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Showing posts from May, 2016

Books of Note

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Yah, yah, I know, I’ve been lollygaggin’ and work-shyin’ and leaving all my lovely spammers in Tamil Nadu with nothing on which to post spam but old reviews. I’ve not even been all that busy, except when it comes to slapping on weight and destroying some neural connections, both of which I’ve done with glazed-eyed indifference and robotic monotony. Still, I feel I owe it to GDR to at least put Shantaram to bed before I buy (whoops, sorry, already done) and read his next book, The Mountain Shadow, which even now is winging its way to my door by the magic of Amazon Prime Same Day DeliveryTM.
It turns out that GDR was indeed a bit of a knob. He robbed building societies in Australia, always dressed in a three-piece suit and minding his Ps & Qs, and only targeting those with adequate insurance. How he knew which did and didn’t have adequate insurance is not mentioned. On the back of this, or maybe it was the other way around, his wife kicked him out and he lost contact with his only da…

Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

In days gone by, when repeatedly pressed about what my favourite book might be, a banal question seeking an impossible and crude reductionist answer to which I was usually rude in response, I would offer Breakfast Of Champions as a pacifier. 

I first read it in University, and it has, to some degree, influenced how I think and feel about a lot of things. Strikingly, I've never wanted to re-read it. Perhaps I was afraid I'd find fault the second time around and wanted to uphold it as a paragon of meta-fiction. Perhaps, but then I'm a relentless consumer of fiction and was always on to the next consumable work, never having time or inclination to go back.

So in the spirit of a more considered and thoughtful phase of my life I decided I wanted to read something that once made me feel good.

I'd clearly not remembered it very well.

But before that, I'm amazed I've gone *mumbles* years without once mentioning Kilgore Trout in my reviews, even in passing. The same goes fo…

The Petting Zoo by Jim Carroll

This review contains spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

I'd forgotten all about Jim Carroll. When I was between school and university in 1995, and the Di Caprio movie of Carroll's diaries came out, it was all my friends and peers were talking about. Perverse then as I am now, I refused to watch it; didn't get around to it until I was nearer thirty than twenty. But then I was mooching around on iTunes and it happened to recommend, given recent purchases of The Replacements and The Dead Milkmen, 'People Who Died' from the album Catholic Boy by The Jim Carroll Band, a song by the way which is both rocking and crushing, and I was pulled in by the Ramones-esque guitars, the crisp, punchy snare sound, and Carroll's hip, New York voice singing lyric poetry about friends who've died in the most terrible fashion, self-inflicted and accidental, all of whom were friends of his.

His iTunes biog mentioned being an author, and the pieces clicked. I was (partially) defe…

The Camera Killer by Thomas Glavinic

I loved Night Work, Austrian Glavinic's own I am Legend, or maybe, more accurately, Last Man, given there aren't any vampires in it ('Neville, Neville!'). It was creepy as hell and completely unresolved, whilst being written straight, a little matter-of-fact, but cold and hard and sparse and brilliant! In fact, it put me in mind of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (of which more anon) in so far as it was as though the Creator had lifted away all of the automatons whom He'd charged with interacting with the protagonist, in His divine experiment, leaving only the one real person and no explanation. Maybe His funding ran out!

I can't remember if I came to Glavinic through fellow Austrian Thomas Bernhard or if it was the other way around, but either way I was eager to find other works of his translated from Austrian. At only 100 pages or so, I'd considered this a little too slim to be a good read so left it for last. In the end, I think I made a singular …