Author: CaptainFez

Curmudgeon.

Book review: The Return

The Return.The Return by Walter de la Mare.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

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…)

Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 1

The Walking Dead Compendium 1.The Walking Dead Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

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.

Good job I’m reading on a tablet, then. (more…)

Book review: Seven Days In The Art World

Seven Days In The Art World.Seven Days In The Art World by Sarah Thornton.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

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? 
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Book review: The Rich Man’s House

The Rich Man's House.The Rich Man’s House by Andrew McGahan.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

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.

Wait, what? (more…)

Planning the pages: 2020 edition

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…)

Book review: Empire of Imagination

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons.Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons by Michael Witwer.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

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?

Looks like he rolled low for charisma.

No better, I guess.

(more…)

2019 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

So here we are again.

I remember not to answer the phone, though.

Once more, it’s the point of the year where I write a usually-lengthy post about the things I’ve enjoyed this year. I write a bunch of stuff about the cultural bits and pieces I’ve consumed through the year and figure out what was good and what wasn’t, in the hope of providing something of a portrait of my entertainment consumption over the past twelve months.

Previous versions are here, herehere, here, here and here if you need an introduction.
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Book review: Angelo Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks

Angelo Badalamenti's Soundtrack from Twin Peaks.Angelo Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks by Clare Nina Norelli.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Obviously this is going to be a five-star review. From me? Given my love of Twin Peaks this can hardly be a surprise for anyone.

Though I’m inclined to go soft on anything vaguely Lynch-adjacent, there’s no need with Norelli’s excellent entry in the 33 1/3 series of works: it’s a solid entry, which offers thematic, technical and widescreen views of the sonic doings in that small town in the Pacific Northwest, where there’s always music in the air.

Not pictured: Douglas firs, midgets.

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Book review: 100 Bullets: Brother Lono

100 Bullets: Brother Lono.100 Bullets: Brother Lono by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Turns out you can’t kill an enormous hard-arse that easily.

I mean, we’re talking about Lono here – assassin, arsehole and walking slab o’ beef – so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s still alive.

We’ve all been to malls, Lono.

He wasn’t exactly comprehensively erased during the course of 100 Bullets, so it makes sense that his story didn’t conclude in the dying issues of the series.
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Book review: Exercises in Style

Exercises in Style.Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau (tr. Barbara Wright).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So there’s this guy.

He’s riding a bus. During the ride, he sees a bit of space-based altercation between two dudes.

Later, he sees one of the dudes receiving advice about his jacket.

This is all that happens in this book. And it happens almost one hundred times. There, I’ve saved you the effort of reading it, right?

Let’s just say there’s a little more to this book than that. (more…)