goodread reviews

Book review: War is a Racket

War is a Racket by Smedley D. Butler.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Occasionally it’s nice to read something written by a bona-fide badass.

War is a Racket, a book written by a guy who won the Medal of Honor twice, certainly fits the bill. It’s also breathtakingly candid about the waste of war, something remarkable given its author’s exploits in the name of his country.

(more…)

Book review: A Humument

A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel (Final Edition) by Tom Phillips.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Writing in books is not a big thing. I’ve got copies of texts from my schooldays where I’ve underlined portentous encounters, highlighted exam-worthy tidbits and scrawled “what the shit?” more than once.

Obviously this is a bit more involved than that.

It’s not something I do any more, largely because I’m not 15 any more. Tom Phillips didn’t get the memo about stopping, though, and the result is a singular piece of art which takes the reader on a journey through art and opera, though still features the odd cock-and-balls graffito.

(more…)

Book review: The Death of Francis Bacon

The Death of Francis Bacon by Max Porter.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

A short review for a short book? Seems pretty apt.

The Death of Francis Bacon is Max Porter’s brief, yet weighty investigation of the mind of the famous curmudgeon (and painter, I guess) Francis Bacon.

(more…)

Book review: Falling Angel

Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

You know, there’s a lot to be said for pulps. Often, you’ll find wisdom or truth amongst the piles of bodies. Sometimes there’s moments of grace. Usually, there’s sex and violence. As far as brain-off reads go, pulps are a good way to defrag the mind after one too many volumes of Proust.

(If you’ve never tried it, you need to. Disregarding this type of lit is a loss, because everyone needs some dumb fun once in a while.)

(more…)

Book review: Printer’s Devil Court

Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Doctors, eh?

They’re always up to no good. I mean, trying to save lives and learn about the body and bring people back to life. Where do they get off?

Well, at the last one, if Susan Hill’s story here is to be believed. Because it would seem that fucking with the line between life and death is not an endeavour that Ends Well. Especially if you’re a medical student with some overly inquisitive – and rather full of themselves – roomies.

(more…)

Book review: The Recognitions

The Recognitions by William Gaddis.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

It’s taken me a while to write this review because it’s taken a while to read its subject. The Recognitions is an undeniably skilful creation, a wellspring of erudition and multiple narratives, a thumbnail sketch of religion, of bums, of certain locales around the world at a certain juncture in time, as well as a meditation on falsity, on misdirection and true paths. But it’s also, for all its brilliance, often a sluggish read, and one that provides brilliantly polished vignettes at the cost – for me, at least – of overall coherence.

(more…)

Book review: Night and the City

Night and the City by Gerald Kersh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Gerald Kersh is someone I’d wanted to read for a while. Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock were and are both fans, and the author seems to be one of those, like Poe or Dickens, who managed a hack’s volume, but also kept a remarkable quality.

He also looked natty as fuck, let’s face it.

(more…)

Book review: Green River Killer

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

The Green River Killer was one of the most prolific US serial killers in history, keeping the Seattle and Tacoma area wary for at least 20 years. It’s thought that the killer, Gary Ridgway was responsible for upwards of 70 murders dating back to the early 1980s.

Bodies were still discovered as recently as 2003.

(more…)

Book review: Masters of Doom

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

During high school, I had a PC. I was a bit bummed by it (largely because it wasn’t an Amiga) but that didn’t last after, in my final years, Wolfenstein 3D came out. From id Software, the game saw you eventually kill mecha-Hitler in a Nazi castle. It was, arguably, the beginning of the wave of first-person shooter games that would come to dominate computers.

You know what I love about this game? The subtlety.

It was (in ’92) the product, largely, of two guys: John Carmack and John Romero. They already had made a bunch of money through the shareware distribution of earlier games, but the duo were on the cusp of history. Just around the corner was one of the most influential and hated-by-politicians games ever: Doom.

(more…)

Book review: Adventures in Amity

Adventures in Amity: Tales From The Jaws Ride by Dustin McNeill.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I don’t know how long I can make this review. I mean, this is a book about an amusement park ride.

We’re gonna need a bigger topic of interest.

And there’s not really that much you can write about a ride, even one that features Jaws.

(more…)