I feel like a Philistine for saying so, but Jesus Christ is this a boring book. After the first 50 pages, it's clear that (spoilers for a 150 year oldI feel like a Philistine for saying so, but Jesus Christ is this a boring book. After the first 50 pages, it's clear that (spoilers for a 150 year old book) Raskolnikov is going to get caught or turn himself in--I guess sort of both, in fact--and then you're all set for 450 pages of poor Russian people falling into fevers and worrying that others won't perceive them as people of quality.
For a world classic, it's absurdly badly written. Some of this is probably the translator, but the bigger issue is likely when it was written; in the 1860s, it was more in vogue to write sentences like, "Slowly Peter Petrovich took out a scented cambric hankerchief and blew his nose, with the air of a man of goodwill who has just received some slight affront to his dignity and has firmly resolved to demand an explanation." I freely admit that I've been corrupted by the prose of our era, but that is a terrible sentence. You might as well say, "Sofia was sad," which is exactly the kind of declarative and unnuanced description of emotions that dominates this book. I did not encounter a single interesting idea or turn of phrase in this book.
There are very few actually interesting characters in this book--Svidrigailov and Porfiry (possibly Luzhin?)--and everyone else is a one-note character whose motives strain credulity. I have never encountered a greater disconnect between how I feel about a character and how the author clearly intends me to feel about a character than with Sofia, who is such an insipid and inanely saintly character that I was really rooting for Raskolnikov to bash her skull in with an axe.
Anyway, someday I'll tell you how I really felt about Crime and Punishment....more
I'm in a weird place with this book. On the one hand, it's well written and affecting and all of that. On the other, it seems to me to espouse a worldI'm in a weird place with this book. On the one hand, it's well written and affecting and all of that. On the other, it seems to me to espouse a worldview that I find kind of destructive, even though (especially because?) it appeals to the Catholicism hidden deep in my bones. The divine right of kings is not something I support....more
Interesting, but structurally bizarre and at times poorly-paced. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it all at once instead of spread overInteresting, but structurally bizarre and at times poorly-paced. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it all at once instead of spread over a few weeks....more
Review for the entire run of The Invisibles: If you're looking for an well-executed occult-thriller comic that goes a little off the rails in its thirdReview for the entire run of The Invisibles: If you're looking for an well-executed occult-thriller comic that goes a little off the rails in its third act, I can't recommend The Invisibles highly enough. Magical terrorists fighting the (British) man! Sweet gunfights! A tantric-sex expert/psychic assassin (And not the way you think! He assassinates psyches! I'm pretty sure!)! Foul-mouthed future buddha! The 62 letters of the true alphabet! Time travel! The Marquis de Sade! A Brazilian transvestite witch who whores him/herself as part of his/her pact with Aztec(?) gods! Awesome pseudonyms- King Mob, Jack Frost, Tom o' Bedlam, Jolly Roger, Mister Six! I could keep this up for hours.
There are enough crazy gonzo elements, and enough spy-style double-/triple-crosses, to keep this a constantly interesting read. Morrison is good at setting up plot threads early in the run that seem insignificant but become integral parts of the later story, and I was always pleased when some puzzling thread from an earlier issue got tied off. Fun stuff.
I found the third volume a little disappointing. The art gets worse (and the artist changes from page-to-page, sometimes), the plot gets a little inscrutable, and shit gets too mystical. But even it has its moments, and the final editorial, where Morrison tells the readers to go try magic--because if they don't they're PUSSIES--is especially fun.
I don't know about you or your chaos magic, Grant Morrison, but this Wikipedia excerpt is something we can all strive for: "At DisinfoCon in 1999, Morrison said that much of the content in The Invisibles was information given to him by aliens that abducted him in Kathmandu, who told him to spread this information to the world via a comic book. He later clarified that the experience he labeled as the 'Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandu' had nothing to do with aliens or abduction, but that there was an experience that he had in Kathmandu that The Invisibles is an attempt to explain. The title was not a huge commercial hit to start with (Morrison actually asked his readers to participate in a "wankathon" while concentrating on a magical symbol, or sigil, in an effort to boost sales)."
(References to volumes, in this case, are not to the graphic novel volumes, but instead to the published volumes. Also, I think the reviews saying the Matrix ripped this off are silly- it's not like this is the first "reality is not as it APPEARS!" book ever written, guys.)...more
My rating is based on how much I admire the book; if I were rating for enjoyment, I'd probably give it four stars. An 800-page-long catalogue of fightMy rating is based on how much I admire the book; if I were rating for enjoyment, I'd probably give it four stars. An 800-page-long catalogue of fighting, fucking, and philosophy wears a little thin, especially when it's mostly fucking.
I don't really know what to say about Dhalgren. Even though I think Delany may have failed to achieve his goal, it was so lofty that the result is still breath-taking. There are some moments that will stick with me forever, I think, and some of them strike me as uniquely American visions of horror. For instance, BIG SPOILERS AHEAD:
Throughout the novel, there are some strange elements that make Bellona, the city in which the novel is set, different from others: gangs of youths called scorpions arade around wearing lightshields, devices that project holograms around the user (giant animals, like, gasp!, scorpions); those scorpions wield weapons called orchids, clusters of blades that they tie to their wrists like Wolverine's claws; some people possess mysterious optical chain (thin chain set with prisms, lenses, and mirrors), which the hero acquires in strange circumstances; the hero sometimes sees people's eyes transform into glassy, crimson orbs, and it scares the hell out of him. Anyway, late in the novel, the hero ends up in a warehouse, and he finds spools of the optical chain hundreds of yards long, boxes full of lightshields and orchids, a carton of crimson eye cups. Everything we thought was fantastic was mass manufactured. Awesome.
Anyway, I'll probably come back to this eventually....more
It's clear that this book was conceived when Miller accidentally wrote the word 'booklegger', and everything spiraled out from that typo. There are woIt's clear that this book was conceived when Miller accidentally wrote the word 'booklegger', and everything spiraled out from that typo. There are worse ways to start a novel.
Basically, an order of monks preserves scientific knowledge after a nuclear exchange, and eventually they help to raise an advanced society from the post-atomic ashes. But wait! Are those post-atomic ashes... or PRE-atomic ashes?!
God damn it, irony. God damn it!
I liked A Canticle for Leibowitz quite a bit. It has an interesting triptych structure, it's reasonably well written, and I just can't get enough of post-/pre-/just-plain- apocalyptic fiction. Or monks, I guess; reading this made me wish I had the moral certainty and tradition of an ancient religion. Roman Catholicism, here I come!