book reviews

Goodreads review: Shots

ShotsShots by Don Walker.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laconic and dry. That’s probably the write-up you’ve got in mind for Shots, songwriter Don Walker’s first book. And you’re probably not all that far wrong. But that reductionism is a disservice: The book is dry, with one economical eye on the door, but there’s a lot more going on.

The book is an autobiography, more or less, but it’s not a lot like that of his on-again off-again bandmate Tex Perkins, say. It’s a collection of images gathered together under the names of places that exist, or are a state of mind – Home, Carr’s Creek, Kings Cross, The Road, Paris and so on – but they flit, moment to moment. (more…)

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Goodreads review: Moby-Dick

Moby-DickMoby-Dick by Herman Melville.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of reviewing Moby-Dick is.

I mean, really.

It’s the sort of book that will always be part of the canon, and I imagine people will always feel guilty about having not read it, or will imagine that it’ll be a lot harder going than anything else.

Which is kind of a shame, because it really is pretty delightful.
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Goodreads review: Powers of Darkness

Powers of Darkness: The lost version of Dracula.Powers of Darkness: The lost version of Dracula by Bram Stoker and Valdimar Ásmundsson.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This book serves as a re-translation of an early Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker’s bitey classic, Dracula. The Icelandic version of the Count’s tale dropped in 1900, only two years after the first translation (into Hungarian), and is notable because there’s evidence – lovingly detailed in forewords, afterwords and footnotes – that Stoker was in touch with the Icelandic translator of the work, Valdimar Ásmundsson, founder of the newspaper Fjallkonan, providing information from draft versions of the English text to work with.
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Goodreads review: Dracula in Istanbul

Dracula in Istanbul.Dracula in Istanbul by Ali Rıza Seyfioğlu.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I know what you’ve always wanted: a version of Dracula with cars in it, set in Istanbul. And where the head vein-drainer is a military coward instead of a great warlord. And where there’s lots of reference to God, and the steadfast nature of a good Turkish gent is the highest achievement one can have.

Right?

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Goodreads review: Dracula

Dracula.Dracula by Bram Stoker.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So it seems I’m on another Gothic Lit jag. And where better to continue with the granddaddy of fanged fiction: Dracula?

You know this novel, though, right? It’s pretty much the ur-text for how we conceive of vampires, and throws a long shadow. (Though not, presumably, in a mirror.) It’s overwritten and can flip between boredom and action in a moment. I always find it a drag to read until about halfway – I am almost always of a mind to give it away – but then it snaps back in and I’m pulled through to the end.

giphy

My plan all along!

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Goodreads review: Soviet Bus Stops

Soviet Bus Stops.Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

A great example of a book that does exactly what you’d expect, Soviet Bus Stops is the outcome of years spent travelling through the former Soviet Union by Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig.
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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…)

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.)
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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.

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