Joseph Talluto cannot tell a story. This might be an odd statement, given that he has written many books and has been given good reviews. Yet, I maintJoseph Talluto cannot tell a story. This might be an odd statement, given that he has written many books and has been given good reviews. Yet, I maintain that he cannot construct a coherent narrative. This doesn't mean his grammar could be better, or that he lacks the imagination to create believable characters. It doesn't mean he cannot glue one scene to the other. He can do the basics. His primary sin is that he cannot turn it into a story. Let me explain.
If, more than an hour into the story, it is argued that they should trim their group so they can kill more zombies and not get bogged down by logistics, you might assume this ties into a previous scene. Is there such a scene? Well, the previous first hour is brimming with relentless zombie killing that sees over a thousand zombies killed at the hands of his 'army.' But even more. Just before the above statement is made, the story sees the group almost overwhelmed by zombies because they split off from the main army, and it ends with the main character killing six zombies single-handedly, prompting his buddy to say that this would surely inspire others to join their group as they need the men. And then someone burst into the scene with a truck to supply everyone with ammo. That is logistics for you. In other words, this entire statement comes out of the blue. And this is how Talluto writes.
Talluto is a setpiece writer, and this turns the book into a series of snapshots. This could be interesting if the writer leaned into this, but Talluto is not that writer. The consequences are dire. Talluto struggles to set up believable scenes. He wants the heroes to be in danger, yet he also has to convince us that they are kickass zombie killers. So in one scene, these veterans camp out without setting a guard so zombies can attack them, an obvious rookie mistake, but it is the only way Talluto can have them run into danger. This scene becomes extra silly because a few scenes later, we learn that everything becomes eerily quiet when a large group of zombies approaches. One moment this struggle is so jarring that I have to describe it. The heroes get cornered against a river by a large group of zombies. "There is no escape," says the main character. Oh, wait, there is. because zombies cannot cross rivers. And, oh, they do have a boat. So they can seek safety across the river until the rest of the army can save them. "But no." the protagonist decides. He was going to make a stand here because he was going to do a man's job.
This setpiece-writing also causes a lack of emotional depth in the story. A tear can be shed within a scene, but Talluto doesn't describe the long-term effects or changes. One example is when a boy is hung for attempted murder. We have a very brief reflective moment, and it is on to the next scene, and it is already forgotten. You might think our hero is a jaded man, but this is not addressed in the book. Each scene is beholden to itself, and what is established in one scene, might have no impact in the next scene and has certainly no overarching effect.
Another issue of this setpiece writing is that Talluto constantly fills scenes with needless exposition. An example is when a truck recklessly burst into a scene. The driver jumps out. We then get a story about how well she can fight with a knife. This information is completely irrelevant. And again, this demonstrates how Talluto writes. This semi truck suddenly burst upon the scene without anyone hearing it approach. It also plows into a mass of zombie corpses, an act of which the main character a few scenes later says that it can cause the truck to flip over. This driver is, however, not doing it because of incompetence, but because Talluto has a cool moment in mind and does not think beyond the current scene.
For me, this is enough Talluto for a lifetime. I will review the other book when I come to it, but it suffers from the same issues. I assume that all of his writing is like this.
Memorably silly moments. "What is an Ent?" "What? You never read Tolkien?" "Obviously." "Well, we read it together, honey. And with Julia, she will love it." Thinking that the 1200-page epic Lord of the Rings is a good read for kids makes me think Talluto does not understand kids or has never read it. (And Ents do not appear in the Hobbit).
I pulled out the clock and slammed it hard on the table Anyone who uses a loaded gun as a hammer is a moron. He didn't even check if the safety was on.
Cringy moments Anytime Talluto mentions women: we have cats, dogs, horses, and women. Most of the time, the women are mentioned like this: there were women too, and some were pretty, and we are proud of them!
"Who shall I f*** first?" Said a female teenager(of course) that the two men of the group discovered. Talluto realizes how cringy it is and then instead of coming up with something else, he just has it explained through exposition delivered by the main character. And do you think that this is some defining trait of the character? Of course not, Talluto writes from scene to scene, so this has no bearing on anything. It is there for shock value.
If you still think this guy deserves four stars, then I do not know what to say. ...more
If a book is a means of telling a story by delaying the end with the use of words, this one is an example of such. 'When will it end?' I was wonderingIf a book is a means of telling a story by delaying the end with the use of words, this one is an example of such. 'When will it end?' I was wondering..but I am getting ahead of myself.
The book breaks down into two parts. A 'back then' part, which is the setup and gives us some key happenings in the 'past' of the narrator. You know, the teen youth, always good for some spicy, dawn of sex stories, however embarrassing they might turn out to be. And isn't that what people like to read? The inept first fumbling attempts at intercourse in the night on a makeshift bed somewhere up on an attic, preferably among the moldering remains of toys from an earlier pre-sex period? Just so it marks that transition even more?
This is then explored in the second part, to figure out what happened. It is like a detective story, but not about who dunnit, but about what happened..or perhaps even better: what does it all mean.
So there is Adrian, the 'best' friend of out protagonist - we have to take his word for it - who kills himself on philosophical grounds. The protagonist admires this. A logical series of thoughts leads to a logical conclusion. Indeed he has reasoned himself into suicide. Beautiful. I wanted to scream and laugh. You see, I do not like philosophy..I admit it. I don't admire people who blather on making nonsensical statements about reality in an attempt to come up with some vapid conclusions based on absolutely no empirical research whatsoever. It has this in common with religion: you don't need proof, what you need is for your reasoning to be valid, for your conclusions don't have to be. He might also have considered to prolong his suffering, reasoning that to suffer was the faith of mankind, or to get on with his life, for that is what humanity is about. Yes, you can reason towards any conclusion, even on the basis of the same thoughts. If I add all my sufferings and then subtract all my joys I end up: killing myself; laugh about myself; getting elated about myself; getting depressed about myself.
Philosophy: the means by which you can reason anything into existence.
The first part is at least tolerable.. until we meet Veronica, who is described as this really arrogant gal whom I hate on the spot. I understand that this 'memory' might have been true or not, but who can know in a book in which the reader is at the mercy of the writer? What might be true on page one, might not be on page two. We have no say in the matter. And that is what is being used against you. It is annoying writing at best..Oh, did you know that Margaret is actually a man and that the narrator is actually Veronica? You find out after page 153. Just saying..
Part one then is wrapped up into something like: and each went his or her way. Did Adrian kill himself? I forgot because I didn't and don't care. I get that a lot in this book. I do not care about people who aren't really properly introduced.
The second part unfolds four decades later. The narrator gives us the short on his life and then it is on to Veronica again, this time triggered by a the death of her mother who affords the narrator a sum of 500 pound, a letter and the diary of the aforementioned Adrian. Which Veronica refuses to hand to him. So he wants is, because she has it and doesn't want to give it. He got time on his hands and a dull man with time on his hands is a danger to anyone's sanity.
At this point I have a tiny spot of a problem. I really don't care about any of the characters. I mean, there is hardly any time spent on character development and what there is doesn't endear them to me. Tony, as the protagonist is called, is a vague person at best, mostly remarkable because he is utterly boring. I can't find anything interesting about this bloke. My god, if he just did something interesting, like self tattoo or something. But no, he abides in this abode under the sun. He lingers in this twilight existence doing absolutely nothing much but having dinners and lunches with his former wife Margaret talking about.. himself being dull, mostly.
In fact, when, after much delaying, we finally get to meet Veronica again she isn't even described but for the words that see seems like a mix between 20's and 60's. No details about how she behaves, her now graying hair,-or did she paint it?- the color of her eyes, or the tilt of one of the corners of her lips, when she smiles. A sad and tired smile of someone who has been through just a bit too much in life. And thus we never get to warm up to any of the characters in the book. At the end I paged through it and thought.. you know.. I really really don't care what happens to them. And that is what sense this book leaves me with.
This book, the Sense of an Ending is just a boatload of words delaying the end. It is how it feels and that isn't a good feel. No joy is got from this book, which leaves me with the taste of sawdust in my mouth.
So I am off to smoke pot, it might give me a better Sense of an Ending. At least a happy one.
Whatever your opinion might be of this book, U for Undertow can't be a five star book. For that there are just too many faults in the narrative, some Whatever your opinion might be of this book, U for Undertow can't be a five star book. For that there are just too many faults in the narrative, some of which have been pointed out by other reviewers, such as Grafton's fillers and the rather abrupt ending. As an example of the first: at some point we are treated by an extensive list of the spoiled food the protagonist, Kinsey, throws away. This list serves no purpose at all and it is somewhat later followed by another list of things Kinsey buys. It is just one example of superflous text which at times covers a whole chapter. I think you get the picture. This is partly caused by Grafton's technique of weaving various sub stories together that should eventually clarify the whole case. But because the case is,despite some twists here and there, rather thin, Grafton tends to play out scenes that we have been told about before, or the other way around. Which makes you eventually skip pages and even a whole chapter as these do not add anything to the story and just delay the ending. One other problematic issue that crops up is the third person narrative. In itself such a viewpoint isn't bad, but it can lead to knowing too much and this spoils the 'fun'. This is what happens with all the substories that tell us as reader too much and Kinsey too little. And, as a matter of fact, you can say that Kinsey doesn't solve the case at all, but just sees it proceed to its end. Perhaps one of the worst faults Grafton makes is the announced death. Grafton feels the need to throw us readers a bone once in a while in the shape of a cliffhanger. The worst of these is the announced death. An announced death can be a literary method and servers as an important part of the story, in this book is serves no other purpose than getting you to turn the page. It is the worst kind. But even internally Grafton makes a rather odd mistake. She is at pains to have Kinsey tell us that she severly dislikes to use her gun, which she only takes with her when she really has to. The climatic end however requires Kinsey to use her gun and not one word is written about it. But there are more problems with the world of Milhone. Apparently that world consists almost exclusively out of the white race. The people Milhone meets can be divided into three groups. Older people who are 'still going strong' Invariably all single. Then there are the middleaged ones whose live are in turmoil, for one reason or another, usually leading to a divorce. The third and last group can be divide into two sub groups: young people who are rebellious and young people who have turned away from that life and come to their senses. The last fault I like to mention is that people spill the beans to Milhone, for no other reason that otherwise there would be no story to tell. Perhaps the most annoying is when almost at the end her elderly landlord sort of helps her solve the case for her. The last thing that remains a mystery to me is however how Kinsey makes a living. In the 2 odd weeks she gets paid for one day of work. She does a few other jobs in between, but otherwise she is busy with this case. I wonder how she can make ends meet? All in all the story is rather flimsy told and flimsy put together. Does the book have some redeeming qualities? Certainly. The character of Kinsey Milhone remains an interesting one and it is a pity Grafton doesn't do more with her. Also the this story is interesting because of the twist. Personally I would advise to read the next book in the series. I think it is a lot better. Perhaps this book was just the weakest in the whole. I have seen another reviewer say as much. I hope so and I will give another book from the series a try, when I get my hand on it.
I read the American Maffia: a history, some months ago and although I found the book interesting, the writer isn't very good at presenting the subjectI read the American Maffia: a history, some months ago and although I found the book interesting, the writer isn't very good at presenting the subject in a cohesive manner. The basic issue is that Reppetto fills his pages with information chronologically. While this might seem a valid approach, the issue is that the broader outlines get buried under needless detailed information. One of the advantages of looking back is that we can connect the dots and draw general conclusions. Reppetto, however, goes in way too deep for that and mostly answers the what, when, and how questions. While Reppetto does address the why at times, it would have been overall better, in my opinion, if he had concentrated on the broader outlines and only given a case to support those outlines instead of trying to incorporate every tale of every significant criminal and every important crime fighter during the period covered. This would have allowed him to make a book of about the same size, but also address the demise of the mafia, which Reppetto briefly discusses, but doesn't cover in more depth.
Overall an excellent book to read but, not a definite book on the mob.
Updated December 25th 2022: fixing some spelling mistakes and errors....more
I read the Tao of pooh several times and found it amusing and well written. Whether the ideas were actually practical didn't really matter. If you didI read the Tao of pooh several times and found it amusing and well written. Whether the ideas were actually practical didn't really matter. If you didn't read it for that, you read it because it was funny. Escape from Freedom, a seminal work I am given to understand, is neither amusing nor well written. It meanders on, injecting ideas almost midsentence, without wrapping anything up. It postulates ideas such as that the human psyche in the middelages is very different from that from the renaissance and both in turn are of very different as compared to the way modern day man thinks. To which my rhetorical reply is: how come philosophers can just state stuff without any proof whatsoever? Fromm, being a philosopher, doesn't give us any proof. He just says that it is so. Or rather he doesn't say it, but gives us a rhetorical question: why is the human psyche in the middleages so different? And thus we have to assume that what he says is established fact. But it is not established fact that the human psyche radically changed in such a short time. In fact, it is far more likely that what moved men in those days, more or less moves us as well. That is why we are still able to appreciate and understand the plays written by a man like Shakespeare from 16th century and a man as Sophocles from the 5th century BC.. If our psyche has changed drastically over time you need to proof it, otherwise you are just moving air. After 28 pages I laid the book aside. Not only is Fromm the kind of man that doesn't bother with proof but he is unable to concentrate on any one thought for any length of time. Am I disappointed? Not at all. I will read some more Dilbert principle. It is funny.. in a twisted kind of way and doesn't aspire to be a seminal work in philosophy. (By the way: I never understood what makes people adore Superheroes. Perhaps there is case for Fromm adepts to investigate). ...more
Is it for real? Did it truly happen that fascism - Nazism even - got hold of a group of high school students in the land of the free after a teacher pu Is it for real? Did it truly happen that fascism - Nazism even - got hold of a group of high school students in the land of the free after a teacher put up a slogan on a blackboard? In the United States of all places? According to the writer of The Wave it did, because he claims that it is based on a true incident that has been hushed up out of embarrassment by the people and the school involved. And thus readers are lured to read this novel, this work of fiction, this flight of fantasy, because who can not resist a tale of conspiracy based on a real occurrence?
After taking a some time looking on the internet I found information about the Third Wave experiment at Cubberley Senior High School in 1967 on which this book is based. Ron Jones, the teacher involved and some students, under which Mark Hancock, have created a website called the wave. I will use this information for examining the book.
The book describes how it takes a leader, a slogan and some discipline to create a suppressive movement out of thin air. The kids, so were are told, seem to yearn for a leader and if you give them one, have them sit up straight and add discipline to the mix you have them marching in columns and waving flags in a week. Having read about the real incident I add the following: Ron Jones, the real teacher clearly confirms that he ordered his students. quote: "To experience the power of discipline, I invited, no I commanded the class to exercise and use a new seating posture". (wave web site) This is a far different attitude from the teacher in the story, who seems to suggest that merely telling them and showing made the students follow suit. Why is this important? Because students are subjected to the authority of a teacher while fascist movements did not come into being by having an authority figure order people to take part.
Unfortunately Morton Rhue never goes in deep. How does the movement come about? How does it work? And even more: what is the the role of a the leader? But the latter's role in this book is at odds with the real incident. In this case, the ‘leader’ - the teacher in the book - seems more like a prime mover than a leader who controls and manipulates as the real teacher did. In the story we get this brainy doubting reasonable teacher who hardly takes a hand in the movement and who is almost the total opposite of those he intends to portray. Neither Mussolini nor Hitler were the result of their movements, carried forth on the wave of devotion to power by people addicted to enslavement, they caused these movement to raise them to such power. There were active leaders, not passive bystanders like this teacher in the book seems to be. The real teacher acted for more dominant and authoritative than the fictional teacher.
The main problem of this book is however the story telling. The story is neat enough, but it never comes to any brilliant descriptions or depictions. Some key moments are utterly ridiculous, like the one where the teacher at the end convinces the principal of the school to give him one more day to have his kids learn a lesson. I can’t imagine he would have. The ‘experiment’ has run amok.. it had to be stopped at once. Who in his right mind would have allowed another day of messing with kids?
Another example is where writer fails to use a detail about the teacher at the start of the book that he could have used in his climax. He tells how the teacher is fumbling with a projector and how he is a disaster with technical equipment. However, the writer never gets to using that. It begs to be used in the finale. And this illustrates the writing, there are no intriguing conversations or captivating moments. Instead we are served cliches. The outcast boy who rises to a favorite position in the movement and who is shown compassion after the movement is debunked. The boy who realizes and confesses to the errors of his way after he rudely addresses his girl friend because she opposes the movement. (At the end the story is about a hairbreadth away from having them walk into the sunset hand in hand.) And of course.. when it comes down to it, the movement doesn't help them win the football game. Of course not. How could it be? Fascism improving football performance? That all american game? The idea alone! The irony is that Ron Jones tells that he noticed that the students performed better even in the short time the experiment lasted. An uncomfortable piece of information Morton could have used. What if they had won the game? Would that not have been interesting? What price are we willing to pay for winning? It is here were the story teller should have taken a hand but instead Morton Rhue wastes the opportunity.
The fact is that story is underpinned by a strange delusion. It’s not the wave that worries, it’s the non wave(the ripple). It’s the idea that somehow, when it comes down to it, evil can be as quickly defeated as it emerges if just a few stand up against it. It makes a joke of what happened in history. Replace The Wave with orcs and goblins, Koreans or communists and it is the same old delusion. It’s the great fiction of the power of the individual. Frodo, just throw the ring into mount Doom and the great evil is gone! Teacher,just show them Hitler and then it is all over! The crowd disperses. The movement falls apart. The evil evaporates. Just needs a bit of catharsis to get people down to earth and then serve them love, logic or the bible and happy times lie ahead.
The wave is pretty lame in the way it depicts this story and Morton Rhue could, no should, have done a lot more with it. He is after all a writer, not a reporter. Let us suppose the students work did improve? Would that make the movement alright? Is improvement good regardless of the price? And why do Christians not appear in the book. Or Blacks, Asians or any other minority? As far as I can tell everyone is WASP. Rhue shies away from these uncomfortable questions and situations and spins us an uninspired predictable tale. The good guys win, the bad guys turn away from the dark side and all is well. After reading Ron Jones notes and commentary, I would suggest to have a look at them, they are far more interesting to read than this book. I was going to give it three stars.. instead it gets two. ...more
Some books are rather unusual and Light Boxes is one of them. The book is a fantasy in which anything is possible. February has come, but February hasSome books are rather unusual and Light Boxes is one of them. The book is a fantasy in which anything is possible. February has come, but February has no intention of leaving and the towns people of a unnamed town are subjected to an unending spell of chilly weather dominated by snow and ice. The towns people are late to resist, for how does one resist February? But February, now personified, kidnaps and murders children and the people, led by Thaddeus Lowe and the Solution, a group of men wearing bird-masks, plan a revolt. But how to revolt against February? How indeed. Light Boxes reminded me of a dream I once had when I was feverish. Logic and reason, causality, death and any other rock solid idea are toyed with. People get killed, come to life later in the story, or make themselves even come to life. February is a man who can be killed, but his death will end the month too. But even February isn't February, for he could be someone else. And perhaps the cause of all problems might not be February, but maybe it was the creators that should be blamed. Shane Jones is not tied down by anything and he does not hold back on style either. Almost any kind or writing style is used and this is supported by the design of the book. Some pages just contain one word, others contain one line, some one line repeated over and over, jet others contain huge letters and some are just notes jutted down. I personally like this kind of experimental writing and I liked the story, but I can understand that some people find it hugely annoying as it is a unusual book and writing style. I hope other books will follow.
The more books I read the harder it gets to judge a book, despite the cover. It is the same for movies for me, which is why I am happy to be able to wThe more books I read the harder it gets to judge a book, despite the cover. It is the same for movies for me, which is why I am happy to be able to write moviereviews at IMDB without having to hand out points. One such book that is hard to judge is 'Being There'. It is a small book that I got at my local library, which few English bookcases seem to resemble some magical library that is able to conjure up far more books than I was willing to give it credit for based on it's apparent size. 'Being there' grabbed my interest because I know there is a movie of the same name that is based on this book. I haven't seen this movie, and now, after reading the book, I am not sure if I would want to see it because I doubt that it has much to add to it. But then again, maybe I will if I run into it. 'Being there' has got the same kind of atmosphere as Forest Gump has. A middleaged innocent man named Chance - you might see him as innocent as a new born baby - is confronted with the real world after his protector dies. Chance has spent his whole life as a gardener for this rich man and has never set a foot outside the house. The only way he knows about the world is through the television. On his first trip outside he happens to get hit by the car of Eve Rand, the wife of (another) powerful and rich man, Benjamin Rand. She takes Chance home and so he eventually mingles with the high and mighty through a series of happenstances and mistakes. His innocence, simplistic look and television knowledge is taken for wisdom or shrewdness and his lack of background and identity become points in his favor in a world where any kind of background can be used against you. This is basically what the book is about and it is told in a rather matter of fact kind of way. The story is hard to be taken serious and kept light, but sometimes I got the feeling that right below the irony and tongue in cheek humor there is sarcasm or perhaps cynicism lurking. For instance, while Chance has no proper knowledge of the economy he tells his ideas based on his experiences as a gardener after being asked about it. These words are thus (mis)taken as words of (economic) wisdom and even repeated by the president of the United States on television. The implication is that you don't really need any kind of proper understanding of economics as long as the words sound right and that those who ought to have a deeper understanding actually seem to lack proper judgement. In addition Chance gets invited to a television show and is asked for advise which shows that it is more important to have the right connections than to have proper understanding of the subject. Which might be true, but is sad to hear anyway. The book is full of scenes born from mistaken communication. At some point this even results in some embarrassing intimate sex scenes, which I found a bit distasteful. I won't go into details. Overall the book is slightly amusing but also a bit shallow. It's shortness is probably it's saving grace, another hundred pages would probably have seen the plot falter in one way or another. By now it is also something that you probably have seen and read before. A book for those who like light entertainment. I am not sure if there is anything thing more to it.
It happens that the public library of Alkmaar owns a few English books that have been turned into a feature movie. This process from turning a writtenIt happens that the public library of Alkmaar owns a few English books that have been turned into a feature movie. This process from turning a written text into a visual medium has my interest as I hope to learn from others to apply it for myself. It is my luck that I recently saw the movie "The boys from Brazil" and when I discovered the book - written by Ira Levin - in the library I knew I had to read it. Mind you, I am not going to take you through a point by point comparison. While this might be of interest to me, this is probably not of interest to you and as such this is not the place for it. Besides, it would require a lot more space and time then I am willing to take up and want to invest. And, as suggested, it might also be of interest to a very small group of people. This book is in conspiracy thriller. It is the kind where a nefarious organization is planning something bad for the world and only a few 'good' men are willing and able to oppose it. The authorities are ineffectual in these kind of books, either because they don't believe in the conspiracy, are part of it or just too impotent to do anything about it. So it is left to the individual hero to stand up and thwart the bad guys. In this book the hero it Yakov Liebermann, an aged jewish nazi hunter who is well past his prime. It is the seventies now and a new generation is growing up. The second world war has been over for thirty years and other wars caused the interest in the nazis to fade away. There Vietnam; there is the conflict between the Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab countries; there is the cold war. The world has changed. Liebermann is an unusual hero, as he is old and has fallen on hard times. But he gets involved nevertheless when he gets a call from Brazil from a young man who is subsequently murdered. The man mentions one name that peeks Liebermann's interest. That is the name Mengele. The Nazi doctor who misbehaved at Auschwitz and is hiding out somewhere in South America. The investigation then goes underway as Liebermann slowly starts tp uncover the plot. He is however not without help. A lot of people still respect him or feel obliged to help him. With the assistance of these and others he finds out what is behind 'the boys from Brazil'. The story is an interesting one and although the conspiracy is a bit improbable, it isn't so improbable as to be impossible like other conspiracy are. What for me makes this book interesting is the way Ira Levin writes. At first I thought he couldn't write proper English, but it seems that he pictures himself how Yakov would have spoken English and thus his English sounds a bit awkward, because Yakov is Austrian. He often uses that in case of for instance Mengele. Although they think and speak in English, they are expressing themselves in a way a foreigner would. Not exactly right. The writing is also low on explicit violence. While the plot necessarily requires a lot of deaths, these are mostly mentioned or implied. In fact there are only a few described killing scenes. But probably the best reason are they way he sets up and describes some of the key moments in the story. There is one where Mengele finds out that his plan is going awry. He is good spirits, boisterous, pleasant and then, when he finds out something has gone wrong, the mask comes off and he becomes a violent man. Also the climatic scene at the end where Mengele and Libermann confront each other is brilliantly setup. Now to be honest, I have been influenced by the movie. Levin's Liebermann doesn't look at all like Laurence Olivier does in the movie. And every time the image of Olivier set itself over that of Ira Levin's Liebermann in the book. This even more goes for Gregory Peck, who just dominates the movie as Mengele and thus is the Mengele from the book. The final confrontation in the book is one that occurs between Peck and Olivier. Now a final note on some of the differences between the book and the movie. There aren't that many, the movie is recently loyal to the book. However, in the movie Liebermann investigates more or less without many outside help, while in the book he does get help from people. And, as said before, in the book the killings and the killers are mostly mentioned in a offhand manner, while they take some more precedence in the movie. There is one more thing that makes a difference between the book and the movie. The book works out the plot and the confrontations much better and that is not strange as a book can just take more time to set these things up. What in the movie looks like strange random meetings, is logically setup in the book. I liked the book and would recommend it if you like conspiracy stories or like to see how books are turned into movies. Ira Levin has a writing style you have to get used to, but once you understand it is a good read.
After reading Junky I discovered this book by Burroughs among the books dubbed as crime novels in my local public library. It was probably labelled asAfter reading Junky I discovered this book by Burroughs among the books dubbed as crime novels in my local public library. It was probably labelled as such because there is a murder in it and I don't think the library has a label for literature as such. So it would be the most logical choice from their viewpoint, but somehow this label doesn't fit the book. From the introduction and comments I gather that Burroughs and the co-writer Jack Kerouac were part of a literary movement called the Beat generation and that this book was written before they became famous. In fact the book was published after they both died because it was deliberately put off. It was the wish of one of the people involved in the murder that it would not be published in his lifetime. It ended up as being published in nobodies lifetime.. The result of the delay at publication was that the book gained a mythical state. Like many things that are unknown it peeks the interest, gains notoriety and heightens expectations. But what were the results? The book seems a lot like Junky, with the same down-on-their-luck types as feature in that book, but a little bit less criminal. Most of the people are poor and some are the brink of crime. The best term to define them is: a bunch of freeloaders. They live on the money others make and they get that money by borrowing and not paying back, gaining it in a half legal way or by outright crime. For example: one of the characters pawns the diamonds of a relative, pocketing the money for himself, without letting the relative know. Most of the book describes this freeloader life from various angles and against this backdrop is set the awkward semi-gay relation between a young man and an older man that finally ends in a death. The book is however not a crime novel. There isn't a real upbeat towards the killing, nor any investigation or anything else that is part of a crime novel. The murder itself and the aftermath actually are only a small part of the book and occur well in the end. It feels almost as and anti-climax when it does, which it probably will be for anyone attracted to crime novels. The murder isn't what the book is about. But what is? The charm of the book is the writing, which is to the point and frugal. Just like in Junky there is not a word too much it this book and no beating about the bush. The story is told straight and without any moral justification from the writer. Crime happens, people steal, someone gets robbed. It all is told in the same way as the writer tells that people had a bite, took a leak or banged their girlfriend. The characters in the book have opinions of course, but nothing is morally weighted by the writer. Everything is told as it happens, to the point. It is almost clinical. I like the writing style as a way to learn how to write. The shortness of the book combined with a efficient writing style made it readable. The problem I foresee for me is that much more of this will start to bore. If a bigger book would be filled with just more scenes of freeloading then such book will become a tedious read. It does make me curious about the books that made Burroughs famous. I assume there must be a lot more to them.
It is a twist of fate. The public library in my home town, with only three bookcases of English books, harbors a few books that have been turned into It is a twist of fate. The public library in my home town, with only three bookcases of English books, harbors a few books that have been turned into movies at one time or another. Perhaps not too surprising considering that the preponderance of crime novels and crime novels seem to be a favorite genre of books to turn into a movie. And one of them is 'No Country for Old Men'. It's a depressing title for sure. It invokes the image of cranky oldsters reminiscing how everything used to be better: the milk, the butter, the cheese, the people and the crime. And it is that kind of book. It would have been boring, if the writer hadn't employed a few things to keep your attention. First is the MacGuffin of the story. A man, called Moss, runs into a crime scene and finds a suitcase with a few million dollars. Everyone is dead, nobody knows he is there. What would you do? Moss takes the money and runs. But running isn't as easy as he might think. For one, there is family to contend with, and for another, a lot of a other people want that money as well. One of those is the coldhearted psychopath Anton Chigurh. The man carves a path of dead bodies through humanity. The dead pile up wherever he goes. Next to him are a lot of shady, often unnamed, types that take potshots at Moss. Most of them are more meat for the meat grinder that Chigurh is. More dead bodies. Next to those are the authorities, represented by Sheriff Bell, the old man in the title. The whole story then proceeds along these three lines: Moss, Chigurh and Bell and ends in a tone true to the title: sad. I leave it open how sad exactly. There is however something problematic with this book. The whole psychopath-goes-wild-theme is somewhat too fabricated. For some reason Chigurh gets away with murdering scores of people without the FBI getting involved. McCarthy paints us a picture of a wacko massacring a lot of people, often in the open, and he doesn't get caught or even suspected and so Bell can exclaim 'this is no country for old men' and ponder quitting his job. I found that a weak element in the book. It is simply unbelievable that anyone can get away with what Chigurh did without the federals getting on his case and someone gunning him down.
Now this all makes for a book that would not have gotten more than three stars from me, if it wasn't for the writing style. McCarthy uses various styles to tell the story. There is the internal monologue of Bell. There is the third person view of Moss and Chigurh and there is the for me interesting style of dialog. I am used to write dialog like this: "Where are you driving to?," Merit says. But McCarthy writes it down like this: Where you going? No "", and usually no indicating of who says what. This could become confusing if not handled properly, but McCarthy does as he pulls it off if you pay attention. Sometimes I had to read back a little, but he usually keeps it clean enough so you are sure who is saying what.
For that I am giving McCarthy some extra credits. That is why I give the book 4 stars.
I refrain from writing this review by using a second person point of view, because some have done so already and for me it wasn't what inspired me to I refrain from writing this review by using a second person point of view, because some have done so already and for me it wasn't what inspired me to stop reading after chapter three. My problem is with Strosses writing style. He uses the second person point of view, but in such a way that you can't discern between those moments when you are reading a character's observation and those moments when you are reading the writer's thoughts. Probably everything is meant to reflect the current character's opinion, but it confused me to no end. In addition the writer felt obliged to spice up his writing with inside words - mostly made up - that muddled the dialogue and made me sigh in exasperation. Now don't get me wrong. I read Snowcrash and other books that use slang, but the writers of those books somehow managed to keep the conversations understandable, while Stross goes hellbent on trying to be as obscure as he can get. In addition he doesn't take time to introduce a character, but instead skips from character to character every chapter and it is hard to figure out who these characters are, why we get introduced to them and where Stross is going. One chapter was mostly about how to deal with an insurance fraught or something, which was boring to read and seems to have no relevance at all to anything, while the chapter that introduces the McGuffin, -the bank robbery- is kept short. Perhaps it is unfair to judge a book after three chapters, but I skipped through the book and it doesn't get any better. I gave it a two for nice try.
Does a voluminous book require an equally voluminous review? I gather that it doesn't, for some books, either good or bad, can do with a short verdict.Does a voluminous book require an equally voluminous review? I gather that it doesn't, for some books, either good or bad, can do with a short verdict. V for Vengeance is such a book. It was a rather copious book for me and I am surprised I managed to read it and even like it. In fact I am even more surprised because crime novels aren't actually my thing. But then again it was unavoidable because my local library's collection of English books consist of three bookcases, about shoulder high and two meters in length, and two of them are filled with crime novels, just to give you an idea. V for Vengeance is also a surprise because the leading character, Kinsey Millhone, is not your typical hard boiled private detective. You know, the kind Humphrey Bogart plays in the Maltese Falcon or in the Big Sleep, a cynical loner with no love for the police and almost no social life to speak of. Kinsey Millhone is more akin to Gittes from Chinatown. She is a stickler for the rules, tries to stay on the good side of the police and avoids violence. The story is also somewhat unusual in that the it isn't actually a whodunit, but rather a howdoesitallfittogether kind of tale. From the start you know who has done it and you follow Kinsey on her investigations knowing that somewhere down the line she might run into the killer. Just you do not know how and when. You also know that Kinsey isn't aware of this because her job has got nothing to do with figuring out who killed the victim - because it is assumed she has committed suicide- but with finding out about her shoplifting past. This against Kinsey knowing better, for she has caught the victim redhanded. Interspaced with Kinseys story is that of Nora and Dante. Nora is a woman who finds out that her husband is cheating on her and Dante is a loanshark with ties to the maffia, who wants out of the business. A love relation of sorts develops between Dante and Nora, but a dark secret is between them. All the story-lines come together at the end. I found it a nice read, although at times Grafton relies a bit (too) much on coincidences. But for me it was a untypical crime novel with a low violence level and believable characters. There are a few annoyances. The book is copious because Grafton takes her time in spinning out her tale where she could have kept things interesting by trimming the text. For instance she has a tendency to describe chores in detail while this serves no purpose but to bore the reader. It could have saved maybe a hundred pages if these superfluous lines had been removed. Also I find Kinsey’s enmity towards the reporter Diana somewhat too ‘classical’. PI’s either dislike the police or the press or both. And everyone hates politicians. It would have been nice if Grafton had avoided this overused story feature. The last thing I found strange was that one of the cops - the corrupt one- seemed to be everywhere. I find it just hard to belief that he happens to stonewall the right persons, manages to manipulate the press and the evidence and also has a lot of cop friends who are doing him favors beyond the call of duty. It was a weak plot element to rely on such a typical omnipresent bad guy and it should have been avoided. I did like the book and would like to read another one(I understand it is part of a series).
Hmmm.. this review is longer than expected. ...more
I have a like for books that are frugal with their words and in this respect The Postman Always Rings Twice is akin to Treasure Island and Junky. Not I have a like for books that are frugal with their words and in this respect The Postman Always Rings Twice is akin to Treasure Island and Junky. Not one superfluous word and any description or conversation is to the point and just enough to execute the scene. Rough sketches. You have to like it. The story is a dark one, that develops along sociopathic lines and that doesn't end well. A drifter gets a job at a petrol station from the owner. A kind gesture that is repaid by murder. The drifter and the owner's wife fall in love or lust -you pick- and the husband is in the way. It isn't much of a spoiler to tell this, because the deed is only a step along the way of cheerless amorality that is the essence of the story. The killing is plotted without much shame or empathy for the victim. In the end they don't get away with it. There is a brief respite when the drifter gets help from a shrewd lawyer, who's prime goal is to thwart the the district attorney. He actually succeeds, or so it seems. But whatever faith awaits the murderers in the end, it isn't one of divine justice or not in the way that Caim describes it. You have to read it for yourself. The story, published in the thirties, must have been shocking in a world that has yet to have knowledge of slasher horror movies or sociopaths like Hannibal Lector. It is deep noir, nobody is decent, not even the victim, everyone is driven by their own selfish desires. The lawyer nor the DA are motivated by justice, instead it is a game to them, the accused are just pawns in their mirthless game in which you sometimes win and sometimes lose. Perhaps the book was influenced by the black mood that resulted from the crisis after the financial crash of 1929. A desperate world in which kindness and justice holds no sway and everyone is out to get someone. Lucky for us, it is just a book. I aim to read another book of James M. Cain.
I am sorry to say that this book bored me off the bat and by page thirty I returned it to the library. The writer is to blame for this.
He takes the rI am sorry to say that this book bored me off the bat and by page thirty I returned it to the library. The writer is to blame for this.
He takes the roundabout route in telling how two friends discover that the device a dad of them left behind is actually a time travelling machine. You know the type of dad. A brilliant scientist who in his free time makes time travelling devices from computer spare parts and names them, how original, QPads.
The dad has disappeared in time and the search for him is on.
But instead of throwing the readers into an inspiring scene and picking up speed from there, the story starts out lackluster and drags on. I paged forward to see if it got any better, but it seems that timid exposition is Jack McDevitt's way of storytelling.
No doubt this my own experience and it doesn't help that I am not particular interested in time travelling nor in Sci-Fi. A boring book like this does not entice to read more. ...more
Kate is an edgy sarcastic kick-ass babe with a sharp sword named Slayer. A magic sword of course, for a real kick ass girWho the heck is Kate Daniels?
Kate is an edgy sarcastic kick-ass babe with a sharp sword named Slayer. A magic sword of course, for a real kick ass girl in a world turned to urban fantasy can't be without one. Just like she has to be tattooed in a place you can only fantasize about and wear a leather jacket two sizes too large. It would be unseemly otherwise.
Kate is you typical loner that everybody wants to have, either in bed or as a hired henchman or for lunch. And thus she can give them all the middle-finger without incurring the penalties for doing so. Like being torn apart by the Beast Lord for gross insolence. Not that he isn’t an insolent asshole himself. This testosterone filled uber macho has to play top dog for everyone else, but you know, deep down inside, he is just a little pussy. Is he a love interest? Is he going to tear her apart? We are warmed up a lot but nothing gets delivered.
Kate is not to be had. She is too busy or too independent. Oh, and she doesn't fit into any of the organisations that beg her services: they all suck one way or another.Loyalty goes to persons.
Get the picture?
Now Kate is also twenty five with -say- about a decade of experience in her particular line of work. And an accomplished magic user too. And an experienced sword wielder. And a well educated damsel, she speaks her languages. And has knowledge of very obscure things. But there is an explanation for the latter two things: it is her father who taught her everything. Her human father that is.
Score one for home education.
You might think that would be enough material to write about, but Kate is also provided with a mysterious background to entice you to cling to the series.. Who is her real father? No doubt it gets revealed at some point, say in book five of the series, and boy, you will you be dissatisfied.
Granted the book is a nice read. I like the slang Andrews uses and I learned a few words I never heard before such as expletive. Hopefully I can use them to my advantage. But the story is in a shambles. At various points it looks like Andrews changed her mind or got stuck and then needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get the story going again. Examples? When the investigation is dead in the water Andrews lets a vampire attack Kate so she can extract information from it. There.. issue solved. And when the story is going nowhere fast again she has the villain turn up so the story gains traction again. At some point she seems the reconsider a developing romance between Kate and some dude because there is a more virile guy entering the stage. So she changes the guy's personality so he loses any wit he has and doesn't match with Kate at all. The whole affair seems forcibly inserted into the story as if to give Kate a more human side or perhaps to lead us down the wrong path in the search for the bad guy. It not just these changes of heart, but it's also the inconsistencies in the story. For instance: Kate is good at her job, but is broke. A feat that goes unexplained. There is a so called crusader of the order that hunts the villain for four years who is apparently a crazy loner but armed to the teeth and operates secretly at the same time. This crusader conveniently turns up at the right place at the right time two thirds into the story. Almost as an afterthought, for most of the book he never puts in an appearance. A most secretive guy indeed. There is no good explanation for it other then that Andrews wanted him to be there cause he is going to give Kate something she needs to kill the bad dude with. Another rabbit pulled out of a hat to get the story going again.
And the list of convenient developments goes on and on. Take the wards for instance that the villain uses to break Kate's ward and then conveniently abandons so she can use it against him later on. Or the fact that the villain apparently lets the crusader live while he kills everyone else because the crusader will give Kate the only weapon with which the villain can be killed. Or take the scene where Kate sits sipping wine on her porch, while the evil guy and his minions approach. She waits him out and then , when she is about to be attacked, she jumps inside her house where she is safe from harm, due to aforementioned wards he has left behind.
Ilona Andrews see likes to write scenes, but loses sight on what should connect them: a good story line. She thinks as a movie-maker: this is a cool scene and that is a cool scene. Storyline? Uhm, think of that later, because I got another cool scene to write down.
I can’t resist to compare Kate Daniels to Sonja Blue. I liked Sonja Blue, especially in the first books. She seems more human than Kate to me, even though she is a crazy vampire. Kate is just a bit too good to be believed with all her abilities, special backgrounds and tons of experience she has despite being twenty-five.
Does this all make for a bad book? Not at all. It is certainly entertaining. Especially when I compare it to a Sci-FI book named 'Time Travellers never die', which I was reading at the same time.
Magic Bites is certainly not as good as Sunglasses after dark. I would like to give a second book a try, just to see if Andrews does a better job. Unfortunately it might never happen, as my local library doesn't have it and I rather buy books I really like.
(updated 1 February 2015 to improved some writing)...more
Treasure Island is no doubt a prime example of the boy adventure book. Written by Robert Louis Stevenson at the end of the 19th century, it is the stoTreasure Island is no doubt a prime example of the boy adventure book. Written by Robert Louis Stevenson at the end of the 19th century, it is the story of Jim Hawkins, the boy who finds the treasure map that sets the tale in motion.
The story of treasure island was originally serialized in a children's magazine called Young Folks, I read in Wikipedia. It was a story for boys that fantasize about a great adventure and end up getting rich. The latter seems more like the required reward than a goal. The treasure is the MacGuffin for the story. It is all about the adventure.
But treasure island is a little bit more than an adventure. The tale. on the face of it, sees Jim Hawkins, helped by Dr Livesey and squire Trelawney travel to an island that is simply called Treasure Island. Their great adversary is Long John Silver, who initially takes on a job as the ships cook, but when arrived at the island basically takes over power with the bulk of the crew, who happen to consist mostly of pirates and buccaneers, which Trelawney recruited on the advice of Silver.
This did not go unnoticed by the captain, Mr Smollett, a taciturn man, who expresses his concern about the nature of the bulk of crew of which he in general disapproves. As it turns out: he wasn't wrong in doing so.
Although the story seems on the face of it to be one of treasure seeking, the fact is that there is actually not much treasure seeking being done. Indeed, the story seems more about the conflict between the group of mutineers and the small group of people who oppose them. It is also a lot about duplicity and betrayal against loyalty.
The story is rife with double crossing and treachery. Long John Silver is at the center of it. Pretending to be a honest inn keeper who helps out as a cook on board, Jim Hawkins finds out about his true nature when Hawkins is inside a barrel and hears Silver plot with his crew mates against Hawkins and friends.
There is also this mysterious death of the first mate in which Silver has a hand. The first Mate, a good for nothing drunk, somehow gains access to alcohol (which is forbidden) and finally disappears completely. The idea is that he has fallen overboard, but who knows, maybe he was helped with the falling.
Hawkings finds out that it was Silver who was supplying the first Mate with alcohol. But what is more, his convenient death allowed Silver to replace him.
Silver is continuous playing both sides against the middle. He takes control of the mutiny against Hawkings, but when Hawkins is captured later by the pirates, he secretly plots against them with Hawkins. Hawkins however is playing his own game against Silver. He doesn't trust him one bit, knowing very well about his double dealing plans he overheard when hiding in a barrel.
In the end it is Silver who is double crossed by both Hawkins and Dr. Livesey, or rather by Ben Gunn. But how that works out, you have to read for yourself.
Treasure island seems to have had a remarkable influence as it has had many adaptions. There is good reason for that and this lies in the fact that the story is tightly controlled. Stevenson keeps it clear cut, tight and simple. There is barely a word too much in this story. The characters are given the right amount of space and are fleshed out according to their role in the story. Stevenson throws just enough lines in for Silver and the other pirates to make them feel genuine, but he never overdoes it.
The same goes with the background and scenery. Stevenson spices the story about his fictional pirates with pirates who really existed, which gives the whole a feel of reality. Captain Flint, the pirate who has buried the treasure never existed, but he is described with enough details that allude to real events and real pirates.
Pirates have captured the imagination of writer and readers throughout history. For instance: the movie pirates of the Caribbean is still popular. I sometimes think that heroes like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones are in a certain way the successors to these pirates. These successor are however a more positive version of treasure hunters. More benevolent. Usually they do not do it to get rich but rather for a more lofty goal like furthering knowledge or thwarting nazis.
It is interesting to have read this book, but personally I find it a bit too light for my taste. Stevenson keeps it tight, as said before, and this means there is little time spend on character development. For instance, squire Trelawney is an interesting man, in that he seems like someone too full of himself and a bit senseless, and there is room for him to grow.
Stevenson presents us with a whole set of these interesting characters: Smollet, Dr. Livesey, Trewlaney and Silver, but most get just enough space to make the proper impact, but nothing more. And women, they hardly feature at all in this book, only in the role of Hawkins' mother and Silver's, mentioned, but not presented, wife.
As said, it’s a boys book, and for boys women are beings from another planet which are best to be avoided probably because the S thing might crop up. The boys world is one of ascetic purity.
It’s a boy's world and Treasure Island is a boy's book. Something you might read just to know how one looks like, but I don't think I'll read another:P...more
(contains a section that can be seen as a spoiler: it is at the end and marked as such)
I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this book for t(contains a section that can be seen as a spoiler: it is at the end and marked as such)
I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this book for two reasons: I have a interest in post apocalyptic settings and like to see how a book is translated into a movie. The translation of the book into a movie is something that we need not consider here. Although there are similarities between them, they are superficial at best. Unless the sequel to the movie gets aligned to the book, that is. There are three similarities: there is a zombie outbreak, the storyline plays out all over the world, and there is the same character that we follow: the UN investigator. But the latter’s role is just totally different. In the book he has almost no personality as he is only used to give voice to the people telling their stories, while in the movie Brad Pitt takes the center of the stage. The audio book adds an additional layer to story. A book that I read lets me give the voices their own characteristics in my mind. A ‘hero’ is to me something personal that I fill in. I read from various other reviews that many found the writings to be similar voiced. I did not experience that as such as they used distinct voices in the book that gave them color and personality.
Now let’s mention some good points of the audio book.
The stories from everywhere created an interesting jigsaw puzzle that not only pieces together an overall idea of what was going on in the world at the same time, but also build up to unfold the development of the zombie ‘war’. It is an interesting, and certainly fresh idea for a zombie apocalyptic story. The writer tries to keep the pieces fitted together by referring forward and backward to certain key moments, events or ideas, which is certainly helpful at the start of story as the jumping all over the place can also create confusion if not kept in check. The voices used in the book helped a lot with fleshing out the characters and I was certainly gripped by some of the stories.I saw in the actor list that they used some respectable actors for various roles: Alan Alda,Jurgen Prochnow, Martin Scorcese, Bruce Boxleitner, Frank Darabont. Some stories stand out for me. The one related by the Chinese doctor Kwang Jinghsu who tells about the first zombie case he runs into and the description is horrifying. The flight of the Indian Ajay Shah to try and escape by ship via Alang, the ships’ graveyard. The one told by the blind Japanese hermit Tomonaga Ljiro who seeks to die in a lone forest, but refinds faith. But I was specially gripped by the story of colonel Christina Eliopolis who is sucked out of her damaged airplane but manages to save herself by chute and lands in marsh full of wandering zombies hundred of miles from safety.
So to the bad points.
The first good point is also the first bad point, because all the stories are separate stories that tells but a moment in the whole war, there is little room for character development. This makes a character rather one dimensional. There is some kind of attempt to give the ‘grunt’ Todd Wainio a kind of overall binding role as he returns several times and has most of the space in the story, but he is the least interesting of all characters as he is as fake as can be. I am probably too European to like the way some Americans like to represent their military, and Max Brooks is one of those. Overconfident and smug. He is that guy that flattens your hometown and napalms the surrounding lands and then approaches your with a big smile to say: “So there missy, that should settle it. No need to worry. We got it all under control.. We’ll be heading over the next town now. But I might be around later on, if you feel interested.” Wink. (Waino tells the interviewer on a side note that he is certain he has some kids fathered by some grateful ladies from the places he liberated. What a revolting man).
As much as there are likable characters -or at least believable characters- in the story there are also totally unbelievable characters. The prime unbelievable character is General Travis D'Ambrosia, the commander in chief. At the moment the counter attack is ordered he is basically a defeatist and should have been relieved of command. He tells the interviewer some nonsense about three basic rules of war: men must be bred, fed and led. And then he explains how all these rules do not apply to the zombies. And then tells of more advantages they have, totally neglecting to mention all the weakness zombies have and which can be exploited(which they later do). An almost equal unbelievable character is the Englishman David Allen Forbes. He was introduced as having experience with castles and writing a book about it and then goes to tell some nonsense about European History in which the middle ages are classified as institutionalized anarchy.
But it got worse.. Next he mentions that there is a difference between a castle and a palace and he mentions how castles were often turned into palaces so they lost their defensive value. And that is true enough. And then he says the most profound stupid thing I have ever heard: ”.. like Versailles, that is why it was such a cock up.” Did I hear him say: like Versailles? I played it again: Versailles. Again: Versailles. Versailles? VERSAILLES!!!!!! %^%^&&**&*& No student of any level of history of warfare would ever mention Versailles as a defensive structure. Versailles was not a palace converted from a castle. It was build from the ground up as a prestigious object to show off the power and wealth of Louis XIV, the 17th Century king of France, the ruler of the most powerful nation of Europe at that time. Versailles was exactly not a defensive place because Louis had a big army, and big navy to protect him and plenty of forts if he needed them. It was exact the opposite of a castle because he could say: I can afford such a place and do not fear my enemies.. It was never at anytime considered or converted or used as defensible structure, not by the French, not by the Germans when they occupied France, not by the Allies when they liberated Europe.. Nearby Disneyworld Paris is more defensible. Only an utter clueless guy would mention Versailles or use it.
Another weak point in the story is that the style of story is distant, observational and in hindsight. You know that everyone is basically going to survive. There seems to be seldom any interaction between the interviewed of the moment and anyone else of the interviewed. It turns to matter of fact observations. This is perhaps intentional, but it creates distance. As if you are hovering above it instead of being in the midst of it. It also takes away any uncertainties doubts, or interesting complication. Nobody of all of the interviewed seems to contradict someone else. It is dry, distanced and faultless. Which might make a nice report, but takes away from the story. But what I often missed is the anguish people would experience when they see one of their loved ones turned or sick. Or even see them back as zombies. Brooks describes that at the start somewhat. But soon enough he the zeds are zeds. That they are your friend, lover, partner, dad, mom or buddy is pushed aside fairly rapidly.
And then there is this.. this -how to tell it- this demonstration of a certain myopic mindset. When public humiliation and corporal punishment(flogging) are reintroduced crimes are are no more, so we are told by the former vice president of the United States.. I see. And when American soldiers ‘fight’ they suffer of course less losses than say the Russians and the Chinese man on man.. Of course. And in Israel a rebellion erupts when the zombies start to show up, because certain extreme groups in Israel rather compromise the safety of the whole nation to further their own cause. Right. Patriotism is only for Americans. And the Cuban problem is easily solved by having them take in five million United States refugees so that the western(=American) ideas of greed ( oh sorry: free enterprise) and democracy gets spread around and eventual restores Cuba to a democracy. It is that simple. And when a German officer(from West Germany) is ordered to abandon civilians by his (former East German) superior, he at first refuses, but when pressured buckles under anyway. without asking an explanation, consulting his staff or talking it through with the civilians. Noo. All he has gained is the benefit of fifty years of western inspired conscience. See how down on their morals those (Former) Eastern Jerries really are anyway, cause that guy kills himself afterwards. But regardless of west or east: it is the same cadaver discipline of course and the same way out. They never change, those Germans: only their excuses. At some point I was wondering if this was meant to be satire or that Brooks really thinks that is how you deal with the worlds issues or how the world works?
But the list extends into the story telling. So the battle of Yonkers shows that the US army is not ready to deal with the dead yet. Mind you, they are shown to be extremely incompetent. Not even using things to hinder the advancing horde with, like say a wall of cars, barbed wire, cheval de fraises, minefields, stakes, ditches, wood fences, wires, fallen trees and anything else the books are filled with. And claymore mines! No Clymore mine. Easy to set up, deadly, shoot balls of metal that go right through you. But noo.. the army has been ordered to be incompetent. Or has it been written? For Brooks now tells us that there is a break between refugees and the zombies. Up till now he tells us in all other stories how they were mixed. But the Battle of Yonkers is designed by Brooks to show of the incompetence of the US army, forced on them by who knows who? The press? The politicians? Their superiors? Why not blame them all! It is a setup. We are looking directly at the writer forcing an unbelievable twist in his story. You can see his hands grabbing it, twisting and turning, until it is disjointed enough so that the best equipped army in the world loses the first time around. Mano-a-mano. Zombies 1. Humans 0. It is one of those fake wrestling matches. They have to lose to have the US overrun, but also to have the army get up for a second round. As if war just consist of a few important battles.
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Its a few years later, after this severe defeat the army counter attacks under command of mister defeatist D'Ambrosia via an offense from the rocky mountains. From the west to the east. Wow.. how many people would that take? Well, they walk side by side, just like how they search for survivors and evidence after an aircraft crash, so we are told. So that’s something like 1400 miles as the crow flies. And assume for every ten yard one grunt. That is 300.000 men. Oh wait they got a second line: 600.000. And then you need replacements, backups, support, perhaps some more men per 10 yard really, certainly in denser area’s. Double that. Triple that. Quadruple that. You need to guard the flanks too, the liberated areas. You need logistics, repairs. replacements. 5 million? 6? And that from a country that has suffered 200 million dead and lost over ⅗ of it’s land. And most of it’s industry and food supplying area’s. Brooks is basically unable to properly handle this. His stories are basically light weight and interesting, and work as separate instances, but he can't tie it together in the end. He needs to twist too much to make it work. I assume he does. Because I hope that he does not really belief all these things that he wrote down. It is such an absurd look of the world. But you got to give him credit for one thing though. Once the United States has won the victory at home, it doesn't retreat into isolation and let the rest of the world to it’s own devices. Why should they anyway. What would the world do without them! They got a whole world to liberate… or conquer. It is just the way you look at it. It is..
So...... It's a good book. It really is.. Of course, I have to admit that To Kill a Mocking Bird was not an easy read for me, but this has nothing to doSo...... It's a good book. It really is.. Of course, I have to admit that To Kill a Mocking Bird was not an easy read for me, but this has nothing to do with the book itself, but rather with my haphazard reading habits. I am not a very good reader, actually. And you have to believe me, for this is no attempt at humility or browbeating of myself: it is a fact. You see, at times I just skip parts of a book and then page backwards to read what I must have missed, and then skip forward again to pick where I broke of. And so it was with To Kill a Mockingbird.. Well..., almost. At least at the beginning. But this book is compelling and it somehow commands you to pay attention. It traps you, so you have to follow what is going on. You'll have to. There is no escape.. beware. This book reminded me of a book about Coca Cola. It mentioned how, in the thirties, it's advertising strategy changed dramatically. Coca Cola hired Norman Rockwell as an artist and Rockwell conjured up Huckleberry Finn and similar scenes to chase away the sufferings of extreme poverty. It was after the financial crisis of 1929 and poverty struck, hard. But it was countered by something that was akin to the love and admiration for simple things. It was poverty, but also that feel of pureness. Of simple things appreciated, because they are simple.. and honest and close to the heart. The book can be divided in two parts. Not as such, but by inference. There is a first part which describes the life of the protagonist(I am deliberately obscure here) It describes the life of a mid western village. The people are poor.. really poor, for they can often only pay in kind. The father of the protagonist is a lawyer. And some of his clientele have no money to spend.. so they give him things. Goods. Eggs, sides of bacon.. you know. Things you can use or eat. We are flung back towards the middle ages economically. And we are far far from the Rules of Civility. Rules of Civility? Yes.. that is another book that is set in the thirties, but that one does not have poor mid western town as focus, but bon ton New York, the affluent, and certainly that book has no knowledge of racial issues. Indeed, Rules of Civility is basically unaware of the 'racial' issues for it only tells us about the whites and the negroes do not surface in that book. Segregation? What segregation? But not so in To Kill a Mockingbird. The first part almost seamlessly merges with the second part. Which has a trial at it's center. It is the trial of a negro accused of having raped a white girl. It seems to be the pivot of the second part, yet it is not, for what is at the center is not actually the trial itself.. it is humanity. When the father of the protagonist acts as lawyer for the defense, he does so against knowing better and while he does so he makes a difference. The heart of this book is humanity, whether it is Jean, the main character in the book or her brother or their housemaid Calpurnia or the father Atticus or judge Taylor or the sharp tongued neighbor Miss Maudie or Boo Radley, the recluse who hides from himself in his house, yet issues forth to come to the rescue of Jean and her brother at the end. It is in Heck Tate, the sheriff who stands up to Atticus when he is a bit too certain that justice should be served. It is humanity that is at the center of this book. And it is hopeful and positive. And there is where it fails to get the final fifth star. It's just a bit too neat really. Really... Reality? Reality is a bit harsher then this book wants it to be and I do not buy into it. I love each character in this book.. but down to earth.. it is just too much a fairy story. A great fairy story, but make-believe in the end. Despite my cynical view I would recommend to book to anyone. It is about humanity.. and that is a good thing.
Junky is a horrid book. The focus of this novella is the shallow and deplorable life of the drugs addict as he ambles through life to get to his next Junky is a horrid book. The focus of this novella is the shallow and deplorable life of the drugs addict as he ambles through life to get to his next fix. Burroughs' book is unmitigated, the focus is the constant struggle with addiction, for an addict is torn by two opposing desires; to get his fix and to kick his habit. If this was a movie then the camera would be constant on Burroughs, thinking of ways to get money to get a fix, trying to get a fix, suffering before and after, then trying to get rid of it, actually succeeding in getting clean up for a short while and then falling back into his old life in no time at all. In the mean time he is constantly experimenting with an ever increasing selection of drugs to find that heavenly kick on the cheap. Sometimes you wonder where he gets the money or what social life he has except for hanging out with his junky buddies or being high or strung out. At times he tells us a few things. Like he has a kind of allowance that gives him a certain yearly income. And at one time he buys a farm with a buddy that eventually earns him a profit that evaporates when he wastes it all on his addictions. Sometimes we get a glimpse of other people. He is married, for at times, especially when he is in Mexico, his wife puts in an appearance. But these are just brief excursions, for the camera gets yanked back to focus on him. It is a lurid life. The lines between users and pushers(sellers) is blurred as users start pushing to be able to fund their addiction(s). Sometimes they turn informer for the police, when they get arrested and strike deal or for money. Or just for any other reason. Burroughs tells us, in a matter of fact voice, how these addicts degenerate morally, turning to all manners of illegal behavior such as stealing or robbing drunks. This degeneration of morals even affect certain doctors, nicknamed croakers, who write out prescriptions for them so they can get a shot of morphine knowing fully well that they actually do not need them for what morphine is meant for. Shocking are the experiments with new drugs. In their desire for a next fix and due to the constant lack to fund their addiction they are willing to try anything that might seem to suffice. Almost anything that could be taken for a drug is tried out eventually. It is not a nice book to read and sometimes you want to put it down because the life of these people are so dreary, shallow and shockingly grotesque. But somehow you keep on reading, perhaps because you assume that their must be some kind of end. A closure. There is one and it is better not to tell much about it, just that it is not what I would have expected. This books reminds me somewhat of A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. The latter has more story perhaps, but there is similarity in the way they describe the lives of addicts. No doubt because Dick was an addict himself and knew what he was writing about, like Burroughs. Although I do not think this is a book to 'enjoy' it is no doubt a book to read just to get an idea about what it must be to be an addict. And perhaps that is the major strength of this book, especially if you are an aspiring writer and want to get an glimpse of the life of a drugs addict, without going through the experience yourself. I was hovering between a 3.5 and a 4.
Welcome to my, hopefully short, review of the graphical novel 'Elke raaf pikt' made by Jean-Pierre Gibrat, the title of which could be traIntroduction
Welcome to my, hopefully short, review of the graphical novel 'Elke raaf pikt' made by Jean-Pierre Gibrat, the title of which could be translated as: each raven picks, the latter word being used as meaning 'to steal' and at the same time as 'the picking of a bird'. I write this in English incidentally even though this is a Dutch book translated from French. I am not sure if there is an English version out there, but if there is none, it ought to be made as it is a fine example of graphical storytelling. Below will follow a review in three parts: the story, the graphics and a conclusion. The story part will have a spoiler as I have to say something about the end of the novel, however I will arrange that in a separate section that is at the end of the part discussing the story.
The story The story and the characters are neatly done. There are not that many characters in this story and that is actually a pre as now there is time to give each their individuality. The people are also normal people, with their good sides and bad sides and without superpowers or gung ho shoot-em up mentalities. And nobody is dressing in oddly colored tights to fly through the air and beat up the Jerries. There is even very little violence in this comic and if there is any it is done realistically.
The story tells about Jeanne who gets arrested by the French police. It is 1944 and the allies have just landed in France, but Paris is still occupied and Jeanne is a fix because she belongs to the communist resistance. There is a danger this will be discovered and she will be handed over to the Germans. In the police prison she meet Francois, a small time thief, trickster and crook who helps her escape and arranges a hideout for the two of them. The hideout is actually a boat called Himalaya which is owned by a family of three. The boat is at the center of the story for most of the time. The bulk of the story revolves around two issues: Jeanne's search for her sister, who has disappeared and the question who has betrayed her to the police. In the mean time, Jeanne and Francois develop an attraction for each other. Gibrat is good at mixing various elements in make an engaging story and he does it quite right, never overdoing it, or having people do unbelievable things.
But there are a few problems with the story(spoiler alerts).
At some point the boat on which Jeanne hides is ordered by the Germans to transport things for them. A soldier is put on board to oversee the activities. This soldier is from Strassbourg, a part of France that was added to Germany. He speaks French therefore even though he is a German. He also has been in Stalingrad and plagues by nightmares, he is also on a boat with the pretty Jeanne. The story seems poised for an very interesting development, with this soldier maybe having conflicting emotions serving the Germans and finding himself on the losing side, but basically nothing comes of it. And that is a pity. Also, at various moments in the story, Gibrat decides to keep the story going by using ‘convenient moments’. For instance at some point the police commissioner who has had Jeanne arrested at the start of the story pops up later in the story to move it forward by helping Jeanne to get into prison so she can meet Francois there, who has been captured by the Germans. It is very strange behavior for a man who previously was depicted as being a coward and opportunist and I find it hard to believe such a person would suddenly decide to help Jeanne. He might have had a volte-face because he needed to switch sides due to the German retreat, but this change of heart fits ill with him also becoming brave enough to help Jeanne while the Germans are still in control. Another very convenient moment is that at one time allied fighters strafe the boat without killing anyone, but they manage to hit the dead body a German soldier that has been killed by Jeanne previously. So now they can claim he died because of the allied attack, thus having a believable story to give to the Germans about the death of that soldier. Yet a third strange moment is that Jeanne's sister suddenly appears out of the blue somewhat into the story. As if Gibrat was getting bored with the search or just wanted it to finish so has Jeanne's sister appear at the boat. Another strange thing is that Jeanne at some point in the story loses a shoe and she walks about with just one shoe for a very long time, even though it would be logical for her to have her shoe replaced.
A last criticism I have is the end of the story. The last page should have been left out. The page before ends with Jeanne alone in snowy cold Paris anxious about the fate of Francois, who has been deported to a camp. Then the last page explains that he managed to escape the camp and is probably Switzerland. It is almost as if this last page was pasted on to the story to make a move happy ending. For the page before it could be that Francois was dead, while the last page makes it unlikely. It is as someone said to Gibrat: look this ending with Jeanne in wintry Paris is not very positive, so let's add another page to give it a more happy ending.
Graphics The comic is neatly drawn and Gibrat really likes his main character Jeanne who is in the picture most of the time. She is pretty, but he gives her a crooked smile which gives her a kind of unique personality. Gibrat does not shy away from offering detailed pictures of Paris and bars and such. It must have been a lot of work to make some of these drawings. However Gibrat seems is also somewhat conventional. He keeps the camera mostly level and does not experiment much with unusual angles. He keeps everything in focus. Nor does he go beyond the constraints of the picture. You will not see him for instance use several pictures next to each other to depict one scene. Or have a picture in picture effect. It is neatly arrange, conventional and not very experimental or imaginative. Another thing is that he seems to stick to a certain of man that comes back all the time, Francois, the german soldier, michel and most men seem more of less have the same overall shape. It is as if he defaults to this shape if he does not need to draw a more typical shape. There are more typical things like this. Like most german soldiers wear the same kind of outfit. Only in the last page the germans have long coats. It is as if he has drawn a kind of template that he uses most of the time, but only diverts from it when that is needed. However all of these are just minor points in my opinion.
Conclusion I really liked this graphic novel. It has believable likeable characters. The occurrences are believable even though there are a lot that are too convenient at times. It is a story that I belief could have happened and very well depicted.
However I hesitate to give it a five stars. This is mostly because I find there are too many convenient moments in the story. In addition Gibrat is just a tad too conventional in his drawings. In all I decided to give it a 4.5 out of 5, which is a 4, round down
This review will also appear on my blog and website where I will add some images from the novel to illustrate some points.
I find it hard to be critical of George Orwell because I like him and most of all I like his Homage to Catalonia: he was talking about people and evenI find it hard to be critical of George Orwell because I like him and most of all I like his Homage to Catalonia: he was talking about people and events that seemed real and were vividly painted. It was about believable people and written with a kind of emotion that touched me. (An aside: the Homage to Catalonia is a book about his experiences during the Spanish civil war, which is, I think, one of the most important historical moments of the mid twentieth century as it foreshadows in a way the Second World War as a focal point of the clash of political viewpoints, which at the moment sees western democracy triumph. Note I said: at the moment.)
Animal Farm was written after Homage and prior to 1984. It must have been an important book at time. The parallels with the Russian revolution amd the aftermath are obvious even to the casual observer. The historian in me noticed another parallel as well..to the French Revolution. Although it does not apply to the French revolution as easily as it does to the Russian, the same process is there: people revolt, they cast off the shackles of the old hierarchy, they establish a new rule in which equality, fairness and compassion abide for a short while, but then eventually one group or another, usually headed by one individual, rises to power and establish a new, but increasingly oppressive, rule. In the end the new rulers are akin to the old rulers. Only they use different words and meanings to cloak the same oppression.
I have to unfold my colors here: yups I am an anarchist, but one that finds that the best of all possible political systems is democracy. But still I believe that there is an development in which one group or another tries to establish a rule. Lucky for democracy this rule is often temporarily. But democracy has a hard job to keep it temporarily.
Animal farm as a description of the progress of rule in face of power is not very new to people nowadays. It is therefor a bit old.. and tedious to boot. However, it was new and unique at the time. It is dated nowadays, yet it is not in another. Which makes for a hard read.
The problem with Animal Farm is the result. The book distantly describes a progress that follows the same pattern: revolt against oppression, establishment of rule, establishment of a new rule, suppression of deviant voices. It paints this in a distant way. The story never gets really intimate or personal. Every time Orwell shoves a certain individual forward it is just for a short while. A very short while.. The 'camera' moves to another and to another after that.
This makes it hard to relate to any of the beings in the story. It is a distant observation of things happening. It seldom get personal enough to make you care.
In other words. It is a fine book as is and for it's historical significance. But as a work on to itself, separated of it's historical importance, I found it a bit boring.
This fable is meant for adults and not for kids but as such it isn't that well made. A fable told in the way you speak to a child, while it was never intended for a child, makes for a problematic story when told to an adult. An adult will not bother, but for the fame of the story, and a kid would not understand the significance.
Still Orwell remains a good writer and the story is marginally acceptable, but nowadays it is a tad dated and, maybe, boring at times even though it is short.