It wasn’t until my second attempt that I managed to finish this book, which probably says a lot, considering it’s a mere 134 pages long. On my first,...moreIt wasn’t until my second attempt that I managed to finish this book, which probably says a lot, considering it’s a mere 134 pages long. On my first, aborted reading of Hunger, I got about ten pages in before chucking it aside; I just wasn’t in the mood for another ‘tortured-artist-suffering-for-his-work’ wankfest. I’ve only got so much pity I’m entitled to allocate, and I prefer to keep most of it for myself, lest I waste it foolishly on the unfortunate artists of the world. Any more of that and it might actually inspire me to try living in a similar vein, if only to cull some external sympathy for my plight, steadfastly refusing to join the masses in settling for some useless job which manages to put food on the table while remaining spiritually unfulfilling. To take a stand for some sort of principles which I can’t really define and eke out a living by doing what I believe I was meant to do. And boy would I show them, the poets, the painters, the sculptors, the musicians, the dudes who take photos, whatever you call those wholly unneeded schlubs. While they bitch and moan about how goddamned hard it is to make ends meet while practicing a craft which doesn’t pay a steady salary, they’ve got no idea how hard it is when your passion isn’t as easy to gain admiration and a steady following as their professions. Ooooh, sounds pretty ‘fringe’ you might think; maybe my passion is giving suckaz some ink, or branding people, or making replicas of world-renown landmarks out of toothpicks. Nope, my true calling goes beyond all that, and the problem is there is absolutely no recognition for it, no chance to support even the most meager of living’s off it. My art is known as ‘rubbing one in’, and if I attempted to quit my job and live solely off the mastery of my craft I’d be found dead and naked in the streets in less than a month. However, I guarantee that one day it’s going to be ‘the bomb’, and the practitioners will be well rewarded. I know you’re curious about this new premise, and would certainly rather hear about it, than say, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, so let me explain it to you.
Surely, ‘rubbing one out’ is no big deal. We all do it. Or at least we all should; recent survey’s which I’ve conducted attest to the stress-relief and joy provided by a good, shameless jacking off. For some of us, however, that spilled seed seems like a terrible waste, suppose we want to go right back at it and wank again, but are presently drained of joy-juice. Maybe it’s not even that you’re looking for a second round of boxing the clown, perhaps you just don’t need to see it splattered there on the glass coffee table and wiping it up seems pretty fucking sick, especially since you’ve learned from experience that that shit streaks something fierce. Possible. But in reality, odds are that you’re a little like me, you like to live on the wild side, you like to toe the line, see what’s happening over yonder on the fringe, and then leaping right over that weak shit and getting involved with the going-ons beyond the fringe…the place where all is truly up for grabs and ‘rubbing one in’ was born.
To properly ‘rub one in’, you’ve first got to rub one out. Sure, there are potential, advanced variants which might include someone else rubbing one out, or alternative fluids, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s stick to the basic model here; when you’re done browsing book reviews in the hopes of coming across something like this you can go extend the ever-growing boundaries of this art on your own. Once you’ve managed to produce a warm pile of man-goop, you’re ready to join the esteemed ranks of those who have rubbed one in. Carefully place your swollen glans in the spooge and continue pumping away like the stud you are. With proper technique and a fast enough stroke, you’ll eventually begin drawing the jism back up your urethra and into your recently-voided and strangely-named dick parts (study up on the vas deferens and bulbourethral glands and their contributions to ejaculation if you harbor any interest in following the more erudite commentary when rubbing one in becomes an Olympic sport). Of course, this reclamation of one’s own spunk isn’t as easy as I’ve made it seem, and you’ll slowly progress through the ranks towards reaching the pinnacle of this awesome ability. If your own path to mastery of this skill follows mine at all, you’ll by stunned the first time you can actually manage to recover the whole load, you’ll be delighted when you move beyond this novice achievement and sport a chubby after doing so, and finally, you’ll be stupefied when you rub your load back in, and then proceed to get hard enough to engage in intercourse and amaze all when you reach climax and re-ejaculate the load.
Pretty far out, eh? But can all this nonsense concerning my esoteric habits lead to the most natural and promising segue into a commentary on Mr. Hamsun’s Hunger? Well, I’m hoping it just did. So, we’ve got a narrator, slumming around in Scandinavia, who is hungry as hell, but still trying to keep up some sort of appearances, instead of embracing the local Viking work ethos of pillaging. Granted, applying this technique on the Viking’s home court probably isn’t that promising, but you’d think he’d at least try to get some honest work perhaps, but that type of labor is apparently beneath a man of his admirable abilities, which have also thus far failed to put bread on the table. His talent appears to be chewing on bark while positing why God has abandoned his ass, resulting in the inspiration to pen articles concerning the pervading issues of “Philosophical Cognition” and “Crimes of Futurity”, articles which are either refuted by publishers or torn up by the scribe himself while in a fit of fury towards the mysterious machinations working against him. No wonder this asshole is starving on the street. He also manages to ‘befuddle’ the citizens around him by acting like a brain-damaged moron, gets involved in an asinine romance which is terminated by a baffling combination of near-rape and emo-punk emotional breakdown, and disparages after being kicked out from each of his residences after failing to make rent (and usually generously overstaying his welcome). This book fell short in entertaining me with a tale of a loser unable to discern reality from the delusional state brought on by near-starvation. It also somehow managed to enlighten me as how to lift myself from troubled times while homeless on the mean streets of Oslo. It basically failed me on all fronts. The fact that this is semi-autobiographical and the author managed to live another half century, winning a Nobel Prize somewhere along the way, actually makes me think it’s high time to reconsider whether I really want to exist in this world or not, or just huff paint for a week and bow out gracefully.
Without fail, some fan of this garbage out there will actually manage to get beyond the ‘rubbing one in’ portion of this balderdash and be appalled that I don’t consider this among the most important literature ever put to paper, and inform me that I ‘didn’t get it’. To save me from replying to those comments, let me state now that you’re absolutely right. You always are. (less)
In light of the event now world-renown as ‘Columbine’, Todd “The Vulture” Sesser does his best to cash in on the tragedy (and perhaps explore the deva...moreIn light of the event now world-renown as ‘Columbine’, Todd “The Vulture” Sesser does his best to cash in on the tragedy (and perhaps explore the devastating causes and consequences of the disparaging staple of contemporary American life known as school shootings) by shilling a harrowing psychological pre-teen tale concerning the tortured minds of two shitheads that embark upon a shooting of their own, beneath the noble banner of ‘ending youth violence’, or so the dedication goes. Then again, maybe I’m being unfairly hard on the guy and his intentions are good, after all, a portion of the proceeds are being donated to some relevant cause; then again, I can also claim a portion of my life was spent reading Give a Boy a Gun, so that may or may not amount to very much. I wish these charitable benefactors would throw a percentage in their back-patting pronouncements to let me gauge just how sincere I think they are, considering they’re presumably raking it in on this sort of exploitation.
I’m well aware that the vast majority of the educated world has been breathlessly waiting for me to provide some unified theory on why school shootings seem to be occurring in escalating numbers, and how to remedy this situation. In keeping good on my promise to tell anyone loyal enough to bother with my reviews the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, here is what I’ve managed to come up with after a good deal of deliberation: these events are directly attributable piss-poor parenting, which is really just an ugly consequence of our societal desire to ‘preserve the future’ by allowing any humanoid creature conceived after a drunken night of fornicating a place in the chain of existence and equal rights to life. I should mention here that my general lack of concern for the well-being of our youth has very rarely met with any acceptance whatsoever, and those who have agreed presumably did so out of disgust for their own inability to snag any snatch, but I’ll gladly accept their support anyway. My own belief runs along the lines of the recently-famous George Carlin Child Population Maxim, which I’ll mangle here as “children are just like adults, a few winners and a whole lot of losers; the kid who swallows too many marbles shouldn’t grow up to have kids of his own” .
Much like Mr. Carlin, my concerns for the adult population aren’t much deeper, but let’s keep this focused on the children, the point of this book, I suppose. At the core, I guess I support the idea of a future, but in all honesty, my exclusion from this event doesn’t really convince me to contribute much towards its betterment. If anything, I’m simply jealous; god knows the day after I die we’ll finally discover extra-terrestrial life (past or present) or something equally awesome, and while I recognize it to be self-centered and bone-headed, I don’t think that the fuckers of the future deserve that sort of gratification any more than I do. When I reflect, and ponder that thousands of awesome dudes through the ages were never even aware that dinosaurs existed I cringe, I am seriously sickened to the depths of my being and require a few minutes to recover. To me, this all makes perfect sense, I’m obviously the most important character in the Great Story of Life, at least the only one I can always depend on and at least have some sort of chance of fully understanding, and to be denied the end of the story, to miss out on the badass final chapter (be it humanity vs. space-faring-lizards warfare for survival, or planetary destruction by errant space debris) is just a fucking fraud I refuse to accept. I am certainly not alright with missing out in the grand finale, and even if that climax marks the end of human life, I am still not satisfied, I’ve got to know what becomes of those fucking lizards, what are they up to after annihilating the menace of mankind? I’ve got to know how the universe itself is going to end, anything less is an outright sham, otherwise I am going to be sorely disappointed. For the uninitiated, this weird shit is basically the basis for my ever-evolving yet always semi-solipsistic philosophy. This is also why I sometimes think I might benefit from a little therapy, but have no idea how to approach someone with these concerns without being overly passionate and argumentative, perhaps winding up in a padded room I don’t feel I belong in, or worse yet, on a regimen of medications which my insurance doesn’t cover.
At this point, it’s probably prudent to return to the book, and the dread school shootings of which Todd Sesser excels as a profiteer of. I want to approach this menace from another angle; the shocking fact that these tragedies are transpiring on school premises. Kids popping caps in each other’s asses in the streets is bothersome, but never quite snags the headlines that shootings on school grounds does. As a counter-measure, my tax dollars are used to install metal detectors and hire questionable security personnel to prevent future incidents. Here I need to state that we need to stop wasting money in costly efforts to stop school shootings; the lame (yet dedicated) losers who are committing these acts are irreparably fucked up, and are undoubtedly going to end up shooting someone at some point, and I certainly prefer that they act out their retribution in the school environment and upon those who led them to this desperate measure (the finger is often pointed to the reigning ‘jocks’ of the particular institution) than to senselessly take it to the streets where myself or one of the three people I care about may potentially be inconvenienced. The truth isn’t always pretty, and less frequently socially acceptable, but if it comes down to some grudge-bearing bonehead icing my inconsequential ass or that of the swaggering quarterback that’s been stuffing the maniac in lockers for years and calling him a ‘faggot’ in the hallway, well, I can certainly offer my advice as to who I feel is more deserving the punishment. And don’t give me that weak shit about how I’m part of the community which condones the jock’s behavior and enables this vicious cycle to continue, so not only am I just as guilty, but even more so since the poor jock (in this argument, the jock is now equally a victim, as if he was bullied into becoming a bully) is just some kid that doesn’t know any better and his behavior was positively reinforced all this time. That shit’s a bunch of retarded double-talkin’ jive; the only prayer I’ve offered to God in the last ten years is that anyone uttering similar garbage suffers through having someone creep in through their window, shoot everyone in their family in the forehead and fuck their skulls in the resulting exit wounds, only to be acquitted on the grounds that they’re simply the product of a faulty society. Hell, better yet, lock the bereaved up since they’re actually a contributor to this behavior. After serving 20 years without parole getting assrammed in prison, they can come to me and give me the same line of horseshit, at which point I’ll simply disregard their illogical nonsense as the result of brain-washing and institutionalization. Seeing as they’ve stopped by, I might as well ask them whether or not they agree with my end-of-the-universe philosophy.
As for the book itself, Give a Boy a Gun; flamingo feces. The writing is dreadful; loosely narrated from about a dozen points of view all trying to make sense of/absolve themselves from the rampage at hand, from administrators considering the implications of the act on next year’s budget and their own bonus, clueless friends and acquaintances, remorseful teachers who failed to intercede, ‘where-did-we-go-wrong’ parents, down to the gunmen themselves, Brendan Lawlor and Gary Searle. The characters are pathetic archetypes and wholly unconvincing in the ‘nobody-is-this-formulaic’ way, I want my maniacs coming out of left field and catching all unaware with the element of surprise, not brooding angst-filled cretins destined for a whimpering exit.
I’m sure none of this has made a lick of sense, and at about 2AM on a work night, with a burning desire to masturbate instead of further elaborating on this drek, I’m quite alright with that. But ask yourself this: if these kids were raised to believe that the aim of their existence was to scour the universe for lizard-life and beat the merciless shit out of it in the name of proliferation of their own kind, so that they can be active participants in that last chapter in Universe’s Chronicle, would they be treating homeroom as a skeet shoot? I don’t think so, and this and a lot of rum help me sleep much better at night. (less)
I’m fully aware that I often need a good, swift kick in the ass, but seldom do I realize it so fully when I state that I treasure my time living this...moreI’m fully aware that I often need a good, swift kick in the ass, but seldom do I realize it so fully when I state that I treasure my time living this humdrum life above anything else on this planet, and proceed to squander it by reading something like Harlan Coben’s Hold Tight. Worse yet, I’ve got no one to blame but myself; I often reassure myself that a bad recommendation was someone else’s mistake, or a book endowed with awards and acclaim should have been better, and I was merely duped. This one was entirely my call, and I’ve got no excuses.
Adam Baye is a typical teenager, he’s generally a good kid that loves his family and playing on the school hockey team, but isn’t totally without his faults; he might occasionally skip a trig class to finger-pop that pimply girl with a low self-esteem who’ll do anything for a smidgen of acceptance, he might steal a few of mom’s Xanax to assist in his quest to get whack while chugging 40’s with his peeps, he’s cut in line at the cinema, and rumor has it that he once kicked a puppy. After the suicide of his best friend Spencer, Adam’s folks notice that he’s become increasingly withdrawn and behaving off kilter, and unable to effectively communicate with the kid in his time of duress, they decide to put spyware on his computer in the hopes this will give them a glimpse into what’s happening to their son. Mike Baye, Adam’s father and an accomplished surgeon, is against the idea, but his wife Tia eventually talks him into it, citing that it’s his responsibility as a father to protect his family and this is sadly part of the deal at this junction. Initially, their shady program uncovers distressing habits they would expect but are still a little uncomfortable having confirmed; the kid’s jacking off to bukkake videos, he’s pirated some Matchbox 20 songs (why, Lord, why?), and he’s friends with me on goodreads. These minor errs in judgment are completely cast aside when some of his IM conversations begin getting cryptic and seem to suggest their son might be getting involved in something a tad too dangerous and potentially illegal along with the son of the neighborhood cop, always a bad sign as those kids end up either total punks or policeman themselves, an undesirable fate either way. Concurrently, Spencer’s grief-stricken mother is playing Sherlock Holmes from home between snifters of cooking sherry and has come across some pretty solid evidence establishing that her son wasn’t alone on the night he allegedly committed suicide. When she presents this to the Baye’s, there’s no longer a doubt that something rotten is afoot.
As if this isn’t enough white-knuckle action, there are a few other storylines running through this clunker. A maniac named Nash is on a killing spree, and also menacing the local dive-bar denizens with his theory that if the bible is factual, than Adam and Eve’s children were either incestuous or monkey-fuckers to kick-start the human population. This absurdity provides an invitation for the inclusion of a wily female investigator, Loren Muse, following these irrational crimes and her valiant struggles to obtain and maintain respect in her nepotist precinct which refuses to take her seriously based solely on her gender. One of the Baye’s neighbor’s, a well-meaning-but-oft-shat-upon dude and his hairy, outcast daughter (befriended only by the Baye’s daughter, Jill, showing how prudently the focal family has imparted the concept of ‘seeing beneath the surface’ as their parental teachings) are used mainly as filler until their deeper involvement is uncovered. Lastly, Tia Baye is about as minor a major character as you can have, and while not acting as a privacy-invading tyrant at home, she’s a paralegal or something (I have no idea what a paralegal actually does) for an established ball-busting bitch who is finally giving Tia an opportunity to advance her career as her family begins falling apart. While the last does somewhat flesh out Tia’s character, the storyline itself is a failure from the start, as I wasn’t expecting the wife of a transplant surgeon to be hard up enough for employment to completely disregard her family in dire straits.
All of these elements eventually converge to form the sort of hokey climax which can be expected of the typical NY Times Bestseller in this day and age.
Now, nobody has actually approached me demanding an explanation for why I bothered to read this, but I really wish they would, as I’ve already got my alibi worked out, so I figure it would be a shame not to share it. I’d seen this book on the best-seller rack at the grocery store a few times, and actually managed to avoid giving in to the temptation of paying $9.99 for it. This was mainly because I couldn’t possibly justify spending ten bucks on a paperback. And even though I’ve recently been given some very sound advice from a fellow goodreader “if you wouldn’t buy it a cover price don’t buy it on sale” I hadn’t been clued in to this wisdom when I read Hold Tight and was ecstatic to save $9.49 by picking it up used. What had me intrigued was the whole spyware angle, I was totally sold on a story which vilifies this practice and exposes this software as the devil’s work. This is because my crazy girlfriend has spyware on this very computer, some shit called Specter Pro and a ‘keylogger’, which might be one and the same program, I’m unfortunately about a tenth as computer savvy as she is and I’m not really sure. This has proved to be somewhat inconvenient for a former scoundrel such as myself, and also seems a bit unfair seeing as this is a pretty one-sided deal, as I have no such methods of gathering intelligence on her activity. Now, I should probably confess that I’ve done things in the past which certainly tarnish my standing as a mate, and that a little heightened surveillance is probably warranted, but where this logic fails is assuming that it’s happening on the computer, as none of my actual wrongdoings involved email or instant messaging. What the hell am I going to do, talk all raw and nasty to someone and hump the floppy drive? Even if I did, is that so wrong, hell, that’s a shameful egg on my face, sister. In spite of years of walking the straight and narrow, the stigma lingers, and the Specter Pro remains, utilizing copious amounts of the computer’s memory/RAM stuff and causing it to run slower than a Biggest Loser contestant with diarrhea.
Everyone I’ve related this story to has asked why I put up with it. And that’s a pretty good question, isn’t trust supposed to be an integral part of a healthy relationship? At the same time, I also seem to see the sense in her assertion that if I have nothing to hide, what’s the big deal? These two points of view have proved irreconcilable over the years, and needless to say, my desire for continued intercourse with her has trumped my moral standings on the issue. Also, I do have to say that if there was anything of a computer-related nature which could have resulted in my behaving badly, constant fear of Big Brother keeps me in line (even though I’m still routinely bitched out at for things, which never ceases to amaze me, such as accepting a Facebook friend invitation from people I’ve never gotten my freak on with).
So, having firsthand experience as a tragic victim of the spyware epidemic begat by insecure significant others and paranoid parents the world over, I thought that I’d have some sort of commonality with this book making it more interesting, but unfortunately, none of my shenanigans were as remarkable as to involve teenage prescription drug abuse and a former black ops agent gone homicidal, only making me feel as if I’m not living my life to its fullest potential. (less)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one of those books that I happened to cross paths with at just the right time and place to put a nice, big smile on...morePride and Prejudice and Zombies is one of those books that I happened to cross paths with at just the right time and place to put a nice, big smile on my silly, chimp-like face. Thus, most of this is going to recollect that fond, fateful encounter, and I might even review the book at some point, if I manage to lose interest in that harrowing tale.
To fully understand why the discovery of this book was so fortuitous, there’s something you’ve got to know about me. If I had my druthers, I’d never leave my house; for years, I’ve been laying the groundwork to become a total shut-in, but the execution of this plan hasn’t been easy, as the only way I seem capable of making a living unfortunately involves getting my ass into the office. Plus, the girlfriend has a huge family, and thus, there’s always some sort of event I’m forced to attend, in lieu of her performing her womanly duties by acting as my liaison to the outside world while I persist in my reclusive ways. But worst of all, this chick also likes taking ‘vacations’, which usually means dropping a lot of cash so that we can either argue or hump somewhere new and exciting. She spends the few days before the flight checking the anticipated weather and selecting an appropriate wardrobe; I peruse my books and attempt to make the best selections that I can for the journey, as I’ve learned from past experience that nothing is as miserable as being stuck on vacation with a shitty book. For our recent trip to Miami, I thought I did a reasonably good job picking out some fluffy beach reading, Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time and Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Let it be known that I began the asinine search for this pair of books the night before the trip commenced, and…
Before I know what hits me, I’m getting bitched at for lollygagging when we’re supposed to be leaving for the airport. I’ve got the books I want, though, so life is good; I also throw some clothes and shit in a suitcase and I’m off to mingle with a half-million mutants at O’Hare. Fantastic. For the aspiring hermit, few places are capable of cutting the soul as jagged and deeply as good old ORD. But it isn’t just O’Hare, I hate going to airports in general, mainly because it cements the fact that I’m about to catch a flight, and I abhor being a passenger on a plane. In spite of five years of dating, my better half always makes sure to question why I’m afraid of flying, and I always have to set her straight. I’m not afraid of flying, I am afraid of dying. And I’m not so much afraid of dying as I am being senselessly killed by some cretin’s incompetence. As a passenger on a plane, I don’t have much recourse if the flight crew happens to consist of knuckleheads whacked on shellac and goofballs that couldn’t safely navigate a landing of stairs, much less the landing of an aircraft without incident. And I probably wouldn’t even have the satisfaction of giving them what-for should we plummet in a dead spin. In my imagination, the scene unfolds: I hastily bust into the cockpit (slapping the weak who take these last moments to weep on my firm path), and make no attempt to actually remedy the situation upon arrival, but make the crew cognizant of my appraisal of their performance as I furiously propagate my wrath: “Shame on you, shame on you for being a complete fucking clown that’s getting my awesome ass killed. You totally blow, suckaz.” I toss in a dramatic Up-Yours w/ Middle Finger to emphasize I’m not joking. In this preposterous vision, when these clods have been thoroughly admonished and begin pleading for me to employ my superior skills to rectify their folly and pull out of the nose-dive, I simply scoff and insist they deserve to die, and my inaction will ensure they ‘sleep in the sloppy-ass bed they made’. When I come to, disheartened it was just a daydream, I shift and wiggle however needs be to conceal the emission which was prompted by this righteous fantasy.
This little bit of jit get me thinking about why I happen to fear this scenario so much, and I’ve come to a pretty simple conclusion. The underlying reason for this fear is that I’m yet to ever hold a job where less than 20% of the people I deal with have no damn clue what the hell is going on. Believe me, it’s not that I’ve managed to be incredibly blessed in my work experience that has led to this; it’s just the way it is. At least twenty percent of the workforce performing any job consists of ass-dragging dipshits needing to seriously unfuck themselves, and I’ll bet if you were to poll their peers, you’d probably find mine a generous figure. For the very same reason, I also avoid the medical community like the plague, especially in the event that I happen to have the plague.
So, I’m at the airport, attempting to come to terms with the fact I’ll probably be dead in a fiery wreckage with a hunk of fuselage crushing my nuts in a few hours, surrounded by all varieties of unsavory characters (slow-movers, college kids, hippies, episcopalians, businessmen, suffering artists, delinquents, children, women, right-handed people) when what do I see in a pop-up display, while walking past a bookstore: Pride and Prejudice….and Zombies! My jaw drops, my mood is immediately lifted, a lone, cool tear formed in my eye, I probably popped a chubby. A really big, throbbing chubby, which is probably more pronounced by the aforementioned pre-jac during the crash-fantasy. Decency be damned, I go into the shop anyway. The absolutely hilarious cover illustration already had me sold, but I even read the back cover, and to my shock and surprise, I’m advised that this book happens to be a retelling of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, but with a zesty dash of ‘zombie mayhem’ added to the mix to liven up the story a bit. That much I kinda figured, and hoping the book wouldn’t be as redundant, I admired the cover for another moment before putting to use my trusty debit card.
Before the whores at TCF Bank even got wind of the transaction, I was already completely sure the parody kicked all ass, and was half-insane with the hopes that this obviously-awesome (or at least well-marketed) endeavor would become a series for Quirk Books. I could already envision the next few releases which they would spew forth next, defiling seminal works with the inclusion of hordes of the undead…. Sense and Sensibility and Zombies? The Old Man and the Sea and Zombies? Crime and Punishment and Zombies? Fear and Loathing and Zombies in Las Vegas? Let’s face it, the possibilities are endless. Of course, they might do well to get some actual big-name authors to mangle some of these treasured texts, who the hell has ever heard of Seth Grahame-Smith? And if they are recruiting, I’d gladly contribute to their manic output, provided I was allowed first crack at The Holy Bible and Zombies. I figure I’d probably be the shittiest author in the world, so relying on a text that already benefits from to at least two mofo’s rising from the dead (my boy Laz and the enigmatic J.C.) would be a good place for a total hack like me to start. That’s right, you crazy Christians, I’ve caught a whiff of the zombie-worshipping sacrilege y’all been preaching.
Somehow, I found the restraint to embark on the books which I’d spent hours selecting (and allegedly almost making us miss the flight in the process), but once those were finished, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies immediately jumped to the top of the queue, somehow ousting such fare as “Nina Hartley’s Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus”, The Hardy Boys Case File “Castle Fear”, and the Nov. 1998 issue of Alternative Press. As I commenced, I was more than excited, I was stoked. And believe me, I’m rarely stoked, brah.
To be honest, this book was quite a let-down, and much of this can be attributed to my expectations being unrealistically high, and having the misfortune of being read right after two books I found absolutely phenomenal and wholly engrossing. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was, unfortunately, neither. First, I’ll confess that I’ve never bothered with Austen’s original text, but have recently read Emma, and if my opinion counts for anything (especially since I’m judging the plot, style, and structure of Pride and Prejudice from this mash-up), the stories are pretty formulaic and interchangeable, with the characters assuming different names. So, working within the confines of a Jane Austen story, Grahame-Smith already had a hurdle to overcome for my (surely much-sought) approval. Secondly, some of the ‘original’, gory sequences seemingly borrow too much from zombie films (particularly the dinner sequence with the slowly-degenerating Charlotte a bit too much of a nod to “Dead Alive”). Using an Austen novel as a framework and filling it with sequences lifted from B-movies doesn’t really result in much of an end product. My last real complaint is that I think many scenes were aiming for a comic effect and fell totally flat; at the onset, poking fun at Pride and Prejudice with this endeavor (if that’s what the author was doing) was a pretty good time, but by the halfway mark it got pretty stale. It almost seemed that by the midpoint, Grahame-Smith somehow found some appreciation for the original work serving as his crutch, and tried his hand at making some jokes of his own, with limited success. In spite of these drawbacks, the cover still remains glorious, however.
Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered what the result of sticking a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the blender along with a few VHS tapes of shitty zombie flicks would be, save yourself the time, money, and ensuing mess and take a gander at this fine publication. And, if this doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, keep your eyes peeled for War and Peace and Werewolves…………… (less)
Sometimes, I find that a book can be a welcome surprise because the blurb on the back doesn’t nearly do justice explaining the story within, and I won...moreSometimes, I find that a book can be a welcome surprise because the blurb on the back doesn’t nearly do justice explaining the story within, and I wonder why they couldn’t have spent a little more time to accurately describe its awesomeness to move more copies and assist in enlightening the world. Time Patrolman wisely avoids that dread failure, but unfortunately veers into rocky territory by having a synopsis which left me completely perplexed. This summary promises a story of a member of the Time Patrol named Odin the Goth, who suffers the tragedy of loving a woman in the epoch he is assigned to protect, but is unable to rescue her from the terrible fate he knows she is destined for, due to his sworn duty to keep the events of the past inviolate. This seems pretty simple, but just you wait.
Also complicating matters is the fact I’m a Time Patrolman myself, currently on vacation in October 2009, but next week I’ll be going back in time to this previous May, at which time I shall read this book, and also to tie up some loose ends from a previous assignment gone wrong.
When I get about a quarter of the way through this book, I’ll wonder if the wrong cover had been put on my copy, sure the story will involve a Time Patrolman, but his name is going to be Manse Everard, and he’s going to be stationed in Phoenicia circa 950BC (where/when Goth activity is obviously minimal), and instead of being involved in a juicy love affair tempting his loyalty to the Patrol, he’ll relentless pursue Merau Varagan, a power-obsessed bandit hell-bent on changing the course of history for his own destructive purposes, in this case, to attack Jewish history at its nexus in Tyre.
This doesn’t mean that the story which I will actually get won’t progress decently or hold my interest, it’ll just be vastly different than my expectations, which I think is understandable in these circumstances. This switcheroo may initially do a disservice to my opinion of the book as there’s only one parallel I’m going to make with this shady bait-and-switch, and it’s a painful memory (it still is now and will be then). The little lady and I were purchasing some porn videos, and she wisely opted for “Jail Whores” (which delivered in accordance to its simple, but honest, title) whereas I went with “Brunette Cocksuckers Gone Wild”, which was so low-budget that the studio ran out of brunettes by the third scene and began tossing blondes and other undesirables into the mix. As both a proud grown-up and staunch optimist, I can cope with these sorts of disappointments and find the silver lining hiding somewhere on this cloud; it still contained a stunning variety of fellatio, so all wasn’t completely for naught. I shall eventually say the same for the illustrious Poul Andersen’s Time Patrolman, sure, it won’t be quite what I’ll want, but it will still include time-travel and a badass who’ll guard the continuity of the past while beset by devastating misfortunes. My biggest surprise will be the revelation that this plot will start seeming more promising than the sappy-sounding shit initially offered, plus, I either have or will read Ken Grimwood’s Replay (can’t recall which) and still don’t see the need for anything challenging that as my favorite time-travel/heartbreaking-romance.
Befuddled beyond belief, I’ll soon be taken for another dizzying turn; Time Patrolman will surprisingly contain two stories (the book won’t mention this fact anywhere, and it’s going to wallop me square in the testes with sledgehammer force), the second of which will involve the saga of love-stricken Odin the Goth. I’m going to hoot a few times in merriment upon discovering this, despite the staggering blow recently delivered to my aching nads, before silently giving Poul Andersen mad props for being a crafty cur.
The coupling of these two stories is going to seem relatively strange initially, they’ll have very little in common (Patrolman Everard will return in the second story, in a supervisory role to the Patrolman who’ll become Odin the Goth, Carl Farness) and the writing styles will differ as the first shall be presented in the third person and the second is going to alternate between first and third person. The first tale’s gonna be a straightforward action tale in which Everard will immerse himself in Phoenician society in order to better thwart his nemesis, while occasionally providing some insight into the history and laws of time travel, which won’t be incredibly exceptional; I’ll learn that when the technology to move freely in time was discovered by mankind, a group of time-travelers (called the Danellians) from their distant future were on hand (this was the Time Patrol supervising this pivotal breakthrough) to make sure this power wasn’t abused and to set their savage ancestors straight on the do’s and don’ts). The second story will get a lot more complicated, involving more back-and-forth movement in time, as Farness will be more of a researcher than a full-fledged Patrolman. His actual duty shall be to gather a more complete history of the Goths, and to complete the lacunas in their poems and literature, while avoiding a world-wrecking fuckup, rather then chasing down radicals. His jaunts in time are going to take him from studying his subjects in the fourth century, to his flashbacks of joining the Patrol in the 1980’s, and to his present-day living with his wife in the 1930’s. However, with the first story providing a background for the Patrol and Everard, including their use and directives concerning time travel, and the second story concerning a sloppy Patrol recruit and the causal loop he’s unintentionally creating, the to halves will result in a relatively decent whole.
Another bonus will certainly be that the book is gong to be much better than the cover art (which I always consider to be a great gauge when selecting material). Once I finish reading it, I may not think it’s a suitable recommendation for all science fiction fans, but I’ll probably think that any supporters of the time-travel niche may enjoy this.
Begins here paragraph the first of reviewer me, goodreader Chris, upon completion great American subversive novel. ISBN: 978-0-385-52634-0. Title: Pyg...moreBegins here paragraph the first of reviewer me, goodreader Chris, upon completion great American subversive novel. ISBN: 978-0-385-52634-0. Title: Pygmy. Author: Esteemed sodomite Chuck Palahniuk. For official record, expose novel as shit of iguanadons.
Sales of novel great, fueled by author prior reputation as popculture satirist. For establish goodreader history, this reviewer previously read Choke, disliked as bite in testicle by rabid wombat nut-chomp, however, is willing to give chance the second to esteemed author. Pygmy sourced from store of unwanted belongings for make resale, this reviewer surprised not this book forsaken shortly after release to fickle American public, along with musical genius of 3 Doors Down and Doctors of Spin. This reviewer see discount price, value equal to one monetary unit feature evil tyrant George Washington, next now, this reviewer make small parade to register, purchase Pygmy novel.
Story describe efforts of special Operatives from great unnamed nation oppressed by imperialist American war machine, agents embark on righteous counter-attack Operation Havoc: infiltrate Midwest American families under guise as students of exchange, impregnate peers to create anchor babies, acquire supplies and build weapon of mass destruction, last, detonate weapon blam-pow kill many Americans. Narrator Agent 67, issued name “Pygmy” by host American family, Cedar family. During assimilation process to society typical of American suburb, Agent Pygmy teased as foreigner, retaliates by demonstrating superior combat training, superior spelling prowess, recitation of wise quotations former world leaders, and rape of bully’s young puckered anus.
Now, I understand that Palahniuk was trying something different, to write a book in English, yet using the syntax of an alternate language to more truthfully narrate the story from Pygmy’s point of view, but really, does anyone want to read shit like that for 200 pages? Plus, with Pygmy being such a quick learner you’d think that maybe towards the end there would be some sort of improvement towards more better Engrish, but that doesn’t happen. I don’t know whether I should give Palahniuk a big pat on the back or a kick in the junk for managing to write like a cretin throughout the course of the book. It’s akin to listening to a band with absolutely no cohesiveness, no rhythm, no music sense, and a lead singer with an uncontrollable stutter and wondering if it’s the most god-awful noise on the planet or a new groundbreaking statement. So while Chuck may have gloriously displayed his large sack by gambling with this experiment, it certainly didn’t help endear me to his work, not that I suppose he cares.
So with the book barely managing to remain readable to me, it was really up to the story itself (glowingly described as “The Manchurian Candidate meets South Park – his finest novel since the generation-defining Fight Club) to win the day. This, unfortunately, didn’t happen. There were a few elements which really kept me from enjoying the story, the first was a niggling carry-over from Choke which was also utilized in this story: the annoying habit of Pygmy alphabetically reciting the elements in times of duress, much like Victor rattled off medical conditions in the previous book. To me, this comes across as a poor way for Palahniuk to make the narrator appear clever, that may not be his intent, but that’s how I interpret it. The next bother was the deadpan delivery when introducing what I’m guessing was intended to be comedy, but Pygmy’s matter-of-fact observations didn’t work for me. Much less, with many of these referring to pop culture and brand names, it’s hard to imagine that a well-trained mole would confuse Listerine with cologne (even more so when the character is able to discern the chemical composition of most items with a mere whiff). Lastly, most of the events which occur while the agents are being indoctrinated into society were just too over-the-top to suspend my disbelief and allow the story to continue as something I should take even remotely seriously (killing a priest during a baptism in front of the entire congregation, breaking numerous arms and legs in gym class, and don’t even get me started on the school-shooting during the Model United Nations). While I have no doubt that this is just Palahniuk’s style, it doesn’t work for me. I’ve never read Fight Club, but after I first saw the movie, I had to turn to my fellow-viewer and ask, “Am I really supposed to believe a bunch of thick dudes were inspired to take direction from a guy they witnessed kicking his own ass outside a bar?”
On a positive note, there are some people I can actually recommend this book to, or at least I suppose they’d like it, I personally wouldn’t associate with any of the dimwits I’m attempting to describe. Anyone who considers the USA as a global bully deserving of retribution by terrorist factions for foisting its tainted culture upon the world, consuming an inordinate amount of precious resources, and for sticking its nose in foreign affairs will probably enjoy this. Pygmy’s training in his home country, which I am going to call out as Turkmenistan simply because Palahniuk pussies out from pointing the finger at any nation in particular, focuses heavily on anti-materialist rhetoric and the negative aspects of America’s global policing, and Pygmy crams these astute lessons into a filibuster while acting as the United States’ delegate in the United Nations fiasco, demanding the evil empire make reparations for basically everything since their inception, and calls for the execution of their past and present leadership. Using Pygmy’s backasswardly-written thoughts, Palahniuk spends a good deal of time attacking most of the social values and economic practices of the contemporary USA, hell, it’s so anti-American he even takes time to dis “A Horse With No Name” by the band America in passing. That’s just gratuitous. The other group that might enjoy this is anyone who hass ever fantasized about dropping a beat-down on some high school punk in a bathroom, and anally raping him and painting his prostate with your cum afterwards. Or anyone who thinks the idea of a clandestine group of adolescent foreign agents being trained to suck cock by a war-scarred old rebel fighter is pretty hot stuff. If you’re one of those enlightened folks that can sympathize with any of the sentiment expressed in this paragraph, you might want to check Pygmy out.
Overall, even if the writing style hadn’t been intentionally bad, the lack of a redeeming story really makes it hard to understand why the author is still being published, even with a ‘generation-defining’ work under his belt (I cringe just thinking I’m included in that unfortunate group, even though I probably will get around to checking out Fight Club at some point). Having read two books by Palahniuk, I’m completely baffled as to why he’s considered a gifted writer. I'm so thoroughly disgusted that I actually own this that I'm probably just going to give my copy to the stinky kid next door when he stops by trick-or-treating, dick-slap! (less)
Here’s a relatively common human experience; having the veil of bullshit shrouding the truth behind some childhood concept ruthlessly torn from your e...moreHere’s a relatively common human experience; having the veil of bullshit shrouding the truth behind some childhood concept ruthlessly torn from your eyes, and being exposed to the cruel realities of a world more twisted than a silly straw.
Your only image of Bill Cosby (or Bob Sagat, for the slightly younger crowd) was that of the consummate family man, always there to impart loving wisdom or perhaps slap a little Neosporin on that skinned knee. Then you were introduced to Cosby’s second LP of his comedy album “8:15 / 12:15”, or worse yet, seen his willingness to do anything for a cold, hard dollar when he agreed to participate in the travesty known as “Leonard Part 6”. Let’s not even delve into the jaw-dropping spectacle of witnessing Sagat on some Comedy Central stand-up routine and discovering his trusty sidekick Dave Coulier was getting blown at the theater by Alanis Morissette shortly after she had her braces removed.
You’d always been fond of that story about the Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down and roasting a big, juicy turkey together on a spit, and bonding over frontier stories over ears of corn, before realizing those rotten, two-faced Injuns were running amok on the prairies scalping people and honky manifest destiny declared it was high time to wipe that scourge from the face of the Earth. Then you became more understanding and enlightened, and started thinking that perhaps everyone should have some sort of human rights and perhaps the European settlers were just a bunch of dicks. Alas, you finally grew up and realized that anyone still jacking off in a teepee at that point in history is basically an impediment to human progress, and the inability to get your act together isn’t a compelling argument for your continued existence. If you chronically smoke a lot of ‘the doobage’ you probably never moved past Stage III of this sensible pattern of thought.
You finally came to the conclusion that the underlying reason Uncle Creepy was advising you not to tell anyone about the way he touched you at night had nothing to do with the rest of the world ‘not understanding the love you shared’. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that and mosey along.
None of these awakenings can possibly compare to the glory of discovering that Roald Dahl, who I had only known of from my rather not-awesome childhood encounter with James and the Giant Peach, was actually a master at spinning a truly ribald, adult yarn. I have to admit that I was somewhat startled at first to see a Dahl book with the word Bitch right there in the title, and it was basically that intrigue that sold me on this dilapidated volume at a used book store. Truly, I wasn’t interested in anything even remotely like the exploits of James, and although this collection of short stories certainly claimed to be a solid departure from that flimsy fare, I’ve fallen for that gimmick before, and probably will again, so I have to admit that I proceeded with caution, reassuring myself that if it started getting too lame and childish, flinging it into the nearest fire was a totally viable option.
Well, I’m here to proudly confirm that Switch Bitch certainly does not disappoint; it does not pander to a pre-teen audience, while also managing to steer well clear of mindless profanity. I personally consider this a difficult tightrope to walk, and applaud Dahl for his overwhelming success; I myself couldn’t do it, sure I can coo at a baby and jibber at them like I give a shit, but then turn away and immediately begin spewing my usual, as(hole)inine crap right out of the other side of my mouth. Perhaps I just don’t have much of a middle ground. But Dahl, he’s got the goods, and he’s got them in spades. Let me also confess I don’t quite know how many instances constitute that standard these days for ‘spades’, but he displays his storytelling might with four kickass stories in Switch Bitch, and if two is a pair, three can count as several, well, four seems about right to be considered ‘spades’ by this ignorant whelp. The book first brings forth its finest offering, “The Visitor”, a truly righteous romp. The story proper is prefaced by a narrator advising that the ensuing tale is one of the many momentous exploits of his badass Uncle Oswald Cornelius, a figure long-estranged from the family and shrouded in mystery, or, as Dahl describes “a wealthy bachelor with unsavoury but glamorous habits…the rest was all rumour and hearsay, but the rumours were so splendid and the hearsay so exotic that Oswald had long since become a shining hero and a legend to us all.” It’s been at least thirty years since the narrator has actually espied Oswald with his own eyes (or perhaps single eye, we never learn a whole lot about this schlub, and I’d hate to jump to conclusions), and quite unexpectedly, a crate containing the 28 unpublished journals of his Uncle, The Cornelius Diaries, are delivered into his safekeeping. In a brief explanatory letter, which stylishly manages to contain just enough cheeky nastiness to pique the reader’s interest and justify the man’s debauched reputation, Oswald suggests he’s slipping from this mortal coil, and in lieu of any monetary inheritance (which his wastrel ways have undoubtedly squandered) the narrator can consider himself the proud possessor of these illustrious journals, which chronicle his depraved zenith.
After giving the journals a thorough reading, the narrator decides that in spite of Oswald’s advice, the world has to be presented these fantastic stories. Oswald’s reasons against publication are quite sensible, as the majority include liaisons with women of high-esteem or connections to heads-of-state the world over, but the narrator, either itching to make a quick buck or venerate the oversexed nature of his relative, can’t abide letting these tales go untold. So he selects an entry, the very last journal entry, no less, to share with the world, on the criteria that it is the least incriminating of the lot. Before presenting the story at hand, there are a few things which the narrator needs to impart concerning the gentleman serving as the protagonist in this fantastic tale. 1) “He was not a normal man. He was not even a normally polygamous man. He was, to be honest, such a wanton and incorrigible philanderer that no bride on earth would have put up with him for more than a few days” While this sums it up, the several-page description of his habits is side-splittingly hilarious. 2)His interests (aside from trim) include Chinese porcelain, opera, and vast collections of walking-sticks and spiders. Again, several pages describing his employment of these hobbies (especially the walking-sticks) in the conquest of snizzatch were enough to warrant my doing a load of laundry from repeated instances of pissing myself. 3)Okay, I can’t just leave well enough alone with the walking-sticks. His collection consists purely of sticks from famous historical figures (including King Farouk, Dickens, Wilde, FDR), and he invites his guests to give them a try. One guest is persuaded to give the ‘Tolstoy’ a try, and agrees it’s superb to grasp the stick of that great man. Then he asks them to try the ‘Goebbels’ whilst creeping them out with his mad powers of suggestion. When the dupe confesses “It’s terrifying!”, Oswald assures “Of course it is. Some people pass out completely. They keel right over!” To me, this is the highest level comedy can reach, and if it isn’t your cup of tea, you can probably stop reading right about now, there is officially nothing worthwhile in this review for you; you obviously don’t appreciate Roald’s comedic genius, and my attempts at humor are just plain shitty, especially when juxtaposed with this echelon of brilliance.
Anyway, the first of the four stories begin with this enigmatic and awesome character in the midst of peril; his stylish car is running short of fuel during an exodus from Cairo, prompted by the need to escape the clingy victim of yet another tryst, and he’s about to be stranded in the Sinai Desert. He manages to get to a service station, and while waiting for proper repairs, he hunts scorpions and shows his true, hilarious, bigoted, upper-class colors. Luckily, a posh traveler in a Rolls-Royce arrives and he immediately befriends this man and is off to this fine gentleman’s sprawling palace, where he’s confronted with perhaps the most difficult decision of his life: should he seduce the man’s absolutely stunning and provocative wife, or his totally hot-ass and equally alluring daughter. Laughs abound en route to the climax, and when this story wrapped up, I found myself hoping all four stories concerned this noble stud.
Luckily, Dahl isn’t a one-trick pony, and immediately begins kicking ass on all fronts with the second story, “The Great Switcheroo”. My new hero, Vic, is stultifyingly bored whilst chilling at a cocktail party hosted by his next door neighbors, and eventually manages to ditch his wife, the lovely Mary. After abandoning her to the trite routine of humdrum gossip, he first encounters the hostess, Samantha, who he had a serious urge to lay the wood to, and then her husband and his good drinking buddy Jerry. Hosting the party seems to have been quite the pain in the ass for Jerry, and he commiserates with Vic while they slam a few drinks, and after a time, Vic’s urge to lay Samantha gets the better of him, but not wanting to offend his bro, he decides that the best way to go about getting a piece of that ass is in trade, and spins a ‘would you believe’ yarn about how a guy he works with managed to pull off a wife-swapping arrangement with one of his neighbors. Jerry is exceptionally intrigued by the idea of throwing a bone to Mary, and takes the bait, suggesting that if Vic’s co-worker and his slovenly neighbor can hack it, the two of them can also perpetrate their own great switcheroo. Their conversations on the topic are uproariously entertaining and their conniving and scheming are ridiculously classic. I’m hoping this morsel convinces you to go and discover the execution of the plan for yourself.
The third story, “The Last Act” is hard-hat area; I think this one was Dahl’s appeal to a female audience, as if to compensate for the previous bawdy tales. It centers around a widow named Anna, and Dahl paints a compelling image of the perfect relationship in order to show exactly why this loss was so tremendous and justify the poor creature hitting rock bottom and wallowing in despair. While the first half of the story is rather funny, especially her encounters with her physician, Dr. Jacobs, the second half really didn’t tickle my fancy. Granted, the end isn’t supposed to be funny, but the melancholy overtones of the story seem to be a severe drag after the gentler chicanery of the first two stories.
Story four, the finale of this tome, was simply called “Bitch”; I thought this sounded pretty promising. Several words into the first sentence, I realized my dreams had been answered; Dahl was wrapping it up with another tale from the journals of Oswald Cornelius. Fucking Sweet! Having already dispensed with the background and formalities, and having outlined this maniac’s myriad august accolades earlier in the book, Dahl is now able to deliver more mayhem-per-word than previously, which can never hurt. This time around, Oswald is kicking it in Paris where he meets the olfactory chemist and pervert Henri Biotte. With Biotte’s years of research, and Cornelius’ funding, the duo embarks upon the creation of a cologne/aphrodisiac with the all the usual Love Potion # 9 pratfalls. While this doesn’t stray far from the usual message of ‘unbridled sexual magnetism isn’t always pretty’, Dahl manages to pull it off using his masterful whimsy.
I found this book to be not only an extremely entertaining light read, but a pleasant departure from the style of the only other book of his I’ve read. I’ll gladly sample anything else by Dahl, in the hopes that it contains a yarn or two concerning the man, the myth, Oswald Cornelius. Or if he pays me, of course.