? (Hyperatavistic? [A]ffirmation of humanity’s reckless potential?)
COMRUS and AMAC are approaching a state of war.
“What’s it like to weigh three hundred pounds?” “It’s like being an overwritten paragraph.”
What is written. What is not written. What is spoken. What is not spoken.
“I died well and for this reason was killed quite often.”
I finished this a few days ago. It's very good, although not my favorite of his collections. I hope to find the time to flesh out a fuller review. I d...moreI finished this a few days ago. It's very good, although not my favorite of his collections. I hope to find the time to flesh out a fuller review. I definitely recommend it.(less)
Having been forced to read this for a class, I am obliged to quote dAdA darling Tristan Tzara's "Dada Manifesto 1918":
"I have no right to drag others
...moreHaving been forced to read this for a class, I am obliged to quote dAdA darling Tristan Tzara's "Dada Manifesto 1918":
"I have no right to drag others into my river, I oblige no one to follow me and everybody practices his art in his own way, if he knows the joy that rises like arrows to the astral layers, or that other joy that goes down into the mines of corpse-flowers and fertile spasms. [...] The writers who teach morality and discuss or improve psychological foundations have, aside from a hidden desire to make money, an absurd view of life, which they have classified, cut into sections, channelized: they insist on waving the baton as the categories dance. Their readers snicker and go on: what for?
The book could have and should have been 75% shorter. So much filler and pointless, anecdotal, dated stories full of back-patting and bourgeois winking.
Actually, maybe it should have been 99.9% shorter. Here's all you need from the book: The way you become an effective public speaker is by practicing to yourself and in front of others, and building confidence by believing in yourself[cool SECRET!] and perfecting your method through practice practice practice.
Dr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey and her stumbling husband Benny give us a stunning history into all things giraffe related, such as the fact they travel long...moreDr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey and her stumbling husband Benny give us a stunning history into all things giraffe related, such as the fact they travel long distances on large conveyor belts and control the world's supply of ice.
This and other common-knowledge facts about giraffes are presented in this children's picture book in an easy-to-read-yet-completely-easier-to-agree-with way. You're welcome, science.
The Haggis-on-Whey couple took Donald Barthelme's idea of children's picture books and ran with it. Ran with it like giraffes on conveyor belts towards ice-containing places.
If you are a fan of pictures, small references to Utah, complete knowledge or giraffes, then this is the book for you. Better yet, it is the first in a series of picture books that could eventually reach triple digits.
Dr Doris Haggis-on-Whey and Benny Doris Haggis-on-Whey have a close, seemingly DNA-ly association with Dave Eggers and his young brother Toph, the two of which are chronicled in Eggers' memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He that hath ears.(less)
The first installation of Jack Kerouac’s “Duluoz Legend” offers a brief glimpse into the short life of his older brother, Gerard, whose death...more3.5 stars
The first installation of Jack Kerouac’s “Duluoz Legend” offers a brief glimpse into the short life of his older brother, Gerard, whose death at age nine was a deep loss to Jack.
Jack viewed Gerard as a saint, and writes from that perspective throughout while he tries to cope with death, life, existence, meaning, etc, maintaining that what Gerard taught him can also be accessed through the passed-down wisdom from the past.
It’s got the expected Kerouackian flourishes, although it mainly displays young childhood rather than the freewheeling characters from his later oeuvre. Much of the book is touching, which I think is an overlooked aspect of Kerouac’s writing.
I plan on reading through the “Duluoz Legend” books in order, even though I’ve read a number of them already.(less)
Vollmann continually floors me with his writing. His ability in conveying human interaction regardless of a character's motives is one of his finer at...moreVollmann continually floors me with his writing. His ability in conveying human interaction regardless of a character's motives is one of his finer attributes. He doesn't bumper-sticker you with what to think with regard to the situations. He places you at the level of the interaction and lets the minds and actions of the characters weave the story. That's what, to me, makes Vollmann's writing timeless.
M. Costello and D.F. Wallace wrote this sampler on rap before the genre exploded, and, as they wrote, "If you're reading this in print it's already da...moreM. Costello and D.F. Wallace wrote this sampler on rap before the genre exploded, and, as they wrote, "If you're reading this in print it's already dated.(71)"
They pass the written mic back and forth throughout the book with short essays propelling the narrative, with "M." for Mark and "D" for David. Sometimes they respond in a footnote to the other's essay. Those familiar with either author can glean the distinct voices offered.
Although both M.C. [i(pu)nitials intended?] & D.F.W. seem to have let this work whisper in the background of their more popular or accessible offerings, you really get the sense in reading the book that it was a highly interesting topic to them. They address the obvious questions of "intellectual yuppie love" w/r/t rap with self-reflective digressions, but I was pleased with many of the arrived conclusions.
"It's at the distinctively pop-cultural bregma where common-sense polarities like art vs. politics, medium vs. message, center vs. margin conjoined and must cohabit that even an enthusiastic white establishment-cog's try at some 'objective aesthetic appreciation' of rap runs aground."
Again, this was written in the 1989-1990 era. Keep in mind this was before Snoop and Dre, B.I.G. and 2Pac, or NaS and Wu-Tang were commonplace rappers. Dr. Dre was still in N.W.A. and Tupac was in Digital Underground. LL Cool J is still in his heyday, as are the Beastie Boys(who are pretty severely dismissed almost altogether, which I disagreed with for the most part). Public Enemy(a longtime favorite group of mine) is mentioned often, as does Schooly D, whose track "Signifying Rapper" is dissected and essentially glorified, not the least of which is the title of the treatise. Run DMC, Def Jam, Erik B. and Rakim also get mentioned.
"Ironies abound, of course, as ironies must when cash and art do lunch" ... "Walk This Way" is an unwanted reunion of 80s black street music with part of its rich heritage, as that heritage has been mined and mongrelized by Show Biz. If this is desegregation, then shopping malls hold treasure."
They also discuss DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince, which is a highlight in the book for a few reasons. First, it mentions a sampling of the "I Dream of Jeanie" theme song, and juxtaposes an episode of that show which was syndicated on the night of the Tampa Riots, offering a po-mo imagining of the actual riot spilling out into the episode, exposing the stark truths and falsities of entertainment and Real Life. Secondly, it has a few throwaway sentences about the group having a TV show, which is funny because that actually happened, and Will Smith is more famous than "I Dream of Jeanie" nowadays.
"If the formal constraints outlined throughout this sampler are what help limit and define the rap genre's possibilities, it's usually 'content' issues — the musical mugging of classical precursors, or the wearying self-consciousness of the rap itself — that best alienate mainstreams, help keep this riparian genre so insulated, dammed, not-for-, fresh."
Parts of the book are really dated, but that is to be expected. Again, this was perhaps the first lengthy analysis of rap to get some sort of traction. Yes, it was written by Ivy League-educated white yuppies. But don't cast stones unless you read it. There are shortcomings to the book, but it is worth the read overall.
It isn't very easy to find a copy -- it has long been out of print. My local library has it, luckily. But since you read all the way to the bottom of this review, here is a link in which you can read the sampler in toto: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL187083...(less)
Alan Watts does a fine job of breaking through the narcissistic wall that many of us build around ourselves, as if we have a superior, godlike ability...moreAlan Watts does a fine job of breaking through the narcissistic wall that many of us build around ourselves, as if we have a superior, godlike ability to access a vantage point that sees a world around us, apart from us, rather than us of it, fully immersed within the Whole Everything of All Things.
Sure, it is totally the book you love as a freshman college student, trying to disavow your WASPy upbringing by incorporating Easternized Western Thought rather than good ol' fashioned Westernized Western Thought. And sure, it is the book to read before a weekend camping Trip with friends so that you can have that Highly enjoyable campfire discussion about Nothing and Identity and Patriarchy and Being and Event... You know what I am talking about:
"It's like, man, you know, we are all just totally sort of like the various colors of Fruity Pebbles in a bowl -- sure we are individual, but we are all One, in that cosmic Milk, bound by Bowl, crunchy, then soft, then edible, then digested..."
The book doesn't read like that, it is more like:
"The political and personal morality of the West, especially in the United States, is –for lack of this sense– utterly schizophrenic. It is a monstrous combination of uncompromising idealism and unscrupulous gangsterism, and thus devoid of the humor and humaneness which enables confessed rascals to sit down together and work out reasonable deals."
It's a book from which you can gain what you'll allow yourself to gain. If you want to read it ironically, to merely pick it apart in attempt to bully your granola-munching homies, then it is for you. If you find yourself unable to escape that mirror, that Self so wholly consuming, then this book can be a good companion in your quest to rid yourself of Yourself. If you want to find ways for you to be more fully awake in your day-to-day existence, this is your book.
"The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club," so I shouldnt really tell you about this book or movie. Breaking the first rule...more"The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club," so I shouldnt really tell you about this book or movie. Breaking the first rule of Fight Club here is worth it -- it's a must-read. The movie is a much-watch. Most people saw the movie before they read it(myself included). It's worth reading(especially) even if you've seen the movie. Overall, the movie is an angst-driven visual bible of counterculture anarchism that has inspired many. Fight Club, in the novel and movie, is the creation of Tyler Durden, an anarchic genius whose jobs as a projectionist and a waiter allow him to take part in his small and large instances of rebellion. Ultimately, his vision calls for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world. "Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die." Can you put the book down after reading that opening line? The publishers describe the book as, "Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with white-collar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything." Pay attention to the soap theme -- the idea of taking a part of one person to service another without their knowing it as a method of exploitation. Good stuff. And for those Brad-Pitt's-body-enthusiasts, the movie will leave you pausing the disc, as it showcases his ripped, sweaty physique many times. "Fight Club" has one of the most beautiful endings in cult-movie history, which begins with the wondrous music of The Pixies. So if you've already seen the movie, read the book that spurned the movie masterpiece. And vice versa. This way, you can allow yourself to become the next person inspired by it.(less)
I love The Old Man and The Sea. It was the first Hemingway I read. I grew up in Arkansas, and loved birds as a kid. One day, I told my teacher I spoke...moreI love The Old Man and The Sea. It was the first Hemingway I read. I grew up in Arkansas, and loved birds as a kid. One day, I told my teacher I spoke to and named birds that I saw outside of my house. She told me that that reminded her of a scene in her favorite book, The Old Man and The Sea. She brought it the next day, and I read the part in the middle of the book where the Old Man sits imaginatively in the boat and starts conversing with a recently perched bird, a warbler. That passage and book immediately became my favorite, and the warbler became my favorite bird. I also named a bird near my house 'Old Man.'(less)