I was lucky enough to find a copy of this in a comic book store in Manchester, UK. The only other place I've seen it is on eBay, and the cover is a li...moreI was lucky enough to find a copy of this in a comic book store in Manchester, UK. The only other place I've seen it is on eBay, and the cover is a little different so I'm assuming it's from a second run.
Anyway, the book is great. Each page features Buk's take on a variety of different aspects of modern life, including women, cats, and loneliness (I can relate), with each accompanied by a mix of photographs, sketches and cool international book covers. While short, every page is golden and there's enough quotable material in here to satiate even the most diehard Bukowski fan. However, it's apparent that all the pieces were transcribed poorly from recorded interviews, as the book is rife with dumb spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Also included is an audio CD, 'Happy Hour', which is a live poetry reading from a New Orleans appearance in 1970. As to be expected, the sound quality isn't great, but it's audible, and it's always great to hear Buk read his own stuff. A nice little bonus.
If you can find a copy of this, I urge you to pick it up. You won't be disappointed.(less)
I’m a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed computer game series, and while I initially had no real interest in checking out the tie-in novels, I was bought...moreI’m a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed computer game series, and while I initially had no real interest in checking out the tie-in novels, I was bought a copy of Forsaken as a gift. As I began to play through Assassin’s Creed 3, I found Haytham Kenway to be one of the game’s more interesting characters, so upon learning that Forsaken details the life of Kenway, I thought it might be fun to read the book alongside playing the game.
With admittedly moderate expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. It’s written in the style of Kenway’s personal diary and covers the majority of his life from the age of about eight, skipping forward a few months or years with each chapter. It’s fairly well paced and a nice format to tell the story in, giving the reader an idea of Kenway’s intimate thoughts and feelings on events as they unfold. It was great to expand on the Knights Templar’s point of view, and to better understand the ideologies of their order – an idea that the games in the franchise are yet to really take advantage of.
On the whole, I found the book to be fairly well written. The dialogue, though often clumsy and riddled with clichés, was in keeping with the tone of the games, and generally falls on the right side of acceptable. A few sections were actually quite nicely written, and I found many of the fights, chases, and battles to be genuinely exciting.
The events detailed in the second half of the book run parallel to the events of the game, and while a number of scenes are duplicated across the two texts, the novel boasts a few extra parts - including an entertaining siege in Corsica. Without spoiling anything, the two endings are slightly different, and I actually preferred the book’s climax to the game’s one.
Regretfully, my historical knowledge is somewhat limited, and while it was often difficult for me to make a distinction between which of the story’s events were historically accurate and which were fictitious, it was cool to increase my knowledge of 18th century Europe and to deepen my comprehension of The American Revolutionary War. It's my understanding that the author is a historian, so I would therefore speculate that a great deal of time and effort went into researching the material, and that it's fairly safe to assume that the text retains a certain degree of historical authenticity as a result.
As a fan of Assassin’s Creed, I enjoyed reading Forsaken. The excellent character of Haytham Kenway is used to great effect, and the experience of reading his diary definitely heightened my enjoyment of playing Assassin’s Creed 3. While by no means essential, Forsaken is a worthy addition to the franchise and, while those unfamiliar with the games may find their enjoyment stunted, fans of the series will likely find it to be a quick, rewarding, and fun read.(less)
I had heard much talk of how good a writer Edward St Aubyn is, but even so, I was mostly unprepared to find his mastery of the written word to be unli...moreI had heard much talk of how good a writer Edward St Aubyn is, but even so, I was mostly unprepared to find his mastery of the written word to be unlike anything I had ever experienced, and as I read through Never Mind I often found myself stalling in awe of his delicate and confident writing.
Admittedly, after finishing the first couple of chapters and taking only little enjoyment from them, I worried it was to be a classic case of style over substance, but it wasn’t too much longer until I found myself entirely engrossed in these awful people and their decadent narrative.
While I understand that the series’ focus lies with Patrick Melrose, here at just five years old Patrick’s role is relatively stunted and wholly tragic. Even so, I like that he was given a voice and I am led to assume that this initial novel serves as a cruel set-up to his further misadventures.
The six main characters that lie at the centre of Never Mind are all so well realised, that when the book climaxes at the Melrose dinner party, and they are all finally placed in the same room, the resulting dialogue is witty, nuanced, and a sheer joy to read. They all despise one another so bitterly that all of the snide comments and philosophical put-downs that are thrown between forced smiles and top-ups, make for some of the most humorous and engaging writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
St Aubyn is such a sickeningly good writer, and I enjoyed hating these wanton snobs so much, that I’m left thoroughly hungry for the next book in the series.
Never Mind serves as further evidence (as if any were needed) that the wealthy are definitely not exempt from depravity.(less)
I can't stop thinking about this book. I finished reading it a few weeks ago, but it's been kicking around in my head ever since.
Last Exit To Brooklyn...moreI can't stop thinking about this book. I finished reading it a few weeks ago, but it's been kicking around in my head ever since.
Last Exit To Brooklyn is split into six parts, each with it's own central characters and themes. Occasionally, characters cross over into each other's stories which helps make the text feel like one coherent universe. Each vignette follows a Brooklyn resident's sad, measured tale, and each is abundant with incidents of extreme violence, dangerous sex, and complex moral issues. This culminates in 'Landsend' - a seventy page account of life in a lower class Brooklyn housing project, which was probably my favourite part of the book.
Ultimately, reading this book made me low. I was surprised at how great an effect it had on my mood, and I found certain parts genuinely uncomfortable to read. There were numerous times where I’d put the book down and just have to think about what had happened and how I felt about it before I was ready to read more. There is some distressing material, and its graphic description is certainly not for the faint of heart. It's a far grittier depiction of post-depression era USA than some of the other books I’ve read. I guess it took me by surprise.
Interestingly, I've heard a number of complaints about the writing style and Selby’s lack of punctuation, with claims that it makes the book clumsy and difficult to read. While I can appreciate this argument, I encountered no problems, immediately settling in to this style and in fact found that, similarly to the reasoning for the dismissal of punctuation, the text was given a natural rhythm, and it became easier and quicker to read as a result. That said, the overall pacing of the book did cause me some slight trouble - a relatively long story takes up the middle two thirds - and there were times during the middle section of ‘Strike' where I bordered on disinterested.
After thinking on the book for a couple of weeks and wondering exactly what had affected me so much, I'm drawn to the idea that it's Selby's characterisation of these Brooklynites that saw me become so invested. Through their depiction it's easy to feel empathy for Harry the union leader, who's repressed sexuality looms frustratingly over him, and it's easy to feel the hopeless pain of Tralala the teenage prostitute. Within just a few lines, and with virtually no back story, Selby bears these characters’ souls - the essence of who they are and what they need - and it results in some of the most visceral, interesting, and most importantly real characters that I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Last Exit To Brooklyn is a difficult book to recommend. It’s easy to see why someone might not enjoy reading it. There’s a lot of material in here to be offended by, and an equal amount that might not hold any interest, but I really enjoyed reading it and the experience of having it stick in my brain long after. This is a fantastic book that now really means a lot to me, and I'm excited to become acquainted with more of Hubert Selby Jr's characters. Even if they do bring me down.(less)