Month: May 2016

Book review: My Life As A Fake

My Life As A FakeMy Life As A Fake by Peter Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Take a 1940s literary hoax, Frankenstein, Rilke, Ezra Pound, literary journal editorship and the memsahib culture of Malaysia in the middle of last century and whip it all up with ulcerated legs and modish, society-shocking femmes fatales and you’ve pretty much got this entry in Carey’s oeuvre. My Life as a Fake is shorter than a lot of his other work – I think it’s probably on par with something like The Tax Inspector for length – but it packs a pretty hefty punch. (more…)

Book review: Strange Weather in Tokyo

Strange Weather in Tokyo Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hiromi Kawakami has, in Strange Weather in Tokyo, written a fairly plot-free novel that charts the deepening friendship between Tsukiko, a late-30s woman, and Sensei, her teacher from years ago. They meet in a local bar – food and drink is key to the novel, bonding agents made of sake and mushrooms – and what follows is the story of pendulums going in and out of sync. (more…)

Book review: Francis Bacon in Your Blood

Francis Bacon in Your BloodFrancis Bacon in Your Blood by Michael Peppiatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you picked up Michael Peppiatt’s book looking for a biography of Bacon, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, there are plenty of facts here. But no, Bacon-biog isn’t the point. This is a book about Peppiatt, himself. Actually, it’s more of a Venn diagram about how the writer’s life intersects with Bacon, though I must admit I am picturing such a diagram being loosely sketched on canvas by Francis himself, using the bin lid he kept for such circumference-related purposes.

To be fair, this book isn’t sold as an artist biography. Peppiatt has already written one of those, (more…)

Can I get The Witness?

A fairly straightforward question. Not a witness. The Witness. The game, Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid, and a game I’d really looked forward to playing ever since I saw the first demos of it. Here’s a trailer for the most recent version, on PS4.

Yeah, that’s my kind of jam right there. Or was it? At first glance – puzzles, a weird island, an almost-real-but-not rendering style – it seemed right up my alley. But was it really? I mean after all, the game’s designer once said he wanted to make games for people who read Gravity’s Rainbow, and I’m exactly that lit-wanker audience.  (more…)

Book review: Drive

DriveDrive by James Sallis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He just drives. The guy. Here. Driver. Just drives. We know this because it’s his name – he has no other. Having one name is badass, having no name (and a gritty backstory) is superbadass and generally an indicator that you’re at the intersection of pulp and noir.

James Sallis’s slight novel is wonderful. It’s economical, but sprinkled with ten-buck words. It’s a world away from the sci-fi that began his career, and though it’s a modern work, seems to be written under the influence of the best sort of taut technique: Thompson and Cain, say. Interlocking jobs (criminal or otherwise) and lives, none of them pristine, tell a largely criminal narrative, though without any sort of opprobrium. If anything, the action taking place in the Hollywood sun say just that This Is How It Is, and nothing more. It’s nihilism with better catering. (more…)