There's a reason this book gets a lot of buzz: It resolves the contradiction between futurism and traditionalism better than any other work of which IThere's a reason this book gets a lot of buzz: It resolves the contradiction between futurism and traditionalism better than any other work of which I am aware. Anyone with a rival candidate, please contact me.
The book is a collection of essays by former Nouvelle Droit theorist and sometimes entertainment personality, Guillaume Faye. Faye is a rather interesting character, though you can easily find the broad strokes of his biography elsewhere. Essays within break down thusly:
1: A post-mortem on the Nouvelle Droit. As someone who doesn't know much about the ND, this was a fascinating exploration of both its history and its limitations. Perhaps most importantly for the rest of the book, as well as the 21st Century right, the ND defined itself too much by what it was against, which lead to a sort of bizarre Third Worldism that saw common cause with Islamism, among other foreign, destructive forces. The movement quickly went from being an exciting intellectual vanguard to being an intellectual curiosity eclipsed by the FN.
2: An exploration of what Archeofuturism is. This is where Faye defines a positive vision of both what the right can be and what the future of Europe can and ought to hold. The meat of the book.
3: A discussion of popular culture, political correctness and sport. What the meaning of these things are in a world largely stripped of meaning. How the right can and ought to operate in these fields and what the archeofuturist future might replace them with.
4: A resolution of futurism and traditionalism: The majority of people will live in a largely medieval existence of agriculture, pre-modern technology and traditional folkways. A minority elite will live in urban centers of increasing technology and scientific progress. These two ways of life can exist side by side with little difficulty.
5: A revisitation of "Europe of 100 flags." The European Union is really neither European nor a union in any meaningful sense. What Faye proposes in its place more closely resembles the Holy Roman Empire: An interlocking network of sovereign states united by a common identity and a common purposes. Within this imperium there can also exist sub-imperial groupings, such as the Hanseatic League. Membership would be strictly voluntary, with polities able to leave when they like and enter by mutual consent. Some polities, such as Ireland or Sweden, which are historically culturally homogenous, would have no need to devolve into subdivided groupings. Others, such as France, would be best served by breaking into pieces such as Brittany, Occitan, Ile-de-France, etc.
6: My favorite part of the book: Faye writes a story about what the archeofuturist imperium might look like. He's not going to win any Nobel Prizes for literature. That said, it's an immensely engaging yarn about an imperial bureaucrat taking an ultra-high-speed train from one end of the empire to another. We get a touch of the history, some sociology and some international relations, such as they are in 2050.
All told, I think it's a necessary read for anyone on the right in the 21st Century. Faye has some personality, which makes it not only interesting, but entertaining. At times he devolves into wish-fulfillment, a trait I find all too prevalent on the contemporary right, but it doesn't cloud his overall message. This might actually be the most important work on right in recent(ish -- it came out in 1998?) years. ...more
So far Albert Jay Nock hasn't been all that good to me. In fairness, the first book that I read by him, "The Myth of a Guilty Nation" probably wasn'tSo far Albert Jay Nock hasn't been all that good to me. In fairness, the first book that I read by him, "The Myth of a Guilty Nation" probably wasn't the best place to start. What better place to go to than a collection of essays?
Well, probably anywhere else. The first eponymous essay, on how the second you start second-guessing a natural talent or knack is the second that you lose it, and the last, written just in advance of the Second World War, interested me the most.
I'll be giving Nock a final chance, and sooner rather than later, but there's just something about his style that doesn't quite grab me. What's more, most of the topics of his essays didn't interest me much. If anyone has any recommendations, I'm all ears here, because I feel like there's something here worth returning to the well for. ...more
This is kind of an odd book to read and review, of mostly historical interest. Nock explores the "myth of a guilty nation." Namely, the supposition, nThis is kind of an odd book to read and review, of mostly historical interest. Nock explores the "myth of a guilty nation." Namely, the supposition, now largely rejected, that the German Empire was wholly responsible for the Great War. In doing so, he's methodical, though it's hardly a mainstream opinion anymore that Kaiser Bill was a threat to peaceable world order. Still, it's an interesting exploration of the hypocrisy of "democratic" powers during war. Nock seems a bit of a Germanophile and is, as such, partisan. In the final analysis, while this is well written, I'm not sure that I would recommend it to anyone except those looking for a systematic defense of the Central Powers. ...more
Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for those who aren't already familiar, is a private property anarchist with an idiosyncratic take on the history of democracy. WheHans-Hermann Hoppe, for those who aren't already familiar, is a private property anarchist with an idiosyncratic take on the history of democracy. Whereas other so-called "anarcho-capitalists" see the development of liberal democracy as inherently good and a step along the way to the stateless society, HHH (not to be confused with Hunter Hearst-Helmsley) sees democracy as inherently totalitarian.
The frame is one of "private" government (that of feudalism and the future private insurance non-state) versus "public" government (democracy, socialism, communism and basically any form of what the neoreactionaries call "demotism"). On the one hand, privately-owned government tends to incentivize personal responsibility (including among the "owner" in the case of monarchy, even absolute monarchy, something that HHH is critical of), while publicly-owned government incentivizes socialized responsibility, looting one's neighbors and rule by charlatanocracy.
There is much to agree with here: First and foremost, HHH's assertions about total war as the domain of modern demotism and one's own sovereignty over one's own property seem, more or less, unassailable. Even the massacres and atrocities of medieval war seem, for the most part, confined to wars of ideology and religion rather than wars of property claims.
However, there are also forms of sophistry at work here. It does not seem to follow to me that, because a household cannot be self-sufficient, that protectionist tariffs or even autarky are without arguable merit. In fact, if there is one criticism to be leveled against the book and HHH as a whole, it's that he's too prone to isolation tank-type thinking, removed from the way real things work in the real world. See also, his belief that all or most voluntary societies will hold only traditional values. Some places yes, some places no and what "traditional" means varies from one place to another anyway. The chapter on this, it's worth noting, includes lengthy "get off my lawn!" assaults on people who program computers for a living, prefer science fiction literature and don't subscribe to any particular religious belief.
If there are libertarians who respect crystal gazers more than Catholics, I've yet to meet them. What's more, if anyone needs explained to them why libertarianism, particularly its voluntaryist strain, is going to appeal to people with marginal lifestyles, I got no help.
It's only really in the final chapter that HHH begins to differentiate his voluntary insurance non-state from the already-existing states we all live in. I'm not one to be taken in by pie-in-the-sky promises, though HHH's "What Is To Be Done?" (retreat to voluntary societies, slowly peel away from the state) seems plausible, particularly for the age of crippling public debt. A necessary read for all paleoconservatives, right libertarians, neoreactionaries and other anti-statists of the right. ...more
A friend and comrade of mine recommended this book to me as an introduction to the history of the right kind of right. First and foremost, it sure isA friend and comrade of mine recommended this book to me as an introduction to the history of the right kind of right. First and foremost, it sure is that.
For the modern American conservative, ground zero of the movement is William F. Buckley. Of course, those with a longer historical outlook know that Buckley was not the midwife of American conservatism, but it's gravedigger. Destroyed by the Second World War and the Cold War, the Old Right stands as an example of how "big tent" conservatism can have core values, but also common goals.
Raimando, editorial director of Antiwar.com, former Libertarian Party activist and a man so acquainted with Murray Rothbard that he wrote a biography about them, is keenly interested in reclaiming the heritage of the American right. And, as this book shows, he's no slouch when it comes to putting in the legwork, doing the reading and crafting narrative for intelligent, critically thoughtful people to read and easily locate themselves in.
In particular, his exploration of the Rand cult is worth its weight in gold, simultaneously admiring Rand for popularizing liberty among young counterculturalists and attacking her personality cult, to say nothing of her own personal distortions of her personal narrative.
Some criticisms: First, the book is short on solutions, other than a vague call toward "New Fusionism." Few would dispute that a nexus of right populism, traditionalism, paleoconservatism / paleolibertarianism and national conservatism would be a force to be reckoned with: kingmaker if not king. The question then becomes how to craft such a coalition. While understandably outside the scope of Raimando's book, which is ultimately just a history, I felt that I wanted more than just a celebratory story of the right's past.
My other main criticism is what I see as an unfounded faith in the common man. I am rather bearish on this concept, as were Mencken and Nock. While sympathetic to the idea that much recent resistance to judicial tyranny has taken place at the ballot box, so have the most egregious incursions upon liberty over the last 50 years, indirectly if not by referenda. I think the degree to which the unwashed masses can be trusted is an open question and that any serious talk about preserving literally necessarily runs up against the antagonistic relationship between liberty and democracy. With that said, I consider the question unresolved in either direction.
All told, a great opening to a broader discussion on the future of the right, one that I hope to be a part of. ...more
This is the only history of the American language I've ever read and I can't imagine that there's a better one.
You either like Mencken or you don't,This is the only history of the American language I've ever read and I can't imagine that there's a better one.
You either like Mencken or you don't, but one thing no one fact is beyond disagreement: Mencken was arguably the most well-read man of his era, if not all time. It's fitting that a man with no more than an 8th grade formal education compiled what this epic tome on the history of the American language.
And it is the AMERICAN language, the well-worn quip about "two people divided by a common language" not withstanding. American English is a rich and vibrant language with a history quite distinct from any other variant. We have our own words, our own pronunciations. Mencken systematically goes through the language, pointing out what we kept from the Brits, what we added on our own and what we picked up from successive waves of immigration. All along the way, we're treated to Mencken's trademark wit.
This is a must read for any fan of Mencken or anyone interested in a comprehensive history of the American mother tongue. ...more
If you like the show Justified this is definitely a must read. It all began here: Raylan Givens, the laconic and anachronistic Deputy U.S. Marshall. HIf you like the show Justified this is definitely a must read. It all began here: Raylan Givens, the laconic and anachronistic Deputy U.S. Marshall. He's a cop who plays by his own rules. You know the type. In fact, it's pretty well-worn territory, which is what makes it so amazing that Ellmore Leonard is able to breathe new life into him.
The story: A shitheel FBI Agent sets up a small-time sports book to get closer to a low-level mob boss. The problem is that the book would rather take his chances running than talk. Run he does, off to rural Italy where he gets help from a black mercenary and Raylan Givens taking a little vacation time. Of course, the racket is hot on his heels, with a vindictive Sicilian gun thug looking to make a name for himself leading the charge.
To tell you anything else would be to spoil it, but this is a great place to start with Leonard. You can really see why he's the undisputed master of modern crime fiction. It's an easy, readable style that's rooted in the past without being too self-consciously anachronistic... Raylan Givens not withstanding.
Oh, and for what it's worth, the TV show got the hat all wrong. ...more
I read this book in a little under 24 hours, so it's a good quick read to break up a longer, heavier read that you might be in the middle of.
This isI read this book in a little under 24 hours, so it's a good quick read to break up a longer, heavier read that you might be in the middle of.
This is a how-to book from the Archer. He covers how to dress, what to drink and how to have sex with hookers from the perspective that only the world's greatest secret agent can do. Reading it now is a little strange, considering that he's become a coke dealer, but hopefully he's back to his spying ways by the end of this season.
It's a bit like watching an episode of the television series. They really managed to capture the voice of the character and the tone of the show in a format that allows him to make even raunchier jokes than in person. There's also more than a little bit of politically incorrect humor in here that will make dour, humorless Jezebel editors shake with righteous rage, so that's a good thing. The humor is pretty consistent. There aren't a lot of duds.
I love Archer. It's potentially my favorite cartoon after Beavis and Butthead. Well, it starts to drag a little at the end. There's a running joke about how he has an expense account, so everything is super expensive, that was wearing thin after the third time that it got made.
All told, though, this is a "must read" for people who love Archer as much as I do. ...more
This took me longer to read than I would have wanted. That's sort of my only complaint.
Orson Scott Card is no dummy. This is a great book that explorThis took me longer to read than I would have wanted. That's sort of my only complaint.
Orson Scott Card is no dummy. This is a great book that explores game theory, philosophy of mind and the value of truth vs. appearance.
What's it about? After two invasions from an alien race called "the buggers," the International Fleet of Earth trains children to be fighter pilots against an anticipated "third invasion." Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a "Third," or third child born through a special exception to earth's population control laws. The book follows Wiggin's training in the International Fleet from grammar school to battle school to officer school to his confrontation with the buggers. His relationship with his siblings forms the backdrop -- his parents are almost entirely absent from the book.
Underneath it all, this is the story of a government manipulating a child to its own end, one that might or might not be "noble" depending on your perspective, especially once you read through to the end. "Ender's Game" explores philosophical questions about the use of force and the good of the one versus the good of the many without being too heavy handed about it. Particularly if you're looking for a good book to give to (and talk about with) your child, "Ender's Game" is a great read. ...more
I dunno if this book was bad or if Louis L'amour just isn't to my taste. If anyone has any recommendations of his other books, I'm all ears, but thisI dunno if this book was bad or if Louis L'amour just isn't to my taste. If anyone has any recommendations of his other books, I'm all ears, but this was really boring. ...more
While I've not read much Ayn Rand, I feel like I have a similar relationship with Heinlein that Rand's cult has with her. His vision of humanity isn'tWhile I've not read much Ayn Rand, I feel like I have a similar relationship with Heinlein that Rand's cult has with her. His vision of humanity isn't grounded in gritty realism, but rather romanticism. As such, a grain of salt is always needed; However, but immersing oneself in the world and ideas of Heinlein, a new perspective results that allows one to reflect critically and flexibly on contemporary real world affairs.
Indeed, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is perhaps even more timely today than when it was written. In particular, those interested in the "neoreactionary" current will be interested to see the dabbling in both anarcho-capitalist and practical monarchist thought. More generally, Heinlein does the thing that he did better than just about anyone: Create characters that are basically analogs of himself debating ideas, with a heavy dollop of wry sarcasm.
The story is well known: In the historically loaded year of 2076 the moon revolts against its Terran overlords. Inhabitants of the moon, known as "Loonies," are as ruggedly individualistic a bunch as has ever existed... and all talk like Robert Heinlein. Families are larger groups rather than one-on-one monogamous relationships. Government is distrusted. People prefer to do things for themselves. "Law" as such does not exist.
Heinlein's libertarianism is less about a dogmatic and doctrinaire "neckbeard" style of prescriptive moralism. Nor is it the main competing current, utilitarian "natural law" quasi-religious hooey. Rather, Heinlein's libertarianism is philosophically pessimist, with a heavy dollop of "take no shit" all-American common sense that isn't so common. It's an ideology for people who accept responsibility for their own lives, but don't want any responsibility for the lives of others. There is a sort of reactionary character to this libertarianism, one that recognizes implicit and natural hierarchies, while also acknowledging that right of birth is only very slightly preferrable to right of mob rule.
A great book and highly recommended, though the Loonie pidgin is a bit difficult to read. ...more
I actually read this a couple months ago, but I need to clear some mental cobwebs. Here goes.
Nietzsche is a bit of a cypher in my opinion. People tenI actually read this a couple months ago, but I need to clear some mental cobwebs. Here goes.
Nietzsche is a bit of a cypher in my opinion. People tend to see more of themselves in him than what's actually there. What's actually there is a very open question, but if I had to say what's there for me, it can be boiled down into one word: Skepticism. Broaden it and it's skepticism of the skeptical type. Skepticism that views skepticism itself with a heavy dose of skepticism.
Could I use the word "skepticism" more? Probably not.
In any event, you need a sense of humor to read Nietzsche and "The Antichrist" is no exception. It's not really the best introduction to the concepts that he's talking about (For my money, the best introduction to Nietzsche would be "Genealogy of Morals" YMMV). It is, however, an interesting read for someone who knows his way around Nietzsche. Particularly for the egoist / elitist, this is chock full of notable quotables that should, obviously immediately be entered into your commonplace book.
What do you mean you don't have a commonplace book?
Those who aren't fans of Freddie N. are basically just going to face palm and whinge and moan.
I recommend reading the version translated by Mencken, which is worth the price of admission for its introduction alone. ...more
You know what America is missing these days? Smart asses. The Revolution (TM) has basically hijacked all youthful impulses toward wiseacring, directinYou know what America is missing these days? Smart asses. The Revolution (TM) has basically hijacked all youthful impulses toward wiseacring, directing them toward shrill screeds of self-righteous moral indignation at whatever the perceived offense du jour is.
Once upon a time, however, the world of American letters was known for a biting and cutting humor that went beyond simple childish snark and into the realm of bona fide evisceration. Anyone looking for a handbook on such is directed toward this slim volume, a collection of the late, great Henry Louis Mencken's musings on everything from marriage to hay fever to William Jennings Bryan.
Mencken is an improvement on the cutting sarcasm of Twain, but only because he was able to see further in the future. LaVey represents a somewhat impoverished version thereof, but only because he existed at a time of cultural degeneracy. Fans of both will find much to appreciate in Mencken. Those who have hitherto only snickered privately at his quotes without knowing where to begin will enjoy digging into this book, which is both brief into total and in chapter -- some of the sections are little more than a quick paragraph, thumbnail sketches that fully explore a topic in four or five sentences.
History buffs will get a kick out of it. Curmudgeony smart arses who suspect that the world is not as it should be will latch on to this as one might The Bible. Effete SWPLs will wrinkle their brows and "deconstruct" it. Like many of the best things in life, you either get it or you don't. ...more
This is my first foray into the world of Elmore Leonard. I love the television show Justified, so I wanted to give some of his written work a chance.This is my first foray into the world of Elmore Leonard. I love the television show Justified, so I wanted to give some of his written work a chance. I found this at a used book shop on my Honeymoon and the back of the book piqued my interest, so I picked it up.
The story is about a Vietnam vet who gets out of prison and heads off to the Southwest to be a melon grower. One day he comes back to his farm to find a low-level local hood trying to strong arm him into using unskilled white labor instead of the skilled Mexican labor he'd rather use. An altercation occurs and he's arrested. In lockup he meets a mob hitman and, after the bus is attacked by the hitman's cronies, escapes with him. The hitman offers him a ton of money to let him free, but Majestyk (the titular character), decides to turn him in instead, hoping to clear his own name of the assault charge. This sets the stage for a revenge drama not unlike Deliverance.
When I read this book, I found the pacing and tone to be a bit "off" for a novel, even having never read anything by Leonard before. Then I found out that the book is an adaptation of an original screenplay that Leonard wrote. Frankly, I think it probably works a lot better as a film than it does a novel and I plan to check out the Charles Bronson original when I get a chance.
I enjoyed the book, but it was one of those books that I read and think "Well, shit, I could do this" rather than "Wow, this guy is an impossible master of his craft." I obviously prefer the later, though there's definitely room for the former. ...more
This book was a lot of fun and a lot better written than my first foray into Ellroy, Brown's Requiem.
Here's the short version: You get to see a serialThis book was a lot of fun and a lot better written than my first foray into Ellroy, Brown's Requiem.
Here's the short version: You get to see a serial killer from his first sparks of mental illness to the beginning of his criminal career to his capture. Along the way you get inside the mind of a killer, his wants and desires, his fears and hates, the whole bit. As a writer, I feel like Ellroy is using this book to explore some profoundly dark part of his own nature. This only made me like the book more. The action is paced quite well. The formatting uses straight narrative as well as newspaper clippings and a frame story, so he's definitely using his craft the right way. There's a tenseness to the story that keeps you reading and the lone sex scene is kind of worth the price of admission alone.
That said, there are some cliches and tropes here that just don't resemble real life serial killers enough for my liking. It's my only complaint and it wasn't a terribly distracting one. This has definitely got me wanting to read more from Ellroy....more
This book is good, but only if you're a fan of Swedish death metal. Unlike something like "Please Kill Me" or "Hammer of the Gods," this acts less asThis book is good, but only if you're a fan of Swedish death metal. Unlike something like "Please Kill Me" or "Hammer of the Gods," this acts less as a compelling story about a vibrant scene and more as a series of brief record reviews. That's great if you're looking for a way to track down obscure SDM demos. If you're not, your eyes will probably glaze over in boredom.
That's not to say that there's no sociological information provided. It's just that, like "Lords of Chaos," it's over by approximately the first third of the book. Unlike "Lords of Chaos," this continues to be interesting and we aren't inundated with a laundry list of crimes and the author's ridiculous theories as to why they occurred. The author clearly has a firm grasp of where SDM came from (d-beat, crust and the extreme elements of thrash metal, in particular Teutonic thrash), as well as the breakneck pace at which metal evolved during the 1980s. He actually lived the movement so, unlike Michael Moynihan, he's not an outsider attempting to make sense of things.
All told, this is a great read, but it's not really of interest to anyone that isn't really into SDM already. ...more
Most rock biographies disappoint. Either the writer rushes through the story without capturing the personalities, or else the whole affair comes off aMost rock biographies disappoint. Either the writer rushes through the story without capturing the personalities, or else the whole affair comes off as too fawning. Stevie Chick does a masterful job at telling the tale of Black Flag. Though the lack of involvement of Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn make the book suffer a bit, perhaps we're better off with a collection of quotes where they DON'T know they're giving the definitive history.
And it is the definitive history. Everything is here. The spray painting. Black Flag versus Hollywood. Black Flag versus the LAPD. Dez's busted vocal chords. Henry's late night trial by fire in New York. Trudging. Vibining. Kira's makeover. The dumb sexist jokes. Greg Ginn's bag of weed. All the legends and stories you've heard are true and Stevie Chick fleshes them out with the participation of not just band members, but those close to the Black Flag inner circle.
The historical context here is perhaps most impressive. Chick is able to take us step by step through the processes that created Black Flag and shaped their early sound. The realities of building an independent touring network for DIY-oriented rock bands is made clearer than it has been anywhere else. Whether you know nothing about Black Flag or everything about Black Flag, this is a great read because it lays all the pieces out and connects the dots for you, something that, to the best of my knowledge, has never really been done anywhere else.
Sometimes Chick appears a bit worshipful, at other times too critical of the band. Though overall he presents a very even-handed appraisal of the group that puts them in their proper context in the history of rock. Forget about bands like Trash Talk, Agnostic Front or Infest -- there wouldn't be an R.E.M. without Black Flag. Chick gets this, on a very intuitive level. It's not so much the music that makes Black Flag one of (if not THE) most important bands of the last 30 years; It's that they delivered on the promise of punk rock, that anyone can do this, provided they're willing to put the work in.
Definitely recommended for all Black Flag fans and anyone interested in the history of independent rock. ...more
So after reading the other reviews, I think I get why this book is somewhat confusing to me.
The read itself wasn't confusing, but I read this book asSo after reading the other reviews, I think I get why this book is somewhat confusing to me.
The read itself wasn't confusing, but I read this book as an example of how The Great James Ellroy writes. While the book was certainly entertaining and even compelling at points, I was hard pressed to understand why he is known as one of the greats of crime fiction. I get that the point isn't to write Ulysses, but this struck me as the type of thing that I could bang out in a weekend given enough uninterrupted time and hot coffee.
Maybe I'm the idiot, though.
In any event, the story is about a disgraced former alcoholic cop on the wagon who works doing repossessions. He gets pulled into a web of intrigue involving golf caddies, a police captain, a rich Jewish furrier and a welfare fraud scheme. There's a lot of violence and a bit of sex to keep you entertained, but really there aren't any astounding plot twists or surprises here. Surprises, I suppose, but none that had me dropping my jaw or called back to something that happened earlier in the novel in an interesting manner.
I read this book because I wanted to get a feel for how crime novels operate with an eye toward writing one of my own one day. I didn't learn much other than that I don't have much to learn. I doubt I'd recommend this book to someone else, but it was an OK way to waste a few hours. ...more
You know that Lemmy barely penned a word of this and most of it was transcribed from interviews; but that's not a criticism. In fact, it's the raw andYou know that Lemmy barely penned a word of this and most of it was transcribed from interviews; but that's not a criticism. In fact, it's the raw and conversational quality of the writing that sells what is basically a collection of anecdotes from the mononym himself, Lemmy.
The book reveals quite a bit about his childhood, with the bulk spent on the period up to the founding of Motorhead. Hardcore Motorhead fans might be disappointed, in fact, at how little time is spent on Motorhead. Further, the conversational writing style referenced above means that you're basically listening to Lemmy tell stories in front of his beloved video poker machine at Rainbow. He's also given to tangents and rants about this that or the other thing that old men complain about.
All told, reading the book is a bit like having Lemmy over for the night and watching him slowly get drunk. Whether or not you think that's a good thing will largely determine whether or not you enjoy this book. ...more
The first half of this book was a lot of fun, but then Moynihan decides to take his thesis about "atavistic resurgence" and "underground fascist blackThe first half of this book was a lot of fun, but then Moynihan decides to take his thesis about "atavistic resurgence" and "underground fascist black metal" to absurd conclusions. Yes, there were many people in BM who were enamored of fascist imagery. Yes, many of them talked the talk and even walked the walk in terms of anti-social behavior. But no less an authority on the matter than Kevin Coogan systematically debunked Moynihan's thesis in "How Black Is Black Metal?" The answer is not very. Even key figures in "fascistic" black metal like Varg Vikernes are little more than common criminals, psychopaths who put a veneer of ideology over their crimes.
I actually found myself skipping over large parts of the second half of the book which is little more than a laundry list of hate crimes and psychopathic killing sprees at the hands of black metal fans. I'd love to read a more complete history of black metal music that doesn't have someone trying to shoehorn the facts into their thesis. Recommendations are welcome. ...more
I seriously do not get the big deal about this book. The format and concept are interesting. The writing and plot development? Not so much. I can't imI seriously do not get the big deal about this book. The format and concept are interesting. The writing and plot development? Not so much. I can't imagine that this book would ever have been published were it not written by Mel Brooks' kid. I love the "oral history" format, but it just doesn't work when all the characters talk the same way and none of them speak like actual people do. Everyone sounds like they came out of a Ken Burns documentary. I read it all the way through, because I thought the concept was cool and it was a pretty easy read, but I can't help but think that this would have made a better comic book or graphic novel than a traditional novel. ...more
This is a good book to read not because it's the best written book in the world. It is, however, a wonderful collection of anecdotes and an engaging sThis is a good book to read not because it's the best written book in the world. It is, however, a wonderful collection of anecdotes and an engaging story from someone who was really there. See what the early CBGB's crowd of Rimbaud-quoting faux beatniks thought of "punk." Really cool account of the bohemian element of the 70s New York rock scene before they called it anything. Valentine is an intelligent man with a better than average memory. While he sits at the center of the story, there's very little boring solipsism in this book. It's about one man making his way through interesting moments in rock and roll history. A recommend read for anyone who liked "Please Kill Me" or Valentine's other works. ...more
Fun little book about a woman who fucks men and then kills them. Written under the pseudonym "Jill Emerson," this was actually written by popular crimFun little book about a woman who fucks men and then kills them. Written under the pseudonym "Jill Emerson," this was actually written by popular crime fiction writer Lawrence Block. It is part of the relaunch of Hard Case Crime, an imprint of hardboiled and vintage crime / noir novels.
The book starts out a lot of fun, but drags a bit toward the end. In a book like this, I prefer either an unrepentant and relentlessly evil protagonist or a fittingly horrible demise. We get neither here, and the ending is more than a little trite.
Still, the sex is hot. The publisher calls this the dirtiest book written in decades. I wouldn't go that far, but there is a lot of raunchy and disgusting sex and painstaking descriptions in the book. ...more
The story is about an illiterate teenager in Harlem who is physically and sexually abused by bother of her parents. But it's mucPush is a "must read."
The story is about an illiterate teenager in Harlem who is physically and sexually abused by bother of her parents. But it's much more than that. It's about how an incredibly intelligent, sensitive and thoughtful young girl can appear "stupid" because of her social circumstances. Precious, the protagonist, has a deeply touching story. But even though her story is incredibly tragic, it's also inspiring. You get the sense that she's going to do the best that she can, better than you or I might do.
My only complaint with the book is that it doesn't fully explore the causes of poverty or it's solutions. I feel like Sapphire has the attitude that a good teacher or a kind social worker can make all the difference in the life of a girl like Precious, or at least, that's the best that she can "realistically" hope for.
Read this book to know just how bad things can get for people living not that far from you. ...more
This book started out great, then quickly became a chore to read. Bukowski cribs from the Burroughs and Dick playbook to make something unique BukowskThis book started out great, then quickly became a chore to read. Bukowski cribs from the Burroughs and Dick playbook to make something unique Bukowski / Los Angeles. The first 100 pages are an absolute joy to read and after that it all goes downhill. There isn't much of a story here, though I suspect that this was intentional. It's interesting to see a Bukowskian private dick, but this could have benefited from a little more structure. The best parts here are Bukowski's contemporary-urban Boddhidharma observations and quips. Die-hard fans will love it, others will be less impressed. ...more
This is an anthology of shorter works from Iceberg Slim AKA Robert Beck, the famous pimp who gave up the LifeSorry, Beck... this was painful to read.
This is an anthology of shorter works from Iceberg Slim AKA Robert Beck, the famous pimp who gave up the Life for love in the square world. I often liken Beck to a black Bukowski. He's a man who has been there and back and somehow lived to tell the tale without any maudlin apologies. This work, however, fell way short of what I have come to expect from Ice, probably because it seems to be the most fictional of anything that I have read by him.
The writing and the stories reminded me a bit of what you might find in a creative writing workshop. The first couple of stories are alright, but these are the ones where Ice is still a part of the world. Once he removes himself completely from the picture and relies upon his flights of fancy things take a decided turn for the worst. The stories read like he took basic narrative templates and imposed ghetto characters on them, and badly I might add.
I'm really sorry, Bob, but this was awful and I couldn't wait to be done with it. I'm gonna need a palate cleanser like Trick Baby or Mama Black Widow to remind me why I love you. ...more
I was sort of surprised at how different this was from the movie, but I probably shouldn't have been after reading Mildred Pierce. Still, the basic stI was sort of surprised at how different this was from the movie, but I probably shouldn't have been after reading Mildred Pierce. Still, the basic story is the same: An insurance salesman gets more than he bargains for when helping a femme fatale off her husband for insurance money.
Cain is a master of this sort of thing and you can tell that he's done his research on any topic he writes about, in this case the insurance industry. Not a lot of suspense when reading this, because I've seen the movie, but Cain's characterizations are always fascinating, as is the way that he addresses every little detail before the reader even thinks of it. I would recommend this to people who like the movie because it's so different. ...more
Mildred Pierce is a stomach-churning American tragedy. No adaptation has ever done it justice and as long as Hollywood is what it is, none ever will.Mildred Pierce is a stomach-churning American tragedy. No adaptation has ever done it justice and as long as Hollywood is what it is, none ever will.
Mildred is a woman in her late 20s as the novel begins, a woman with an unemployed and slothful husband and two children. Pops evacuates early on leaving Mildred with her two children; Veda, a conniving junior social Darwinist and Moire, a sweet child called "Ray" due to her parents mistaken impression that the name is French, not Irish. After father Bert leaves Mildred has to make her way with two small kids and no job skills. She does so by becoming a waitress and later owning a small chain of restaurants. Along the way she romances with snobbish society polo player Monty Beragon.
Of course, it all comes crashing horribly down, as this is a tragedy. Mildred's fatal flaw is her unfathomable attachment to Veda. Arrogant and demeaning even as a small child, Veda has all the snobbishness of Mr. Beragon. Unlike the film and recent miniseries where we are left to wonder where this demon child gets it from, Cain's original novel is quite blunt. She gets it from Mildred and Bert. Mildred has society pretensions and an unexplained (and perhaps unexplainable) belief that Veda is somehow special. She feels grateful when Ray dies because it wasn't Veda. Bert, while certainly an "ideas man" (or so he thinks, anyway) detests the idea of working for a living.
As readers of my reviews know if there's one thing I love it's "social context" and this book has it. The Pierces are tied into a broader world -- that of the Depression. Pierce is a Roosevelt supporter and those with an interest in American history will not be shocked when she first expresses disdain for the possibility that Hoover begin robust social programs, then hopes that Roosevelt will reign in some of that extravagance. The only really unbelievable part of the book is when the allegedly "talented" Veda does manifest talent, in the realm of exotic opera singing. The rest of the book rings truer than anything you'll read in the history books about the Depression.
I'm not surprised that 1940s Hollywood made this into a murder mystery. What did contemporaneous readers think of Mildred Pierce compared to Cain's prior work. This is truly one of the great American novels, one that does not get the respect and credit that it deserves. ...more