I wouldn't have even heard of the book if I hadn't seen the movie, but having seen and loved the movie I wasn't prepared for the book to be: EVEN BETTI wouldn't have even heard of the book if I hadn't seen the movie, but having seen and loved the movie I wasn't prepared for the book to be: EVEN BETTER THAN THE MOVIE! Yes, It is that good.
Junkies have the best stories, it's true. But even among junkie stories, this book is tops. Apparently Denis Johnson writes a lot of poetry, but the prose in here is like anti-poetry: astonishingly lean, plain, clear, and yet so beautiful and effective! It never lets the words get in front of the story. It's just perfect writing. Compared to the usual junkie memoir, Johnson seems innocent & simple, even in his depravity. But the book is a tour of fucked up people and madmen, make no mistake. You can't make this shit up....more
Once I was a healthy, well-adjusted author of inspirational bedtime pamphlets ... until the day SATAN luLOOK OUT! Nate Gangelhoff is a tool of SATAN!
Once I was a healthy, well-adjusted author of inspirational bedtime pamphlets ... until the day SATAN lured me into a seedy bookstore in a bad part of town! (I think they called it "Powell's", at 10th and Burnside.) Disoriented, clutching my crucifix, I stumbled into the small press section -- where a whole STACK of Nate Gangelhoff's SATANIC book LEAPED into my field of vision!
Once I opened that book, the LAUGHTER started. The DEMONIC LAUGHTER! The never-ending, page-turning, moron-crucifying LAUGHTER! It just WOULD NOT STOP! I'm STILL LAUGHING!
Thanks to NATE GANGELHOFF, now I am a lazy stoner who scrapes by on bawdy street performances, exploitation literature and shoplifting. DON'T BE LIKE ME! DON'T READ THIS BOOK! Don't make a date with UNCONTROLLABLE GUT-CLENCHING LAUGHTER!
Oh no! The flaming bats! Attacking me! Must run! ARRRRRRRGH!...more
Aside from their politics, aside from their philosophy, their ingenuity, their pioneering veganism and their unity of purpose, I was most impressed, aAside from their politics, aside from their philosophy, their ingenuity, their pioneering veganism and their unity of purpose, I was most impressed, and amused even, by the Nearing's regularly interspersed expressions of irritation with their neighbors, and the hippies who descended on their property in the sixties, and the bastards back in the city who excommunicated them, and, really, everybody.
Never were two people better suited to go back to the land. They loved each other and dedicated their lives to not needing anybody else. It makes me wonder if being handy enough to build a house would automatically breed annoyance with people who can't find the end of a 2x4.
The Nearing's heroic self-sufficiency is an inspiration to everybody who's fed up with the world and longs to strike off on their own. But I think I'd hate to live next door to them....more
Anger and frustration over the cocked-up mismanagement of our world, the same anger that leaves me numb and mute and useless so often, is a sustainingAnger and frustration over the cocked-up mismanagement of our world, the same anger that leaves me numb and mute and useless so often, is a sustaining fuel for George Monbiot. This is a collection of his incisive, indignant arguments from The Guardian, on dozens of topics but all infused with today's distasteful Zeitgeist. If you want spades to be called spades, and if you like facts with your fury, then you'll appreciate George....more
Once upon a time I lent my first-edition of the Watchmen graphic novel to some friend of mine. I don't remember who. They still have it, I'm pretty suOnce upon a time I lent my first-edition of the Watchmen graphic novel to some friend of mine. I don't remember who. They still have it, I'm pretty sure. If you are that friend, please return my book because I've just seen the movie and now I'm ready to read the book again.
My friends and I were so damn obsessed when this series was first coming out. It was a monthly serial, of course, but the issues kept coming later and later. Fortunately there was so very much detail to obsess over in every single issue. The symbols, the allusions, the fearful symmetry, the backstory, the subplots, etc, etc.
That experience -- having to wait a month for the next chapter of the book you're utterly consumed by -- is something I miss today. Certainly Dickens wrote that way, serialized as he was in the London newspapers. And I see attempts at serialization from time to time, in weekly entertainment magazines or online. But there's something juicier about a comic book, something easier to pick up in the middle and get excited about. Maybe it's the built-in expectation that there's been 300 past issues already, and 300 more to come, so you don't expect to understand everything right away. But also, each issue of Watchmen was a dense, beautiful read. Alan Moore is just brilliant.
It was interesting to see, in the film, just how much of Moore's dialogue works and doesn't work when actors have to say it. For the most part, it's genius. The whole section with Rorshach and the Big Figure in prison is filmed almost precisely word-for-word from what Moore wrote, and it absolutely kills. So hard-boiled!
I still suspect that there's a kind of person -- women, maybe? -- who just won't ever enjoy any superhero story, no matter how meta or decon or deep it may be. Yes, it's silly and juvenile and ultraviolent, even when it's self-conscious and critical of itself. But for graphic novel fans, Watchmen is the shit.
The only negative thing I could say about Watchmen is that it ruined comics for me. Or else I grew up. Probably both happened at the same time. Once something this interesting and deep entered my mental bookrack, Todd McFarlane started looking reeeeeeely stupid. I hoovered up all the Alan Moore I could find, as well as Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis and Frank Miller, and I did find some great stuff, yes, but in shorter and shorter supply. In comic shops I'd rifle through reams of guns, tits, explosions, talking animals and speed lines, looking for some really good writing. It's damn hard to find in comics. I eventually switched to 'zines....more
Hell yeah. It was these Alan Moore Swamp Thing comics that made me a fanboy, waaaay back in 1988 when I discovered -- and lost myself deep within -- MHell yeah. It was these Alan Moore Swamp Thing comics that made me a fanboy, waaaay back in 1988 when I discovered -- and lost myself deep within -- MLLL, the Reed College comic library.
They also feature the first appearance of John Constantine, who birthed one of the other truly great DC/Vertigo series, HELLBLAZER, brilliantly written by Moore and then later by Garth Ennis....more
Help! I've just finished this book by the father of American environmental extremism, and I find myself in complete agreement with him. Am I on a goveHelp! I've just finished this book by the father of American environmental extremism, and I find myself in complete agreement with him. Am I on a government watch list yet?
(I especially agree with his constant coffee drinking and frying of bacon!)
At first I had trouble with Abbey's prose; the language is compact and bumpy, my attention kept sliding off the page. So I started reading it aloud to myself, and then I was hooked. The language is gorgeous, and I learned at least thirty synonyms for the word "rock".
If you read only one chapter, read the one titled "Down The River". It's a farewell tour of the deepest recesses of the Colorado river, an area now flooded by the Glen Canyon Dam in order to provide air conditioning and irrigation for yet more Americans....more
Robinson's Mars trilogy is the worst kind of trilogy: it hooks you with an excellent first book, then drags you through an uneven second book and halfRobinson's Mars trilogy is the worst kind of trilogy: it hooks you with an excellent first book, then drags you through an uneven second book and halfway through a kind of boring third book before you finally scream "ENOUGH! I will no longer particiapte in this trilogistic marketing conspiracy!" (Then you skulk off to watch Star Wars Episode 6, and get even more depressed.)
But Red Mars, the first book, is really wonderful. Like a lot of SF, it gets away with some flaws because the ideas are so exciting and brought to life so well. The explanations of Martian geology in this book are probably the most exciting passages in the annals of geology, if that's saying much. Mars is the star of this story, more than any of the characters.
There's a beautiful mythic undertone through this book: it's got the hero, his murder, the birth of a people, the Big Man, a war of independence ... huge stuff. It's got explorations of the philosophies that drive us to explore. It's a smart, well-reasoned book. It's got a peak-oil backstory that's never resonated more than today.
But the best thing about it is: it makes you want to go to Mars....more
My novella "The Five Hundred And Sixteen Men Who Didn't Rape Me In Prison: Their Amazing True Story!!!" is not in this collection. But it does containMy novella "The Five Hundred And Sixteen Men Who Didn't Rape Me In Prison: Their Amazing True Story!!!" is not in this collection. But it does contain awesome short stories by Ray Francalossy!...more
Four months after reading this book, I am still a big flake. In punishment, I shall remove one star! That'll show David Allen! I'm giving one of his sFour months after reading this book, I am still a big flake. In punishment, I shall remove one star! That'll show David Allen! I'm giving one of his stars to some other book that's not as good! Ha!...more
I finished this last night when I couldn't sleep ... I adore George Saunders in small doses, he is so very funny and has such an ear for the pathos ofI finished this last night when I couldn't sleep ... I adore George Saunders in small doses, he is so very funny and has such an ear for the pathos of our sad American industrial poverty.
But there's a kind of story that he writes over and over again ... not exactly the same story but the same kind of story. A story about a hilariously awful job, a hilariously difficult life and a sad, pathetic person stuck within. I don't even object to the repetition, but when I read it all back to back the relentless pessimism and bitterness overtook the comedy and I found myself just plain depressed.
Is that so bad? Is that my fault or his? Should I give more stars to a happier book? Are they Prozac stars? I don't know, stars are stupid. Short stories are not at their best compressed into collections. Any of these stories is great on its own. (Though I preferred the shorter version of "Pastoralia" printed in the New Yorker to the extended-play version here.) So maybe you should get this book and schedule it out, maybe read one story a month over the next summer. But not all at once....more