Month: March 2017

Goodreads review: Wrong About Japan

Wrong About JapanWrong About Japan by Peter Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am both a fan of Japan and a fan of Peter Carey, so one would think this book a no-brainer for me. I enjoyed it, sure, but I found my enthusiasms for both broader topics were greater than my enthusiasm for this book.

The book details a journey the writer (and his son, Charley) took to Japan. It’s an indulgent parental gesture – Carey’s son is a manga and anime fanatic, and the trip is suggested after the author observes the way his offspring enthusiastically consumes Japanese cultural exports. (School-mandated reading does not have a similar effect on the younger Carey.) (more…)

Goodreads review: The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Serpent and the RainbowThe Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zombies! Death! Mystery! Haiti! THE UNKNOWABLE! All of these are perennially interesting to the whitest of the white – me, for example – and Davis’ book, a tale of the search for potions to make and unmake a zombie, is no exception. It’s interesting, but dryness (and occasional self-insertion) can make it tough going.

The cover of this edition is not a design which offers confidence in the book’s contents. It features a screaming Bill Pullman and a coffin, a tie-in with the frankly shithouse film of the same name. The film that’s loosely based on the source in the same way that I can loosely be called a virtuoso because I can play a three-chord banger as long as it doesn’t involve odd barre positions. (more…)

Goodreads review: Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing

Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to WritingUse Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing by Catherine Deveny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catherine Deveny is a writer, comic and general shit-stirrer. She’s a dyslexic atheist who sees CAPS LOCK as COCK SLAP and is by her own admission pretty lazy. She’s also authored a bunch of books, shows and columns, and manages to get shit done with alarming regularity. Use Your Words is an excellent distillation of her work ethic, and a rarity in the world of writing-help books: something that’s useful without being bone dry or coming across as some kind of pan-pipe backed recruitment ad for a writing cult. (more…)

Goodreads review: Frankenstein

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s almost a fool’s errand to review Frankenstein. The book’s been so firmly ensconced in the literary canon for so long that it can’t be dislodged, and the story of its inception – spooky story competition with Byron, Percy Shelley, Polidori – is almost so doused in writerly name-dropping as to be something you couldn’t make up.

But hey, I’ve never shied away from a fool’s errand so away we go. (more…)

Goodreads review: Gardener to the King

Gardener to the KingGardener to the King by Frédéric Richaud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this brief work, Frédéric Richaud manages to encapsulate the world of the Sun King and the rising tide of discontent between the French classes by way of… gardening?

Versailles is the focal point of this work, an expression of Royal dominance over the land. There’s plenty of information about the place itself, and there’s a distinct feeling that the abode – we begin just prior to court moving there from the Louvre – is itself a character. It’s treated with as much authorial love as any of the major figures in the work. (more…)