Terrific. Lemire is goddamn brilliant. Hard lives lived in the brutal cold of northern Canada. The artwork is magnificent in this. There is one fullTerrific. Lemire is goddamn brilliant. Hard lives lived in the brutal cold of northern Canada. The artwork is magnificent in this. There is one full page shot in particular of Beth walking under an early morning starry, snowy sky that is just breathtaking....more
First published in 2005 as part of Gardner Dozois' One Million A.D., this was Reynolds' first outing into the universe of House of Suns. Technically,First published in 2005 as part of Gardner Dozois' One Million A.D., this was Reynolds' first outing into the universe of House of Suns. Technically, it takes place about 4 million years earlier in the timeline, covers a lot of the same concepts, and doesn't really jive, continuity wise, with the novel. Think of it as almost an alternate history, or an early version of House of Suns that went in a very different direction, but still deals with the same themes.
It was nice getting to spend a little more time with these characters....more
This novel was really something special, definitely a new favorite and a book that I’ll be coming back to often in the future.Posted at Heradas Review
This novel was really something special, definitely a new favorite and a book that I’ll be coming back to often in the future. It’s undeniably clever, darkly humorous, and highly self-aware. It’s cerebral and incredibly well written. It rewards the reader, and sends them down and through a rabbit hole of literature. I found myself torn between wanting to read it slowly, savoring the prose and unique deconstruction of language, and wanting to quickly arrive at the resolution because the story was so engaging. I ended up reading the first half over three or four days, and slamming the second half all in one sitting.
Growth's main character Bburke is a relatively uneducated fellow, living a simple life, rooted in the present. His primary pursuits are his artistic passion toward landscaping, and consuming a comically large but sadly plausible quantity of cheap beer. He’s never learned how to properly probe the depths of his lack of self-awareness. Ambrose Bierce’s highly cynical early twentieth century lexical masterpiece, The Devil’s Dictionary, said it best when it defined Education as: “That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” The question is: To which camp does Bburke belong? Is he wise or foolish?
Sometimes blissful ignorance may be preferable to a better understanding, especially when that better understanding holds the power to make us painfully aware of the sad state of our affairs. Enter S.A. and Dickie T, Bburke’s “well-read” recently higher educated hired helpers at his landscaping company. Bburke is about to receive an education of sorts, whether he’d like to or not.
I loved the unique structure used to frame the story. Different literary forms and styles are stacked and layered, like a cake that at first glance has six layers, but on closer inspection actually contains three sublayers inside each macro one. Hopping from style to style kept things fresh, but throughout all of this was a taut narrative thread, tightly connecting events and creating a barreling momentum. The result was a highly engaging, fun, character based tale that never sacrificed quality prose or form in pursuit of being fun and engaging.
It’s safe to say this is a book written for book lovers. Those familiar with the works of Camus, David Foster Wallace, Mary Shelley, Mark Twain and others will be pleasantly surprised. A lot of the main story revolved around the ways in which steeping oneself in literature can change a person, for better and worse. Reading a book is often said to be like having a conversation with the author, and Growth utilized a fun, postmodern take on that saying to illustrate the method in which Bburke internalizes what he reads. He is a non-traditional learner, and he reads in unconventional ways. Have I mentioned how fun this novel is yet? It’s very fun.
Growth actively comments on itself throughout. This is a living breathing thing. The narrator calls out obvious macguffins in the plot and marks future ones as such, the legitimacy of thin characters is called into question, and Bburke himself occasionally seems right on the cusp of realizing that he might exist only as a character in a novel. I’m a sucker for anything that continues in-line with that terrific Cervantes tradition.
The way that Dickie T and S.A.’s dialogue was handled is so perfect. They read like two halves of the same theoretical person, and their banter felt straight out of a DeLillo or DFW novel. Since they are the two characters who are readers, it seems most likely that S.A and Dickie T are familiar with those writers, wish they existed in their novels, and choose to speak as if they do. So much is revealed about them just through the form of their banter. Basically, they’ve read some books, and they think oh so highly of themselves for it. Writing their dialogue, and only their dialogue in this style shows fantastic restraint on Smith’s part. The form itself served the characters and story.
I’m not particularly well-read when it comes to the classics, but I could see Growth rewarding those who are. I wouldn’t say being well-read is a prerequisite for enjoying it, but I think there’s another layer of entertainment available to those who are. I think this works on many different levels for many different readers. Be forewarned though, it will instill in you a desire to revisit some classics, or maybe even approach them for the first time. There are definitely a few more books on my TBR because of this one.
I don’t want to say any more or comment on any vital story points, because I think this is probably best experienced with unspoiled eyes. Check it out, it’s fantastic....more
This is my first Alastair Reynolds standalone novel. Having previously absorbed everything remotely related to his Revelation Space series over the last few years, I wanted to dip my toes into some of his one-off writing before digging into his newer series work. For some reason this book has been out of print in the US for a few years, making a physical copy a little tedious to come by, but I did eventually find one. Come on ACE, it’s time for a reprint!
Coming from the RS camp, I was surprised with the linearity of this story. The whole thing is written in first person, with two main point of view characters in alternating chapters. Every 6-7 chapters brings a flashback interjection that slowly reveals details and moves everything forward. I suppose adding unnecessary linear complexity to a story that already has so many strange new concepts in it, might’ve been overkill on the reader. As a result, the story flows nicely and was easier to follow than Revelation Space. I’d say this would be a terrific jumping in point if you were interested in checking out Reynolds’ work.
House of Suns is epic in every way the word can be defined. The scale of some of the conceptual elements was so broad that I initially had some difficulty finding a handhold to comprehend them. I felt like it stretched my mind a little bit just reaching for a way to relate. The best Science Fiction always does this for me in some way. It exists in that sweet spot directly between what you currently understand, and what you are capable of understanding. The best stories can be a linchpin, connecting you to your future, slightly more experienced self. I suppose this is true of all fiction, but I find it particularly so with the genres of Speculative Fiction, which are after all, more interested in investigating the “other” than fiction firmly rooted in the realm of realism often is.
The amount of mind-bending concepts Reynolds managed to pack into this novel while maintaining a coherent story is impressive: Star dams, ring worlds, causality, time dilation, artificial intelligence, solar system relocation, ancient technology, the nature of memory, longevity, cloning, wormholes, civilizational “turnover”, etc. It’s simply exploding with these huge ideas, but the story is never sacrificed in favor of them. It churns along, always moving forward.
Reynolds occasionally gets some slack for his character development or lack thereof, each character’s voice tending to just be the author’s voice, etc. So, when I realized that most of the characters in House of Suns were literal clones of the same character, I rolled my eyes a little and thought “Well, I guess that’s one way to get around the criticism.” But, it actually worked very well here.
These clone characters are “shatterlings” with indefinitely long lifespans that have drifted from their source individual, and each other, for 6 million years (epic scale!) and are essentially unique individuals as a result of their differing life experiences. Because they are clones, instead of noticing their similarities, you’re drawn toward their differences. The ways in which they are similar just reinforce the fact that they started from a near identical point. It’s a brilliant way to reframe the reader’s perception regarding character work without actually changing the writer’s approach to characterization. It feels very self-aware, and it’s clever as hell. It’s almost like he’s acknowledging his critics, but saying “See, it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just how you look at it”. Personally, the character work in Reynolds’ books has never bothered me, but if it bothered you, I think you’ll find this one has a refreshingly different take.
The story concludes satisfactorily, but leaves some things open for more. I would absolutely love another novel set in this universe, and the point at which this novel arrives could be seen as a great widening of that universe’s potential scope. It’s ripe for more tales, and I hope we get them. Reynolds has said: “I would like to return to this universe but I have no fixed plans for when that will happen.” Fingers crossed that those plans will materialize soon!...more
A fantastic movie art book that contains a lot more than just art. It is of course filled with stunning concept art, drawings, and on-set photography,A fantastic movie art book that contains a lot more than just art. It is of course filled with stunning concept art, drawings, and on-set photography, but there is also a surprising amount of text: interview excerpts, background information on filming, practical effect work, miniatures, digital effect work, script info, etc.
It's also huge, like massively huge. Almost too physically large to be easily read, but this wide format is a great way to present the artwork from the movie.
Like everything related to Blade Runner, this book sent me down a rabbit hole when it mentioned that the initial scene with Sapper Morton was written for the 1982 film, and was adapted into a short story by screenwriter Hampton Fancher. I tracked the story down and found that it reveals K's actual name, and reading it has completely changed the way I'll watch this movie on future viewings.
Highly recommended for any fan of Blade Runner or 2049. Lots of great background info in this. Now we just need a "Dangerous Days 2049" four hour documentary. Hopefully we won't have to wait 25 years for it!
Thrillers are like fluffy white bread, or buttery popcorn and I’ve come to expect certain things from them: short, clipped prose, casual (andThrillers are like fluffy white bread, or buttery popcorn and I’ve come to expect certain things from them: short, clipped prose, casual (and sometimes overt) misogyny, one dimensional characters, some sort of mystery element, cheesy dialogue, comic mustache twirling villains, and military/police/government/technical jargon masquerading as complexity. Daemon delivers on all of these fronts, for better or worse, but it also brings an absolutely huge, entertaining story along with the tropes, and it deals with (mostly) legitimate technology and science.
It touches on some interesting elements of evolutionary biology, as well as social psychology. It also mostly falls apart in the end, opting for a cheap 50 page chase sequence instead of examining the more interesting social themes in any sort of detail, or resolving the overarcing story in any form whatsoever.
If you’re looking for complex characters, or beautiful language, look elsewhere. This is straight up Information Technology porn, but it’s very hard to put down. ...more
This book contains an unbelievably vast amount of information regarding Blade Runner. It is an absolute encyclopedic history, covering everything fromThis book contains an unbelievably vast amount of information regarding Blade Runner. It is an absolute encyclopedic history, covering everything from Philip K. Dick’s early childhood through the moments leading up to Blade Runner 2049’s release. Blade Runner has had a turbulent history to say the least, and Paul Sammon has done a phenomenal job chronicling everything about it. He was involved in documenting the project before the first shot was filmed, was frequently on set during filming, and through post-production. He was in the screening audience of previews cuts. He was at auctions for props. If it was related to Blade Runner, he was involved, conducting interviews and documenting at all. This book is a massive wealth of film history.
This third edition of Future Noir has been extensively rewritten and updated with more current information, new cast and crew interviews, etc. It is quite a doorstop, but remains engaging throughout. I particularly enjoyed the new interview with Sean Young at the end, and the huge amount of information on exactly what it took to create the “Final Cut”.
Being involved in the making of an ambitious movie like Blade Runner seems like it would be a special kind of hell, but I am oh so glad that everyone involved took on such a daunting project.
If you’re a fan of the movie, or remotely interested in filmmaking or film history, this is a must read. ...more
I was absolutely blown away by Superabundance last year, and resolved to read anything Heinz Helle wrote then and there. His stories are philosophical ruminations told through tight, clean prose. This followup was slightly different territory than Superabundance, but still recognizable for its quality and conceptual vision. Euphoria was bleak and highly disturbing. I love the way the characters' lives before and after "the event" were juxtaposed. They were never particularly good people, it just wasn't as obvious before everything went to hell. If you would like to lose your faith in humanity, this one is the ticket. Fantastic prose, extremely depressing, but it gives you a lot to think about....more
What a fascinating story collection/novel, and honestly I’m not sure which it is. If you read between the lines, you can put togetherPosted at Heradas
What a fascinating story collection/novel, and honestly I’m not sure which it is. If you read between the lines, you can put together a narrative of sorts. The character seems to be working things out for herself, possibly some past trauma, through these short musing and ramblings about everything and nothing all around her. It’s a unique window into rural life in an Irish village. It works just fine as a story collection as well. I think it’s probably all in how you approach it.
I try to judge books on whether or not they are what they were intended to be, and not so much based on whether I, one opinionated reader, enjoyed them or not. I did enjoy this one, and I believe that it is exactly what it was intended to be. I also think that Claire-Louise Bennett may be a phenomenal writer, and I’ll be paying attention to her writing in the future.
That being said, I had a hard time with the voice of this character. “If you must know” she seemed to find everything “really” “very” something “actually”. Over and over and over. It’s written in the first person, so I’m hoping this is meant to be a tic of the character; a hint at her wandering mind. Perhaps it’s an Irish thing? I haven’t read much Irish literature. I still had a hard time with it, and think the fault entirely my own, but thought it worth mentioning....more
This short novel thoroughly creeped me the hell out. It’s been a few years since I’ve read anything that maintains this levelPosted at Heradas Review
This short novel thoroughly creeped me the hell out. It’s been a few years since I’ve read anything that maintains this level of unease throughout. It’s not intended to be outright scary, instead it maintains an eerie tone (think VanderMeer’s Annihilation) and punctuates it with some genuine goosebump moments that snuck up on me. The narrative plays the POV characters’ relationship woes (something we can relate to) against a supernatural backdrop (something we cannot). Juxtaposing the relatable with the unrelatable works so well here, and serves to pull the unrelatable closer until it feels solid, foundational, and within the realm of possibility.
This narrative tactic also got me heavily invested in the characters and their troubled relationship; rooting for them to find a way out of their situation together; to come out the other side a more entwined, singular team. They’re two people who in a misguided attempt to navigate up out of a downwardly spiraling situation, inadvertently ensnare themselves into another, accelerated, more deadly one. I love the way that these events escalated, and built on one another. The way that they dealt with that escalation also felt incredibly like actual human behavior.
The story found its way to a terrific resolution. I imagine it’s difficult to end a haunted house novel in a way that is satisfying to the reader, but doesn’t undercut the creepy tone -- that built it in the first place -- with too much clarity. Do you completely explain the haunting and lose all the mystery, or do you leave it entirely unknown by ending in an ambiguous manner? The finale of The Grip of It finds that perfect middle point between these two extremes, balancing resolution/irresolution to both fulfill my deeply rooted desire for closure as a reader, and keep the eeriness fully at play.
We’ve all got that old lizard brain resting below our rational one, nearly all that it understands is fear, and it love a good poking. Logically, I know none of these supernatural events are real or even remotely possible, but my lizard brain doesn’t care about logic, it likes being afraid. It wallows in the macabre, and thrives in the unknown terrors that might lurk in the shadows residing just at the periphery of my vision. I mostly read this right before going to bed, and I found myself double checking silhouettes in my bedroom as I lay there, imagining how the strange sensation of seeing my wife’s face, but not recognizing her, would feel; finding patterns where none exist, and missing patterns previously obvious. The whole affair put me on edge.
The prose is clean, the chapters short, and the pacing tight. You could even read it in a single sitting if you wanted, and it’s engaging enough that the decision to do so might end up outside your control. It might just happen, you looking at the clock afterward and wondering where the time disappeared to....more
It’s been a while since I’ve read some good old fashioned hard science fiction. Hard SF novels are a different sort of beast thanPosted at Heradas
It’s been a while since I’ve read some good old fashioned hard science fiction. Hard SF novels are a different sort of beast than most novels. I find they usually need to be approached differently and appreciated using a different set of metrics.
It doesn’t have to be the case, but a lot of times hard SF will lose itself in the details, which can be fun if you’re interested in those specific details. Other times, hard SF will sacrifice an ungodly amount of character development for those same details, which is a little less forgivable, but it’s amazing what I can forgive in the narrative department when I’m really into the “hard” part of the science.
Saturn Run, unfortunately, falls victim to both of these pitfalls, but you know what? I don’t care, I’m letting it slide. Different metrics for different books. It describes in detail one of the coolest conceptual heatsinks that I’ve ever come across. It’s not particularly well written in the traditional sense, and the prose is merely passable, but the conceptual stuff here is fascinating, and it’s really fun once it gets going.
I do think the novel nailed the sort of macro decisions that humanity would make in this sort of first contact scenario, but at a micro level the individual characters were not very believable to me. The story also dragged a lot in the middle. I would’ve enjoyed it much more if it were tightened up a little. But, it had a stellar second half and it really stuck the landing. Somebody could come along and adapt this into a fantastically entertaining smart summer blockbuster a la Interstellar....more
“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. LikePosted at Heradas
“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.”
If you’ve ever wanted to read a novel about a group of editors who have re-compiled a second edition of a book, that was originally found (and edited) by a slowly mentally unraveling tattoo artist apprentice junkie, and was originally written in a mixed media form by his junkie friend’s neighbor (found when he died under mysterious circumstances), that is a written description, history and analysis of a “found footage” documentary (that doesn’t exist) about a family inhabiting and exploring a house that is (much, much) larger on the inside than the outside, and is told in such a nonlinear and disorienting fashion to the point of inducing trepidation, extreme boredom, claustrophobia, anxiety, and general unease, then I’ve got some great news for you! House of Leaves is all of these things and tells all of these stories. It’s also kind of fun if you’re into weird mental puzzles.
I enjoyed it. Going into it, it was hard to deny the thematic similarities it shares with Infinite Jest, but as it progressed it started to diverge quite a bit from the direction I expected it to travel toward. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain any of the amazingly beautiful prose or “new sincerity” of David Foster Wallace’s writing, but it has other qualities that make it very interesting. Mainly, the form of the novel mirrors the story. When characters are crawling through ever shrinking passageways, the margins on the outside edges of the text start to crawl inward. When characters are falling into ever deepening chasms, the text will angle or fall down the page, etc. It’s a very visual novel, and in that way I don’t think it could ever be an eBook. It’s a piece of art that is reliant on the exact physical specifications of the book containing it.
“He knows his voice will never heat this world”
Would I ever read it again? Nah, I don’t think there’s really much of a point. The story itself is overly soap operatic, the prose is good but it’s nothing amazing. The amount of cruft in this book is just mind-bogglingly excessive, and without the amazing prose or story to make that cruft serve a point, it’s just sort of there to make the experience disorienting, which I get is part of the form mirroring the story, but still, it’s the illusion of complexity rather than complexity itself. There are puzzles encoded into it that would probably be kind of fun to suss out, but I can pretty much guarantee that they aren’t going to provide some sort of satisfying answer to any questions left lingering. Reading it was an experience that I’m glad I had, and I have to admire the dedication and exacting nature it must’ve taken to bring something like this to life -- it definitely rewards attention to detail -- but, having read it, I have no desire to read it again....more
It's slightly meandering at this point, but still such a great comic. I'm enjoying all the new(er) secondary characters, and the trajectories they'reIt's slightly meandering at this point, but still such a great comic. I'm enjoying all the new(er) secondary characters, and the trajectories they're heading toward.
Also, Matt and Chip actually published five comics in six consecutive months, after the one issue that came out last year, I'm super proud of them. ...more
This is the second half of and conclusion to the Dire Earth duology that began with Injection Burn. This duology itself isPosted at Heradas Review
This is the second half of and conclusion to the Dire Earth duology that began with Injection Burn. This duology itself is also a follow up to the Dire Earth cycle, a trilogy of novels published a few years back. I haven’t read the Dire Earth cycle novels, but these books do a wonderful job of filling in any gaps that may be present for readers new to the series. I never felt like I was missing anything, but undoubtedly there are little character details that are probably improved by a more complete understanding from having read the trilogy.
If Injection Burn was basically “get there”, Escape Velocity is very much “get it done and get home in one piece”. It hits the ground running at the same breakneck pace established in Injection Burn, and never really hits pause. At the end of Injection Burn our characters have been forcefully separated, thrown in different directions by their AI ship in a last ditch effort to accomplish their collective goal. We have three main group POVs to follow, each fighting for survival on a hostile alien world, trying to find each other, trying to gather their bearings and figure out how to do what they need to with nearly everything (even the air) trying to kill them.
It’s a great conclusion to this story, but leaves the universe open enough for more. I’m particularly interested in what may come after this. There’s a lot of potential for some really interesting far future Earth society stuff, as well as more information about some of the alien societies present here.
I was introduced to Jason M. Hough through his fantastic sci-fi spy thriller Zero World a couple years back, which I absorbed (and need more of! Don’t be shortsighted Del Rey, make it happen). It was the most original science fiction novel I’ve read in a long while. He writes really straightforward prose that gets out of the way and lets the fun flow straight to the brain. You often forget you’re reading a book, instead you’re just experiencing the story. It reads so effortlessly.
I’d recommend these books for fans of the The Expanse novels for sure. They’re very much written in a similar style: huge, narratively driven ideas, delivered in a fun, highly-readable package. Like classic era science fiction for a new generation. Blockbuster page-turners with great characters, adventure and thrills. These are great summer reads....more
I read this novel almost entirely from a hammock in my backyard, and I’d recommend taking that approach. It’s good and pulpy,Posted at Heradas Review
I read this novel almost entirely from a hammock in my backyard, and I’d recommend taking that approach. It’s good and pulpy, a light summer Science Fiction read. A blue collar crime caper set during the closing days of a mobile mining station on an asteroid. Seedy characters, none particularly too bright, almost all involved in some sort of side action, fumbling their way through life with the limited choices left to them. Blackmail, vices, bribes, and lost causes are all welcome here.
Shea writes in a straightforward, no-nonsense style that reads fast and easy. Think a pulpy crime mag from the 40s, but make that 2740, and transplant that magazine onto a virtual rack residing on an illicit local intranet, accessed from portable “CPUs”. There are no lessons learned, no moral philosophies tying everything together. No overall takeaway. Sometimes a gold heist is just a gold heist. I think it works very well here.
The worldbuilding is sparse, but it has a vague feel of existing just on the outside edges of Cyberpunk. There are mega-corporations that demand complete loyalty, drones that watch your every move, and offenses against mega-corporations carry the harshest punishments: medical experimentation, and if you survive, maybe life in prison afterward. It’s a rough life for an asteroid miner, but if a highly illegal once-in-ten-lifetimes capital one corporate offense comes up, you say fuck the odds, grab hold and see how far it might take you. Maybe it’ll be just the right ticket to get out of that life, but you still have to get your loot off rock to have it do you any good. That’s where things might get difficult. Who do you trust? How much should you trust them? Give ‘em just enough rope for them to hang themselves if they fuck you over? Fuck them over first just in case? All pertinent questions if you’re a low life with limited options trying to better your situation.
This is some great sci-fi escapism, read it on a lazy Sunday, or take a copy on vacation, grab a chair by the pool, or chill in a hammock with a highly alcoholic cold drink. Turn off your head and enjoy. It was just what I needed to read between some heavier non-fiction that I’ve been slowly working on over the last month or so. I plan on picking up copies of the Koko books by the same author this summer as well. I’m hoping it’s more of this, but in a more detailed cyberpunk setting. I’ve heard good things....more
This novel changed my perception of what modern cyberpunk could be. I have to apologize in advance because this is going to bePosted at Heradas Review
This novel changed my perception of what modern cyberpunk could be. I have to apologize in advance because this is going to be a little long-winded and meandering for a review. In order to approach my feelings on Escapology, I first need to share some thoughts about genre and how it can inform expectation.
Modern cyberpunk stories are operating in an interesting retro-futuristic narrative space these days. Cyberpunk had its big moment in the mid-to-late eighties, right at the convergence of rapid technological growth, reaganomics, corporate overreach, and heightened cold-war tensions. In addition to this collection of odd ingredients, the world had a general ignorance regarding computers and micro-technology, but had the knowledge that these things were coming toward us at breakneck pace. Tech was a sort of magic – in the Clarkesian sense – that was unknowable to the general public. Cyberpunk was a reactionary genre to all of this, and an extrapolation of a possible future that we might soon all be subjected to – shadowy mega corporations, invasive rampant technology, and the value of human life plummeting as a result. High-tech low-life was the general idea.
Of course, these things did eventually come to dominate our modern lives, but in entirely different ways than cyberpunk predicted. Because of this, most modern cyberpunk feels like it takes place in this “future of the past” that is firmly rooted in misunderstandings about technology. It’s more alternate history than plausible future at this point. I could go on and on about the woeful inefficiency of wasting CPU/GPU cycles in order to render an overly complicated GUI for every user’s interaction with a system while “jacked in”. Don’t get me wrong, I love that concept, it’s such a wonderful visual way to describe digital actions, but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense in a real world context. I would, however, be missing the point if I pushed this, a point which I didn’t realize until reading this novel: modern cyberpunk is no longer science fiction, but fantasy, because we’ve passed the point where it’s scientifically plausible.
This might not be an important distinction for most readers, but I think we subconsciously allow genre to inform the expectations that we have when we approach a piece of fiction, so let’s take a step back and define the differences between fantasy and science fiction by paraphrasing the simple terms John Joseph Adams laid out in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015: In fantasy, the impossible happens. In science fiction, the currently impossible but theoretically plausible happens. Cyberpunk as a genre was theoretically plausible to the world of the eighties, mostly because we misunderstood how computer technology functioned. Today, we understand quite a bit more, and I think that some aspects of the genre may no longer be. I think it operates under the umbrella of fantasy now, and therefore allows a lot of interesting possibilities and growth.
Warom gets this, but I didn’t at all going into this book. Something happened about halfway through Escapology that broke my suspension of disbelief. It was something that just isn’t scientifically plausible and I had an atavistic reaction against it, initially not understanding why; it just bothered me at a deep level. It took a while to realize that I felt like it broke the genre rules I had imposed on the story. It was then that I realized I had been mistakenly approaching the novel with a narrow angle of allowances. Warom wisely approached this story from a wider angle, or rather approached it without those rigid genre rules regarding what can or can’t happen in a story. The plausibility rules of science fiction do not apply here. When I realized this, it all clicked and I was able to get out from underneath my expectations and just let the story take me along for the ride. That was when I started to enjoy it for what it could be: a much needed stretching of the boundaries that readers have imposed upon cyberpunk as a genre. Of course, it would be much better to just approach all fiction without any thought of genre expectations beforehand, but I have a very difficult time doing that. It’s something I’m working on.
Escapology has one of the more interesting representations of avatars in a shared virtual world (the “jacked-in” state) that I’ve seen in while. It seems that Warom took inspiration from underwater earth life to represent this element of the story; the world that exists below the surface. I think it’s a fitting analogy, especially considering the protagonist’s dual avatars, each representing an element of his sexual identity and/or history. I also liked the land ships and the concept of the world literally having its crust broken apart at some point in the past. I’m hoping there’s more info about that in the sequel.
Conceptually, Escapology is a breath of fresh air for the genre, and I have a lot of respect for what it accomplished in the genre stretching/meshing department. It also had a strong weird fiction vibe going, which helped inject a heavy sense of wonder. It feels like Warom is trying to shock some new life into a genre that has long been stagnant, and I commend her for it. I thought the characters were a little thin, and the narrative got a little overly melodramatic for my taste, but all in all it was a fun story.
I guarantee you haven’t read a cyberpunk novel like this. Just remember to go into it with an open mind, as I didn’t. We all need a good mind fucking now and again. Escapology definitely filled that quota for me....more
“...voices that insist on being heard, stories that demand to be told, writers who are compelled to show us something new.” isPosted at Heradas Review
“...voices that insist on being heard, stories that demand to be told, writers who are compelled to show us something new.” is how FSG Originals describes the books they publish, and I would absolutely describe Samantha Hunt’s writing in this way. Her stories are brutal yet beautiful, magical but grounded, sincere, horrific, and essential. Her characters have such unique perspectives on their lives and the events surrounding them; a lot of the time these were perspectives that I’d never fully considered, but instantly empathized with once exposed to them.
These are stories I obviously needed to read. Stories about women and men of all walks of life passing through stages of the fantastic and the mundane, learning about themselves and the world(s) around them. While reading this book I was reminded of that old saying about how reading someone’s book is like having a conversation with them, or getting to know them a little better. With Hunt’s writing, it felt like getting to know several different women at the same time. It’s extraordinarily powerful stuff. Seeing things from these many new perspectives was fascinating for me.
There isn’t a bad story in the bunch, but the standouts for me were: The Story Of, All Hands, Love Machine, Wampum, & The Story Of Of. Her prose is tight and expressive. She manages to say so much in so few words, and her writing often dips into the magically realistic, with postmodern sensibilities.
I think it’s past due time for me to pick up her novels, and I’m kicking myself for not paying attention when friends were telling me that I should. Oh well, better late than never!
P.S. I need to sing a few praises for this cover as well. Book designers have really been outdoing themselves this year, and this one is no exception. This cover fully subverted my pattern recognition engine by using it against itself, that is until I plopped it down on my coffee table absentmindedly and accidentally saw it from a different angle as it lay there sideways, smirking at me. Clever clever....more
“Get your own head straight before hanging around in someone else’s.”
Little Sister has a setup that hooked me in the first handful of pages. There is a well crafted, subtle symmetry at play in this novel. The story is teeming with thematic intrigue, and these themes mirror each other in creative ways as the story progresses. You could describe it as a feedback loop of sorts; the matching elements bouncing off each other and informing different areas of the story, creating a prism that resolves as it all comes together. It’s masterfully done. I’d call it a summer literary thriller with a touch of magical realism, and a lot of substance.
Our protagonist is a woman who never really got a chance to know herself. She’s been drifting through her own life as a passenger; never really taking an active role. She’s stuck in a lot of what I would call soft-traps: caring for her mentally deteriorating mother, running the family business: a movie theater that screens classic films, and then there’s her adequate (but never exciting) romantic relationship that she settled for after a string of bad ones. She has large choices to make, but she can’t see them yet. I really think it’s a novel about escapism, the many different ways we deal with and process grief, and what we can learn from each other if we could only walk a mile in their shoes. Reading between the lines a little, I also think it’s about how important fiction can be for our personal development.
Instead of escaping into reality tv, soap operas, or novels, Rose’s escape is the main fantastical element of the story: during a string of summer thunderstorms she loses consciousness and finds herself inhabiting a different body. She has no control over this body, but feels and experiences everything that it does. These “episodes” as she calls them, have the feel of a mythological God toying with it’s creations. The woman she inhabits lives a much more exciting, soap operatic life, full of ups and downs that Rose has never experienced in her own life. She finds herself enraptured and confused, unsure whether she’s dreaming, losing her mind like her mother, or if something truly fantastic is happening. She becomes very invested in this other person, and begins a quest to confirm or deny this mystery woman’s existence, and regain her sanity.
In addition to the main narrative, there is a secondary story that unfurls in Rose’s past, involving her sister and a tragic accident she feels partly responsible for.
The prose is sober and clear; the story utterly captivating, and the characters well developed. There is a general sense of unease, making it suspenseful in the same way a good horror movie can be, without ever fully submerging into the horrific. For me, some of the main themes in Little Sister are reminiscent of the motifs of duality present in the best Christopher Priest novels, and Gowdy writes dialogue like a more reasonable DeLillo in his prime....more
I want to thank Drawn & Quarterly for sending me a copy of this. I have to admit I was entirely unfamiliar with Jillian TamakiPosted at Heradas
I want to thank Drawn & Quarterly for sending me a copy of this. I have to admit I was entirely unfamiliar with Jillian Tamaki going into it, but I love love love her illustration work here. I’m also a big fan of the way that the narration jumps around sometimes “documentary style” in these stories. Most of them are slice-of-life focused, kafkaesque, or modern fantasy, which are all genres I think graphic novels are particularly well-suited for. I’ve written about this previously in reviews of other comic/graphic stories, and it’s still rings true here.
Every story collection is going to be a little uneven to some degree, but most of these stories are solid, with just a couple that didn’t quite land for me. The artwork is always something to behold, and the characters feel three-dimensional and genuine.
‘SexCoven’ is a definite standout; it alone makes this collection worth reading. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m around the same age as the author, but I feel like this story perfectly captures the late 90s / early 00s internet culture of niche communities and the ways that they almost universally disbanded in the mid 00s. I probably spent around 6 solid months on message boards dedicated to The Matrix when I was around 20 (please don’t judge me, I thought it was cool as fuck back then). A couple years later and all of those boards are just… gone.
It seems like almost every message board or little niche community has been replaced by a subreddit these days, and that brings a whole other subset of problems along with it. Instead of communities of likeminded internet individuals coming together over some obscure cultural element, we have a subset of the already monoculture-prone redditors coming together over some obscure element of culture. It’s a slice of a slice of what it once was, and way more confirmation-bias enabling. I really do feel like we’ve lost something.
I also particularly liked the story dealing with adultery/bedbug removal, and the one with the shrinking woman. There were so many cool things to read between the lines in all of these. I’ll definitely be checking her other work out...more
These stories and photos are powerful. They are a more accurate representation of American greatness than any idealized non-existentPosted at Heradas
These stories and photos are powerful. They are a more accurate representation of American greatness than any idealized non-existent past that some are eager to return to. America is already great, and these people prove it.
The first half of the book contains pre-election writing, and I can’t help but feel a sense of dread and impotent omniscience reading this along with the knowledge of what ended up happening on election day, and the continual trainwreck that has followed since then. The stories are hopeful and heartbreaking. It’s wonderful to see so many different kinds of people coming together in an attempt to stop a disaster. Up until about 8pm that night, it seemed to be a sure thing that Clinton would be the next President of the United States, and against all odds (and the majority of Americans’ votes) Donald Trump won.
The day after the election was terrible. I live in a small university town that is generally a pocket of reason in an otherwise notoriously under-informed backwater state. Close to my work there’s a small coffee shop that I walk to when I need to stretch my legs a bit. I usually get coffee and a bagel a couple times a week, and it’s always a bustling, vibrant place. Cheery faces with kind, hopeful demeanors. Youthful, artistic energy. That early November morning everyone was still in a state of shock, thousand yard stares on their faces, envisioning what kind of future we might have now that the worst possible candidate that has ever existed, was elected to the office of President of the United States by a minority of the voting public. There was a sense of hopelessness in everyone I saw. I think we all felt like we were just going through the motions of our lives, unsure what we were doing. No one thought he could win, the whole thing was an absurd joke, until it wasn't. Now, everyone was on edge, and in the midst of an existential crisis.
The second half of the book is post election, and these events are still very fresh in my mind. It’s comprised of reactions to the news that our votes didn’t matter this year, and yes, Americans really are misinformed enough that almost 46% of them thought a reality television character was the best option for Commander in Chief. And for some reason that was enough to elect him to office. This is where the stories became the most emotionally powerful for me. People pull together, we regroup, we redouble, we protest in large and small ways, and we keep working toward the type of future that we want. It’s good stuff, and highly motivating.
As I’m writing this, Robert Mueller and his team are investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election, and it’s starting to look like Donald Trump’s presidency might be one of the shortest in the history of the United States. I am very eager to see this monomaniacal bond villain caricature’s tenure come to a quick and decisive end. Although, his line of succession is equally terrifying. Hopefully they’re all tied tightly into his many crimes, and will go down together, RICO style. It’s a beautiful dream, but I realize it’s most likely just a dream. In reality, powerful people often get away with it.
This is a difficult book for me to review because it keeps forcing me to imagine how things could’ve been different in the 2016 election. As they say, Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back with some perspective, I don’t think Clinton was the right candidate to defeat a monster like Trump. I’m a humanist, feminist, atheist and generally liberal leaning dude, but I pay enough attention to history to never call myself a Democrat or a Republican. I know how quickly these divisions can mutate into something they were never meant to be. Just look at the neo-conservative, alt-right takeover of the Republican party in the last ten years. I feel terrible for legitimate conservatives who have no representation in our government anymore. The GOP has completely lost its mind, and I fear that the DNC may be in the midst of a similar problem.
Personally, I’ve never been an avid fan of Hillary Clinton. I think her statements against the LGBTQ+ community in the past have been appalling (something she’s very recently started to change, thankfully). But she was undeniably the much, much better candidate of the two options that were presented to us last year, and I voted for her wholeheartedly.
I’m still very disturbed by both the DNC and the GOP’s behavior in the primary elections. The best candidates from each camp did not make it to the general election; the most incendiary ones did. The ones that banks and plutocrats knew they could leverage for their own benefit. I understand how necessary representation is, and I genuinely hope our next President is a woman. Girls and women everywhere seeing themselves reflected in such a powerful position, would carry an unknowable importance and a far reaching, generational effect. If Clinton had won, I would’ve been extremely pleased, but there would always be a sliver of disappointment that it wasn’t someone even better. I can only hope that the DNC stops playing the games they’ve been playing and realizes the only way forward is to let the people be heard with a candidate that is genuinely incorruptible and won’t cower to money, or dogma's influence. That is, if such a candidate is allowed to exist within the realm of the established party in 2020.
Whoever that ends up being, whatever their gender, sexuality, race, religion, I do not care. I’ll support THAT candidate wholeheartedly. And in the meantime? Midterm elections are the most important thing we can put our energy into right now. We need better congressional and senatorial representation. I want a president who represents the people of this country, and I can't accept that Donald Trump is an accurate representation of us....more
"Howie is right: if we're all going to get whacked, what matters is who is standing beside you when the universe speaks yourPosted at Heradas Review
"Howie is right: if we're all going to get whacked, what matters is who is standing beside you when the universe speaks your name. And it matters that you stand with them."
You simply must read this memoir. It was fantastic, and genuinely one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s endearing and thought-provoking, and a great conversation about the differing degrees of honesty and openness required in different relationships.
Being a child of the mid eighties, and growing up in a tiny little (population ~2000) tourist trap meets hippie haven town in Northwest Arkansas in the nineties, I knew nothing of late seventies Salem, MA when I cracked the spine on this. My ignorance of the time period and the area, mixed with a killer synopsis established my initial intrigue, and the universal coming-of-age themes present in the narrative sucked me the rest of the way in. I ended up absorbing the book in a couple sittings.
The cast of characters in the Cove family and extended family -- as well as Lou’s childhood friends -- are odd, vibrant and alive. Louis’ family and upbringing could not be more different than my own, but there are some things that are universal to all childhoods. As each event occurs in the story, I found myself comparing the reactions that my family would have had with the ones that Louis’ did. It’s great to read about people so different from myself and those I’m familiar with, but so similar in other ways.
A handful of times throughout the book, late nineteen-seventies Salem is compared to the Salem of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s day by way of some quotes from him regarding the city he loathed, and characters mentioning him and his works. What a brilliant way to contrast the seventies conservative crackdown on “smut” that was sweeping the area (and the country) at the time, with the narrative witch hunt of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, as well as the more literal witch hunt that is nearly eponymously associated with the word Salem.
It reads a like a first person novel, written from the perspective of a boy in his twelfth year. There is a tiny bit of unreliable narrator going on here as well, since a large portion of the story is about the goings on of the adults in Louis’s life, but told from a perspective that doesn’t quite yet understand that adult world. The hinting at the reality of each situation is handled with skill and finesse.
Ultimately, it’s a story about Louis having an adventure, growing up, or rather being forced to confront the adult world and coming out the other side a changed person....more
5/6/18 edit: Heads up, this is available in paperback now.
Finishing this magnificent novel was a bittersweet affair. SweetPosted at Heradas Review
5/6/18 edit: Heads up, this is available in paperback now.
Finishing this magnificent novel was a bittersweet affair. Sweet because it was a powerful joy to read; experiencing what a writer that possesses such a mastery of her craft can do with words, continually in awe at the bravery of this story, and how she approached it. Bitter because I’ve lived with her character Joan Ashby these past couple weeks, judged her a little unfairly at times, learned as she did, gotten to know her well as she grew and adapted, and now we are forced to part ways because the book is done. She’s such an interesting creation, and I want to keep her around a little longer. Most especially, I want to read the rest of her stories, and novels that she wrote during her life inside of this book. I’d be 100% okay if Wolas chose to write and publish them eventually.
This is Cherise Wolas’ debut as a novelist, but it is so well formed you would never think it her first published novel. It has none of the usual shortcomings that early efforts often do. I’m thinking she has always written. She is obviously very practiced, and a remarkably skilled storyteller to have put together something this comprehensive. If this book doesn’t get shortlisted for several big awards next year, I’d be shocked at the injustice. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins more than a few of them.
Her prose is beautiful and flowing, and her characters contain multitudes, especially Ashby as we get to see her create her own characters (some of them writers as well) and bring them to life with flowing prose. Wolas’ ability to write as herself, as her characters, and as her characters’ characters is just breathtaking. The subtle shifts in style as the novel dips into and back out of Ashby’s writing, were handled with grace, and they added some postmodern flair to the whole thing. It’s like a novel that contains a short story collection, and reminds me of reading both at the same time, breaking up the main story with little miniature ones that interject here and there, never taking away from the momentum. It just works.
My favorite part of this is seeing how Ashby learns about herself, and deals with events in her own life through her fiction; through the characters that take on some of the traits of those around her; never directly putting her own life, events, and acquaintances directly into her work, but borrowing bits here and there and reconfiguring them into new dramatic events and characters. It’s refreshing to see the creative process stripped bare and represented accurately like this. Everything is a remix of our influences, and our lives, blown apart and amalgamated. In the latter half of the book, we even start to get a small glimpse into one possible future direction for Ashby, through the fiction that she creates. It’s subtly done and I love it. We see her working things out, coming to terms with traumatic events, and coming out the other side, all part of her process of creation and renewal.
Our world has never been more filled with incoherent clutter masquerading as information. It’s present in every corner of ourPosted at Heradas Review
Our world has never been more filled with incoherent clutter masquerading as information. It’s present in every corner of our lives today; tomorrow it’ll likely be even worse. The data pool has been so polluted with gibberish that in 2017 we have politicians who can’t seem to agree on what exactly constitutes a fact. Vapid internet-meme culture teaches us to repeat slightly modified nothings to each other, over and over again for internet points redeemable for exactly the same – nothing. We are bombarded with huge amounts of junk data every single day of our lives, and sorting through it to get to the morsels of useful information is becoming a necessary life skill.
How often do you read a headline, skip the article, and read the most popular comment to learn what your opinion should be? I’m guilty of doing that, big time, and I wasn’t even aware of it until someone pointed it out. There is just so much information available to us from every outlet, all competing for our attention – most of it trying to sell us something – that we don’t have near enough time to read it all. So, what do we do? Let’s circle back to that in a sec.
As defined in this book, Cruft is any text in a work of fiction that doesn’t particularly add anything to that work. You could call it “junk text”. When you hear someone complaining about a particular page-count heavy novel as “meandering” or “painfully boring”, they’re most likely complaining about the Cruft of that novel. Instead of merely being extraneous fat that should’ve been trimmed by a more talented editor, Letzler argues that Cruft may have a specific, useful purpose in these mega-novels, and he has well thought-out, very persuasive arguments to back up his thinking.
The gist of the argument is this: Cruft isn’t necessarily bad. It can be viewed as a tool to help us learn to modulate our attentional faculties. He argues that by reading Cruft containing mega-novels we learn the valuable skill of how to sift pertinent information from the non-important, and this skill can be applied to other areas of our lives; learning when to skim and when to pay attention. After all, mega-novels so often hide bits of useful information buried in a pile of red herrings. If you read enough novels like this, you’re bound to improve picking the useful bits through the clutter. This line of thinking redefines boredom and confusion as features of mega-novels, instead of pejorative descriptors. He also argues that these descriptors often say a lot more about the person doing the describing than the actual novel itself.
I tend to agree, and I love this argument. It’s something I’ve been dancing around for a while, but never really put into words. If you’re a fan of huge, “boring” novels (like I am), then you’ll undoubtedly adore this academic literary criticism deconstructing the inherent value of the most boring parts of those novels. I had to laugh at myself a little while reading it, because there’s something so deliciously postmodern about reading a book all about the most boring parts of boring books. It was always interesting, and to its credit, contained no Cruft of its own. Something that I consider a huge achievement, given the subject matter.
Of course, the argument is not without its own issues, the least of which being that it’s a tad self-serving for a fan of mega-novels to find a way to praise even the most boring parts of them, but Letzler does a wonderful job illustrating these counter arguments right off the bat. I love a good academic approach like this, because when it’s done correctly, the author will spend a good portion of their writing laying out all of the problems with their main thesis, and then work backward from there in order to argue their point more effectively. It adds so much solidity if you can show that you’re already aware of the detractions against your view. He pulls it off marvelously here, and covers absolutely every angle of the concept.
Each chapter is categorically organized according to the different types of extant Cruft commonly found in mega-novels. There are numerous examples and case studies from novels like Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, 2666, House of Leaves, J R, and lots of others that are notoriously Cruft heavy. It’s all very well illustrated and argued, and the sections covering the handful of novels discussed that I haven’t read, were often more interesting to me than the ones covering the novels that I have. I’ve always thought that good non-fiction books should introduce the reader to several more books to read, and this one is no exception. My TBR pile has grown, yet again.
So the next time you feel your attention wandering, try to approach your boredom as a feature rather than a failure. Focus in on it and see what it’s telling you. Instead of just reading that headline and skipping to the comments, read the whole article, but try skimming through it; pull the interesting bits forward from the Cruft. You just might be able to train yourself to be a more effective reader....more
“When death comes, it very often comes with eyes averted, and with interceding machinery.”
I don’t think anyone who has read this book would argue that there isn’t a fierce and creative intelligence at work here. Zak Smith’s memoir of working in the dual capital-a industries of Adult entertainment and Art scene in NY is pretty scathing, and as honest feeling as a memoir can hope to be. It also paints the alt-porn industry, as well as the greater Adult film industry, as pretty much exactly what you’ve always imagined them to be: complicated as hell. Things are never, not ever, black and white. Shades of grey.
I’ve read a few reviews of this book that spend most of their time talking about him specifically: He’s an asshole, or a misogynist, etc. All of which may be true, I don't really know enough to make that call, however, this isn’t a review of Zak as an individual, but of his book. I’m really not interested in an ad hominem angle. You have to separate the art from the individual. Look at George W. Bush for example, his paintings are just fucking adorable, and he’s literally a war criminal. Keep the individual separate from their art. It’s hard to do, but at worst it’s a good mental exercise, and at best it keeps you from being an asshole.
I always take memoirs with a grain of salt anyway, because seriously, you have to be completely bonkers to believe everything in them. Memory is mostly fiction. Just get together with some old friends or family and talk about the time you… or the other time when so-and-so… and see how often your versions of truth agree with each other’s.
“Give four art people a banana and they will say: It’s wonderfully yellow, it’s too yellow, it’s not yellow enough, I’m so glad it isn’t yellow, and then say it’s wonderfully squishy, it’s too squishy, it’s not squishy… and on and on until the banana gets so famous that they start getting paid to agree that the banana is yellow and good.”
Onto the actual content: This book is well written. There are some absolutely gorgeous sentences, metaphors, and sentiments presented, and I really want this guy to write some novels, because I would read them all. His published art project relating to Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow aside, you can tell that Zak Smith’s literary influences swing heavily toward the postmodern side of things. I’m guessing that David Foster Wallace, and Zadie Smith, and Hunter S. Thompson were all influential in the intended direction for this book.
This is basically a three year slice-of-life character based story on those in the alt-porn industry in Los Angeles and New York from 06 - 08. Everyone’s names are kind of changed, and supposedly details have been altered and swapped around and shared to make it not so obvious who is who for those that are familiar with these real life people. If you’re like me, you’re not very familiar with porn stars, but there are a few stories in here that broke into the mainstream a little, that you’ll most likely recognize. If you are familiar with porn stars, you’ll have a good time trying to match these fake names with their “real” fake names.
It seems like he really wanted to give another angle on the people involved in the porn business. Something different from what’s already out there. There is so much misinformation, bad information, and downright obfuscation on the subject, from a lot of different camps. Pornographers have been very unfairly pushed into categories of sluts, whores, and victims (the women), and misogynist abusers (the men). Well, if I have to point out just how sexist that demarcation is, then you probably should read this book, or maybe something more along the lines of The Woman That Never Evolved, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, or really just any Feminist writing (please just make sure it’s not Tumblr feminism, go for the legit stuff). Not to say that there aren’t abusers, or victims involved in the Porn industry, I’m sure there are, and probably a lot. But again, things are never black and white like that.
Between the memoir bits there are a few sections with scans of his artwork; mostly drawings and paintings. Personally, I really like his art, but completely understand why someone else wouldn’t. He spends some time contrasting the art world with the porn world, drawing similarities and differences among the two. He’s very aware that both industries are kind of bullshit. He also seems very aware of how incredibly lucky he is to be able to make a living from his artwork.
It has one of the best ever descriptions of how bizarre the middle-zeroes were, which I think was intended to read as a “look at how strange things were then in comparison to how much better they are now” vibe, but in hindsight it works very well as an illustration of the starting point for exactly when our current issues (Trump, “alt facts”, not agreeing on objective reality, etc) began and stem from. It’s pretty disheartening that things seem only to have gone downhill from there on:
“I’m not sure future generations, comfortable with all the names in their history books, will appreciate the degree to which, in the mid-zeroes, everything even remotely resembling public life in America felt like a crudely mounted shadow-puppet play smoke-screening some unspeakable underlying soul-death.”
I love what this had to say about sexual abuse, and abuse of all kinds. There are a disproportionate amount of porn stars that have experienced some kind of abuse in their past. And if you’re like me, you have a hard time understanding why anyone who had been abused would want to be in the porn business, especially in some of the darker or more kinked corners of it that more closely resemble their abuse. But, it really makes a lot of sense when it’s all laid out. This was one of my favorite sections of the book. Really, anyone who chooses a life on the fringes or edges of what’s considered mainstream or normal society is utterly fascinating to me. There are all kinds of people, and just because the majority of people behave in one way doesn’t necessarily mean that way is right, and all others are wrong. Again with the black and white reference.
“Things that are supposed to make ordinary people happy or sad are molehills in the shadow of a morbid, thousand-mile-high monument to suffering and shame at the center of the city of the brain. “The abused person then not only wants to not be abused--but she also wants to try to set up experiences of pleasure that equal or exceed the mental and emotional peak of pain that, otherwise, will be the highest and clearest peak in the history of her feelings. “So she goes to the place the heavy bad thing came from--the sex place--and tries to see if there is a heavy good thing there, too. Because nothing else has that weight. You can’t erase pain from life, but you can get enough pleasure that life seems worth living anyway.”
I know quite a lot of people who are sexual assault survivors, probably more than I realize. It’s a widespread problem, and the victim blaming platitudes that I hear constantly from politicians and religious leaders infuriate me to no end. It appears that this double standard also pisses Zak off, and I can appreciate that. There are some sections in here talking specifically about the ways that politicians (esp. those on the right), and religious leaders have perpetuated and exacerbated the cycle of abuse through their rhetoric and actions. It’s very satisfying to hear someone lay it out so clearly.
In conclusion, a lot of this book is pretty vulgar, but then again it is about pornography and those in the industry. I think it’s important to talk about these things in our society rather than just push them off to the side and pretend they don’t exist. They exist. These people exist. And yes, they are people. I think the whole point of this book is to maybe force people to acknowledge this world that he’s familiar with. It’s real and we should talk about it....more