I feel guilty for not liking this. I managed to avoid reading this during school, but it still seems like one of those books that high schoolers...moreeBook
I feel guilty for not liking this. I managed to avoid reading this during school, but it still seems like one of those books that high schoolers are forced to read, yet never appreciate. SIt always embarrasses me to agree with the high schoolers, but I can't help but find Walden vastly overrated, both as a book, and as an exploration of the American character.
Certainly, there were lines, ideas, and passages that I enjoyed, and I'm not necessarily willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because the narrator is such a self-righteous prick. Maybe it's just because of what I've been reading recently, but it was hard to get past the flimsy nature of the man's entire worldview. A lot of my recent books have revolved around the theme of bullshit, and I can't say that I'm willing to exclude this one. Thoreau's pronouncements sound pretty enough, in the same way that the ramblings of a stoner can seem to uncover hidden truths, but after a while, context takes over. The difference between his self-perception and reality is just too wide to take him seriously.(less)
The blurb on the cover describes The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as dreamlike, but that barely scratches the surface. Murakami's novel resembles nothing so...moreThe blurb on the cover describes The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as dreamlike, but that barely scratches the surface. Murakami's novel resembles nothing so much as a David Lynch movie, needing only a midget and backwards talking to complete the comparison. His characters are trapped in worlds driven and controlled by shadowy agents with hidden and mysterious motivations. And despite a superficial appearance that the novel is set in what we might describe as the real world, this quickly gives way to the realization that the logic and rules of this book are grounded in the spiritual and magical, rather than the actual.
It's this dream logic that makes the book so compelling, but at the same time, it can be a little off-putting as well. Characters and events float along, attracting supplemental narratives, some of which eventually tie into the book's plot (such as it is). Many of these narratives, however, are connected primarily by shared images and themes, and while interesting in and of themselves as well as reflections of other episodes in the book, they can sometimes seem more distracting than contributory.
The book leaves much unexplained (probably intentionally). The true nature of Nutmeg's fittings or Cinnamon's silence, the identity of the boy who witnesses the burial of a human heart in the middle of the night, and even the specifics of how and why Noboru Wataya "defiles" both his sisters and Creta Kano -- all of this and more is given little more than a fuzzy explanation. Similarly, the fact that Kumiko (despite her letters) never truly returns to the narrative leaves the book with something of an incomplete feeling. This might be for the best; had Miyazaki provided more detailed explanations of what happens, the book's magical, dreamlike state would most likely have been irreparably lost, but as written, the book's most dreamlike quality is the way it hovers indistinctly at the edge of one's consciousness.
In spite of all this, however, the book is wonderful, both provocative and poetic, and highly deserving of all the praise heaped upon it.(less)
I've always found the classic Superman comics to be ... well, kind of dumb. And while I'd heard great things about All Star Superman, I hadn't realiz...moreI've always found the classic Superman comics to be ... well, kind of dumb. And while I'd heard great things about All Star Superman, I hadn't realized just how much it hearkened back to Superman's origins.
So color me surprised to point out that this volume is absolutely fabulous. The introduction of Superman's sudden mortality, combined with the simultaneous increase in his powers is a genius stroke, at once boiling him down to omnipotence, while at the same time giving him an enemy he can't fight and a motivation to do more than just exist. Suddenly what he does matters, even though, just as suddenly, there is seemingly no limit to what he can do.(less)
Reading this for what must be the third or fourth time, I'm mostly struck by the ambition. Moore has not only created his own new world with its own h...moreReading this for what must be the third or fourth time, I'm mostly struck by the ambition. Moore has not only created his own new world with its own history and characters, but he's constantly playing around with the very act of how he tells the story. Jumping through time with little more than sight clues to guide the reader, echoing scenes and panel layouts, returning again and again to certain moments from different perspectives, even the interstitials, which, in the way they play with different formats are almost a precursor to The Black Dossier.
I guess there's little I can add to the chorus of acclaim, except to point out that the movie is likely to be a huge letdown.(less)
The only bad thing about this book is that the first two thirds of it have been reproduced so ably in the television show. It's a simple idea executed...moreThe only bad thing about this book is that the first two thirds of it have been reproduced so ably in the television show. It's a simple idea executed with so much wit, that it's impossible not to fall in love with it. Perhaps the biggest surprise, is that despite how blatantly it rips off pop culture, it doesn't feel at all derivative, but rather completely fresh and new.(less)
I suppose one's tolerance for this book, or any other by Mr. Robbins, has a lot to do with how one responds to bullshit. Because, in truth, his m...moreeBook
I suppose one's tolerance for this book, or any other by Mr. Robbins, has a lot to do with how one responds to bullshit. Because, in truth, his most apparent skill is the willingness with which he flings the stuff at his readers.
I can only speak for myself, of course, but I enjoy it. I can't begin to imagine that Robbins actually believes half of what he writes (and if he does, what the hell does it matter anyway?), but I get a kick out of his willingness to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, onto the page and leave the rest of us to mop up the detritus.
In spite of the readily apparent flimsiness that results, what's left feel remarkably authentic. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was a very fun read, despite its many flaws. Admittedly, Robbins self-indulgence and complete lack of discipline did get tiresome from time to time, the verve with which he wrote it provides the book with the only excuse it needs.
As far as what he or the book are attempting to say? I'll be damned if I know. He seems to have severe issues in dealing with authority figures, from the political to the personal, and it's probably this, more than any latent misogyny or objectification of women that informs his peculiar brand of feminism. That's not to say that his female (or male, for that matter) characters are immune to a deeply-buried hatred of women or a painfully obvious yearning to fetishize the human form as little more than living, breathing, sweating, stinking sex toys.
And if that doesn't constitute my own personal pile of toro feces, I don't know what will.(less)
I actually purchased this book before its prequel, The Vesuvius Club, but held off on reading it until I'd managed to locate that book. Reading the tw...moreI actually purchased this book before its prequel, The Vesuvius Club, but held off on reading it until I'd managed to locate that book. Reading the two books out of order wouldn't have had an effect on my understanding, but that's just the way I roll.
Sadly, The Devil in Amber isn't as entertaining as its predecessor, although it is still enjoyable. Gatiss seems to have toned down the more foppish aspect of Box's character in favor of a greater emphasis on sex and action, and while the book isn't devoid of humor (far from it, in fact), this go-round is a lot less witty. I also found the supernatural aspects of the story to be somewhat distracting. I liked the idea that Box could exist in the real world a lot better than this book's fantasy world.
So, all in all, this was a letdown, like most sequels, I suppose. Should this turn into a trilogy, however, I will gladly pick up a copy.(less)
I think I read this before as a kid, but even if I hadn't, it's impossible to approach this book and expect much in the way of surprises. As enjo...moreeBook
I think I read this before as a kid, but even if I hadn't, it's impossible to approach this book and expect much in the way of surprises. As enjoyable as the story is, it seems kind of surprising how completely it has soaked into the communal consciousness.
I can't tell if that's because of or in spite of how incredibly passive the book is. Essentially, none of the narrators or other main characters really do much of anything. The Martians are the primary actors, rendering everyone else completely impotent, but the reader is offered absolutely nothing in the way of forging a relationship with them. That's certainly (and brilliantly) realistic, but it also creates a strange and uncomfortable distance between the reader and the story.
Eh. What am I babbling on about. This is a summer movie, years ahead of its time.(less)
In the past, I've tended to shy away from the big comics events, which tend to stink of plot-by-committee, but what's really good about No Man's Land...moreIn the past, I've tended to shy away from the big comics events, which tend to stink of plot-by-committee, but what's really good about No Man's Land is that it seems to be less about plot and more about setting.
This volume is really a series of vignettes, still moving the larger story forward, but focusing more on painting miniature portraits of what it means to exist in the No Man's Land that Gotham has become. The stories are varied, ranging from the light-hearted what-if tale of Harvey Dent having an unprecedented string of coin-flipping to the morality tale told by Alfred of a dilemma faced by Thomas Wayne (the bit wherein he makes Batman take off the mask was a nice touch) to the darker, almost gothic, horrors of what it's like to live in the feudal realms run by Black Mask or Penguin.
The best thing about this series remains the way that expectations are upended when the characters we know so well are dropped into unfamiliar settings. Batman seems mortal, Gordon seems ruthless ... even the Penguin manages to seem threatening.(less)
I actually started this book before Volume 0 (since who would have expected that Volume 1 wasn't the first story). When I encountered a footnote about...moreI actually started this book before Volume 0 (since who would have expected that Volume 1 wasn't the first story). When I encountered a footnote about halfway through, I realized that I was missing some of the backstory.
It didn't make any difference. The Goon is still charming as all get out, regardless of where you jump aboard. The "story" is not going to get in the way of your enjoyment.(less)
When the release of this book was delayed, I got a little nervous. Alan Moore has done some amazing things, but he seems to be rather easily waylaid b...moreWhen the release of this book was delayed, I got a little nervous. Alan Moore has done some amazing things, but he seems to be rather easily waylaid by his own obsessions. As good as the first two volumes of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were, I could easily imagine him losing his way when it came time to write this book, especially considering its ambitious scope.
I'm more than pleased with the outcome, however. Admittedly, the frame story involving Mina and Allan recovering the Dossier and escaping to the Blazing World was a little weak, especially when they finally arrive in Prospero's realm, but the real meat of the book is the actual Dossier. Moore is pitch-perfect in mimicking the styles of various periods from the history of the League. Especially good are his Jeeves vs. Cthulu story and the beatnik story, but the whole thing is masterful.
My only real disappointment is that this should actually have been divided up into many more books. The travels of Gulliver's league and the conflict between the English, French, and German leagues are each worth their own complete retelling, but all we get here are the basic narrative outlines.(less)