books

Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 5

Akira, Vol. 5Akira, Vol. 5 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So here we are, the penultimate Akira trade. Though there’s plenty of action, it can reasonably be said that this is the calm before the storm. Characters reappear and regroup, and the progression of both political jockeying and methods of government contingency ‘management’ is marked.

BUT. There’s still a lot of batshittery in here. I mean, did you ever gather in an arena with your raggedy-arse compatriots to watch the moon explode? Well?

Me neither, kid. 

Thought so. (more…)

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 4

Akira, Vol. 4Akira, Vol. 4 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

So when you’ve blown up one of the world’s biggest cities (again), what’s the natural progression?

Tax reform? Socialised medicine? Increased endowment to the arts? Start again based on Enlightenment principles?

No face! Just like Jesus in those creepy bibles we had at school.

Or elect an incredibly powerful kid as leader and feed drugs to refugees? Sure, why not.

(It’s working out as well as you’d expect.)
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Goodreads review: The Night Ocean

The Night OceanThe Night Ocean by Paul La Farge.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Remember ole H.P. Lovecraft? He’s the guy who’s incredibly influential – cosmic horror as we know it really came about because of him – despite being a faintly awful writer. I mean it: I dig a lot of his work, but his writing is stilted and often ludicrous.

The worst mistake you can make, Kroeber taught, is to see another person through the lens of your prejudices. And the second-worst mistake is to think you aren’t looking through the lens of your prejudices.

As befits a misanthropic nihilist, he was also pretty mad racist – and not a lover of jazz – though to mention this seems to attract its fair share of pitchforks. (This is a pretty great article, now deleted, about the topic.) (more…)

Goodreads review: The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline AlexanderThe Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander by Homer and Caroline Alexander.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I know, I know. Only four stars. But it’s a classic! But it’s important! But it’s stuck around a lot longer than you have!

All of these things are true. And it’s really difficult to think of many reasons to not give the thing five stars, because when it comes to widescreen stories, Homeric narration is pretty much in a league of its own.

But.

The Iliad is, for all its importance, still something that would, if written in straight prose today, be interesting, but also strongly in need of an edit.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 8.30.44 pm

Fucking heralds, man. 

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Goodreads review: Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Amy's Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite!Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite! by Amy Chavez and Jun Hazuki.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

A quick review for a quick read: it’s useful, charming, and you won’t go wrong if you get it.

Slightly longer: I’ve been to Japan a couple of times now and so am probably not the intended audience for this book. I had picked up a lot of what’s described within by osmosis – I travelled there initially as a performer in a taiko group, after all – but gee, it would’ve been great to have this as a fast guide to Not Sucking.
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Goodreads review: Journey to the Centre of The Cramps

Journey to the Centre Of The CrampsJourney to the Centre Of The Cramps by Dick Porter.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

So you should all know that Erick Purkhiser and Kirsty Wallace – or Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, to give them the names by which the world most readily identifies them – were The Cramps. You know: the band that invented the term psychobilly (even if they didn’t think they had much in common with the double-bass music that ploughs that furrow today), who were often written off as a novelty act (because monsters) and who were stalwart protectors and exponents of the history and primacy of rock and roll.

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 3

Akira, Vol. 3Akira, Vol. 3 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another brief review, largely because it feels kind of weird to review Akira per-trade rather than as a whole.

Boat trips are fun.

(No, it doesn’t. It just fits in with my must finish it! feelings – though I’m trying to pace myself with it. I mean I can’t read manga all year, can I?) (more…)

Goodreads review: Don Quixote

Don QuixoteDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (tr: John Rutherford).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

How do you review something like Don Quixote properly? I mean, something that was written four centuries ago, and is a cornerstone of Spanish literature. It’s one of the earliest novels, deals in knighthood and class, and is something I’ve lugged from country to country over the past 20 years because I never seemed to be able to donate enough time to it.

Well, I’ve now finished it, so I’ll give reviewing it a shot: Don Quixote is a pretty good, earthily rendered cautionary tale of how reading chivalric romances leads to elder abuse. It also features more people vomiting on each other than you’d expect from a classic of literature.

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 2

Akira, Vol. 2Akira, Vol. 2 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess a lot of what I wrote in my review of the first volume of Akira is applicable here: it’s something technological and dirty; something full of speed and movement, yet manages to not advance the story particularly far.

(Well, that’s not entirely true. The story told here hints at Bigger Consequences Yet To Come, even though the whole volume is essentially one lengthy chase sequence.)

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 1

Akira, Vol. 1Akira, Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, you’ve probably seen the 1988 animated film with this name. You know, with motorcycles and a whole lot of screaming testosterone haircuts with axes to grind and heads to explode. And so you’re expecting this to be pretty much the same thing, right?

That’s a pretty good assumption.
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