This isn't a trilogy in the usual sense. The three novels are completely different stories, but they are thematically and stylistically similar and itThis isn't a trilogy in the usual sense. The three novels are completely different stories, but they are thematically and stylistically similar and it makes sense to read them together, since they do have vague connections in the end. There are recurring names, but they're not the same people. Just names.
The stories start off as fairly straightforward detective noir, but the surreal quality and postmodern touches definitely build with each installment. I enjoyed these books quite a bit, as reflected by my rating, but I'm not sure I understood it all, especially near the end. This one will probably be worth a re-read eventually....more
As a fashion design student, I was required to purchase this text several years ago. My drawing teacher insisted it was the industry standard, but I cAs a fashion design student, I was required to purchase this text several years ago. My drawing teacher insisted it was the industry standard, but I certainly don't think it's the best. While it provides good information about proportion and sketching the elongated fashion figure, the croquis in 9 Heads just aren't that attractive. They're often in very strange poses and the heads seem to be very large, while the necks and limbs are a bit thick, giving the illusion of a clunky figure rather than an elegant, slim one. While that's certainly easy to fix on your own, sometimes you just need a good croquis right away, which is why we buy books like this! It just doesn't deliver. There are very few back views, and the sections on drawing men and children are very limited, so don't buy it for that. Furthermore, the book is large and unwieldy, and it is impossible to make it lie flat, so it's very difficult to trace the croquis from it - something very important in a croquis book!
This book also showcases great fashion illustrations from various artists and designers interspersed throughout, which are inspiring, but can also be frustrating since they look NOTHING like the provided croquis and the book doesn't do a good enough job of instructing how to make your drawings look like that.
This book is great for helping with flats, though, especially in the "Encyclopedia of Details" section, which offers tons of examples. That's definitely the part I use most often. The sections on drawing hair, faces, hands, and other details are also pretty decent.
I recently acquired Bina Abling's "Fashion Sketchbook" and would definitely recommend that over 9 Heads if you can only afford one. The poses are much better, and it has many other techniques not found in 9 Heads, such as step-by-step instructions to render different fabrics realistically. ...more
I picked this up hoping it would be somewhat Pratchett-esque, but meh. There were a few funny bits, but on the whole it just felt like it was trying tI picked this up hoping it would be somewhat Pratchett-esque, but meh. There were a few funny bits, but on the whole it just felt like it was trying too hard....more
I think this is the type of book that people will either love or hate. It has the distinction of being the only book I can think of that involves twenI think this is the type of book that people will either love or hate. It has the distinction of being the only book I can think of that involves twenty-something angst, domestic terrorism, hipper-than-thou vegans with names like Mirror and Devadatta, BDSM sex parties, paleontology, and a papier-mâché bust of John the Baptist constructed out of junk mail. It's also full of ridiculous conversations like this:
'It's supposed to be sexy," she screamed, "not some hippy soft porn garden scene. Nobody wants to look up and see ferns."
'And what you've got won't hold a person?'
'Not with the kind of torque we're going to be putting on it.'
'Post a weight limit,' I said.
'The fucking fat chicks would slay me. Slain. I would be dead. No more parties. Ever. I would actually have to slit my throat to have an afterlife.' She kicked a box of glassware. 'This rain sucks and I'm totally going to get a yeast infection if I keep eating this much sugar.' She threw the cupcake in the trash.
'Star Bank Plaza One Visa, how may I help you?'
'I'd like to take advantage of a recent credit card offer.' I told them I was a full tenured professor with no kids. They loved me. I could have bought a plane.
'Would you prefer igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary rock structures on your card, ma'am?'
'Do you have the Deccan Traps? 'Cause I'd like the Deccan Traps if you have it. They're in India. You know, a lot of people believe that eruption caused the extinction of fifty percent of life on earth.'
'No ma'am. We have the Grand Canyon, one with some jewels on it and a Hawaiian volcano.'
'Or if you have a comet smashing into the planet. I'd like that too.'
'Canyon, jewels, volcano.'
'Rim of fire?'
If you've ever been a part of any counterculture scene, you know all the characters here. They're the people you love and the people you love to hate. I identified so much with the protagonist, Della, even though we don't actually have much in common. Having recently finished grad school, she's now a waitress who is just trying to figure her shit out in a present-day America on the verge of a war. It's one of those books that is mostly contemporary but also a little bit science fiction-y, and Vanessa Veselka intentionally keeps the political climate a bit vague. Della's past is similarly shrouded -- we see her super-revolutionary family ("Jimmy says your parents are pretty fringe. Were they like total hippies?" "No. My parents blew up hippies."), we learn about her sister who died in a tragic accident as a teenager -- but while some type of recent breakdown is implied, we don't get too many details. Her mental health--or lack thereof--informs the story, which is a bit stream-of-consciousness at times.
There are so many mixed emotions here. The writing is raw and honest. Della is completely apathetic and nihilistic at times, then filled with rage, then passionately idealistic. I love it. Though it mostly consisted of tragic events and biting sarcasm, I found this novel ultimately very uplifting....more
**This review may contain some slight spoilers, because I don't know how to write about this book without hinting at some things. You've been warned.***This review may contain some slight spoilers, because I don't know how to write about this book without hinting at some things. You've been warned.**
I have so many questions!
So this is ostensibly a murder mystery, sort of, but it's unlike anything remotely related to that genre that I've ever read. First of all, it doesn't get mysterious at all until after the first hundred or so pages, and no one dies until over halfway through. It's more of a coming-of-age story with some awesome conspiracy elements, or possibly the ravings of a delusional, grieving teenager with an overactive imagination. You pick!
Another thing that makes this different is the lack of conclusion. Unlike most whodunits, here we never actually find out who dun it. There are probably as many red herrings as real clues, and the case is never wrapped up in a tidy bow. For every answer we get, there are a dozen more questions. It should be immensely frustrating, but somehow it isn't. Usually an ending like this would tempt me to throw a book across the room, but I felt strangely satisfied after turning the last page. I don't know. Writing a novel this unique, when so much literature is so formulaic these days, must have been super risky, but something about it just works.
I also totally want to read all the books that the chapter titles are named after now, as well as all the other works alluded to. It's a loooong list!...more
This is my third David Mitchell novel, and unfortunately it's my least favorite so far. Unlike his other works I've read, this is more conventional inThis is my third David Mitchell novel, and unfortunately it's my least favorite so far. Unlike his other works I've read, this is more conventional in that it's only really told from one point of view (aside from a few letters woven into the text here and there) and has a fairly linear narrative. What makes it a David Mitchell novel is the unique perspective that the protagonist, Eiji Miyake, tells the story from.
Eiji is a naive twenty year old from rural Japan, looking for the father he never knew in big city Tokyo. Eiji's overactive imagination and lack of regular sleeping habits make it difficult for him--and us, the readers--to tell what are dreams and what is reality, as he finds love, works in a deathly hot chain pizza joint, gets mixed up with the Yakuza, and attempts to reconcile with his estranged mother, all while stumbling around Tokyo without a yen in his wallet.
It's obvious that David Mitchell is an extremely gifted writer, but this fell short for me. It just felt really long and tedious at times (and it's less than 500 pages). Without Mitchell's beautiful prose, this would have been a two-star read for me....more
I completely fell in love with David Mitchell while reading his masterpiece Cloud Atlas last year, and resolved to pick up more of his work. I thoughtI completely fell in love with David Mitchell while reading his masterpiece Cloud Atlas last year, and resolved to pick up more of his work. I thought it might be interesting to read them in chronological order and see the development of his distinct style, so I started with Ghostwritten, his debut novel.
I'm a little sad to say that I didn't love this one quite as much as Cloud Atlas, but I didn't really expect to. It's probably unfair to compare the two works, but I'm going to anyway, so get ready*. Cloud Atlas (I'm getting tired of linking it) is a really tight and polished novel: while it's a little gimmicky and meanders all over the place, changing perspective and style every 50 pages or so, the structure of it makes perfect sense. The links and connections between characters are clear and the narrative shifts occur at logical places. It's a really easy, enjoyable piece of postmodern literature to read. Ghostwritten also tells the stories of multiple characters in different locations and has shifting narration, but it just doesn't get quite up to the same level as Cloud Atlas. It's interesting to see the connections between the characters here, but it's almost like there are too many of them. I just didn't "get" all of them. Also, as opposed to Cloud Atlas, where the 6 stories are interrupted and nested and then relate back to one another, in Ghostwritten they are complete vignettes just put in order, more like traditional short stories in an anthology of related works.
I found that I liked some stories better than others, so maybe I'd better break them down. Each is titled by the location where the protagonist spends the majority of the story:
Okinawa - Narrated by terrorist hiding out after detonating a gas bomb on a crowded subway in order to purge the "unclean" in the name of His Serendipity, an enigmatic cult leader. I found this one fascinating.
Tokyo - A recent high-school grad obsessed with jazz, who works in a record store while trying to figure out what to do with his life. It follows several weeks of his life as he meets a girl and falls in love with her. Not my favorite.
Hong Kong - A corrupt, divorced, British suit working in the corporate world of Hong Kong and living in a supposedly haunted apartment.
Holy Mountain - I loved this one. It was beautiful and haunting: a bildungsroman following the life of a lonely tea shack proprietor, from when she is raped as a young girl by the Warlord's Son (because he is bored and to show he can) and shamed by her father (who could do nothing to stop it, so channeled his guilt into anger at her for allowing her loss of chastity to ruin the family's reputation) until she dies as an old woman who has seen destruction and war so many times. Her only company is her tree, who she believes is magical and can talk, but we find out more about that in the next part.
Mongolia - This is a strange one, and it took a little while to figure out who's narrating, but I don't really think it's a spoiler to say since all the narrators are listed (in order) in the book description above. The protagonist is a parasitic mental entity that calls itself a "noncorpum" and travels from host mind to host mind to find out more about its own existence. One of my favorites.
Petersburg - Narrated by a museum attendant who is seducing her boss in order to steal priceless paintings from under his nose with her boyfriend (who is an abusive piece of scum), it tells the story of their last heist and how it all went to shit.
London - A flaky, wasted musician and part-time ghostwriter, trying to decide if he should quite his manwhoring and settle down with his baby momma, who seems to be getting along fine without him. Along the way he saves a life and does some gambling.
Clear Island - A brilliant physicist from a small island in Ireland, who has been conscripted to develop new weapons for the U.S. military and is desperately trying to get out.
Night Train - A New York late-night DJ who keeps fielding mysterious on-air calls from someone who calls themselves the Zookeeper. Guess who it is? Meh.
Underground - Kind of a bonus chapter, only a few pages, it's almost a prequel or alternate-universe version of the first part, Okinawa. It's intentionally vague, and I'm still kind of undecided as to whether I liked that kind of no-end-ending or not.
*Another reason it's hard not to compare this book and Cloud Atlas is that there are actually a number of connections that can be found to the later book hidden within the text. Tim Cavendish, of "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" (the 4th narrative in Cloud Atlas) makes an appearance in the London section - turns out he's the ghostwriter's boss. His brother, a lawyer, is mentioned a number of times in the Hong Kong story. Luisa Rey, from "Half-Lives" (3rd story in Cloud Atlas) calls into Bat's radio show in Night Train. And there are a couple mentions of characters having comet-shaped birthmarks. These are passing references that a casual reader might not pick up on, but having read both books they really intrigue me. It makes me want to root around in David Mitchell's brain and see what his obsessions are - why the elaborations on these throwaway, bit parts to turn them into main characters for a later work. Or were the two books written around the same time and the allusions were made intentionally as an Easter Egg? In any case, David Mitchell is clever enough to write great, genre-bending literature without being so clever as to be obnoxious, and for that I will continue reading the rest of his oeuvre....more
I don't know how Agatha Christie constantly manages to fool me--I spend the whole book suspecting everyone except the actual culprit.
I've read a couplI don't know how Agatha Christie constantly manages to fool me--I spend the whole book suspecting everyone except the actual culprit.
I've read a couple of Hercule Poirot mysteries, but I figured I should go back to the beginning. This first case didn't disappoint, and if you typically like Agatha Christie you'll like this one. Yes, Poirot's eccentricities often cross the line from endearing to obnoxious. Yes, the relationship between Poirot and Hastings is a formulaic knockoff of that of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. And yes, the twisty plots, constant red herrings, and subsequent grand reveal can be extremely contrived. I still love them when I'm looking for light reading....more
I've been hearing so much about this book--the author has won a whole bunch of awards, it appears on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die listI've been hearing so much about this book--the author has won a whole bunch of awards, it appears on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list (which, while admittedly flawed, I have found to contain a lot of exceptional works)--but I was pretty underwhelmed. I mean, it's a fine book. There's nothing really wrong with the story. It's cute, and I enjoyed it for what it was: a brief, touching story of 3 people who are brought together by their individual losses and grief. The characters were likeable, if a bit bland, and the storyline is fairly interesting. Still, it just didn't do much for me.
This book also pushes one of my major LGBTQ-ally buttons. Eriko, a transsexual woman, is repeatedly referred to in the text as "a man". Not in an adversaries-calling-her-names way either. These are her son and closest friend referring to her. An example:
"There aren't many men who will open a car door for a woman. I think it's really great." "Eriko raised me that way," he said, laughing. "If I didn't open the door for her, she'd get mad and refuse to get in the car." "Even though she was a man!" I said, laughing. "Right, right, even though she was a man."
Um, no. It's made clear in the book that she's not a drag queen, she's not a transvestite. She is not a man. It pissed me off every time I read that.
I also found the dialogue a little wooden, as in the above example. I think the translation left something to be desired.
The edition I read also included a short story, "Moonlight Shadow", which was just as meh if not moreso. Overall, disappointing....more