book reviews

Goodreads review: Infinite Jest

Infinite JestInfinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So I finally read it.

You know, the brick. The thing. The book. The enormous tome. The encyclopaedic novel of encyclopaedic novels. The objet d’enthousiasme I’ve been lugging across the world since 1999, a brick-sized chunk of narrative excess that I’d promised my then-partner – a DFW army footsoldier for life – that I would read, such was their enthusiasm for the wordy luggage-filler.

So, this.

Secondly, the secret.

It’s not really that difficult. (more…)

Advertisements

Goodreads review: 1001 Australian Nights

1001 Australian Nights: A Memoir.1001 Australian Nights: A Memoir by Dave Graney.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Dave Graney is someone who I’ve never understood. But then, I suspect that’s exactly how he likes it.

See, when I first came to hear him – circa Night of the Wolverine – it was just before he blew up into an ARIA-winnin’ pink-suit effigy. I didn’t get the trip: it was a bit too arch for me, who was very meat-and-spuds rock. But over the years I’ve come ’round to what’s on offer – the range of moves and the dedication the man and his machine have towards making their particular kind of music. (I mean fuck, he’s still at it, and still good at it, which is more than can be said for some outta the same starting-blocks.)
(more…)

Goodreads review: Vathek

Vathek.Vathek by William Beckford.
My rating:
3 of 5 stars

Another day, another Gothic confection.

Vathek is another one of those books I probably should’ve read during a uni literature course but never did. It’s one of those novels that was written as the Gothic style of fiction took off, but it’s not as easy to set it next to a Frankenstein, say. For starters, it’s been shelved in the Orientalism section for years, even though its author knew more of the world of Islam than other fabulists of the time.

It’s also a work that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. There’s a love story in there, some intentional riffing on Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy, some big-noting about travellers’ arcana, a stab at voluptuous prose and some sheer fucking oddity, held together with minarets and eunuchs. (more…)

Goodreads review: Saga: Book One

Saga: Book One.Saga: Book One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, here’s something I picked up in an ebook bundle. And conveniently, it turns out to be one of the more enjoyable comic series I’ve dipped my toe into.

(It probably helps that I was a bit of a fan of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man series, though.)

The setup is pretty easy: it’s a space opera. So it features rocket-ships (albeit ones made out of wood, on occasion), and plenty of pew pew action. There’s TV-headed robot royalty. One-eyed interspecies erotica authors. Sex planets. Freelance assassins. And an interspecies baby that’s not supposed to be – folk with wings don’t get it on with dudes with horns, at least they’re not supposed to. Oh, and there’s magic and spirits and talking cats that know when you’re lying, too.

I guess Lying Cat is like every other cat in the universe, then.

(more…)

Goodreads review: The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of OtrantoThe Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So it’s coming up to the holidays so I thought to myself what better time to check out the first English supernatural novel, progenitor of the Gothic genre and on-point guide to decorating your home with revenge-themed supernatural armour? And so I reached for Horace Walpole’s 1764 banger.

Basically, everything you know about the Gothic mode – weird religious symbolism, perverse family intertwinings, twisted tunnels, ghosts kicking arse from beyond death, the horror of landscape and the terror of the built environment – is in here. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Aerodrome

The AerodromeThe Aerodrome by Rex Warner.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rex Warner is these days more known for his translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War than for his fiction. But it’s still worth reading his 1941 work The Aerodrome – one of ten he wrote – because though it’s flawed, it contains an odd power.
(more…)

Goodreads review: Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier

Twin Peaks: The Final DossierTwin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know, I really wanted to like this book. I was looking forward to it ever since I heard it was coming after the show, and especially given the high quality of The Secret History of Twin Peaks. I knew that the show’s return had surpassed any expectations I’d had by a mile, and surely the book must deliver more of that magical mojo, right?

It didn’t work out that way. (more…)

Goodreads review: Another Kyoto

Another KyotoAnother Kyoto by Alex Kerr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third of Kerr’s books I’ve read. The first, I found vital, the second not so much. So this sits neatly in the middle, for me. Where it departs from the first two books, though, is in its level of personality: in Another Kyoto I think the reader receives much more of a sense of the author as a person. (more…)

Goodreads review: Nick Cave: Mercy On Me

Nick Cave: Mercy On MeNick Cave: Mercy On Me by Reinhard Kleist.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So let’s get this out of the way first: I am a Nick Cave fan. Not a rabid one, no – I don’t believe he excretes perfect songs into the world, and almost every album he’s associated with could do with having about a third chopped off it – but I like him well enough. I’ve seen him play a couple of times, and have most of the records. Hell, I’ve even read his books a couple of times. (Well, not the Bunny Munro one. )

But there’s something important to know: I like him while disliking him.
(more…)

Goodreads review: Mirror Sydney

Mirror SydneyMirror Sydney by Vanessa Berry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently read Vanessa Berry’s Strawberry Hills Forever (reviewed here) while I waited for this work, Mirror Sydney, to be published. This most recent work surpasses the former, and scratches a psychogeographic itch – think Ackroyd or Sinclair – that I hadn’t realised I had.
(more…)