Books, Books, and MORE Books

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    • 31 Dic 2010, 2:24

    Books, Books, and MORE Books

    Post pics of what you're reading, what you've read, and what you'd like to read.
    As a bonus add the first paragraph or some choice (underlined?) portions of a book in your possession, then write about why this is / was significant to you.

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    Editado por hjbardenhagen el 7 Ene 2011, 14:07
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    • 31 Dic 2010, 4:45

    The Voice of the Fire
    Foreward by Neil Gaiman.
    284 pages; hardcover.

    This magnificent gem was recommended to me by a fellow bookseller several years ago and the voice of the first narrator haunts the folds of my memory to this day. The book is a collection of stories set in central England, spanning 6,000 years. Beginning with Hob's Hog in 4000 BC:

    A-hind of hill, ways off to sun-set-down, is sky come like as fire, and walk I up in way of this, all hard of breath, where is grass colding on I's feet and wetting they.
    There is not grass on high of hill. There is but dirt, all in a round, that hill is as like to a no-hair man, he's head. Stands I, and turn I's face to wind for sniff, and yet is no sniff come for far ways off. I's belly hurts, in middle of I. Belly-air come up in mouth, and lick of it is like to lick of no thing. Dry-up blood lump is come black on knee, and is with itch. Scratch I, where is yet more blood come.

    As the stories go forward in time and catch up with the present era (ending with Phipps' Fire Escape AD 1995) the voices change appropriately. It is surely to be considered as equal to his graphic work, though I am in the minority in this opinion. To be fair, they are in separate categories.
    Either way, an unforgettable read...

    While on the subject of A. Moore, if you haven't heard his spoken word forays they are a must. Check THESE out stat!

    The Recognitions
    Introduction by William Gass...and it's FANTASTIC!

    This is the only novel of its size that I've read twice. 956 pages concerning art, fraud, the "art" intelligensia, the arterati, Paris, New York, masquerades. I am still in love with Wyatt Gwyon, one of the most lovingly crafted characters to come to life in the pages of literature. Ever. He is a remarkable person...
    From the first page:

    I : The First Turn of the Screw
    Mephistophocles (leiser): Was gibt es denn?
    Wagner (leiser): Es wird ein Mensch gemacht.
    --Goethe, Faust II

    Even Camilla had enjoyed masquerades, of the safe sort where the mask may be dropped at the critical moment it presumes itself as reality. But the procession up the foreign hill, bounded by cypress trees, impelled by the monotone chanting of the priest and retarded by hesitations at the fourteen stations of the Cross (not to speak of the funeral carriage in which she was riding, a white horse-drawn vehicle which resembled a baroque confectionary stand) might have ruffled the countenance of her soul, if it had been discernible.

    Any amount of patience you give to this book will be rewarded. It does take effort and the effort put forth is worth the recognitions you'll receive as you read it.

    I am currently reading Poetry, Juxtapoz, and Vice magazines, the last two as a subscriber.

    I bought myself an oversized book as a x-mas gift to me, because I am special to myself even when no one esle thinks so.

    I love reading about graf history and gawking at books that are about all forms of urban art.

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    Editado por hjbardenhagen el 7 Ene 2011, 14:07
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    • 31 Dic 2010, 19:10
    I used to be a bookseller and a book buyer for a large independent in Seattle. I miss it...

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    • 31 Dic 2010, 20:31

    Culled from Poetry: Giacomo Leopardi

    Too much of anything gets you nowhere. Even logicians warn that someone who tries to prove too much ends up proving nothing at all. We see excess everywhere in life. Excessive or profuse sensation turns to numbness. It produces indolence, inaction, a culture of sluggishness among individuals and whole populations. A poet overcome by enthusiasm, passion, etc., isn't a poet--I mean he isn't able to make poetry. Confronted with nature, his mind is swamped imagining the infinite, ideas swarm in his head and he's unable to separate, select, or grasp any of them; he's completely incapacitated, in other words; he can't harvest the fruit of his sensations--he can't conceptualize and formulate, can't apply himself and write, can't theorize or practice. The infinite expresses itself only when it goes unfelt, or rather after it's felt. When the great poets were writings things that rouse in us an astonishing sense of the infinite, their spirit wasn't at all occupied by sensations of the infinite; when depicting the infinite, they weren't feeling it. The reason we don't feel the worst possible physical pain is because it either knocks us senseless or kills us. We don't feel the worst sorrow while it's at its worst; it stuns us, confuses or overwhelms us, makes us unrecognizable and unknowable to ourselves, estranges us from our feelings and the objects of our feeling; we're immobilized, our inner (and, so to speak, outer) life ceases to stir. Thus we don't feel the worst sorrows, don't feel them in their entirety, when they first befall, we know them, one by one, as we advance through time and space. And not just peak pain, but every peak passion, every sensation that, even if it's not the greatest, is yet so extraordinary and (in whatever way) great, that our spirit can't contain it all at once. Supreme joy would be just the same.
    March 4 1821

    Well, here we have much of our experience wrapped up in this little nutshell.
    Deep emotions; deep pain; suffering and exaltation to the limits of joy--either extreme leading to the culmination of life: death.
    I would like to tear this little piece of writing apart and examine it under our collective microscope.
    Are there any phrases that strike you?
    I am curious if you have ever felt the infinite aroused in you. There is a quiet sense of wonder when looking with fresh eyes at a dew-covered leaf, or a child who is in the throes of imaginative abandon.
    This "pure" experience, untainted by thought and untrammeled by interpretive processes, is what I'm concerning myself with right now.

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    • 1 Ene 2011, 7:03

    More Leopardi:

    The only poetry appropriate to our time, no matter the subject, is melancholic. So, too, poetic tone. If any true poet exists today, if he feels truly inspired to write, if he sets out to write poetry about himself or some other subject, his inspiration, whatever its occasion, is bound to be melancholic. And the tone he naturally assumes with himself or others in pursuing his inspiration (no poetry worth the name lacks inspiration) will be a melancholy tone. Whatever his way of life, whatever his nature and circumstances, even if he comes from a civilized culture, a poet will be melancholy, as will others who share nothing with him except melancholy. Among the ancient poets it was just the opposite. The music that came naturally to them was joyful, or grandly solemn, etc. Their poetry always wore festive clothes, even when the subject caused them sorrow. What does this mean? Either that the ancients suffered less misfortune than we do (which may or may not be true), or that they felt misfortune less or were less conscious of it, which amounts to the same thing and produces the same result: they were less unhappy than we moderns are. December 12, 1823

    I am astonished with Solomon who was quoted as saying something along the lines of "there's nothing new under the sun." While I don't agree with the King, exactly, I find myself nodding in assent in several places with this Leopardi fellow.
    The key words that strike me throughout thsi short piece are 'inspiration' and melancholy, along with variations on this theme.
    I balked a bit when I first read the words "the only poetry appropriate to our time [...] is melancholic."
    Then I thought about this a little further and considered that there is a disconnect between my understanding of the word melancholy and Leopardi's understanding of the same.
    I have read celebratory poetry that is meaningful and moving, but did I detect an undercurrent of the melancholic spirit in the words? Do I need to re-read what I've passed over and attempt to discover a brooding tone under an effervescent line?
    No. I just let the poet speak as he or she sees fit.
    I love this bit: "Their poetry always wore festive clothes."
    Nicely said, sir. I wish I could sit down and drink a vup of coffee with you, as we watch the centuries pass by us like fine grains of sand on a pixelated shore.

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    • 1 Ene 2011, 7:22

    Sherman Alexie

    Speaking of joyfully melancholic poets who have the ability to make me laugh while leaving me in tears (in the same minute), there are few writers who move me as much as this man does.
    His numerous works touch me deeply.

    The Business of Fancydancing
    84 pages

    First paragraph:

    My eyes were closed tight in the reservation November night and the three in the morning highway was the longest in tribal history. It was my father driving the blue van filled with short Spokane Indians, back from the Kamiah All-Indian Six-Foot-And-Under Basketball Tournament.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    230 pages

    This book is likely to make you laugh and cry in public places. You probably won't care either way, because you'll continue to read it through the tears while stifling the laughter in order to keep going.
    A winner of The National Book Award, this deserving novel is worth every cent and will reward you for taking the time to peruse its pages. Part autobiography, part graphic novel, it is a brilliant piece of work by a master of his craft.
    The narrator, Junior, is the shadow of Alexie himself, writing from the vantage point of a youth on the brink of making some tough decisions.
    From the first page:

    I was born with water on the brain.
    Okay, so that's not exactly true. I was actually born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull. But cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors' fancy way of saying brain grease. And brain grease works inside the lobes like car grease works inside an engine. It keeps things running smooth and fast. But weirdo me, I was born with too much grease inside my skull, and it got all thick and muddy and disgusting, and it only mucked up the works. My thinking and breathing and living engine slowed down and flooded.

    I am of the opinion that good writing does not have to be complicated or verbose. I don't need a how-to manual on the English language in order to be changed or moved dramatically or significantly.
    If it is true that "brevity is the soul of wit," then I think that clarity may be the soul of excellent writing.
    Alexie fulfills both roles magnificently.

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    • 1 Ene 2011, 16:46

    Don DeLillo

    I don't remember which was the first book of his that I read, but I know it sparked a string of fanatical reads, lapping up whatever I could when I could afford it.
    I will post the shortest of his works that I know of, for this is a good introduction to his ouevre.

    The Body Artist
    124 pages
    Hardcover (also available in paperback)

    From the first page:

    Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web.

    Now if that doesn't make you thirst for more of his writing, nothing will. As one person I know wrote in an endorsement for this book: "the first twenty-five pages alone should have won an award."
    True that!

    Editado por un antiguo usuario el 1 Ene 2011, 20:13
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    Editado por hjbardenhagen el 7 Ene 2011, 14:07
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    • 1 Ene 2011, 20:26

    Poetry: Philip Schultz

    I don't recall where I discovered this poet. Likely it was either a) while browsing Powell's Books or b) through reading Poetry magazine.
    Either way, here's a little chunk from his book, Failure:

    What I LIke and Don't Like

    I like to say hello and goodbye.
    I like to hug but not shake hands.
    I prefer to wave or nod. I enjoy
    the company of strangers pushed
    together in elevators or subways.
    I like talking to cabdrivers
    but not receptionists. I like
    not knowing what to say.
    I like talking to people I know
    but care nothing about. I like
    inviting anyone anywhere.
    I like hearing my opinions
    tumble out of my mouth
    like toddlers tied together
    while crossing the street,
    trusting they won't be squashed
    by fate. I like greeting-card cliches
    but not dressing up or down.
    I like being appropriate
    but not all the time.
    I could continue with more examples
    but I'd rather give too few
    than too many. The thought
    of no one listening anymore--
    I like least of all.

    I would like to thank Mr. Schultz for giving me the chance to slow down and read his work. I own two or three of his other books and in one way or another they have enriched me as a reader of poetry and as a person traversing this temporary abode.

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    • 1 Ene 2011, 22:52
    The Last Book in the Universe

    Terrific post-apocalyptic setting. Strong writing, solid plot, interesting characters. The more I read Rodman Philbrick, the more I like him.

    Editado por un antiguo usuario el 12 Ene 2011, 7:11
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    • 3 Ene 2011, 23:03

    Before I Forget to Post this...

    "Someone who doesn't spend much time among men usually isn't misanthropic. True misanthropes don't live in isolation, they live in the world. They praise isolation, yes, of course, but they live in the world. If such a man withdraws from the world, his misanthropy dissolves in his solitude."
    --Giacomo Leopardi, May 21, 1829

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    • 5 Ene 2011, 0:37

    Works of Resisters and Revolutionaries (armchair or otherwise)

    Derrick Jensen
    Volume I : 493 pages

    I recall reading this in laundry rooms and bathrooms quite a bit. I underlined various portions... what I found ridiculous, memorable, insightful, or thought provoking. What I appreciate is Jensen's energy for change and his love for real feminism, which is not only about the oppression of women but about all oppression and its eradication.
    He has several other books that are worth looking into.

    Random Page 243

    "Abusers are volatile. They may be pleasant one moment, and violent the next. I go back and forth on whether I believe their volatility is real.
    Argument in favor: Abusers are fragile. they're frightened. Because they have no identities of their own (which also means they could never identify with their bodies nor with the landbases that give them life) they have no capacity to react fluidly to whatever circumstances arise. They must then control their surroundings. So long as those surroundings remain perfectly under control abusers can maintain at least an exterior calm,,,"

    When it comes to abuse Jensen knows what he is talking about. He has looked deeply into the abuse of our planet and has also suffered under the abuse of his father--sexual abuse.

    Against Civilization : Readings and Reflections (enlarged edition)
    Edited by John Zerzan
    269 pages or so

    Random underlined portions:

    "The badly nurtured infant may become imprinted with the hardness of its cradle or bottle so irreversibly that it cannot, even as an adult, form fully caring human relationships..." --From 'Nature and Madness,' by Paul Shepard.

    "Malaria, probably the single greatest killer of humanity, and nearly all other infectious diseases are the heritage of agriculture. Nutritional and degenerative diseases in general appear with the reign of domestication and agriculture...."
    --From 'Elements of Refusal,' by John Zerzan

    When I read essays of this caliber, I wonder why I bother reading feel-good fiction at all. Wait. I don't read feel-good fiction or sappy romance novels. I pat myself on the back now, and move on to some other considerations of the purpose of literature:

    -To have a conversation across time and across cultures
    -To add to my worldviews
    -To enrich my understanding of the craft of writing
    -To empathize with those who suffer, which I will use as a segway to introduce you to one of the most impactful books I've read about terrorism and torture:

    American Methods : Torture and the Logic of Domination
    By Kristian Williams

  • Just finished reading. Somewhat standard roman noir, but enjoyable.

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    • 8 Ene 2011, 21:53

    as advised

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    • 9 Ene 2011, 4:04
    ^ ^ I was hooked on that book from the first paragraph, Rooie. Upon finishing I sat in my chair for a good while before I felt ready to set it down.
    Let me know what you think of it...

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    • 14 Ene 2011, 8:41

    GREAT BEATDOWNS IN LITERATURE, by William B. Fuckley Jr.

    Well, well, well. In the interest of keeping this forum alive I am posting another megapost to keep us busy.
    I read this on the bus today and laughed out loud. I hope you like it.

    (Original :

    Street justice is a rare commodity in high literature. Unlike its companion universe of film, the realm of books is static and immutable. Movie characters evolve and erode; there will always be a chance, no matter how remote, that film characters you don’t like will eventually find themselves beaten senseless in a remake. But a novel’s characters, once written, can never be unwritten. You may want to read about Pip, Puck, Poirot, or Portnoy getting curb-stomped into human jelly, but unless you write the grim act yourself, it will never happen (and even then, you’ll be relegated to grubby fan fiction).

    Occasionally, however, those obnoxious literary characters slip up. Here are our faves.

    At the climax of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, the villain Le Chiffre has 007 stripped naked and tied to a chair, then canes him in the balls for a solid hour. “It is not only the immediate agony,” Le Chiffre explains as he pulverizes Bond’s nads, “but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.” (One wonders whether the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Yeah, I’ll fuckin’ lay ya nuts on a fuckin’ dresser/ just ya nuts layin’ on a fuckin’ dresser/ and bang them shits with a spiked fuckin’ bat/ wassup BLAAA!!!” is an homage, or rather an instance of familienähnlichkeit.) Just when the villain is poised, knife in hand, to perform a Bronx vasectomy on the master spy, a SMERSH agent enters, wastes Le Chiffre, and carves the letter M into Bond’s right hand. Bond fully recovers from the ball-stomping; soon, he is enjoying full, frank, and regular intercourse with a woman named Vesper, with whom, he reflects, sex always has “the tang of rape.”

    Buck—a big slobbering St. Bernard Scotch sheepdog thing—finds himself kidnapped, sold to brutes in Alaska, and turned into a sled slave. Because he doesn’t take kindly to confinement, Buck must be broken. This happens in a rather brutal one-page pounding that ends with the noble, 140-pound Buck crumpled and whimpering on the tundra. “After a particularly fierce blow he crawled to his feet, too dazed to rush. He staggered limply about, the blood flowing from nose and mouth and ears, his beautiful coat sprayed and flecked with bloody slaver.” The breaking, we read, has worked. “He saw, once and for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and all his life after he would never forget it.” To this, the modern reader must add: Big Fucking Whoop. Buck still doesn’t have to worry about a mortgage, car insurance, identity theft, pants, cyberstalking, ED, inflation, unregulated political spending, street gangs, megaflu, nuclear annihilation, or a Large Hadron supernova. Take a number, Cujo; we’ve all got problems.

    Maurice, the Edmont Hotel’s pimp and elevator operator, flicks the scrotum of lit’s biggest whiner through his pajamas before whaling on him, dropping Holden’s fat ass like a greased tuba. Worse, Maurice calls Holden “chief”—WHAP!! That’s for John Lennon. You’d pimp-slap Holden too if you had to listen to his endless moaning about “vomity-looking” objects, things that are “crumby,” and people who are “phony,” not to mention the way he is always subliminally commanding you to kill celebrities and politicians. Yeah, Holden, spending all day smoking, drinking, and going to plays in the Manhattan of the 1950s sounds like a real bitch here in the postnuclear rubble of 2010, where it is illegal for people to gather in public, our schools are torn by race wars, and our children no longer remember a time when human beings lived aboveground. Did Holden Caulfield ever have to grind out a subsistence wage “working” as a “blowjob artist” in the refugee camps under Los Gatos? Was his youth stolen from him by the Mandatory Castration Act? Did he know the recovering jenkem addict’s crippling pain? It’s a good thing somebody put a hurting on this white boy and gave him something to cry about.

    A hijacked jumbo jet explodes over the English Channel, dropping bodies “like tidbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar.” Indian actors Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha plummet five miles and wake on the beach. Since this apparently isn’t zany enough, Gibreel then transforms into an angel, while poor Saladin devolves into a goat demon. The goat-Saladin is promptly thrown into a windowless van by cops less concerned about his demonic demeanor than that he may be a “Paki” trying to enter the country illegally. From there, it’s pretty straightforward ultraviolence, with Saladin kicked in the ribs, balls, and face, gouged in “various parts of his anatomy,” and forced to eat his own “soft, pellety” shit. But unlike other beatings of the socially vulnerable (Uncle Tom, Women in Love’s Gudrun, all the countless ass whoopings administered to Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God), this violence is sprinkled with so many allegories, allusions, and impenetrable non-Americanisms that it’s no less pleasant than an afternoon of Road Runner cartoons on Nyquil. And for this Rushdie gets a death sentence?

    No gods, no masters, no pants were the only rules in 1830s Missouri, a time and place where a child would often walk into a door—a door named Pap. During the golden age of American child abuse, young’uns could catch hell for sneaking a corn-silk cigarette, for having smallpox, for being “too fancy” for smallpox, or for no reason at all. Huck’s drunk dad, who brags that he quit voting after he heard that a black man in Ohio had the franchise, beats the snot out of Huck for going to school and learning to read and write. It is hard not to take Pap’s side in this. Reading and writing are useless skills that have never done a thing for anybody. When’s the last time you got a job reading? During Pap’s struggle with Judge Thacker over custody of Huck and his money, Pap takes Huck out of the reach of the law’s long arm, to a secluded log cabin in the woods, where he alternately pounds on Huck and leaves him locked up on his own for days at a time. When home, Pap rants about “the govment” and “the nigger,” gets wasted on cheap booze, and chases Huck with a knife, “calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me, and then I couldn’t come for him no more.”

    No George Romero zombie ever bitched and bellyached like Frankenstein’s monster. And I don’t seem to recall Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, or the Creature from the Black Lagoon embarking on anything close to this guy’s self-pity marathons. Let’s look at the facts. In chapter 11, the monster breaks into the shepherd’s house and wolfs down his breakfast of bread, cheese, milk, and wine. The correct term for this is “stealing.” Then he drunkenly stumbles into a village, finding himself “grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile objects” (in the 1838 “Complete and Uncut” version, Frank gets pelted with garbage bags, diapers, flower pots, and cinder blocks, and at one point someone runs out and brains him with a toilet). Instead of using the moment to reflect on his life of crime, the monster instead spends the rest of the story whining about the “barbarous villagers” to anyone who will listen. Subsequently, the book is now seen as a parable of intolerance, when really the moral is that a shepherd has the right to eat his meals in peace without some asshole food-junkie monster man barging in.

    After Gloucester’s son Edmund narcs on him, the Duke of Cornwall has the Earl bound to a chair. Cornwall’s wife, Regan, plucks his beard, as grievous an insult during the reign of James I as it was in ancient Judea and continues to be in present-day Boulder. At the line “Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot,” Cornwall commences to add eyelessness to Gloucester’s list of problems. After Cornwall performs the first optectomy, his lifelong faithful servant interrupts to suggest, politely: Enough with the blinding? Those are fighting words. Cornwall draws his sword, and so does the servant, but Regan ends the duel, stabbing the servant in the back with a borrowed sword. Returning to Gloucester, Cornwall addresses his remaining eye as he pries it from his head: “Out vile jelly! Where is thy lustre now?” Gloucester’s eye doesn’t have shit to say in return.

    Life is pretty chill for Hippolytus until he finds out his stepmom, Phaedra, wants to pork him. First he’s all, “What?” Then he’s all, “Naw.” So she’s like, “Later.” Since the play is set long before its premiere in 428 BC, Phaedra has to laboriously engrave on a suicide tablet that Hippolytus raped her. Then she hangs herself. When Hippolytus’s dad, Theseus, gets home, he starts crying over her corpse to his father, the god Poseidon, all like, “Poseidon, my son is a punk. Poseidon, my son is a bitch. Please, O Lord of the sea: Kill my punk-ass, bitch-ass son.” So Grandpa dispatches a bull from the ocean that spooks Hippolytus’s horses, which bolt, dragging Hippolytus’s increasingly bruised, broken, hamburgered body behind them. Hippolytus is like, “DUDE!!!” Hippolytus is like, “MY PANCREAS!!!” He bellows Discharge’s “Why” as his beloved steeds bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate his big ass on the rocks of Troezen. Then the goddess Artemis appears to Theseus to vouch for Hippolytus’s innocence. Theseus is like, “Fuck, dude, I didn’t mean to, like, kill him, kill him. Fuck! Dude. Seriously?!” Unlike Oedipus Rex, which portrays incest as a tragedy, Hippolytus presents incest as a way tragedy might have been averted. If Jim Morrison had read Hippolytus, perhaps he would have sung, “Stepmother? I want to… MY PANCREAS!!!”

    Bunny Hoover, son of businessman Dwayne Hoover, is “a notorious homosexual” who plays piano in the cocktail lounge of a Holiday Inn. Refreshingly, Bunny’s battering is not a hate crime, instead coming in the midst of his own dad’s psychotic rampage. Bunny’s beating isn’t the worst of the book, but it is the most dramatic, with Dwayne rolling his kid’s head “like a cantaloupe up and down the keys of the piano.” Later, in the ambulance, Bunny’s face is “unrecognizable, even as a face.”
    Even more refreshing is that Hoover’s beating happens in the presence of its author. Vonnegut wills himself into the narrative for the explicit purpose of watching the violence (and suffers a broken toe in the melee). Even Christ’s scourging and tortures—the gold standard of all smackdowns in perpetuity—occurred without the direct, live-in-person participation of its architect. Finally a writer takes responsibility for our entertainment. Sorry, Bunny, that’s what you get for being a fictional character.

    The brilliance of Job’s beatdown is that it never involves any actual beating. Instead, God and Satan use the poor slob as both a spiritual football and guinea pig—the original spirit-guinea pigskin—without ever setting a finger on him. First Job’s sheep, camels, and servants burn down in a mysterious fire, effectively putting him out of business. When Job calls up the prayer complaint hotline, God says, “Gosh, Job, that’s a tough break, hopefully you had insurance?” Then Job’s ten kids get smooshed. He calls Satan for some commiseration, and Satan says, “Gee, Job, that’s rough but, you know, force majeure, shit happens, better luck next batch.” Still, Job’s faith doesn’t budge, a display of masochistic devotion that gets him covered in “sore boils” from head to toe. God’s like, “Ouch, Job, looks bad, have you switched soaps or detergents lately?” Instead of giving God what for, Job plops down in the rubble, scraping at his festering skin-pepperonis with bits of broken crockery and trusting that everything will work itself out. It’s a marvel of passive-aggressive cop-outs, and kind of provides a punishment-fits-the-crime neatness to the whole affair.

    Dante Alighieri took a hard line on simony: What part of zero-fucking-tolerance don’t you understand? Yes, the Divine Comedy’s strong, positive anti-simony message still comforts and inspires young readers who are struggling with questions of faith today. Though we can all endorse his condemnation of sodomy, some other positions Dante took on the issues of his day are just as provocative and controversial in ours: Take his stance on the pope’s temporal powers, or his views on Italian prosody, or his hopes for the constitution of the Florentine state. As for Boniface VIII himself, well, the pope needed to have his wide ass whupped and handed to him sideways, and you could quote Dante on that. But if there was one thing Dante and Pope Boniface VIII, damned though he was, could agree on, it was this: Judas Iscariot seriously fucked up when he sold out our Lord, and so he deserved the most brutal stomping of all time, for all time. Dante therefore damned Judas to Satan’s pit at the very bottom of Hell, where Satan, crying with his six eyes, forever chews Judas’s head in one of his three mouths. Satan scratches at Judas’s body as it hangs from his mouth, clawing his spine “naked of skin.”

    Soon after the delivery of the Trojan horse, a priest of Neptune named Laocoön makes a number of good points to the crowd: The Greeks are crafty and deceitful; the horse is probably an “engine of war against our walls, to spy into our homes and come down upon the city from above”; and there are probably a bunch of Greeks hiding inside the horse. He then demonstrates that the horse is hollow by striking it with his spear. But Sinon, a Greek warrior whom the Trojans have captured with suspicious ease, distracts the crowd with his sob story, and Laocoön goes off to sacrifice a bull to Neptune. As he is killing the bull, two serpents with “blazing eyes suffused with blood and fire” come out of the sea, wrap themselves around his two sons, and start eating. Laocoön wades into the “gore and black venom” to save his boys, but the serpents wrap themselves around his waist and throat, and pretty soon Laocoön is screaming like, yes, a sacrificial bull. After wasting priest and family, the serpents head straight for a shrine to Minerva, which convinces the Trojans that Laocoön was justly punished for profaning the goddess’s sacred horse with his spear, and that he was just “being a fag” about the horse in general.

    Chandler’s detective takes a lot of beatings, but all Angelenos can relate to the one he gets checking out psychic Jules Amthor. A smelly “Hollywood Indian” named Second Planting takes Marlowe’s gun away, jams his knee in Marlowe’s spine, and pins his arms back. Then he gets Marlowe in a body scissors, wraps his hands around Marlowe’s throat, and chokes him until he passes out. When Marlowe comes to after that smackdown, his eyes are full of blood, and Amthor and Second Planting are pistol-whipping him in the jaw with his own gun. It’s cool, though: The Bay City cops show up, help Marlowe to their car, give him a ride to the edge of town, and beat him unconscious. When he wakes up in a locked room in a junkie doctor’s office, he’s been tied down and shot full of heroin and scopolamine for two days, and he thinks the room is on fire. Outrageous by the standards of 1940, when Farewell, My Lovely was first published, 70 years later Marlowe’s nadir just sounds like a pleasant weekend in the Southland. In today’s LA metropolitan area, even a single, white professional between the ages of 25 and 40 who has some graduate education and earns $60,000 or more annually will spend an average of 2.3 hours a week fellating strange men for groceries. Private detectives, by contrast, now live in their cars, suffer savage beatings at the hands of marauding Suicidals, and fellate strange animals for nourishment.

    Mitchell is the baby of the bunch, a 2003 entry from crime author and The Wire writer Richard Price. The story revolves around Mitchell’s beating by an assailant he refuses to identify, a massive head blow that “announced itself as an odor and a sound—a singed smelling, high-pitched whine, dog whistle high.” Samaritan is peppered with all sorts of delightful little tidbits about traumatic brain injury. Which is good, because Ray would be simply insufferable if we didn’t already know about the sloshing, bruising, Mohammed Ali punishment in store for that do-gooder brain of his.

    This tale of teen rebellion concerns Jerry Renault, a freshman who challenges his private high school’s cruel social order. Jerry’s refusal to sell chocolates in the annual fund drive climaxes in a boxing match attended entirely by jeering schoolchildren. In the savage three-page assault that follows, the young protagonist is systematically beaten, bludgeoned, clobbered, dick-punched, face-crunched, kidney-gouged, knee-breached, pancreas-stomped, retina-kicked, taint-bashed, and uterus-nuked. All that remains on the floor of the ring is a gurgling abomination of blood and hair. Conveniently, his beatdown is a just punishment no matter where the reader stands. Fans of conformity (Jerry didn’t, after all, sell the chocolates) get the same satisfaction as fans of individuality (Jerry attempts to renounce all his convictions afterward, although his tongue and face are too shredded to do much more than produce a few feeble farting noises). Renault’s drippy remains are shoveled into a burlap sack labeled KIDS HOSPICE and the rest of the school holds an impromptu ice-cream social. It’s a rare happy ending in the Cormier oeuvre, and one with a powerful strong message.

    As a much-abused civil servant of Airstrip One, Smith undergoes a series of vicious beatings and tortures even before stepping through the doors of the dreaded Room 101. It’s sad, kind of, until you realize that he’s had ample opportunities to avoid this fate. Winston and Julia make freaky humpadoos in the woods; why doesn’t he just camp out there? What would have stopped him from slyly packing a bindle and hoofing it out of Airstrip One entirely? His career? Sure, he would’ve had to build some sort of boat or raft. So what? Monks were doing this in the fifth century. Sure, he would’ve had to find an island or wilderness area uncontrolled by Big Brother. Ingsoc doesn’t even control the prole hoods, so why would they have a stranglehold on some quaint little isle off the Scottish coast? The more you think about it, the harder and harder it becomes to have any sympathy whatsoever for someone who basically hands himself over to the Man. To quote Howard Stern (speaking about Rodney King), they didn’t beat this idiot enough.

    In Chaucer’s hilarious bedroom farce, Cambridge students John and Aleyn pay a visit to the dishonest miller Symkyn and check out what coitus with his wife and daughter feels like. When he gets wise, Symkyn picks Aleyn up by the “throte-bolle” and bloodies his nose. They brawl; Symkyn’s wife hauls out the family staff and tries to play street baseball with the college boy’s head, but she was “y-fostred in a nonnerye” and just winds up dealing her husband a skull-crushing blow. Aleyn’s friend John is conspicuously absent from the fight until Symkyn cries, “I dye!”—at which point John finds his testicles, and he and Aleyn lace up their Docs, dog-pile on Symkyn, and beat him like the Vietnamese kids in Romper Stomper (1992). Pundits and media watchdogs rush to blame the crime on Oi! “music.” As singer Jimmy Pursey delivers an elliptical but passionate defense of the genre during a televised debate, a ten-by-ten-foot copy of Discharge’s “State Violence State Control” single (Clay 1982) falls from the sky, crushing the icon. He was 55.

    Read the rest at Vice Magazine: GREAT BEATDOWNS IN LITERATURE - Vice Magazine

    • rooie666 escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 20 Ene 2011, 12:57
    The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
    1037 pages ahead

    • [Usuario eliminado] escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 20 Feb 2011, 5:20
    So, I've rediscovered the best place to buy books is Goodwill. Not only are the books inexpensive, but there is an element of surprise when one shops there.
    Today I found Irvine Welsh's book Ecstacy in paperback for $3.99. A steal, especially since it is a first edition. Powell's offers it for $1.95, but this is either a mistake or the book is totally destroyed. They are not a cheap bookstore by any means, but they are local and I love them.
    Then I peeped Richard Dawkins' scathing book "The God Delusion" on the shelf and scooped it up for antother $3.99. So far so good...

    My kids were complaining about the "toys," so I had to oblige them and off we ventured to the crab infested, bed bug crawling, toxic waste infused Goodwill donations. While they were sticking their hands into the filth, I browsed the little area on the side which has some oddities. Once, I found a pristine Tarot deck from the seventies for $1.00 hidden in the wreckage. Today I came away with Slang Flashcards, which has to be the best $1.99 I've spent since, well, the last time I bought Outburst Imperial IPA which--coincidentally--happened on the way home.

    Some images from the flash cards:

    Fuck. I love these things. My wife thought they were pretty cool, too, so we'll set them aside for the next fifty years to see just how far language evolves. Then we'll pull them out when there's nothing better to do and cackle like the old fogies we'll be by then.

    Now, for the grand finale: I've been waiting for weeks to get my next installment of Vice Magazine. Day after day I'd come home and find that it hadn't arrived. I began to grow suspicious of my neighbors and the postman, thinking that they had stolen it for their own nefarious purposes. After all, I need my hipster instructions and this magazine seriously cures my depression.
    Well, today (thank the gods) it finally arrived safe in its plastic wrap.

    • [Usuario eliminado] escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 21 Feb 2011, 7:53

    Travels at the library:
    As some of you know, I'm a huge fan of the library. I know what to expect: there will be two people "manning" the info desk when I walk in the double doors; there are people browsing the DVDs, stacking them up in their hands. I am frequently surprised by what I find just lying about on the shelves.
    The newest Don Delillo book is one of those that I didn't have to think about before I scooped it up and added it to my pile of books and CD's.
    From the opening of chapter 1:

    The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we're alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware, the submicroscopic moments. He said this more than once, Elster did, in more than one way. His life happened, he said, when he sat staring at a blank wall, thinking about dinner.
    An eight-hundred-page biography is nothing more than dead conjecture, he said.
    I almost believed him when he said such things. He said we do this all the time, all of us, we become ourselves beneath the running thoughts and dim images, wondering idly when we'll die. This is how we live and think whether we know it or not. These are the unsorted thoughts we have looking out the train window, small dull smears of meditative panic.

    Delillo has a way of arresting the attention, suspending one in time and lulling the reader into a trance-like state of sorts wherein questions of existence lure us into a meditative reverie. At least this is how it is for me when I read his work.

    The other book I picked up at the library is this:

    Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about it yet (assuming you're interested in the slightest...) because I haven't started it yet.

    • [Usuario eliminado] escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 8 Mar 2011, 19:04
    Rereading Nowehere Man, by Aleksandar Hemon.
    Slogging through 'The Singularity is Near,' by my hero Ray Kurzweil.
    The above book, Love + Sex With Robots is highly entertaining so far...recommended. Don't buy it, though. Check it out at your library.

    Ummm....they've got a ways to go before they are convincing enough.

    • [Usuario eliminado] escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 6 Abr 2011, 19:31

    Her photography is almost miraculous.

    • [Usuario eliminado] escribió...
    • Usuario
    • 6 Abr 2011, 20:26

    Yes, sir.

    • Trash73 escribió...
    • Suscriptor
    • 22 Abr 2011, 18:38
    I am currently reading Superstitious by R.L. Stine.

    I used to love the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, so I decided to check out his adult version of horror.

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