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Book review: Death: A Graveside Companion

Death: A Graveside Companion.Death: A Graveside Companion edited by Joanna Ebenstein.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

You know, there’s nothing like a graphic investigation into the imagery of death to provide a kind of mortal “oh, is that the time?” feeling in the reader. This is, undoubtedly, the role of the Ebenstein-edited tome on funerary fetishism and the culture of the crypt: to examine how humanity has dealt with its ceaseless tramp towards death through creativity. It’s certainly the way I felt while flicking through its Grim Reaper-filled pages: tempus fugit. Death is coming, but hell, people have made some strange stuff to herald its coming. (Little trees of hair, anyone?)

SPADE THAT MOTHERFUCKER, BONESY.

Aside from this, the book reiterated that skulls are cool.
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Book review: Klotsvog

Klotsvog.Klotsvog by Margarita Khemlin (tr. Lisa Hayden).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I guess if one was looking for a literary bummer with which to pass the time, Klotsvog would fit the bill. It’s a story, written by a Ukraine-born Muscovite, about an indefatigably solipsistic woman who sheds partners and children like Kleenex.

“You, Mayechka, are made from a different dough. Like matzo. Unleavened and hard.”

There’s more to it than that – her awfulness, her awareness of social standing and her denial of her Jewish roots are clear commentaries on Stalinist purges and on the difficulty of life both during and after the second world war. But foremost is the portrait of Maya Abramovna Klotsvog: a woman who believes she is smarter and better than everyone else, but who also, apparently, doesn’t give a fuck who she irritates in the pursuit of her desires. (more…)

Book review: My Travels In Ding Yi

My Travels In Ding Yi.My Travels In Ding Yi by Shi Tiesheng (tr. Alex Woodend).
My rating: 2 of 5 stars.

So, I could be a bit dim. I mean, I didn’t pursue philosophy at university beyond first year, so Shi Tiesheng’s 156-chapter stream-of-consciousness journey through life, the universe and everything – by painstakingly recounted way of Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape – might be just be something that’s rocketing over my head, satellite style, shooting across the heavens leaving a trail of profundity that I’ll never grasp, dullard that I am.

The film had fewer dumplings, though.

Could be. (more…)

Book review: The Warming

The Warming.The Warming by Craig Ensor.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

So let’s take it from the start. It’s the 24th century, and things aren’t, for the Earth, going well.

Because global warming has, of course, managed to eliminate a whole lot of the planet’s population. (What’s a few billion between friends?) Between increasing heat and rising sea levels, a whole load of the planet is now uninhabitable, and what’s left of humanity keeps a brave face on while moving towards the poles, in the hope that the areas of declining iciness might provide a place to live, at least for a time.
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Book review: 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book V

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book V.100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book V by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Well, here we are. The end of the story. The last sprint to the finish. And as expected, there’s blood and boobs and, well, bullets.

And is it satisfying? How can I put this?

Pictured: the reader.

Yeah nah.

Mind you, that’s not necessarily unexpected, given the genre we’re knee-deep in the guts of. But still. (more…)

Book review: Journeys

Journeys.Journeys by Stefan Zweig (tr. Will Stone).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I must admit that prior to reading this book, I’d only known Stefan Zweig’s work through its influence on The Grand Budapest Hotel – which is a fairly enormous watering-down of his importance on my part.

Yes?

Turns out Zweig’s writing is much more than just the inspiration for some lovely cinema. Journeys is a collection of the writer’s work, translated by Will Stone, spanning four decades, all of which specifically relate to travel.
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Book review: 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book IV

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book IV.100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book IV by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

From what I gather of other reviewers’ feelings, the general position on this volume of the 100 Bullets saga – issues 59 through 80 – is confusion. A feeling of confusion over what’s going on, where and – in some cases – when.

I think this is fairly on the money, but I’d add in one important substitution: it’s not confusion.

Not Thanos, but close enough for our purposes.

It’s chaos. (This is, after all, the Land of Lono.) (more…)

Book review: Shōgun

Shōgun.Shōgun by James Clavell.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

When I was a small boy I remember my father having a bookshelf full of hardbacks. And the one I remember most clearly, for some reason, is Shōgun, James Clavell’s 1100-page whopper. I can still recall the smell of it.

I had always been mystified by the book. I remember it being on Dad’s nightstand, with a golf-club bookmark through it. I remember its cover as the first place I ever saw the handle of a Japanese sword. And when I was older, I remember finding endless copies of it at op-shops, usually for somewhere around the two-buck mark. (more…)

Book review: 100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book III

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book III.100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book III by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

It’s time to descend, once more, into the world of noir. Bullets, broads, and a buttload of blood. But this is 100 Bullets so by this point in the collection, your squeamishness has either seen you tap out, or your enthusiasm has you fired up for what’s coming.

Pictured: the reader.

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