Goodreads reviews

Goodreads review: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country.Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

You know how sometimes you can leave a book on the to-read pile for a little too long?

How the excitement you had about reading the thing – the “Ooh! Can’t wait to get to that one!” anticipation – somehow becomes bigger than you’d intended, thus creating an expectation that the book can’t possibly surpass?

That’s me with Lovecraft Country. (more…)

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Goodreads review: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci.Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Walter Isaacson’s made no bones about his interest in genius. I mean, he’s written biographical surveys of Albert Einstein (undoubtedly), Benjamin Franklin (yep), Steve Jobs (well…) and, er, Henry Kissinger (ahem) among others. Now, he turns his gaze towards a guy who we normally gaze towards – well, his works, anyway. Leonardo da Vinci.

Ah stuff it. Ignore the terrible segue and look at this ripped geometric dude instead.

You’d think someone so artistically significant would look a bit more enthused with his immortality.

Whew, crisis averted. (more…)

Goodreads review: Oishinbo: The Joy of Rice

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 6 - The Joy of Rice.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 6 – The Joy of Rice by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

We’re getting to the pointy end now. This is the penultimate volume of Viz’s collections of extracts from Oishinbo, and so it’s time for something subtle. Something both representative of Japan and its culture, and of hearth and home. Something to get excited about.

Jesus, steady on. It’s rice for fuck’s sake. 

Something like rice.
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Goodreads review: The Elementals

The Elementals.The Elementals by Michael McDowell.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d never read any Michael McDowell before cracking The Elementals. I’d seen some of his other work, unknowingly – he was the scriptwriter for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice – and I’d seen that he was very well regarded by Stephen King, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.


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Goodreads review: The Inland Sea

The Inland Sea.The Inland Sea by Donald Richie.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars.

In terms of travel books written about Japan, this is a classic. It’s a pretty simple work: Ohio-born outsider tools around the Seto Inland Sea and, in the manner of a flâneur, offers his take on the place. Pre-gallery Naoshima. Pre-bridge islands. A world of fishing boats and lazy afternoons.

Let’s put it in perspective from the outset: the area that he’s talking about is glorious. It’s hazy and hypnotic, and completely suited to romantic introspection if you’re a traveller who’s impressed by views. I mean:

Right? Right. It’s somewhere I wanted to learn a lot more about.

The problem is that through this book, you learn a lot more about Donald Richie than you do the area. And what you learn, ultimately, is that he’s pretty much a dickhead.
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Goodreads review: Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 4: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 4: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Into the seas and rivers, the lakes and streams! This volume of Oishinbo covers all things fishy – as long as your definition of ‘fishy’ includes life-ending parasites.

HAH HA HA HA!

(For the purposes of this instalment, it does. Also, yuck.) (more…)

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: 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. 

(more…)

Batman: Earth One, Volume 2

Batman: Earth One, Volume 2.Batman: Earth One, Volume 2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

“Second Earth! Same as the first!” is what The Ramones would’ve sung had they not been into SpiderMan so much.

I could probably end the review there. This second (and final, so far) volume of the Earth One reboot of Batman’s beginnings continues the good things of the first. We’re still shown a Caped Crusader who’s trying to get his head around his role – a man who hasn’t yet attained the level of subtlety or experience that’s needed to become a spooky totem.

You’re not the only one, Al.

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