Book review: Sodom & Gomorrah

In Search of Lost Time Volume IV: Sodom & Gomorrah by Marcel Proust.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So, this is volume four of Proust’s epic, and it marks the point of no return, or at least where the presence of the sunk cost fallacy begins to make itself felt.

(I must admit that it was at this point I began to question whether I’d actually finish the text. But having cut through the first couple of volumes, I figured the only way out was through, so ONWARDS.)

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Book review: Ultra-Gash Inferno

Ultra-Gash Inferno by Suehiro Maruo.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars.

So, I’ve read a couple of Suehiro Maruo titles before. You know, extreme ero-guro (don’t google that, frankly) manga that pushes boundaries and buttons.

I’m not easily shocked, and I knew what to expect, so I figured this one should be more of the same: perhaps not great, but interesting nonetheless.

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Book review: Islam: The Essentials

Islam: The Essentials by Tariq Ramadan.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’m not a Muslim – I’m not really religious in any meaningful way – but I’ve always had an interest in Islam. This interest is probably a mish-mash of things: the lingerings of Orientalist stories from my youth, and the fact that the belief seemed such a mystery to me.

I’ve lived in areas with plenty of Muslim neighbours, but I’ve not known much about what they believe. Certainly, there’s a lot of investment in the West in presenting the faith as the origin of Everything Wrong With The World, so it’s the sort of thing I’ve long had a niggling desire to get a better handle on. Because surely tabloids aren’t the best source of qualified comment on the religion, right?

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Ten months, thirty games?

I’ve realised that there’s been a lot of time since my last post about what I’ve been playing, games-wise.

Blame it on 2020, or blame it on my laziness. Either works.

Still, I should have a bit of a hack at what’s been getting in my eyeballs since I last wrote. Which was, er, for my what-I-liked-in-2019 post.

Oh good.

Yikes.

Let’s catch up on ten months of gaming, shall we?

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Book review: The Parsifal Mosaic

The Parsifal Mosaic by Robert Ludlum.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Airport novels. They’re the ideal way to defrag your brain. It took me years to deprogram myself from the literature degree belief that everything I read had to be worthy, had to be a classic.

Sometimes, you just want some brain-popcorn rather than multi-clausal comedies of manners.

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Book review: Doomed to Fail

Doomed to Fail by J.J. Anselmi.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Doom? Doom. DOOOOOOOOOOOOM. It’s a good word. One of those multiple-vowel words that have a plasticity turned to enjoyable goop by repetition. It’s also a type of metal music, though it furcates into numerous equally heavy (though to outsiders, often similar-sounding) strands.

Doom music is an unmitigated bummer, a reminder that Life Is Hard So Why Bother sung from basements at brain-rattling volume through equipment that smells like spilled bong water and hot dust. It’s a release in only the way realising you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel can be. It’s about [dis]comfort with horror, and in its original form emerged as a reaction against post-war austerity, industrial isolation and the general Shittiness of Living. It’s something you’d expect to be extremely un-fun, which it is, but luxuriating in that precise bummedness is, well, if not fun, enjoyable.

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Book review: In Search of Lost Time Volume III: The Guermantes Way

In Search of Lost Time Volume III: The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Do you like parties? I don’t mean goon-in-the-backyard, sausage sandwich kind of parties. I mean the sort of parties which involve military officers, pomp and pecking order. You know, society wankfests that lumber on intolerably despite the apparent desire of everyone else to be anywhere else?

Nothing this fun occurs in this volume.
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Book review: Louder Than Hell

Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Jon Wiederhorn.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

METAL.

It’s a genre that’s only bound together by a spirited fuck you. Its denizens run the gamut, from church-burning nihilists to hairspray-supported hedonists; from kvlt blackness to tits-out stupidity. From funereal dirges to brain-freezing speed runs. The sublime to the ridiculous. Speed to heroin. True to poser.

It’s got it all. It just adds studs and unreadable logos.

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Book review: The Nibelungenlied

The Nibelungenlied by Anonymous (tr. A.T. Hatto)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So during the hell year of 2020 I ended up watching the Met Opera’s Ring Cycle while avoiding, y’know, everything. I’d wanted to see Wagner’s cycle, and once it was done, hours later, I was keen to see where the story had come from.

First mistake: though the opera series shares names and themes, this version is a lot different. I mean, I’m not certain it’s been adopted by Nazis as readily as Wagner’s work has been, and there was a lot less in the way of either modernist stark staging or rabbits or horseback.

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