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Old 01-31-2018, 10:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Reading House of Leaves is the closest I've ever come to feeling like nothing else in the world is moving, that time itself has stopped, and it's just me and the book, and the book is winning.
I really liked that book while I was reading it, but then it went nowhere and I came away from it pretty disappointed.
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Old 02-01-2018, 04:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Jerusalem, by Alan Moore, 2016
1266 pages

I really didn't even know this was a book until I saw it on the shelf and was enticed by the ultra enchanting spine (author AND title), but really, it seemed cool, and I knew who Alan Moore was, and it was nice and wide so I thought it should occupy a lot of time which is what I need. I read what it was all about though and was way more into it, seemed like something I had to read.

It's objectively incredible, for sure. Since there's so much content, I could give it 10/10 even if I may not have loved every second of it. And I may not have not loved every second, but it really wears on you. I had to take a break at the beginning of book three. But still, it's literature as **** and a masterful display of language and style and elegance and description and all in all just a prosal clinic. I made that word up, but the prose is indeed so nice it's almost offensive to my obviously inferior ability and intelligence. Like, every sentence is eloquently divine, and any given paragraph is crazy enough to put whole sagas to shame. The maximalism involved can sometimes work against it though, I'd say. Can something be too descriptive? If so, Jerusalem is probably a good example. Pages upon pages of literary visual bombardment, sensory overload in written format. It's cool but like erodes your mind away trying to envision the infinitely magical and god like structures and other things depicted here, and erodes your eyes with the many many many words used to do so. I've seen the term "hallucinatory prose" thrown around a lot and never exactly knew what it meant, but this ought to qualify, if not only for endless descriptions of things maintaining an actual hallucinatory quality (ghosts walking around leaving after images through the air and fractal elves and whatnot).

So I may not be the best mind to tell you about the content but I already started this journal so I'm contractually bound to. On the whole it's all about a slum in Northampton called the Boroughs which, to cut a very long story short, is supposed to be the holy city in question (I think). At least a projection of it, but then pretty much everything in this book is a projection of everything. It spans all of history, and tells of a whole plethora of substantial figures and their connections with the place, and of the ever original and prevalent themes of madness and death and the meaning of everything ever, and mind melting multi dimensional mathematics, and eternalism, and a family from the Boroughs with a history of madness that shaped all of existence, and corners which you'll probably never look at the same way again, and ghosts and everything including the kitchen sink. I'm pretty sure there are multiple literal kitchen sink parts.

It's divided into three books, with the second being significantly children's fairy tale-y and fantastical, sandwiched between experimental historical madness, with book three moving into more whack styles of writing, including a pseudo-Joyce chapter written about his daughter... So it's kinda comprehensible? At least in comparison to Finnegan's Wake. I'm not gonna lie, I skimmed an okay amount, but what I did I skimmed multiple times if that makes any difference. There's a lot in the whole thing that could be construed as unnecessary, bu for the most part remains entertaining.

There's so much to be said and I'm actually probably gonna attempt a better review that actually talks about the story, or at least what of it that I grasp, but also feel it may be futile, if you wanna experience it you gotta do just that and pick it up.

Important players include: William Blake, Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Beckett, Lucia Joyce

10/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-07-2018, 03:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell, 1999
426 pages

This is probably my favorite of the four of his books I've read so far. I had to read it immediately after finishing it the first time because I was hellbent on unlocking its secrets, of which there are many. Many little hings too, like a single sentence that didn't mean anything the first time or a word that was forgotten before you realized its significance. There's a lot of that.

The story's told through the narratives of a handful of different characters whose actions are seemingly coincidental but totally interlocking. Imagine that for a book right idea right? We have a believed telepathic doomsday cultist/chemical terrorist that despises society, a jazz kid working in a Tokyo record shop that name drops 70 musicians per page and falls in love with a girl on her way back to Hong Kong, a lawyer in Hong Kong with a little girl haunted apartment and failed marriage, a woman that runs a Tea Shack on the side of a Chinese Holy Mountain that's always getting wrecked, a transmigrating conscience searching for the origin of a story that is its only memory aside from being "born" on the Holy Mountain, a museum attendant in St. Petersburg also involved in art heists and such criminal activity, a musician/ghostwriter/womanizer in London getting down on the science of chance, a physicist on the run from the American government for resigning from a project, and a late night radio show dialogue.

So like, it's fairly complex, and the last two (or the two before the last, the last one is short) chapters are arguably where all the money is. We're in the midst of some kinda war, and there's some kinda comet, so some kinda doomsday cult is formed, and some kinda mad science (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_cognition) is being studied by some kinda scientist whose awesome brain is being used to develop intelligent weaponry unbeknownst to herself, so she some kinda leaves the project and retreats to her home island. So, the disembodied spirit plays a lot into it all, transmigrating into the scientist's mind and gathering the information, and by the time the last chapter rolls around some things are outrageous and come back around.

It's a book that's hard to describe without giving out spoilers, it would seem, but it's quite a treat. The prose is the same as always, simple but engaging and elegant, there's some nice humor, a lot of deep stuff regarding chance and coincidence and how it shapes the world and whatever and love. I'm pretty sure there's red herrings for days, and all kinds of references to everything else that two reads are probably necessary.

8.5/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO

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Old 02-07-2018, 04:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Less Than Zero, by Bret Easton Ellis, 1985
208 pages

Some good angst. Pretty much about punk ass people doing punk ass ****. It's boiling with apathy and teenage alienation.

Clay comes home to LA for vacation and doesn't have a good time. There's some partying and drugs and sex, and all the while no one he knows seems to care all that much about anyone else or anything despite the downward urns coming about in everyone's life. He's been looking for his best friend without luck for a while to discover he's gone down the worst of it, heroin and prostitution for days. But Clay wants to see the worst and probably succeeds, the events at the end of the book are grisly. Then he goes back to New Hampshire. Yay.

It's really easy to read and I finished it in a few hours again. There's some angsty bits that just hurt to read, less because it's gruesome or terrible and more like just **** these ****s. Anyway I liked it okay.

7.5/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-16-2018, 03:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Dreams of Shreds and Tatters, by Amanda Downum, 2015
256 pages

This was in the science fiction section :0
I always get frustrated that there's different sections for scifi and mystery and I could be missing out on stuff cuz I'm always forgetting about that and just in the fiction.

This book was pretty decent I'd say. They kept talking about the Lovecraftness which was one of the things that intrigued me most in the first place but it's pretty toned down. There's virtually no Lovecraftian excess that's always fun (everything being infinitely this and ineffably that) but there are clear references/influences, with the dream cities and night gaunts.

It's about a girl who comes to learn a friend of hers that she hasn't heard from for some time has in fact been involved in some accident and is now in a coma, so this girl and her partner travel to Vancouver to check it out, and get involved with Mr. Coma's circle of starving artists/mystics. They find out about a whack drug they take supposed to bestow stronger abilities for like, dreaming and artistic visions and power and bliss, but with very undesirable negative effects.

So basically, within the coma, this guy is trapped in a weird underworld that coincides with the earthly dreamworld (I guess) so our main character has to plunge deep therein to rescue her friend from the demons and whatnot leeching his artistic prowess and ultimately coaxing him further into the realm ie to never wake from the coma ie dying, or something like that.

There's not a whole lot of mystery and mind blowing but it's fun to read, with all kinds of magical themes and darkness and shadow monsters. It goes by quick, as well. The prose is not overly complicated or simplistic, and there's clear nods to other fantasy worlds that are not subtle at all. Good but probably could be a lot bigger.

6.5/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:27 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell, 2006
294 pages

I read this cuz I still can't find Cloud Atlas.

It's about a kid being 13.

Well, content wise, there's not much more to say than that. But it's quite a nice read. It's not all fantasy-like like a lot of his other stuff, but it's very compelling for an angst monger like myself. It details a year in the life of a 13 year old in Worcestershire in 1982-1983, with all the first kisses and Talking Heads records and English teen slang you can handle. The prose is what you'd expect but much more endearing, I think, coming from this new perspective of youth, and there's a lot more distinction in it that way. I read through it real quick.

Jason Taylor has kind of a speech problem, describes himself as a middle ranking kid and goes on about all the whacks and the cool guys and gals at school, tries his first cigarette, sees a fight and some intercourse, joins a gang, publishes poems under a pseudonym, etc.

It's a humbling book, realistic, honest, often funny, touching, another etc. Apparently they like to think of it as a modern Catcher in the Rye, of which my experience/knowledge is limited, but Black Swan Green is nice.

8.5/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters, 2014
576 pages

Well I checked this out because of the many intriguing quips of praise on the back that of course turned out to be for a different book, I love how they do that. But I read this, and enjoyed reading it, and I definitely want to seek out this other one now.

But here's this, which isn't a ghost story at all. It's a historical drama/romance that goes crime. Takes place in 1922 England, and the story is of a mother and daughter who open up their home for lodgers, or as they like to call them, paying guests, after the man of the family died and left the best gift of all, crippling debt.

The guests, a Leonard and Lilian Barber, are a modern one, whose tendencies and style intrigue the young(ish) landlady Frances and her mother. Along with that, certain desires also spring up as the novel progresses and things are revealed. As a love affair develops between Lilian and Frances, we track it along, observing the tension and disturbances brought about by whatever.

And tension is something that this book has in heaps. It's probably it's strong suit. It's a bit slow beforehand, but speeds up a touch once the affair is in full force, and then there comes a major spike in pace at a certain climactic moment, but really kinda fizzles away from there. The tension though is what's up. The two women have to hide this shady business from their respective peers, and the time they have together is limited and wrenching and also "volcanically sexy", and I guess I'm inclined to agree. I'll have to mirror something I saw in another review I most likely wouldn't have thought of, being who I am and all, and say that Sarah Waters is great at describing physical contact and gestures. The physicality runs the gamut from very subtle to very unsubtle and explicit, with many unique ways of putting it all. Of course I have no idea what physical contact is like but this book is sexy. Tension and sexiness in abundance, tenderness, sympathy.

And while I did enjoy reading this book, I can't say the way it all went down in the end was agreeable with me. There's a serious lack of resolution when the end rolls around. During the final chapters as the pages just kept slipping by, I was expecting something drastic to come about, heavier expectancy with each passing sentence. But ultimately I found it to be just a gradual decline into what I think was a rather unsatisfying conclusion.

I can't get into it because there's a very abrupt spoiler involved, but this moment is so sudden that it peaks the excitement and intrigue immediately after a humble buildup. I didn't know what to expect in the end during the aftermath, but was kind of let down.

So I'm kinda conflicted in that regard. I still liked reading it, much to my surprise, and when things started to pick up I was very much enthralled, but it turned into an empty feeling.

7-7.5/10?
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-23-2018, 04:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We Are Here, by Michael Marshall, 2012
400 pages

This was intriguing, surely. Described as chilling and unsettling and all the other things that good books often are. It's a mystery that veers into slight fantasy territory, but it remains urban and humane. It's one of those mind-bending types.

It starts off with something we already learn by reading the back, but that's ight. We have a newly published author in a strange subway encounter with a person he (supposedly) doesn't know who says "remember me".

Then we skew off into a new narrative, another couple up in New York who both work late at the same bar, gets involved with finding out who is stalking a friend of theirs.

It's so spoilable, it seems a lot of my choices have been, but we end up spiraling into parallel worlds that may not be so parallel as they seem at first, inhabited by beings born of loss and regret and loneliness. They can't be seen, at least not easily, and band together and cause some kinda existential ruckus.

Reading it is fun most definitely. It's intensely gripping and suspenseful and even emotionally touching at times, going into all the great themes. The fantasy elements are ultimately heavily subdued, which gives it the air that everything is quite real... and maybe it is. It's wonderfully written and the humor is nothing less than my exact type. Highly enjoyable.

9/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-23-2018, 04:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The Straw Men, by Michael Marshall, 2002
400 pages

I was quite compelled to read more books from Michael Marshall since I loved We Are Here, and this one had some great praise and was apparently deeper steeped in horror which is what I'm about. While I might not agree with it being "Scary as hell" - Stephen King, it had it's moments. But aside from those moments, it was entirely awesome nonetheless, a great thriller and mystery all round.

Once again, the key event(s) that would seem to kick it all off are already told on the back. A man finds a note from his recently deceased parents that says "we're not dead", and a girl gets kidnapped, and some guys shoot up a McDonald's.

And once again, the main story is advanced through two seemingly separate plot lines, interspersed with chapters here and there detailing the abducted girl's captivity.

It's more solidly delivered than We Are Here, I'd say, that one has a lot of stuff especially at the end that are kinda like what, but Straw Men comes back around sturdily. The guy with the dead but apparently not dead parents, Ward, goes from the note on a quest for truth, as you can imagine. He is disgruntled to find that his father, the owner of a large real estate agency, had the company shut down rather than passing it on to his heir, which advances his questions further. He finds a video tape with what would appear very mundane material, but, get this, it's anything but.

Meanwhile, an ex-CIA agent is brought back into action (though on his own accord) after the girl's kidnapping, as he believes it to be the work of the same killer he's already been on the heels of years before after his own daughter was a victim and before then.

What we uncover has to do with a secret society bent on reverting back to the ways of hunting and gathering, and they have this whack ass manifesto that says a lot of whack and stupid things about viruses and such misanthropic delusions. So they hella kill people.

It's also quite spoilable, although I suppose that's how mysteries pretty much are. They're mysteries after all. But there's some cool revelations, good shocks, and harrowing violence and vengeful atmosphere, and that humor that I enjoy. It's more straightforward in the end than We Are Here, but I dunno which I liked better. Both are brilliantly constructed.

9/10
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Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:54 PM   #20 (permalink)
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You could make a solid case for this being a redundant thread since I already had the reading log but then again it's not 2018 anymore, and in that thread I was reading books I actively sought out at real libraries and such. But due to the immense late fees built up on my account I can no longer check out items and most likely never will be able to in this county again, but in this living situation a man's gotta read. I'm kinda bummed out that I was reading so tough before coming down here then just like, stopped. But anyway, this thread will focus on whatever random junk I pick up at the Little Free Library.



Apparently there's a lot more of these than I thought and I couldn't find any picture of the one I will actually be exploiting but that's the gist of it. Naturally, especially when you have a literary taste that comes more out of left field, you may imagine the books that do get left in here are gonna be by lame nobodies or extra lame somebodies, but I have been surprised by some novels already, most notably The Paying guests, a slow moving portrait of forbidden love I probably would not have checked out without the intriguing praise on the back for a totally different book. I was already immersed before realizing that though.

Anyway, my first acquisition was already a fairly entertaining jaunt of comic depravity.



The Big Bamboo by Tim Dorsey, 2007

This sort of comic crime thriller I feel like comes around a lot but this wasn't bad. I actually liked it a fair bit. It has a very Thompsonian nature but gone Hollywood over Vegas, and it's generous with the hilarity. Moves quick but manages to spark a bit of intrigue here and there and goes into mystery territory with all these separate plot lines that don't seem related but you know, they are. That's how books be.

Interesting to note the main protagonist here (and it's not his only hurrah), is a manic serial killer with a penchant for gratuitous film references. So the bad guys are the good guys.

3.5/5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriphiel View Post
Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO

Last edited by Mondo Bungle; 04-30-2019 at 05:58 PM.
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