books

2018 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

Well shit.

I guess we’ve reached the point where, traditionally, I put up a post detailing what it is that’s taken my fancy in 2018. It’s become a bit of an annual thing, and far be it from me to disappoint the couple (?) of people who might nose through this thing in its entirety. So here we are: my wrap up of what’s been taking up my time.

Relatively accurate, though he swims more than I do.

Previous versions are herehere, here, here and here if you need an introduction.
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Goodreads review: Oishinbo: Ramen and Gyōza

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

The consumption of food-based manga continues. After last volume’s night on the turps, it’s time for something a bit more filling – a bit more starchy. So this volume of Oishinbo a la carte fits the bill, given that it’s about ramen and gyōza: comfort food typified.

Finally a spiritual path that I could follow.

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Goodreads review: Flying Visits

Flying Visits.Flying Visits by Clive James.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

When I was younger, I think a bit of my sense of humour was shaped by Clive James. I remember him being on TV, counting down gaffes of the year or offering his own (admittedly self-amusing) takes on world figures. I didn’t quite understand why it was funny that Leonid Brezhnev looked like he was operated by a foot pump, but there was enough stuff I got to make the confusion worthwhile.

Not audible: snark. 

As I grew up (and his TV appearances grew fewer, perhaps) I didn’t pay that much attention to him. Now, he’s back in the news. It’s the end of his life – illness is likely to claim him soon – and I felt a need to catch up on some of his written work. He was, after all, a columnist of renown for quite a while, so it seemed fitting to dive into some of his pieces.
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Goodreads review: Confessions of a Thug

Confessions of a Thug.Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I DIDN’T CHOOSE THE THUG BOOK, THE THUG BOOK CHOSE ME.

(Oh come on, you knew it was coming.)

No, this isn’t any sort of Glock-heavy tell-all. It’s a bit older than that, though it is one of the earliest places where the term is used. So that Tupac tatt kinda began here. Also, it was a blockbuster piece of ethnographic fiction – the main character is a composite of several killers – and it boasted Queen Victoria as a fan. So now you’ve got the image of QV eagerly devouring strangling lit to get out of your brain.

Pictured: regal contemplation of unpleasant death. 


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Goodreads review: Oishinbo: Sake

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 2: Sake.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 2: Sake by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

The second volume of selection from the manga series featuring battling gourmands steps it up a notch. Sure, the first one talked about Japanese food and what it means to consider Japanese cuisine, but this one not only has a more consistent storyline, but it’s also about something a lot of people would think is more important: booze.

Sake, to be specific.

Damn, son. 

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Goodreads review: Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 1: Japanese Cuisine by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’m pretty surprised that the Masterchef crowd haven’t latched onto the long-running Oishinbo (The Gourmet) the way they’ve put boots on the ground for Gourmet Traveller. Perhaps it’s because there’s a loud-mouthed character in this seinen manga who’s perfectly willing to underscore their lack of culinary knowledge, rather than to foster their kitchen fantasies.

I mean:

ALSO YOUR MOTHER ALWAYS HATED YOU. 

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Goodreads review: The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry

The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry.The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry edited by Ruth Finnegan.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Just a short review, as it’s almost impossible to adequately review anthologies of poetry, I find.

First, this took a long time to read – almost two years on and off – because I found I couldn’t inhale whole tracts of it at a stretch. It’s probably best used as an occasional thing, as something you dip into when the mood strikes. I think it’s probably doing a disservice to the cultures covered to whip through all of their inclusions in one setting, anyway.

Two verses and THEN the solo, right? 


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Goodreads review: Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition

Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition.Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition by Junji Ito.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
If someone hadn’t read any manga before, and you really wanted to fuck with them, you’d probably show them some Junji Ito. I mean if you wanted to warp them irreparably you’d throw them a bit of Suehiro Maruo – that’s a Wikipedia link, but I’d be leery of actually Googling the dude if you were at work – but if you just wanted to weird them out, it’d be Ito all the way. Because this is pretty much the initial reaction to his work:

I had somewhat similar thoughts.

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Goodreads review: The Beauty

The Beauty.The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I originally started reading the ebook of Whiteley’s enticingly strange The Beauty on my phone to fill in time between sets at a gig. The gig ended up being a bit of a wash, and so I found myself spending more time in the horror-ticultural (I know, right?) world created than in the land of beer and recapture-your-youth music, which is not really how I’d envisioned my Saturday night panning out.

But then, it’s pretty hard for a band, however good, to compete against encroaching vegetation.
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Goodreads review: Clan

Clan.Clan by Amazing Améziane.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I have a bit of a thing for Japan – I’ve played taiko and I learn the shakuhachi – so I am probably predisposed towards this comic. It’s created by someone who obviously is keen on the collection of islands, and often reads like it’s written for people who share that enthusiasm.

I don’t find this problematic.

BUSINESS NEGOTIATION IS A FINE ART. 

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