Jessica Anderson is someone who I’ve always meant to read more of but hadn’t managed to. Tirra Lirra By The River was loosely covered in my Eng Lit degree, and didn’t make much of an impression (probably because of my youthful inattention, frankly) but The Commandant, it turns out, is exceptional.
It’s one of the titles reissued in Text Publishing’s yellow-covered series of classics, and from the introduction I can see how the work might have been considered a bodice-ripper when it came out. Though – the off-screen appearance of shagging, if any, aside – it’s a disservice to call it such. It’s a meditation on early Australian history, as well as a forerunner of other such historical fiction as Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. It sits well with Patrick White’s Voss inasmuch as it takes history for its basis, and then adds to it, using invention as the magnifying glass for fact. (more…)
If there’s anything the manga-reading public can agree on, it’s that Junji Ito is one fucked-up dude. He’s a writer of horror manga, and is probably most famous for Uzumaki, a spiral-obsessed mind-fuck of popped eyeballs and extreme scoliosis. (I reviewed its three volumes here, here and here, if you’re still unsure about his oddity.)
His work is normally known for extreme violence and inventive ick and squick, so when I found out he’d written a series about cats – yep, cats – I figured I had to give it a go. (more…)
You know, there’s a lot of room in my life for books in which the creator of one of the best Britpop-umbrella bands details the life-and-death of his next project, writes a music featuring a Lord Lucan cameo, filches cash from a label even as they are dumping him, is told how to make decent scrambled eggs (low heat, folks, low heat) by a perhaps-imagined drug-addict cat, and receives album advice from dead rappers.
Alan Watts died in 1974, but he seems to be much more popular today than ever he was while alive. This book, The Book, was written on a Sausalito houseboat, and has been on my to-read list since I heard about it on a discussion forum years ago. I feel it might have been of more import to me had I read it when I was younger – it’s certainly a counterpoint to the “you’re all special!” mindset imparted by school – but I still found it quietly reassuring today.
So, I’m back on the King train. I’d fallen off it when I was in my early 20s – I feel his readership is probably most vehement about keeping up in its teens, as I was – and it had been years. I read From A Buick 8 some time ago and really enjoyed it. Since then, though, there’s been thirteen-odd books – four (including one out later this year) since the time Revival was written.
It’s hard to keep up, is what I’m saying. Also, I’m not sure I’d pick Revival as the book to jump back in on. (more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)