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Old 01-17-2018, 01:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'ma talk about the stuff I read this year.

Like this, which is a new favorite.



House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, 2000
709 pages (technically speaking)

This was recommended by a friend, a published author herself. I wanted a sick book of course but also inspiration. By the time I started reading this, I'd already started much more of my own stories, and as I LEAFED through it with unstoppable anticipation, I found that somehow my work was uncannily similar. You'd think it not possible that I didn't take any cues from it, that heavy influence is deceivingly notable. Impressive for never reading it.

I came in search of horror and boy did I find it. Visually driven stuff. Not just talking about the imagery either. The Irvine Welshian, experimental and indeterminate format reads like an ancient scroll written anonymously in a language spoken nowhere. Along the way we encounter braille and single/couple word pages that do well to increase your heart rate to match the pace at which you suspensefully flip and flip. Musical staves, margins filled with endless lists of notable and possibly some nonexistent architecture. Triangular passages residing in the corners of pages and paragraphs that quite literally fall apart like a Jenga tower.

House is madness and anguish incarnate. Starting from the inside out, it revolves around a simple but fragile and disintegrating family, exploring the ineffable qualities of a house that is larger on the inside than out. The family and affiliated friends that arrive to trek the infinite and impossible chambers within the house are themselves the subject of a conceptual (as in nonexistent) homemade film being described in immense and imagined detail as an academic study by a conspicuously crazy and deceased blind man, who left behind his haphazard manuscript in his apartment when he died, a whole trunk full of scraps of concentrated tin foil hat-ness, whose outrageous delusions are found and assembled by a young man, ultimately the narrator if there ever was any, who also tells of his own deterioration brought upon by the discovery in scattered footnotes and brought into further light by the appendices.

Never before (and admittedly I haven't read all that much in my life until now) have I encountered such a visceral and relentless account of what it means to suffer in every way. The brutal honesty delivered by our disgruntled narrator is uncompromising, you can almost feel the pain that this book exudes.

I would readily liken this to At the Mountains of Madness but of a modern age. What scares us is that same Lovecraftian ambiguity that is almost threatening in its perplexity and unknown-ness. The interior of the home depicted in The Navidson Record (the central piece of House), is reminiscent of the titanic temples of the Great Old Ones found at the Plateau of Leng. Beneath the house is an endless void with unlimited doors and curves, spiral staircases, impossible stretches of distance, and corridors and halls that shift on their own accord or perhaps bend to the state of the observer, with different personalized images seen by each character even if they're looking at the same thing.

House delivers on an astonishing amount of levels. It is horrifying, intensely disturbed, and with enough grief for twelve funerals. It is sad, sad and utterly life like, as relationships crumble and egos even more so. It is frequently hilarious. It is meticulous, a jimmy rustling characterization of the absolute furthest reaches of the mind and the images it has the ability to create. It is well researched and even more, like... well there's a veritable smorgasbord of very particular and specific footnotes and references to many many many made up things that are quite scholarly. On top of it all, House proves once again that there is nothing outside of yourself that can even come close to matching the terror of the human mind.

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 01-17-2018, 01:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, 2010
480 pages

This I checked out on a semi-whim. I read his book Slade House a month prior, to fair enjoyment. It was quick not only in size, but also managed to be an easy page turner. I don't want to call the writing simple by any means, as that sounds like an insult, and it really isn't to begin with, so I'll just say it was very digestible and one to knock out in a day or less. A haunted house story that offered some solid chills that as a standalone read was more or less predictable. It intrigued me enough to want to check out more ambitious novels of his, namely Cloud Atlas, but the library didn't have that and they were closing in five minutes, so I nabbed this.

A well researched historical drama, differing from Slade House's ghosts and time warps and apertures leading to otherworldy eternal houses, Thousand Autumns is not without its own sense of mystery and intrigue. The story itself and other tales told therein are kept grounded in history and realism but remain fascinating when suffused with often subtle forays into the fantastical and folkloric. The story takes at the very end of the 1700's, and is stretched mildly throughout the Orient, mainly a Dutch trading outpost near Nagasaki called Dejima. Here a simple clerk travels to make a fortune and offer his services in recording and investigating certain criminal activities of his company following a warehouse fire that destroyed a good amount of stuff while the former company superiors were out slammin whores at a brothel like Shaq at the hoop. He would become infatuated with a midwife, whose own duties would be taken advantage of after sent unwillingly to an enigmatic and reclusive shrine. I want to avoid spoilers, so I'll just say that the organization at this shrine is invested in some shady and possibly mystical creeds.

Apparently a genre hopper, David Mitchell maintains an endearing style that's not overtly abstract or complex but also not some novelized paint by numbers. It's intelligent and casual, and not without some laughs.

I didn't think it'd be my thing at first, and you can spare me your cliches because it has nothing to do with the cover, but it surprised me in a way akin to some movies I've been skeptical of. Thousand Autumns is rooted in areas of literature I have little to no expertise in, but it had me unexpectedly engaged, so I'd personally take the liberty of recommending it as an early plank of the path bridging the gap to Tolstoy. I don't have any desire to read it again and it's not the style I'd binge on, much more humble and political, but it's good.

7/10
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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; 03-22-2019 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:21 PM   #3 (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.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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do you like how I did the blue
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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 01-17-2018, 03:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell, 2014
609 pages

I don't have a story for checking this out so you can come see me about it on the streets.

What I'd already read of Mitchell enticed me enough to keep diving into the magic. This is (probably) a central work describing the exploits of a "cabal of dangerous mystics and their enemies". It connected the previous two books I read, totally unexpectedly in the case of Thousand Autumns, and I'm willing to bet his other stuff comes into play as well. This should probably have been read before Slade House though. That book was good but kinda spindly story wise, and threw concepts around like common knowledge. A lot is explained here in The Bone Clocks.

Told from several different perspectives and spanning decades, The Bone Clocks is the story of a girl that gets swept up into some kinda psychic war of extensive background involving carnivorous mind predators and body hopping immortal-esque mystics and rapid fire hand symbols. I'm no expert on all that business (that's what the book is for) but it's quite imaginative and fantastical.

The book itself is engaging as ever and definitive in its personal style. Much more cryptic and magically connected, and just as readable. As ambiguous as all the concepts and themes are, the writing style is totally accessible and often hilarious. Rich in humor and a lot of really nice descriptions, never overly complicated but always textured with intrigue and mystery.

8/10
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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; 01-17-2018 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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do you like how I did the blue
YES. Good stuff so far, subscribing.
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Blue was cool.

I started The Bone Clocks but stopped about 100 pages in to return later. I just wasn't into it but I will say that certain parts of those 100 pages were, just, wow.
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Plague Ship, by Clive Cussler, 2008
590 pages

Innit that cover nice. Straight from the postcard aisle of a Safeway.

I discovered that two books wasn't enough for the time I couldn't get anymore, so I had to resort to what I had on deck. I didn't hate it, it's just one of those basic ass thriller novels with jokes that have been rehashed since the dawn of man, and a lot of simplistic prose.

It's about Vin Diesel (he'd be in the movie obv) and his crew discovering a cruise ship with all patrons dead in literal pools of blood except for one. Then we discover the virus was unleashed by some whack anti-population cult with stupid ideals and even stupider elaborations of them, cuz like, well what they say is stupid.

There's cool parts I guess like any generic action movie but otherwise it is light years from the stuff I like and I dunno what else to say

4/10
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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 01-31-2018, 03:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis, 2005
320 pages

I had to take a break from Jerusalem after 1000 pages and I had this on deck, so I opened it up and found that I could scarcely undo this action, and it was done in seconds. Hours, that is.

This book is a fictionalized jaunt through the author's life that turns paranormal with a good old demon haunting and Patrick Bateman stalking/murdering. It's not super crazy complex so don't expect so much of a review... But it's pretty good.

Starts off with a Halloween party at the Ellis place, with his daughter having issues with her inexplicably terrifying bird doll and an unrecognized guess dressed up as Patrick Bateman. Then we can also tie in an ongoing interplay with Ellis's dead father and the demonic activity in the house, and then his own (Bret) troubled relationship with his son and some missing children. All the questions and craziness pretty much have to do with all this paternal tension everywhere.

It's not a hard read by any means, and generally very gripping for a while and the pages ought to fly by with ease. Some things may be somewhat, I don't wanna say obvious, but like, more apparent I guess, the closer we get to the resolution of everything, but it doesn't take away from the story, which itself is somewhat simple. But it's told nicely, in the succinct and blunt Ellis way, and with a lot of hilarity and a generous dose of terror.

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 01-31-2018, 05:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I read Lunar Park

I was kinda like meh
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