If James Joyce was a one-man literary IRA, then Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea are the literary Al Qaeda. As these groups can be viewed as either...moreIf James Joyce was a one-man literary IRA, then Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea are the literary Al Qaeda. As these groups can be viewed as either terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on your point of view, so it is with this book.
As is probably not ironic for a book considered to be the holy grail of conspiracy theory, it's definitely not difficult to perceive the Illuminatus Trilogy as an act of intellectual terrorism. This is not an easy book to read. Time, location, perspective, and identity can and do shift without warning in mid-paragraph, sometimes mid-sentence (making an interesting model for the idea of the 'collective unconscious'). The best analogy I can think of for this book is that it's like reading someone else's acid trip, and that someone else is criminally schizophrenic and watching 15 televisions at the same time.
It is definitely a product of it's generation. The copious drug use, and underlying philosophies are very typical of most of the underground cult classics of the '70s that I've read, but for the most part it's brilliantly insightful, and has many fantastic aphorisms that you'll probably want to repeat later. It's also beautifully self-satirical, which is probably a good thing because if this book took itself seriously it really might have been an act of intellectual terrorism.
You will probably either love this book, loathe it utterly, or possibly even think it's totally ridiculous. If you're not up for a difficult read, you may not want to bother. But if you do find you like it, you might be happy to know that it's a hell of a lot easier to read the second time through.
Who would've thought the Apocalypse would be so effing funny? This has been one of my all time favorite books for a long time now. I've lost count of...moreWho would've thought the Apocalypse would be so effing funny? This has been one of my all time favorite books for a long time now. I've lost count of how many times I've read it, and I always seem to find something new and brilliant each time.
Though written long before Neil Gaiman was Neil Gaiman, or Terry Pratchett was Terry Pratchett, the collaboration of the two is nothing short of genius. (less)
If you've only ever viddied the movie, do your self a favor oh my brothers, and wrap your rookers around a nice hot cup of chai, or milk-plus (if that...moreIf you've only ever viddied the movie, do your self a favor oh my brothers, and wrap your rookers around a nice hot cup of chai, or milk-plus (if that's your preference), and viddy the novel. Viddy, and viddy well my little droogies.
It's disturbing, and Bog help us all the day it's not. The horrific becomes casual, and evil--real evil--walks the streets with impunity. There is a reason this novel has held such a high place in pop-culture for so long: because it's possible; because it's a highly polished mirror held high to show society its own ugliness; because it's woven from threads of truth most of us would rather pretend don't exist; because it's haunting.
A Clockwork Orange is one of those books I think everyone should read at least once.
I would recommend finding a copy of a UK edition though, most of the copies printed in the US omitted the last chapter, and it's an important one. It totally changes the reader's relationship to Alex, and ties together the questions of free will which are otherwise left floating in the US editions. In short, that last chapter totally changes the whole tone of the novel.
Lamb, the novel that answers the all-important question: 'what if Jesus knew Kung Fu?' is pure hilarity from cover to cover.
Told through the perspect...moreLamb, the novel that answers the all-important question: 'what if Jesus knew Kung Fu?' is pure hilarity from cover to cover.
Told through the perspective of Biff (who is Levi), Jesus' best friend and disciple, Christopher Moore does an outstanding job of filling in the missing years of the life of Jesus while somehow managing not to be too blasphemous, surprisingly non-contradictory to the Gospels, and very accurate historically (with the ironic exception of the bits about Buddhism).
Whether you know much about Jesus and The Bible, or you know nothing, this is a truly excellent book. My only problem with the book was trying to read it while shaking from fits of laughter. (less)
"If all people learned to think in the non-Aristotelian manner of quantum mechanics, the world would change so radically that most of what we call "st...more"If all people learned to think in the non-Aristotelian manner of quantum mechanics, the world would change so radically that most of what we call "stupidity" and even a great deal of what we consider "insanity" might disappear, and the "intractable" problems of war, poverty and injustice would suddenly seem a great deal closer to solution."
This book is all about getting you to think critically about your own critical thinking. Old Bob combines ideas from quantum mechanics, relativity, general semantics, yoga, Zen-Buddhism, ethnomethodology, and even non-Euclidean geometry to completely smash the old Aristotelian world view.
This book will make you realize things about the way you think and the way you view your world that you may never have imagined. You will discover that you actually have two heads, that what you thought was logic is a joke, and that the word "is" is a damned dirty lie.
If you like to think often, or you if you only like to do a little recreational thinking on the weekends, you absolutely must read this book. (less)
Ender's Game is, well... It's basically Harry Potter meets Starship Troopers, and it's awesome. But, as some of the reviews below will attest, it is a...moreEnder's Game is, well... It's basically Harry Potter meets Starship Troopers, and it's awesome. But, as some of the reviews below will attest, it is apparently not for everyone. It's definitely not Pynchon or Joyce, but it's fun. It's fast-paced, and even though it was written almost thirty years ago, it's timely enough that it could have been written yesterday.
Ender's Game was the most fun I've had reading a book in a while, and I blew through it in just a couple of sittings. (less)
If you've ever had first-hand experience with a family member, spouse, boy/girl friend, or boss who was so two-faced or manipulative that it left your...moreIf you've ever had first-hand experience with a family member, spouse, boy/girl friend, or boss who was so two-faced or manipulative that it left your head spinning in wonder as to how a person could behave like that and still manage to sleep at night, this book goes an awful long way to explaining the how and why of it.
It's very readable, and very enlightening when it comes to explaining Borderline Personality Disorder, and Machiavellian personality types. The character studies of people like Mao, Hitler, and Stalin are really fascinating, but there are a couple of chapters which deal with the technical minutia of the physiology, brain chemistry, and genetics behind these disorders, and it might be a bit much for a lot of readers. But the book is written in such a way that you can skip over those bits and still come away without missing anything beyond which alleles do what in which combination, so no worries.
Dealing with people with BPD, or one of its sister disorders, can range from maddening to world shattering. If you're one of the many whose lives have been affected by it, you're definitely going to want to read this book. (less)
I picked this book up years ago in a secondhand bookstore because it had the full text of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Little did I know I'd just bought th...moreI picked this book up years ago in a secondhand bookstore because it had the full text of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Little did I know I'd just bought the best introduction to Nietzsche that I've come across to date.
This contains excerpts and several full texts which span Nietzsche's entire writing career, which gives the person reading him for the first time a vastly more comprehensive feel for his philosophy than can be had from some other Nietzsche collections which are mostly a hodge-podge of quotes stripped out of their context.
I think this volume deserves a place on the bookshelf of any budding Nietzsche scholar. (less)
I'd been meaning to read House of Leaves for years. So many of the people whose opinions on literature I really trust had talked about it glowingly. B...moreI'd been meaning to read House of Leaves for years. So many of the people whose opinions on literature I really trust had talked about it glowingly. But I was a little skeptical about a novel with one hundred and thirty pages of appendices and a forty-page index. It's enough to send a guy into James Joyce PTSD flashbacks. But the author actually hooked me at the dedication page, which simply reads: "This is not for you."
And it's likely that statement may be absolutely true. (Though, happily, it wasn't for me.)
House of Leaves is a difficult read. It's not difficult like Finnegans Wake is difficult, or difficult like Ulysses is difficult, or even like Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow is difficult. It's mostly that it's heavily footnoted, and there is a lot of jumping around. There are several stories going on, one of which happens in the footnotes, and there are points where you're bouncing back and forth between the top and bottom of the page, or flipping back and forth between pages, trying to follow two of them at the same time. It's like an academic text, a horror story, and a personal journal, got slammed together and the pieces went everywhere. Especially after page 100, where the author really starts playing with the location and shape of the text.
A few people warned me not to get caught up in the footnotes, but I completely disagree with them. A lot of the footnotes seem largely irrelevant, but those almost invariably occur in the Navidson plot, and I feel like it was done purposely to control pacing, and to disorient the reader the way the House disorients everyone who ventures into, or becomes invested in, the Five and a Half Minute Hallway. It does make the read a bit more difficult, it makes the read a lot slower, but I feel like to avoid the footnotes is to rob yourself of much of the experience of the book. So I highly recommend referring to the footnotes as they come up, especially where the footnotes refer you to the appendix, because this novel really is an experience.
All in all, I was really impressed with this book. The way the bones of it were constructed, the way the separate stories were braided together, the never-really-seen Lovecraftian undertones, really impressed me. Everything good thing I'd been told about it was absolutely true. Difficult and slow-going as it was, I enjoyed the hell out of it.