Consumption

Thoughts on things I’ve experienced.

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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Book review: Hell Is Round the Corner

Hell Is Round the Corner: The Unique No-Holds-Barred Autobiography by Tricky.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I’d been looking forward to reading this for a long time. I’d sweated on the ebook availability of Tricky’s autobiography, as it wasn’t clear if there’d even be one, and when I finally checked back and there was one, I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed with the book.

(I mean, I was, but that’s unsurprising for an autobiography: they’re rarely the documents we desire.)

However this one begins as it means to go on:

My first memory is seeing my mum in a coffin, when I was four years old.

That’s a better opener than I’d any right to expect, so I was hooked.

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Book review: The Blaze of Obscurity

The Blaze of Obscurity by Clive James.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Well, here we are. This is the final volume in Clive James’s Unreliable Memoirs series. It’s the fifth book wherein the éminence grise (or should that be éminence chauve?) describes his continued ascent through the land of the crystal bucket. With The Blaze of Obscurity, the Australian writer moves from being about the box to being mostly on it. It’s where shows began to be prefaced with his name, not just his image.

From now on, in this book, I will try to leave my name out of the title of the shows, thus to circumvent the twin fears of wasting space and sounding more than necessarily like a self-glorifying pantaloon.

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Book review: Shiver

Shiver by Junji Ito.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

If you’ve read any Junji Ito before, you’ll be pretty aware of the sort of things you’re going to get in Shiver, a collection of his best work, gathered together and presented with brief commentary from the creepmaster himself.

Hey, they’re playing my song!

If you’ve not read any Ito before, you might well want a stiff drink or a change of undies. ‘Cause shit’s going to get weird.

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Book review: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Having recently read Bare-Faced Messiah, the landmark biography of L. Ron Hubbard, I was already aware of how much dickbaggery was behind Scientology.

What I was unprepared for was how much dickbaggery persists in Scientology. That’s where Lawrence Wright’s book excels: highlighting exactly how fucked up the current organisation is. And how much of that is down to one guy.
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