Consumption

Thoughts on things I’ve experienced.

2021 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

SO we grind to the end of another year, and I appear, like some kind of obnoxious groundhog, ready to dispense my wisdom. If, by “wisdom” you mean “half-assed picks of Stuff Which Was Pretty OK In This Terrible Year”.

I’ll insert a caveat here: like, well, everyone, this year has been a struggle for me. We’re rolling toward the third instalment of 2020 and increasingly I find that concentration takes a kick in the nuts for every COVID variant found. A lot of the plans I had made at the beginning of the year haven’t come to pass because I’ve either lacked the bandwidth to execute them, or because I’ve been so goddamned tired. I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, and I haven’t listened to as much music as I’d hoped. There’s been a bit of persistent fog around through the year and it’s made it difficult to do anything than just exist, sometimes.

But that’s ok. There’s always next year.

Previous versions are here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here if you need an introduction.

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A reading recap (2021)

This year, I had intended to write reviews of everything I read.

Obviously, with this year being this year I haven’t been able to do that for a lot of the books I ploughed through. I really wanted to record some thoughts on them, because it’s an important part of the reading process, for me: it helps bed down each book in my mind, so that I’m not taken by surprise halfway through an unintended reread by a plot development that suddenly reminds me that oh yeah, I’ve read this before.

Part of my process this year has involved the taking of notes to serve as a sort of memory aid for my reading. Generally, they require a Rosetta Stone to be sifted through, even by me, so they’re not particularly enlightening on their own, but they do allow me to crack out a couple of brief thoughts about what I’ve read this year.

Yes, there is a certain type of pen I like to use while writing these. No, they’re probably not very profound. But hey, there’s two notebooks full of them this year, so I guess that’s meaningful.

So that’s what I’m doing here.

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Book review: Nina Simone’s Gum

Nina Simone’s Gum by Warren Ellis
My rating: five stars

Let’s get something out of the way up front.

Warren Ellis is a fuckin’ delight.

Like, a we’re pretty lucky to have him-level delight.

Nina Simone’s Gum is a rare thing: a shortish book that seems to be filled to the brim with delight. It’s about Ellis, but not really. It’s about chewing gum, but not really. It’s about a sense of the man as conveyed by a worshipful consideration of a legendary singer’s ephemera.

It is inexplicably, joyfully Warren.

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Book review: Masks

Masks by Fumiko Enchi
My rating: five stars

But I suppose Nō masks have such symbolic properties that everyone sees in them the faces of his own dead.

It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a review of this novel. Partially that’s due to the year that’s been – all pandemic-related head fog and a lack of drive to do anything – but it’s also due to the fact that the book has taken up space in my attention, the way a loose tooth constantly draws the attention of a tongue.

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Book review: You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames
My rating: five stars

Falling behind on both reviews and my reading for the year, so I decided to pick up the pace a little with a short, sharp shock of a thing: Jonathan Ames’ novel(la) about a blunt tool, used in the most unseemly of circumstances.

With the right tools you can get ANYTHING done.

And HOLY FUCK but did it put things back into gear.

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Book review: Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: five stars

I am not, particularly, a sci-fi kind of reader. A couple of years ago I set myself a task: to read through the SF Masterworks series of books. How’s that going, you ask?

Well, this is the third book I’ve tackled.

I was expecting – largely based on decades-old memories of the flying-underpants film version – the book to be crap, so I didn’t have my expectations set to stun. Happily, the novel surpassed that, even if nobody tells you at the outset that you’re going to be reading a political, economic and ecological thriller about the universe’s most hotly-contested product: magic wormshit.

And Space Jesus! Can’t forget Space Jesus!
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Book review: Capitalist Realism

Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? by Mark Fisher.
My rating: four stars

Well, this year’s been enough of a bummer so let’s do this thing.

I have wanted to read some of Mark Fisher’s longer writing – having been acquainted with his blog for ages – for some time, and I figured, given that 2020/21 had pretty much clocked the woe-meter, it was time. So I settled down for an afternoon of anticapitalist invective.

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Book review: Novel with Cocaine

Novel with Cocaine by M. Ageyev.
My rating: four stars

This is a strange one. It’s a novel set in revolutionary Russia that only mentions the fact twice, and then at an angle. Its title refers to David Bowie’s chief ’70s bodily compound, but it’s only really introduced (or considered) in the last quarter of the work.

Oh yeah, and it’s written by a seemingly anonymous guy, who only wrote this thing, submitted it to a French magazine for Russian émigrés, and then disappeared into the woofle-dust of history.

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Book review: Fragments of Horror

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito.
My rating: three stars

Junji Ito is known for being a bit, well, odd. I’ve reviewed some of his other works, and I’ve enjoyed them for the most part. This collection, however, didn’t seem to strike the same fantastic chord in me, and I’m still trying to decide whether it’s due to some duff stories, or because I’m a bit more tuned into his method of writing.

I know, but even I got out of bed this morning you LAZY HIKIKOMORI FUCK.
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