Book review: War is a Racket

War is a Racket by Smedley D. Butler.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Occasionally it’s nice to read something written by a bona-fide badass.

War is a Racket, a book written by a guy who won the Medal of Honor twice, certainly fits the bill. It’s also breathtakingly candid about the waste of war, something remarkable given its author’s exploits in the name of his country.

(more…)

Book review: A Humument

A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel (Final Edition) by Tom Phillips.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Writing in books is not a big thing. I’ve got copies of texts from my schooldays where I’ve underlined portentous encounters, highlighted exam-worthy tidbits and scrawled “what the shit?” more than once.

Obviously this is a bit more involved than that.

It’s not something I do any more, largely because I’m not 15 any more. Tom Phillips didn’t get the memo about stopping, though, and the result is a singular piece of art which takes the reader on a journey through art and opera, though still features the odd cock-and-balls graffito.

(more…)

Book review: The Death of Francis Bacon

The Death of Francis Bacon by Max Porter.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

A short review for a short book? Seems pretty apt.

The Death of Francis Bacon is Max Porter’s brief, yet weighty investigation of the mind of the famous curmudgeon (and painter, I guess) Francis Bacon.

(more…)

Observation (2019/2020)

The chances of me nabbing a PS5 any time soon are fairly nonexistent, so despite the fact I have a chunk of previous-gen games floating around in my to-finish pile, I’ve been working through some of the titles included in Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription. (It came with my console, and fuck it, why not? It meant I didn’t have to buy that Blair Witch game.)

Thankfully, my most recent dip into the pool-o-games features enough creepy narrative to keep me entertained for its relatively short runtime. Yeah, compared to a Yakuza game, everything is relatively short, but still: for about 10–12 hours, Observation kept me pretty intrigued.

(more…)

Book review: Falling Angel

Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

You know, there’s a lot to be said for pulps. Often, you’ll find wisdom or truth amongst the piles of bodies. Sometimes there’s moments of grace. Usually, there’s sex and violence. As far as brain-off reads go, pulps are a good way to defrag the mind after one too many volumes of Proust.

(If you’ve never tried it, you need to. Disregarding this type of lit is a loss, because everyone needs some dumb fun once in a while.)

(more…)

Book review: Printer’s Devil Court

Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Doctors, eh?

They’re always up to no good. I mean, trying to save lives and learn about the body and bring people back to life. Where do they get off?

Well, at the last one, if Susan Hill’s story here is to be believed. Because it would seem that fucking with the line between life and death is not an endeavour that Ends Well. Especially if you’re a medical student with some overly inquisitive – and rather full of themselves – roomies.

(more…)

Book review: The Recognitions

The Recognitions by William Gaddis.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

It’s taken me a while to write this review because it’s taken a while to read its subject. The Recognitions is an undeniably skilful creation, a wellspring of erudition and multiple narratives, a thumbnail sketch of religion, of bums, of certain locales around the world at a certain juncture in time, as well as a meditation on falsity, on misdirection and true paths. But it’s also, for all its brilliance, often a sluggish read, and one that provides brilliantly polished vignettes at the cost – for me, at least – of overall coherence.

(more…)