I know, you know how dodgy L. Ron Hubbard was. He’s the progenitor of both Scientology and the cinematic dreadlock abortion that was Battlefield Earth.
But do you really know how shitty he was?
Until now, I’d never read a Bulgarian novel. I mean, knowingly. I’ve a couple of Canetti on my shelf, awaiting cracking, but until I checked out Wikipedia’s list of Bulgarian writers, I didn’t even know he was Bulgarian.
Nothing against Bulgaria, mind. It just hadn’t occurred to me. I know, I’m probably missing out on a lot.
I imagine this novel to take place in some kind of weird Mad Men universe. It’s that drinks-before-dinner, hired-help-run-the-show kind of world where there’s precise demarcation between what’s meant to happen and those it’s meant to happen to. Think of it like Upstairs, Downstairs only with Betty Draper and you’re probably about right.
Naturally, this clockwork world goes to shit the moment the titular character shows up.
Heading to a drought-stricken Wales in 1976 seems like a shitty holiday idea. It’s even shittier when you’re a 16-year-old girl accompanied by your family – a needy toddler, a sculptor father and a grieving, wasting mother – and eaten up by a dedication to something called The Creed.
You can tell things aren’t going to go well, and that’s before the village turns out to be, uh, none too friendly to outsiders.
This is a neat read from two writer-academics who’ve built careers in the gaming sphere. They’re passionate about what the form can be, and have both had buckets of shit tipped on them for daring to disagree with Gamergaters or – in van Deventer’s case – for daring to be a woman online.
It’s a tag-team affair, with both authors taking a shot at a selection of topics revolving around representation in gaming, and the entrenched mindset of producers and consumers alike. It’s written from a position of deep love for games, and a respect for gamers as something other than the basement-dwelling – and fallacious – stereotype. And it’s most importantly a work that realises that games are something that can bring us closer together while allowing voices other than those of cisgender white men to have a say.
I’d read the blurb for this book – writer applies for a fellowship on a Scottish island and mysteries ensue – and noted the price (three bucks on Kindle!) and took the plunge. I mean, I’ve spent more on bad coffee, let alone good spookiness.
Imagination is a terrible thing, Max. It perverts reality. You can lose yourself in it. Not realise what’s really happening to you.
This is good spookiness. (more…)
My plan to read all of Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs volumes continues apace. It’s been a while since I read the first three, so this fourth is like an unexpected visit from an old mate.
In this volume, Clive is – in the polyester-and-beard ’70s – married and attempting to shift towards a more stable income. However, that’s not as simple as one would expect, and the pages detail epic poems, poet-bashing, too-smart songwriting and a dinner (with surprise trumpet interlude) with Spike Milligan.
Photoshop is responsible for a lot of things. Most of them are bad, but in the case of this novella – written in response to the image which ended up as its cover – Adobe should be profusely thanked.
The world has a serious lack of stories about rampaging kangaroos. Even fewer of those involve exploding heads, multiple appearances of the phrase “shit cunt”, and can be read in about an hour. Alan Baxter has filled the void pretty well, here.
Also, there’s this in the introduction:
If you’re not too familiar with the anatomy of kangaroos, may I also suggest you Google ‘kangaroo feet’ before you start reading. Seriously, you might think you know, but have another look. They’re insane.
That they are. (more…)
Life in the nineteenth century, it seems, sucked.
That’s what I glean from Catie Gilchrist’s presentation of life through the coroner’s lens. Sydney, while not exactly a prison colony at the time, was still not really that cosmopolitan a place. With medicine and policing both rough and ready, corpses, violence and things taken care of in a how’s-yer-father manner, there was a distinct seat-of-one’s-pants approach to life and the grim reaper.
Like everyone else, I was intrigued. I mean, here’s a member of the Trump family, vocally shit-talking her powerful relative. A relative so thin-skinned that any criticism is anathema, and OH LOOK, THE BOOK MIGHT BE BANNED BY THE COURTS… until it wasn’t.
I was in. And oh lord, was it popcorn heaven.