Goodreads Review

Goodreads review: Queen Victoria’s Bomb

Queen Victoria's BombQueen Victoria’s Bomb by Ronald William Clark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book’s commonly touted as one of the precursors of the steampunk movement. It dates from 1967 and though I’d been keen to read it, I hadn’t found a copy. Having an interest in steampunk – the literature, not the habit of sticking cogs onto anything and wearing goggles down the shops – I figured that a three-ish buck version on Kindle was a safe enough bet. (more…)

Goodreads review: Outcast, Vol. 2: A Vast And Unending Ruin

Outcast, Vol. 2: A Vast And Unending RuinOutcast, Vol. 2: A Vast And Unending Ruin by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This will be a short review, largely because there’s not a lot to go on. You could probably read my review of the first volume and apply it to this one and you’d be fairly well set. The art remains affectingly retro, cinematic and draughtsman-like, and the pacing – while languid – is tight. So, second verse same as the first?

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Goodreads review: The King of Fools

The King of FoolsThe King of Fools by Frédéric Dard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short review for a short work? Why not.

Frédéric Dard was a prodigious creator, a Frenchman who was a prolific creator of crime novels, often taking elements of his own life to fuel his works. (The kidnapping of his daughter ended up in a book, and he said his biggest regret about dying was that he wouldn’t be able to write about it.) He wrote under a number of pseudonyms (Cornel Milk, anyone?) though this is the first time I’ve encountered his work. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Secret History of Twin Peaks

The Secret History of Twin PeaksThe Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, the new season of Twin Peaks is upon us, unfolding darkly. It’s as good a time as any to dive into Mark Frost’s remarkably produced tome, which offers a little in the way of backstory before we spool up for whatever he and Lynch have planned for the sleepy burg and its inhabitants.

The first thing to note is that this isn’t a novel per se. It’s billed as that, though it presents a collection of documents: a dossier. This should be unsurprising if you’re familiar with other tie-in works: both The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes (the latter written by Frost) were fictional but presented in the manner of documents – a teenager’s diary and a fastidious man’s audio transcriptions. And yes, it may appear slightly gimmicky, but there’s so much effort put into maintaining the idea that one can’t help but go along with it. (more…)

Goodreads Review: Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him

Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds HimOutcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume gathers together the first six issues of Outcast, a still-ongoing comic written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Paul Azaceta. It’s getting variable reviews, which I suspect are largely because of its author: for a while now, Kirkman (the creator of The Walking Dead in case you’re visiting our planet) has been considered kind of untouchable. And so, the tall poppy thing comes in.

(Cue record-skip noise. Here’s where I point out that I don’t know Kirkman’s work on The Walking Dead except from the TV show, which wore thin for me a couple of seasons ago. The best thing associated with the franchise, I believe, are Telltale’s great run of tie-in adventure games (the third, not so much), but this is open to revision when I finally get around to reading the omnibus versions of the work. Got it? Good.) (more…)

Goodreads review: The Raven

The RavenThe Raven by Peter Landesman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I first read this book not long after it came out. I was still at university, and was still enamoured of study and reading between the lines enough to think that if a text was gnomic enough it must have been super-profound, and if I didn’t get it, it was my fault and not the book’s.

That was then. Now, I can go “eh, fuck that book” with impunity and not feel as if I need to turn in my Lit Nerd decoder ring or something. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Commandant

The CommandantThe Commandant by Jessica Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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…)

Goodreads review: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & MuJunji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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…)

Goodreads review: Post Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll

Post Everything: Outsider Rock and RollPost Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll by Luke Haines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

(Even though he’d hate the fucking Britpop bit.)

This is that book. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You AreThe Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan W. Watts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

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