It seems that this is the kind of book that people either love or fucking hate, at least judging by the reviews floating around online.
I’d had it on my to-read list for quite some time – I remember being interested when it was published, but wanted to give the fanfare a bit of time to die down – and I’m glad I did, as I went in with no real expectations. (more…)
It’s strange. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this book, because it seems to be stating what should really be perceived as common sense. I’m aware that, as someone who has worked my adult life in print media, I’m probably more likely to have encountered some of the things mentioned in here, but even with that background I was heartily bummed by the text.
(This is a good thing. I mean, it’s bad news but the way it’s presented and explained is superb.) (more…)
After Clive James died, I figured it was time for me to read his autobiographical sometimes-fiction Unreliable Memoirs collection. Here, there’s three books under one title, which is bad news for my Goodreads challenge numbers but pretty good in terms of entertaining stories per book.
It can safely be assumed that any writer who gives you a record of his own life is nuts about himself.
It’s a little strange to refer to these works as autobiographical when almost all of James’s work features a certain level of autobiography. His travel writing, his television reviewing, his poetry – all these things feature a level of personal revelation and engagement, because in all his work James presents places and experiences through the lens of himself. (more…)
So it’s only taken me about thirty years to read any Koja, and Current Me is somewhat annoyed at Past Me. I’ve no idea how I missed this novel on its first publication, as it certainly scratches the itch for the bizarre that Past Me would have been Well Into, what with all the human transformation and grimy locale and vaguely religious groupings shrouded in pisstaking and gore.
“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade.” Well, life had given me shit, and I was making a compost heap. Or more succinctly, life had given me a Funhole, and I was making a grave.
Past Me is an idiot, plainly, especially given the number of awards The Cipher has won. (The Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Horror Novel seem to be a fairly good indicator of quality, let’s face it.) (more…)
You know, there’s a lot to be said for the pre-Internet era. You know, the time before streaming services, when people had to rent videotapes, and what was known was limited by hard-copy research, or – more often than not – relied on hearsay and rumour, at least as far as local history was concerned.
John Darnielle’s second novel is a little bit of a love story to the period, while also managing to be a ghost story, a thriller, a tribute to the boredom and joy of a life lived small, as well as a meditation on movement by spirit. It’s a consideration of how history is made, and how those same records can be viewed differently in the light of a little information. (more…)
I hadn’t really expected to be reading a book about disconnecting myself in the middle of a global pandemic, but here we are.
I’d had a copy of Jenny Odell’s polemic against the attention economy – broadly speaking, the society which inculcates in us the idea that our time, metered, is worth money and is wasted unless it is being used “productively” – for a while, but it took a moment of enforced quietude to make me read it.
I’ve decided to read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time this year, because it’s been sitting on my shelf for too long, and I figured if I was ever going to take a stab at it, it should be now.
Whatever the merits of Proust’s work, even a fervent admirer would be hard pressed to deny one of its awkward features: length.
The problem is that such a work requires a bit of a running start. I mean, there’s multiple volumes, and indeed, not much goes on between the covers, albeit in beautifully rendered sentences. The whole collection of tomes could probably be considered unnecessary for modern life, but still it persists: something people aspire to read because, like a genteel Everest, it’s there. (more…)
So hey, here’s an idea for a book: a history of artists from a certain place, and a certain time. Let’s call them London Painters and bung them together, even though there’s little to link them stylistically, or even philosophically.