After a long literary dry spell, I have begun reading some books again. I’ve always been a fan of reading. If Levar Burton taught me anything, besides not to take his word for it, reading is a great way to relax and forget your own miserable boring life ( mine anyways) and enter worlds of imagination and wonder. This is probably why I mostly like books with some element of fantasy or creative fiction in them, if only a dabbling. No Abe Lincoln biographies or ruminations on the intricacies of the dung beetle please.
Here is a rundown on some of my newly collected and conquered works.
I used to work in this cafe, connected to a book store that often had signings and readings. This cafe made sandwiches named after authors. Our ham on rye was called the Bukowski and so forth. When Tom Robbins was in town, I made him his own nom de plume sandwich, a turkey and jack cheese with extra mayo, just the way he likes it I was told. I know. Big deal. Wup de doo. Get on with it already.
Jitterbug Perfume is right up there with my other favorite Robbins extravaganzas. It takes place over centuries, involves the secrets of the human condition, and generally plays out as hilarious as it is intriguing. The main body of the novel deals with Alobar, an ancient king destined to die, until he decides that’s basically bullshit. He, along with his love Kudra, lives out the centuries immortal and young, after learning some monk’s techniques of course. Those monks, is there anything they can’t do?
Cut to the present where a host of characters are all intertwining across the globe, all after a mysterious scent, as this books main subjects are beets and perfume you see, and everything culminates in a fantastical and enjoyable read. I loved it. If you’ve never read Robbins before, start at Still Life With Woodpecker. But then move onto Jitterbug Perfume. It’s really very lyrical and poignant.
Four bookmarks out of five.
I have been eating up Dick like crazy lately ( ummmm there’s gotta be a better way to say that) I mean Phillip K. Dick of course. He’s already considered one of the most influential and important writers in any genre, let alone Science Fiction, so my praises are like a handful of dirt on a mountain of accolades. But here goes.
Now Wait For Last Year is one of best books concerning time travel, interplanetary war, and the strains of marriage I’ve ever read. It centers on Eric Sweetscent, love that name, an anti forg surgeon-meaning he specializes in replacing dead or dying organs with artificial ones-being called into service for the Commander in Chief of the freaking world. This guy, Gino Molinari, aka the Mole, is losing a war against one planetary race while being in an unfornatate alliance with another.
Basically, there’s also this drug that allows you to move through time and the parallel universes that exist and Eric starts doing this. He travels into the future and then returns once the drug has worn off, though he seems to return, oddly, one year into the future. Long story short, he is the key to fixing the intergalactic shit storm we’re involved in and winning the war. Can he do it? Will he do it? Find out for yourself.
NWFLY is as brilliant as anything I’ve read so far of Dick’s. The story is absolutely addictive and compelling. I found myself just mesmerized through the whole thing, not able to put it down. Dick’s novels and stories all encompass a visionary quality, as if he was actually there relating events. It’s the best of SF as far as I’m concerned, and this is at the top of that list for sure.
Side note-If you have a chance, download or otherwise get yourself a copy of A Scanner Darkly on audio book, as read by Paul freakin’ Giamatti! It’s basically the best thing on this planet if you’re too lazy to read or just love hearing that gruff stuff over the course of 12 hours.
Five bookmarks out of five.
This book sucks! N is for Neck? X is for X? How about G is for Get the Fuck out of here!
Zero bookmarks. Take that educational art book aimed at 8 year olds.
This is some fucked up shit right here. Having only read Volume One of the Books of Blood (there are three) I can tell you without a doubt that Clive Barker is one sick puppy. As if Hellraiser wasn’t proof enough. The stories contained in here are gruesome, depraved, and sometimes comical accounts of butchery, demons, and a whole town’s worth of blood rushing at you.
Maybe the most recognizable yarn in the collection is “The Midnight Meat Train” since it was made into an awful movie about a year ago. It’s truly disturbing and twisted, but much more creepy and ominous than the film made it out to be. My favorite story is “The Yattering and Jack” about a demon tasked with menacing a poor widower until he snaps. The problem is this Jack character is the most clueless, dim witted, befuddling opponent the Yattering has ever faced. Or is he? It’s a power struggle the likes of which I’ve never seen, and a story I read over and over. Some of the other stories are decent, it’s just all very bizarre stuff. I mean really fucking out there. Not sure if I’ll take on Volume Two or Three, but my interest is peaked. Like a kid who’s covering his eyes in the gory scenes, only to split his fingers open and peek anyways. Nightmares be damned!
Three bookmarks out of five.
Full Disclosure- I’m still reading Kafka On The Shore, but I wanted to talk a bit about Murakami. This is one of the last Haruki Murakami books I have yet to read. And considering he’s got about a dozen printed in English, that’s saying something. So far, it’s a lot like his other novels. A young disaffected man goes off searching for something he can’t quite put his finger on. He meets some mysterious women, sits around reading and listening to music (Murakami is a music fiend!) and there’s a sub plot involving mass hypnosis and talking cats. So, yea. It’s shaping up to be a great read.
Murakami has such a unique way with language. Maybe it’s his inclination towards rhythm in his writing or the fact that it’s translated from Japanese, a very different literary structure from English prose for sure, but Murakami’s books are so different from anything else I’ve read. They are usually very simple stories, with incredibly relatable characters, living out these surreal dream like scenarios. I’d imagine Murakami being in a sort of trance while writing, everything coming out super zen. It kind of always puts me in that place, a calm and peaceful mood, when I’m reading him. I walk away a bit dazed, but very satisfied.
Rating reserved until after completion.
So that’s about it. If you have any recommendations, I’m always looking for a good read. Let’s get lit!