Hanna Frankenstein, disappointed in her nephew's antics, decides to restore the Frankenstein name by sprucing up the castle. The task gets easier whenHanna Frankenstein, disappointed in her nephew's antics, decides to restore the Frankenstein name by sprucing up the castle. The task gets easier when she finds something from the cellar, but the villagers become increasingly alarmed when they start seeing signs of activity in the crumbled castle. Can Aunt Frankenstein really make up for her nephew's past mistakes?
Monster mashes can sometimes be problematic, because introducing several classic horror characters in one story can seem overwhelming. Pettersson keeps it fairly well together, though, and the characters don't come across as glued on despite not having that much use in the story overall. The lack of a major plot, where each of the character would have a more sensible part, is the one weakness of Frankenstein's Aunt.
However, Pettersson's vivid use of language and sense of humour are a delight, the latter which is most evident in the suggestive scene between Aunt Frankenstein and Dracula. Dracula would rather stand because of his circulation, and Aunt comments how she's the type of old lady who doesn't have much money in the bank. Dracula's bloody toy boy aspirations quickly come to an end, though.
Frankenstein's Aunt is the type of novel I imagine wouldn't be published today, and not just because of Aunt's addiction to cigars and sherry. It's easy to make monsters caricatures in novels aimed at a young audience. Pettersson avoids that trap and doesn't treat the monsters like clichés, but comes up with something at least a little bit new for each without them coming across like out of character. Like in the very best monster mashes, it's enjoyable to see the creatures interacting. The Fearless Vampire Killers ending is pretty great as well....more
Anton and his parents arrive on the farm, where Rüdiger has already settled in. He seems to have trouble feeding himself, which makes him appear slighAnton and his parents arrive on the farm, where Rüdiger has already settled in. He seems to have trouble feeding himself, which makes him appear slightly creepy and, well, vampire-like when he first sees Anton. I don't know if it's the farm, but Rüdiger seems even more childish, confrontational and a general dick than usual, in addition to flat out lying and causing him and Anton falling out.
Anton's father has mellowed since the first book, but his mother is increasingly annoyed about Anton's obsession about vampires. In this volume she's desperately trying to change Anton into her and forcing him to be something he's not, which was depressing and infuriating. Let the kid be passionate about what he wants, for Christ's sake! There are worse things than reading books, and it's certainly not something to get pissed off about.
Interestingly, she also seems to think that fresh country air smelling of cow shit is not bad, unlike the musty smell of the grave she's always complaining about in Anton's room. Having grown up in the countryside, I can say that cow shit DOES NOT smell better than soil. Or maybe she just didn't smell any cow shit, and the vampire smell is something entirely different than just soil.
The countryside setting didn't prove to be as interesting or exciting as it could have been, despite Rüdiger having trouble with the "monsters" of the farm and getting very close to being imprisoned/killed....more
In the middle of blood, guts, and strange encounters of the spirit world, I thought I'd take a break from my usual Halloween diet and read something lIn the middle of blood, guts, and strange encounters of the spirit world, I thought I'd take a break from my usual Halloween diet and read something light. The Little Vampire series has been my favorite since I was a kid, and I figured October would be the perfect month to continue with the series.
Rüdiger, a vampire who's scared of the dark and loves reading vampire stories, has settled back into the vault he was banished from in the previous installment, but now he's once again gotten himself into a bit of a jam. He needs to avoid a guest who's been invited for a visit in his family vault, but luckily reluctant Anton is going to the countryside for a holiday with his parents, and Anton invites Rüdiger to keep him company.
For me, the appeal of the series is seeing how differently vampires live compared to humans, and the little sparks of suspense when the friends face difficulties. Here, Anton gets to spend a so called vampire day by jumping on coffins and drinking spoilt cocoa. Before the holiday begins, though, he and Rüdiger take Rüdiger's coffin to the cottage by train, but they need to keep an eye on the old lady who shares their compartment, in case she finds her glasses and sees she's sitting opposite a real vampire. Again, Anton's parents are oblivious to what their son is up to when they're out of the house or when they're sleeping!
Aunt Dorothee, on the other hand, is again a constant danger to Anton. Even when she doesn't appear in the flesh, she's still usually mentioned several times in passing in the books and gets to be a kind of villain who might jump (or fly) out of the shadows at any given moment. This makes the nightly excursions slightly creepy, so despite there being cute or funny stuff happening, you won't forget these are vampires who feed on humans. Then again, it never gets too scary, so Aunt Dorothee feeding on drunk people and getting an alcohol poisoning is just a source of amusement....more
Oh wow. I didn't even realize how much I had missed Thompson. I read a few of his short stories a while ago (they were mostly not that great), but it'Oh wow. I didn't even realize how much I had missed Thompson. I read a few of his short stories a while ago (they were mostly not that great), but it's been ages since I've gobbled up one of his novels. He really does handle noir well, the punch-in-the-stomach kind that leaves you gasping for air, but also simultaneously tickles you a bit with splashes of great writing.
The Grifters isn't the blackest or the craziest Thompson, and probably not even his best (despite the amazing rating on Goodreads that kind of confuses me), but it's a solid story with great characters. Sure, Carol is a bit of an oddball, because it turns out that the revelation about her past has no purpose whatsoever, but in a way that's a very familiar Thompson strategy. He just throws some off-kilter things in the mix, and it still works somehow.
You don't necessarily get that many surprises in classic noir, and The Grifters isn't an exception in that regard. It doesn't offer major plot twists, but one of the reasons why I like the genre in the first place is that the novels are like mood pieces of a cynical world, and that it's achieved in simple and no-frill terms (Well, ok... Who am I kidding? It's also entirely possible that I'm easy when it comes to noir). I can always rely on some crazy character getting all wacky or neurotic. Throw in a murder or two, and we have an excellent weekend read there. Thompson, on the other hand, decides to go further by making the relationship between mother and son seem very wrong and vile.
Another thing about Thompson is how well he handles his endings. They leave you hanging and wondering what will happen in the next chapter, until you realize there's no next chapter in this life. The Grifters is a classic storyline of a man who starts balancing between different worlds. There's a lot of foreshadowing going on, but Thompson executes it delicately and ambiguously. Then you start to get this very bad feeling that something's about to go down, and it's too late for anyone to turn back. A glass is teetering on the edge of the table, and just when you think it's going to stay where it is and survive, someone comes and smashes it to smithereens....more
I'm not a Shakespeare expert by any means, nor is he my favorite author yet, but every once in a while I think: "Hey, I wonder how Shakespeare's doingI'm not a Shakespeare expert by any means, nor is he my favorite author yet, but every once in a while I think: "Hey, I wonder how Shakespeare's doing?" This time it was Hamlet's turn, because I had a ticket for a production that was organized on a stormy autumn night in my hometown's gorgeous medieval castle (pictures here & here). We exchanged our phones for skulls and wandered through the rooms in groups. Combining puppet theatre, singing, the art of clowning and pop culture references, the whole thing was amazing, but it was useful to read the play first in order to understand all the nuances.
In the end, I ended up liking the Grus Grus Theatre's production more than the original. When something's as legendary as Hamlet, there's always the fear that it doesn't live up to expectations. Hamlet definitely has interesting themes ranging from madness, guilt, and revenge, so all the pieces are there for a great tragedy, but as a whole it just didn't do anything for me. I did write down a couple of great quotes, and I'm happy that I finally got around reading something that is such a big part of culture, but that's all. Although I have to end my review on a high note: I had really missed Shakespeare's humor. Maybe I should try one of his comedies next?
Anyway, don't mind me. There's a reason why Shakespeare is popular, so you won't lose anything if you read his plays. Go Will!
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Much better as a mere concept, because the execution... Nope. Reading She was like a rollercoaster. First you spot a beautiful description of somethinMuch better as a mere concept, because the execution... Nope. Reading She was like a rollercoaster. First you spot a beautiful description of something, then you get swamped by some endless journey to I-couldn't-care-less-where, then there's an interesting discussion about religion, then you just feel like hitting your head with the book etc. Talk about hot and cold! It seemed like there was enough material for just a short novella.
It's no wonder that She has sparked discussion about femininity and colonial attitudes, though. I liked the mystical aspect of a raven-haired beauty ruling over a whole tribe in some mysterious part of Africa (this was completely botched in the clinical Hammer movie adaptation). Ayesha seems both vulnerable and harsh, yearning for her dead lover but also believing that mere beauty makes up for sin etc. Haggard, on the other hand, seems to preach a point about passion being wrong and destructive, and that Ayesha is wrong when she says there's no purely good and evil but instead good intentions can sometimes spark evil consequences. And what about the tribe then? Well, they clearly have no morals, so they need a white woman to put them in their place.
Overall an oddly mixed bag of old-fashioned ideals and progressive concepts.
"Each religion claims the future for its followers; or, at least, the good thereof. The evil is for those benighted ones who will have none of it; seeing the light the true believers worship, as the fishes see the stars, but dimly. The religions come and the religions pass, and the civilisations come and pass, and naught endures but the world and human nature. Ah! if man would but see that hope is from within and not from without—that he himself must work out his own salvation! He is there, and within him is the breath of life and a knowledge of good and evil as good and evil is to him. Thereon let him build and stand erect, and not cast himself before the image of some unknown God, modelled like his poor self, but with a bigger brain to think the evil thing, and a longer arm to do it."
"Man doeth this and doeth that from the good or evil of his heart; but he knows not to what end his sense doth prompt him; for when he strikes he is blind to where the blow shall fall, nor can he count the airy threads that weave the web of circumstance. Good and evil, love and hate, night and day, sweet and bitter, man and woman, heaven above and the earth beneath--all those things are needful, one to the other, and who knows the end of each?"
"And now let us love and take that which is given us, and be happy; for in the grave there is no love and no warmth, nor any touching of the lips. Nothing perchance, or perchance but bitter memories of what might have been."
This is one of those classic children's books that sprinkle golden fairy dust on their reader, and charm everyone with their magical story of farawayThis is one of those classic children's books that sprinkle golden fairy dust on their reader, and charm everyone with their magical story of faraway kingdoms full of strange creatures and mysterious places. Or, at least I presume this was supposed to do that. Unfortunately, I wasn't particularly charmed or impressed. The Neverending Story isn't bad, it just left me pretty much indifferent. I'm not a fan of fantasy (at least the typical high fantasy that usually springs to mind when the genre is mentioned), but in children's books it usually works. I've seen the movie adaptation, but I basically only remember the horse scene and the cute dragon, so I don't have any nostalgia problems preventing me from liking the book on its own.
Here we have the usual quest that requires some apparently very special individual, or otherwise Fantastica is destroyed. There's an interesting story-within-a-story structure and inventive world building, but unlike in Narnia for instance, I never got invested in the heros' journey, nor was I excited to see how everything would be solved.
Obviously, as we all probably guessed, the hero from our world grows in the process and the story is wrapped neatly, but everything happening before that is the issue. The first part is ok and understandably the one that got made into a movie, but the second part was an even bigger chore. It's just an aimless and meanderingly slow build-up to the hero's life change. The styles of the two parts keep them too separate. There is a point to why we first have to read about the first journey, that much I understood, but it doesn't work that well.
All in all, as much as I appreciate the effort to deal with the fine line between fantasy and reality, the reminder how the real world needs a hint of magic (but also how losing yourself entirely in the world of fantasy is also detrimental), the praise of the power of imagination and storytelling, and the concept of Nothing, I started to miss my old favorites again.
Human passions have mysterious ways, in children as well as grown-ups. Those affected by them can’t explain them, and those who haven’t known them have no understanding of them at all. Some people risk their lives to conquer a mountain peak. No one, not even they themselves, can really explain why. Others ruin themselves trying to win the heart of a certain person who wants nothing to do with them. Still others are destroyed by their devotion to the pleasures of the table. Some are so bent on winning a game of chance that they lose everything they own, and some sacrifice every thing for a dream that can never come true. Some think their only hope of happiness lies in being somewhere else, and spend their whole lives traveling from place to place. And some find no rest until they have become powerful. In short, there are as many different passions as there are people. Bastian Balthazar Bux’s passion was books
Private detectives Nick and Nora Charles are the ultimate power couple of classic cinema, but for me they're the best couple of all time and of everyPrivate detectives Nick and Nora Charles are the ultimate power couple of classic cinema, but for me they're the best couple of all time and of every single medium there is. They're witty, raunchy, intelligent, fun, and classy (but not stuffy), and William Powell and Myrna Loy portray them perfectly. The sequels aren't as good as the first one, but overall it's a perfect series for a rainy day, when you just want to kick back with cookies and a mug of tea (or a martini, I don't judge). The best aspects of screwball comedy and detective stories is a winning combination. When the repeal of Prohibition was accomplished in the United States in 1933, the freedom to deal with alcohol was fully taken advantage of, and Nick and Nora really are sipping drinks in every imaginable situation. A drinking game would actually be lethal.
Although The Thin Man is a detective novel by one of the most famous hard-boiled writers, it's much more lighter in tone than others of its ilk. The thing about it, though, is that the mystery wasn't that great, the comedy stuff is stronger in the movie and works better in it, and there's very little description of New York. If there hadn't been Nick and Nora, I probably would have abandoned this halfway through, because as much I hate to say it, the book was kind of boring and more flat in tone than I expected (again, I don't expect every author of hard-boiled novels to go all out like Raymond Chandler in the description department, but it would've made the story a bit more livelier). Felt more like a tribute to Hammett's and Lillian Hellman's relationship than anything else. And what the hell was that cannibal sequence!? Since this was the last novel Hammett wrote, he might have also been sick of writing and tried to experiment with a different style.
We found a table. Nora said: "She's pretty." "If you like them like that." She grinned at me. "You got types?" "Only you, darling - lanky brunettes with wicked jaws." "And how about the red-head you wandered off with at Quinns' last night?" "That's silly," I said. "She just wanted to show me some French etchings.
But, without The Thin Man we wouldn't have the movie nor all the great characters who were inspired by Nick and Nora, like Maddie Hayes and David Addison.
The movie has a special place in my heart. There was a time in my childhood when there was still cool stuff on TV, and one afternoon I noticed an inteThe movie has a special place in my heart. There was a time in my childhood when there was still cool stuff on TV, and one afternoon I noticed an interesting movie in the schedule. What I saw stayed with me forever. My mom had just baked buns topped with butter, so while I was gobbling up about a seven of those and drinking cold cocoa, I was completely sucked into this odd world of puppet trolls and a strange Goblin king with a seductive voice.
Rewind to year 2016, when the news of David Bowie's death flooded over me like a tidal wave. I decided to slowly go through a list of his favorite books as a tribute to him and to learn more about who he was. Then I found out there's a novelization of Labyrinth. When I read E.T., I realized novelizations of movies can be good, too. In the best case scenario they can deepen the world and make you understand the characters a bit better (plus, reading E.T. meant I didn't have to suffer through the sentimental style of Spielberg).
Labyrinth, while not being bad, wasn't that special either. I think it just comes down to the world working better in visual form and with the songs. A nice read overall, but I'd rather watch the movie for the umpteenth time. Maybe this would work better if you haven't seen the movie first?
American Psycho (1991) is a novel that is a force, and I doubt there are that many people who feel indifferent about it. I recognized its genius, buAmerican Psycho (1991) is a novel that is a force, and I doubt there are that many people who feel indifferent about it. I recognized its genius, but I think I wasn't ready for its overwhelming effect. It was nothing like I had ever read before, and I just pushed it into the back of my mind and let it simmer in there.
Now, Ellis has started to draw me back into his world, and I thought his debut novel Less Than Zero would be both a soft(er) landing and an interesting glimpse into his early years and where he came from. At first the trip wasn't successful. I kept wondering why I'd ever liked this guy. Then... Something clicked. I got used to the clipped style and at some point I realized I had slowly but surely been seduced.
Coke, omnipresent blondes, glimmering turquoise swimming pools, dark silhouettes of palm trees rustling in the soft night air. Sudden flashes of violence à la American Psycho tear bloody wounds in the seemingly calm exterior, but mostly Less Than Zero feels like you've been in its grasp forever. It's a place where everything looks like a slowed down and a distorted version of the real world. Something's off, and you're not entirely sure what. Los Angeles is like one of those purgatory-like nightmares, where images want to strangle you in your sleep, leaving you heaving and rolling in cold sweat.
Then it all melts into an ending that is brilliant in all its understatedness.
My decision to read this in English turned out to be a good idea, by the way. I have to remember that next time, because Ellis can write about boredom and vapidity in a way that leaves you disoriented and mesmerized. He doesn't explain much, his characters don't know what the hell they're doing on this Earth, and his subtle black humor pops up in the most unexpected places.
Now, the movie on the other hand is less successful in portraying the lost generation of the 20th century. I admit, it's probably hard to capture the mood of the novel, but when the focus is shifted to something entirely different and everything that made the novel into what it is has been taken away, it creates something else. Another story, another nightmare, and less captivating.
It's not entirely hopeless, though, because the colors are great, the 80s aesthetic almost always makes everything look better, James Spader is oddly fascinating in everything he does etc. But, the entire thing might be worth the watch just for the amazing performance of Robert Downey Jr. He might not be the Julian of the novel, but he's the Julian that everyone should see, even if it's just for that tennis court scene alone.
'I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care.'
Despite me not always giving its volumes flattering ratings, I think I've enjoyed season 10 the most so far. The pacing has been excellent and the oveDespite me not always giving its volumes flattering ratings, I think I've enjoyed season 10 the most so far. The pacing has been excellent and the overall arc fairly interesting. Own It is a very solid conclusion for the season, and leaves me hopeful for the future. And references to Labyrinth (1986), The Princess Bride (1987), Game of Thrones, AND Leaving Las Vegas (1995)? Wow. And the latter one is really perceptive. I mean, that hair is just...
Anyway, I can't wait for season 11! In the meantime, I'm just going to keep myself entertained by continuing my Buffy and Angel marathon (found a really nice list of the proper or most effective viewing order of the episodes, so watching the two shows at the same time has been a hoot).
"Silence. I do not truck with lawyers unless they are prisoners in my castle, the knowledge of their inevitable doom slowly dawning upon them. I do, however, admire your taste in scarves." - Count Dracula, 2016...more
John O'Brien's debut novel was published in 1990, making it the only one in his very short body of work that was published before his death by suicideJohn O'Brien's debut novel was published in 1990, making it the only one in his very short body of work that was published before his death by suicide in 1994, only two weeks after finding out that his novel would be made into a movie. The way O'Brien's life ended might be the reason why Leaving Las Vegas feels so honest and real.
This is less about how to deal with addiction than about the moments after Ben's decision to end his life, and the resolve that follows. Ben is too far gone for a miraculous all-encompassing cure that suits the society's concept of redemption and happiness. Ben is at the end, at a point when he can't go back, but also - most of all - doesn't want to go back. He moves into a different direction at the crossroads than you'd expect, just waiting for that final snap to come while walking through a limbo of motel rooms and empty bottles.
Some consider Leaving Las Vegas a romance, but I'd say it's about a connection deeper and less flimsy than that, almost primeval. A connection that allows Ben and Sera to act like themselves without the need to pretend or to hide something in themselves they don't want or need others to see. They show their true selves, true intentions, innards, and find their souls in each other.
According to Erin, John's sister, he was a devout atheist, but Erin notes the presence of religious icons in his works and suggests he might have been thinking about spirituality during his last years. Erin considers Sera a shortened form of a seraph. Seraphim are the highest form of heavenly beings in Christianity and caretakers of God's throne, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's description of seraphim in The Celestial Hierarchy is actually very relevant to Sera and how she's portrayed in relation to Ben:
"The name seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning and all-consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness."
Although Ben's journey feels like an endless period of wandering, Sera is there to unconditionally make it a little brighter and meaningful. O'Brien doesn't lower himself to preaching a moralistic lesson about salvation, but instead challenges to think about an alternative path. In the end, Sera and Ben accept each other's actions and understand, sometimes even without words, what the other needs. It's the kind of companionship not everyone are able to experience in this life.
Ben's motivations are largely left unexplained, and it's the lack of easy answers that makes the novel so involving and full of life. Knowing where all's going to end up is painful, but there's comfort in knowing that Ben has had the chance to live on his own terms and spend his last moments with someone like Sera. For those who are willing to see it, there are moments of beauty along the way, but they're just masked with the lights of strip joints and the stench of a stale casino carpet.
We can never know what O'Brien would have thought about the movie adaptation, but in my opinion it does justice to his work. For one, the cinematography is gorgeous. It's like the visual equivalent of the feeling you get when you're reading the novel. Obviously, the book delves a little deeper and the relationship between Ben and Sera is probably more fleshed out, but otherwise the movie is very much worth two hours of anyone's life.
Originally, I slapped a four star rating on this, but my undying love of slow-burn stories has struck again, and so the amount of days I have thought about this since I read it warrants a full-blown five stars. A very rare occurrence with me, I might add.
No can do. Definitely interesting, but I'm not able to give this the time it deserves before the end of a reading challenge next Tuesday, and so manyNo can do. Definitely interesting, but I'm not able to give this the time it deserves before the end of a reading challenge next Tuesday, and so many more compelling books are waiting for their turn....more