Consumption

Thoughts on things I’ve experienced.

Book review: Tokyo Ueno Station

Tokyo Ueno Station.Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri (tr. Morgan Giles).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

When I first went to Tokyo, I made a habit of walking through a large park in Shinjuku. It was just down from the Tokyo Park Hyatt (as featured in Lost in Translation) and the park was exceptionally groomed – in the same way much of Tokyo was.

Unlike a lot of the other places I’d seen, though, it featured a lot of homeless people. It was ordered and quiet and a little hidden away: visible, but visibly ignored by most others walking through the space on their commute.
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Book review: A Maggot

A Maggot.A Maggot by John Fowles.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

I’m a bit of a fan of Fowles because of the creepy perfection of his first novel, The Collector, and the madness of The Magus, a book spent a couple of years pushing on people at any opportunity.

I wasn’t quite so taken with A Maggot the first time I read it, a dozen or so years ago. But as I’ve aged, I think I’ve come to appreciate it a lot more, as this reread was supremely enjoyable. I guess the fact that the author has taken a kitchen-sink approach to the work – it’s variously a mystery, historical record, SF exploration, class critique and theological query – ensures that there really is something for everyone here. (more…)

Book review: The Odyssey

The OdysseyThe Odyssey by Homer and Emily Wilson.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Giving Homer’s Odyssey five stars would seem a foregone conclusion, right? I mean, it’s the second-oldest extant work of Western literature (homeboy Homer also created the first) and it’s pretty much the definition of an epic tale. It gave James Joyce the basis for Ulysses (though there’s much less wanking in this version) and is something about which more people know a little, even if they don’t know its exact provenance. Angry cyclops? Sirens? A decades-long return, hamstrung by gods being utter dickheads? C’mon.

Crew: “Fuck you, Odysseus, we want to hear SirenFM too.”

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Book review: Beauty and Chaos

Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life.Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life by Michael Pronko.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’m a bit of a fan of Japan. I’ve learned some [terrible] Japanese, and have travelled there several times, for holidays and for music competitions. I like the contradictions of the place, and am always looking for an excuse to journey back. This, Michael Pronko’s first collection of essays on Tokyo, offers a pretty good trip.

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Book review: Twisted Clay

Twisted Clay.Twisted Clay by Frank Walford.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

So here’s a book that was written by a future pillar of the Katoomba community who, aside from writing, spent time as a buffalo hunter, crocodile shooter, mule packer and prospector. He was a boxer and dab hand with a knife, and shared the same bucolic Blue Mountains literary salon as Eleanor Dark.

Naturally, it’s a book about a murderous teenage lesbian who receives communiques from her dead father – letting her know his brains are falling out from where she hit him with an axe in retribution for wanting to try and cure her with hormone therapy, so can she please come and dig him up – who ends up in Sydney committing further murders. Written in 1933, no less. And promptly banned for thirty years.
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Book review: Psycho

Psycho.Psycho by Robert Bloch.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

When I was a teenager, going through something of a Hitchcock stage, I found a copy of this book and I remember loving it. But that was thirty years ago, so I figured I’d better revisit Bloch’s best-known work and see if it still stands up.

Unsurprisingly, it does. I think it’s probably more affecting at this point than it was when I was younger: the book is a lot sharper than I remembered.
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Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 4

The Walking Dead Compendium 4.The Walking Dead Compendium 4 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

So this is where it all ends. The final instalment in the saga of The Walking Dead, in which a bunch of favourites will die, and the world will go on.

Probably not, man.

Or will it?
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Book review: The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones.The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

The Stones are now a band that it’s impossible to view independently. They’re like a Mount Rushmore in dick-sticking jeans, or a Statue of Liberty with a drug problem: something that defies description.

Fact: you can smell this photo.

And yet, Stanley Booth’s book made me feel like I was closer to understanding the blokes in [an iteration of] the band than any number of tell-all interviews or coy promotional bullshit. (more…)

Book review: Swedish Mysteries

Swedish Mysteries; Or, Hero of the Mines.Swedish Mysteries; Or, Hero of the Mines by Anna Maria MacKenzie.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars.

I’m a fan of gothic literature. Chuck me some Radcliffe, and I’m happy for hours. Dripping caves and fusty castles are my thing. Wicked religious orders and Machiavellian familial fuckery? I’m all ears.

You’d think, then, that I’d be all over MacKenzie’s based-in-fact-but-not-really novel about Gustav Eriksson, a man possessed of a shitload of derring-do and a will to power that saw him take on Christian II (of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, because one country’s obviously not enough) and win.

You can set your chronograph to that fringe.

You’d also be wrong. This one’s a bit of a stinker, and as much as I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t. (more…)

Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 3

The Walking Dead Compendium 3.The Walking Dead Compendium 3 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Another volume of blood, guts and inter-community negotiation.

Quite the statesman.

Yep, it’s time for another tranche of The Walking Dead.

This compendium gathers together issues 97 – 144 of the comic series, and for the first time the stakes seem a lot higher, at least to me. There’s a sense of community throughout this volume, a feeling that there’s a world beyond just surviving. It also takes place at a period long enough after the outbreak of whatever it was that caused the dead to walk, so you know that anyone who’s bad at this point is going to be really fucking bad. (more…)