Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon
- Greatest weird paranoid story on philatelics ever.
And no I do not wish to be your executrix. I read this
over and over to try and decide what's going on, I mean behind
the story. Just what does "And tacit lies the gold,
once-knotted horn" actually mean? Is Yoyodyne a real company?
It is the name of the evil company in "Buckaroo Bonzai
and the 8th Dimension." But the question remains:
Who is delivering your mail? Meanwhile I am still threatening
to finish reading Gravity's Rainbow, Vineland, Mason&
Dixon. Managed to complete V in a spurt of
masochism. Let's face it we all want to be Pynchon, which
is a pity for the reading public...
A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, James Joyce
- Catholic School Upbringing thing, I'll get over it... "You
take Joyce seriously?" someone once asked me and naturally
enough, after that point, I never did... Still, I think
Simon Moonan was homosexual - there was something about the
word "suck" and toilets in several references - there
is a paper in that for someone - shades of Joe Orton and George
Michael? Had my copy of Ulysses confiscated by
Brother Gunn ("Lurch") for reading it during Physics
class. And I was genuinely reading it, not just looking
for rude words, too. And if anyone says differently I'll
wring the bleeding fuckers bleeding blasted fucking windpipe...
The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse
- How deep can you get? I anticipated a story about marbles
- you know: Tom bowlers and glass-eyes, and hey! no phnudging...
Boy did I get a wrong number. Read this as I lay by the pool
in the Bangkok Shangri-La. Can anyone be as serious as
a serious German?
Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
- "Dark stuff!" someone said to me about Vlocker
Schlondorff's film Can anyone be as humorous as a serious
Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes
- What colour were Madame Bovary's eyes? Literature
101 disguised as story-telling. Madame Bovary is
a magnificent story - funny too.
Catch 22, Joseph Heller
- "Live forever, or die in the attempt..." I was
walking in the school quadrangle on lunchtime in year 12, when
Angus Dorman came up with someone else and asked me which
was the best book I had ever read. I was reluctant to
answer. "No, go on, tell us!" Angus insisted.
So I said, "Catch 22" having just finished it for
the second time. He was triumphant! "See, I
told you so." he said to his mate, and they walked
away. I am not sure what his point was. My literary
taste, or my predictability? "Consistency may be
overrated as a virtue," said Heller in a Playboy interview.
I really did buy it for the interview, really I did.
Future War, Joe Haldeman
- Great time-warp science fiction. He nearly did live
forever - relatively speaking. Due to time-distortion
with faster-than-light travel, the hero goes from battle to
battle, fights for about 5 minutes, and then gets several hundreds
years to recuperate in the flights home... an allegory of sorts
about the Vietnam war, allegedly...
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- And all of his other books too! Breakfast of Champions,
Player Piano, Sirens of Titan - from where that luminous
phrase "chronosynclastic infindibulum" entered my
lexicon. So it goes. If only he could write!
The Twyborn Affair, Patrick White
- It was the first hard-cover book I ever bought.
The Blitz sequence at the end was great piece of writing.
Still remember arguing with Colin Styles about why The Aunt's
Story went so weird. "'Cause she was mad, so the prose
went mad..." "Why didn't he just say she went mad,
and write normally?" "...!!")
The Third Policeman, Flann O'Brien
- It took several readings and several excursions into Physics
textbooks before I ultimately got the visual concept as the
nameless one-legged narrator approaches the mythical Police
Station. My friend Max Zocco was convinced that de Selby
was a real person. "Night is an accretion of black air."
de Selby must have lived in Causeway Bay... The most hilarious
book about death and one-leggedness possible. The Myles
Na Gopaleen newspaper articles/pieces are a scream too - "great
mines stink alike..."
Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell
- etc... love a good police procedural. The concept
of murder being done by someone bland and uninteresting in the
first book was great, but this series has gradually devolved
into the usual Good v Evil-Personified formula in a sorry decline
Time's Arrow, Martin Amis
- Great concept - stolen from Kurt Vonnegut's SH5 - of telling
a story in reverse time, trying to sort causality and motive
for abominable actions... Horrible man, he took that candy from
a crying baby... Wonderful man, he rescued all those Jews from
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John LeCarre
- John Raulston Saul savaged a LeCarre type
figure in his Thailand novel The Paradise Eaters, but
I love a good snobby spy procedural.
Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
- Magnificent story, sustained fantasy, charming, warm, totally
authentic, will I ever grow up? Will the movie ever get here?
How many times have I read it?
Gormenghast, Mervin Peake
- Sad to read in his wife's touching biography of Mervin's
premature decline and death due to Parkinsonism, his early illustrations
are superb, and the solidity of this novel, like the eponymous
castle, is just awe inspiring. Reread the section where
Titus discovers colour, in the classroom as the bluebottle fly
drones around and the teachers sleep. Did this for Eng Lit in
Yr 12, 1975.
Dead Lagoon, Martin Didbin
- Love a good Italian police procedural
The Sotweed Factor, John Barth
- Love a good ol' post-modern post-structuralist picaresque.
The Floating Opera - couldn't decide whether it had any
intrinsic worth or not, but had to mention it to be inconsistent
in my consistency...
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Murphy, Samuel Beckett
aaaah I could go on... and on... and on...
Questions (rhetorical) about some aspects
In The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte,
the analysis of the chess game is totally screwed as far as solving
the alleged medieval murder mystery. If you have a book cover
with the image of the crucial chess game (The Harvill Press edition)
you will see its flaw. The 2 black pawns could only have got
to where they are by taking a piece each, and the only 2 white pieces
missing are the knight and the queen, ergo one of the freaking
pawns must have taken them, not the knight for chrissake...
His other books are much better, chess-wise. The Dumas
Club (filmed as The Ninth Gate with the always excellent
Jonny Depp) & The Fencing Master particularly, having
no chess in them.
I enjoy mostly that ground-breaking Sci-Fi stuff, but I dig the classics
too, including art-house, and some old stuff from the Film-101 days
at LaTrobe Uni. (No mention is made of my all too brief initial
university sojourn in my CV you might note...)
Alien, I am attempting to obtain a complete set of the
Alien Quartet on DVD or VCD with the strict proviso that the title
must be misspelled. So far I have 'Aline', Aliens (but it says
'Alines' on the disk), and 'Alien Bessurection'
BladeRunner: I will never know whether I prefer the Director's
Cut because I have watched the old one so many times I can still hear
the voice-over. I do prefer the new abrupt ending though...
The Matrix: Whoa...
Kill Me Again: the first and perhaps my favorite of the
series of modern film-noir stuff. Michael Masden really was
tough in this movie. He was just aping himself in all his other stuff.
It doesn't rate highly on IMDB.com, but I love it!
Clay Pigeons: just about anything with the guy from Swingers.
Dogma was a hoot
The Exterminating Angel - Bunuel: Also his way to make
the driest martini - let a beam of sunlight shine through the vermouth
into the gin... a flash-back from Film 101.
Absolutely none of the Stare Bores crap -- overblown promos
for the tie-in video games..
Also none of the Lethal Weapon series -- violence will
solve your problems - what a great take-home message for the kiddies.
Plus how did Jet Li stay fighting fit with a steel girder though his
spine and having drowned already...
I thought Gladiator was a piece of fake looking shit.
What a corny ending - like the crowd in the Coliseum is just just
to sit there in silence after the Emperor gets it - maybe they were
waiting for the credits to roll; I wish I hadn't.
Artistes in My Collection.
Acoustic Alchemy, Chris Bailey (from The Saints), Black Crowes, Luka
Bloom, David Bowie, Clannad, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Commitments,
Sam Cooke, Ry Cooder, Elvis Costello, Robert Cray, Desmond Dekker,
Dire Straights, Johnny Diesel, Divinyls, Doobie Bros, Bob Dylan, Steve
Earle, Eurythmics, Everything But The Girl, Fabulous Thunderbirds,
Donald Fagen, Fatboy Slim, etc....
I'll get round to finishing this eventually...
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