book reviews

Book review: Shōgun

Shōgun.Shōgun by James Clavell.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

When I was a small boy I remember my father having a bookshelf full of hardbacks. And the one I remember most clearly, for some reason, is Shōgun, James Clavell’s 1100-page whopper. I can still recall the smell of it.

I had always been mystified by the book. I remember it being on Dad’s nightstand, with a golf-club bookmark through it. I remember its cover as the first place I ever saw the handle of a Japanese sword. And when I was older, I remember finding endless copies of it at op-shops, usually for somewhere around the two-buck mark. (more…)

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Book review: Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait

Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait.Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait by Denis O’Regan.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

This is probably going to be quite a short review, because there’s not a whole lot that can be said about the book in question.

It’s a book of photos.

Of David Bowie. (more…)

Book review: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country.Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

You know how sometimes you can leave a book on the to-read pile for a little too long?

How the excitement you had about reading the thing – the “Ooh! Can’t wait to get to that one!” anticipation – somehow becomes bigger than you’d intended, thus creating an expectation that the book can’t possibly surpass?

That’s me with Lovecraft Country. (more…)

Book review: 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book II

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book II.100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book II by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

It’s time for ghetto arsekickers, Italian-descent mobsters, the neon of gambling, the prick of the needle and the luck of the draw. It’s time for losers who think they’re winners, and winners who’ve got fuck-all. And it’s time for a briefcase of untraceable bullets.

Oh yeah. And cock-suckin’ birds.

Guess it’s time for another load of 100 Bullets then.

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Book review: Killing Commendatore

Killing Commendatore.Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Ah, Murakami. My old buddy. Ole pal.

His works are among the first I came to when I began reading weirder literature, and so I feel great affection for him. I loved his strangeness, and then – later – I loved his plainer works, his more natural narratives. And perhaps, above all, his non-fiction titles.

And every time he puts out a new one, I snap it up. Because in each title is the kernel of hope that I’ll be dazzled the way I was when I first grabbed hold of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Kind of akin to how I keep buying albums by bands I idolised in university, in the hope that their albums will spark the joy I’ve been seeking since undergrad days.
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Book review: 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book I

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book I.100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book I by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

What would you do if you were cornered by a craggy-looking dude with a briefcase? A briefcase that’s meant for you? A briefcase that contains some papers, a pristine gun and a number of untraceable bullets? With the assurance that anything you did with those items would be completely free from legal consequence?

DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE, MOTHERFUCKER. 

(I mean aside from whacking your most hated YouTube celebrity repeatedly.)
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Book review: Oishinbo: Izakaya

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 7 - Izakaya: Pub Food.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 7 – Izakaya: Pub Food by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Well, I guess it’s over.

This is the final volume of translated tales from Oishinbo. And what better way to end than with a beer and an attempt to teach an actor how to drink sake properly?

Foam judgement incoming.

Oh, and some food created by a homeless gourmand? And some headhunting? And a relationship-fracturing food fight? And the choice of educational pathways? And the birth of some children? (more…)

Book review: Oishinbo: The Joy of Rice

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 6 - The Joy of Rice.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 6 – The Joy of Rice by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

We’re getting to the pointy end now. This is the penultimate volume of Viz’s collections of extracts from Oishinbo, and so it’s time for something subtle. Something both representative of Japan and its culture, and of hearth and home. Something to get excited about.

Jesus, steady on. It’s rice for fuck’s sake. 

Something like rice.
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Book review: The Elementals

The Elementals.The Elementals by Michael McDowell.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d never read any Michael McDowell before cracking The Elementals. I’d seen some of his other work, unknowingly – he was the scriptwriter for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice – and I’d seen that he was very well regarded by Stephen King, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.


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Book review: Oishinbo: Vegetables

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 5 - Vegetables.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 5 – Vegetables by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Five volumes in and I guess we turn to the topic that kids aren’t excited about: veggies. Thankfully for me, broad beans are given a swerve, but there’s some good reps given to eggplant, a purple fiend I’m only sort of friends with.

I AM SHOUTING BECAUSE I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS TURNIP YOU SIMPLETON.

What I’m saying is that I guess it seems hard for readers – and for me – to be as wound-up excited to read a volume about greens when we’ve formerly had some great, in-depth knowledge shot at us from the Oishinbo food cannon. I was prepared for this to be a bit eh.

Thankfully, it’s not.

Pretty sure that guy on the right is related to that enthusiastic sommelier from a previous volume.

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