I’d been meaning to read a bit more Soviet-era fiction, particularly science fiction. And any exploration of that area is likely to involve the brothers Strugatsky: writers known for some excellently grim work with a coating of political commentary. (Roadside Picnic, filmed as Stalker is a supreme bummer, for starters.)
So it’s a bit of a surprise that my first Strugatsky novel turned out to be a detective story, free – mostly – of politicking, which features a collection of oddballs and a super-sentient dog. (more…)
If you’re interested in Japan, you’re probably aware of Shinto imagery. Even if you’ve never been, even if you’re not really that interested in religion, you’ll know some of its signifiers. Red gates, either in profusion or alone in the sea. Trees tied with paper. Clean temples and guardian animals.
There’s nothing like the romance of mountaineering to get me reading. Especially if the romance of exploring wild peaks in the hope of attaining another rank in sports mastery is overshadowed by a bunch of horrible subzero deaths by forces unknown.
This is a strangely compelling little book. It’s about disfigurement, love, lust, pornography and the finer points of mezzotint and etching. It’s a slim collection of fragments describing a leathery life, which eventually chokes to death far from its origin.
There’s also a lot of dicks described within. (more…)
Until this point, I’d only been familiar with de la Mare’s name, and not with his works. The Return has rectified that, but I’m left with some confusion about whether I actually liked the novel… and about whether I actually knew what was going on throughout.
So that’s a reasonable start, I guess: if both of those thorns haven’t put me off other authors, they shouldn’t put me off ol’ Walter, right? Right. (more…)
After last year’s surprise conclusion, I figured it was probably time to check out The Walking Dead. I mean, it’s the source material for the TV show of the same name (which seems to be no closer to ending than ever), and a bunch of video games.
A tale as old as time.
Luckily, the series’ publisher has released a number of compendiums – four in total – which collected huge chunks of the narrative in sequence, in 1100-page whoppers, echoing the Cerebus books in knee-breaking size.
First things first. This book is presented almost as a travelogue – a kind of Contiki holiday through the upper-end of the art world. It takes the reader on a trip behind the velvet rope to check out several aspects of the art life – an auction; a crit session; an art fair; a magazine; a studio visit and a Biennale. It could, were I uncharitable, seem a bit on the nose – a bit of an obvious structure. I mean, it’s a pretty blatant conceit.
If you’ve gotta pick a schtick, make it a GREAT one.
But it’s about the art world. Isn’t that the point? (more…)
Andrew McGahan is dead. And this is his last work. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work from Praise onwards – thanks to the excellent movie adaptation first, text later – and have appreciated the descriptive examination of the personal throughout his texts. The way he looked at lives that might be considered a failure by any measure, and shone tiny lights of relief on their struggles.
So naturally, his final book is a thriller, set on the edge of the world, in which degenerate wealth and animist revenge combine to paint a portrait of how fucked capitalism is, and how we’ve basically rooted the earth, to the point that it might smack us down for it.
OK, let’s do this thing before the month gets away from me.
At least the floor’s cleaner this year.
Here’s a list of books. This will be the third year I’ve tried to plan out what I’d like to read in the coming months. Naturally, I never really get through the whole list – or even half of it. That’s kind of the point, though: this is a selection of works that I use to spur me onwards: to remind me that there’s great things out there that I want to read. (more…)
I’ve started 2020 as I mean to go on: as a big ole nerd. And what better way to begin than with a biography of the uber-nerd: the one who popularised a specific type of fantasy role-playing game, which would move beyond basements into the halls of power?