Goodreads review: The Complete Phonogram

The Complete PhonogramThe Complete Phonogram by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oi. Do you like Britpop? Did you like Britpop? Are you familiar with the psychogeographical pitches resonating through the shitholes of Camden? Did you have a dog in the Blur/Oasis fight? Were you mad for it? Did you think Luke Haines was more arch (and better, let’s face it) than Brett Anderson?

Oh, and do you like magic(k)?

If the answer to any of those was affirmative, you’re gonna love this book. And I mean love. (more…)

Treasures and testing times

I’ve recently been playing some games – christening the PS4 in my new house, and getting some of the frankly enormous Steam backlog chipped away. So here’s a couple of thoughts about ’em, for what they’re worth.

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BLUE STEEL.

First up: Uncharted. I’d played the first three games before on my PS3, but as a PS4 kick-off I decided to play through the remastered versions as a lead-up to the latest – and apparently final – instalment. (Except it’s not now the final, because reasons.) (more…)

Goodreads review: Mahu: Or the Material

Mahu: Or the Material Mahu: Or the Material by Robert Pinget
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well, I tried.

Previously, I’ve liked Pinget. I read The Inquisitory which, despite being often confusing or obscure, was at least remarkable in setting and in country-house weirdness, and is something I’ve reread and kept on my shelf for future examinations.

Not so much with Mahu: Or the Material.

Now, it’s described as being a sort of fellow-traveller with works such as At Swim-Two-Birds and while it does have a surreal sort of humour flowing through it, that’s where the comparison ends. Likewise the comparison of Pinget to Beckett: that seems a bit of a reduction – with Samuel at least there’s the idea of a plan behind the words, a meaning to the ranting. Not so here. (more…)

Goodreads review: Wrong About Japan

Wrong About JapanWrong About Japan by Peter Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am both a fan of Japan and a fan of Peter Carey, so one would think this book a no-brainer for me. I enjoyed it, sure, but I found my enthusiasms for both broader topics were greater than my enthusiasm for this book.

The book details a journey the writer (and his son, Charley) took to Japan. It’s an indulgent parental gesture – Carey’s son is a manga and anime fanatic, and the trip is suggested after the author observes the way his offspring enthusiastically consumes Japanese cultural exports. (School-mandated reading does not have a similar effect on the younger Carey.) (more…)

Goodreads review: The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Serpent and the RainbowThe Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zombies! Death! Mystery! Haiti! THE UNKNOWABLE! All of these are perennially interesting to the whitest of the white – me, for example – and Davis’ book, a tale of the search for potions to make and unmake a zombie, is no exception. It’s interesting, but dryness (and occasional self-insertion) can make it tough going.

The cover of this edition is not a design which offers confidence in the book’s contents. It features a screaming Bill Pullman and a coffin, a tie-in with the frankly shithouse film of the same name. The film that’s loosely based on the source in the same way that I can loosely be called a virtuoso because I can play a three-chord banger as long as it doesn’t involve odd barre positions. (more…)

Goodreads review: Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing

Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to WritingUse Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing by Catherine Deveny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catherine Deveny is a writer, comic and general shit-stirrer. She’s a dyslexic atheist who sees CAPS LOCK as COCK SLAP and is by her own admission pretty lazy. She’s also authored a bunch of books, shows and columns, and manages to get shit done with alarming regularity. Use Your Words is an excellent distillation of her work ethic, and a rarity in the world of writing-help books: something that’s useful without being bone dry or coming across as some kind of pan-pipe backed recruitment ad for a writing cult. (more…)

Goodreads review: Frankenstein

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s almost a fool’s errand to review Frankenstein. The book’s been so firmly ensconced in the literary canon for so long that it can’t be dislodged, and the story of its inception – spooky story competition with Byron, Percy Shelley, Polidori – is almost so doused in writerly name-dropping as to be something you couldn’t make up.

But hey, I’ve never shied away from a fool’s errand so away we go. (more…)