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Inside a Dog

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

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Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures
Mary Ruefle

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes - Matt Kindt Another fantastic, compelling, multi-layered work that bears rereading.

MIND MGMT Vol. 2: The Futurist

MIND MGMT Vol. 2: The Futurist - Matt Kindt The story deepens and things that were hinted at in the first volume take on new significance and resonance in this second collection. It's clear that Kindt has done some serious long-range plotting and he's doling out just enough information and looping the story around to touch on other pieces that the world he's created feels more and more real. Not real in the sense of existing as the world we live in exists, but real in the sense of well constructed, three-dimensional, weighted with detail that is true to character, back story that you only understand in fragments.

As an interesting side note, I was at the library today looking to see if they had the third volume. When they didn't, I started flipping through other books of his. Most I'd already read, but the style of the illustrations in Revolver seemed so similar to the Mind MGMT books (his style in some other titles is a bit different, black and white pen illustrations as opposed to these water color panels) that I looked a little closer at it. As I was flipping through the pages, a name leapt out at me. P.K. Verve. I blinked, flipped back through the pages trying to find it.

Along the edges of the pages in volume 2 of Mind MGMT are excerpts from a book one of the characters, Meru, wrote, a true crime account. P.K. Verve is someone from that true crime book. I brought Revolver home with me to re-read, thinking I might have misread something I saw because I couldn't find the name when flipping back through the pages. (It's all over the book, but I was flipping quickly and not reading with great attention.)

Later at home, as I was close to the end of this volume, one of the page-edge notes mentioned P.K. Verve and the rest of the note was crossed out. Most of the words could be guessed at based on the halves of the letters that stuck out, and I could read in it that P.K. Verve had been met by someone in an alternate timeline -- the plot of Revolver is all about alterate timelines.

Kindt, you sneaky devil.

MIND MGMT, Volume 1

MIND MGMT, Volume 1 - Matt Kindt,  Brendan Wright (Editor) Holy smokes. Every superlative thing you've ever heard, read, or otherwise known about Matt Kimdt is true and this series grows on the incredible talent he demonstrated in his Super Spy books. Engaging, wild, twisty, profound, and setting the bar way way way up there for other graphic novelists. Plus, he's a one man operation, so story and art both, in such a gripping read is quite a feat.

If you like conspiracy theories, cloak and dagger, and moral ambiguity, are you in for a treat when you find this series.


1Q84 - Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami So far I'm really enjoying this as I've enjoyed mostly everything by Murakami I've read previously. Bonus points for it being such a long audiobook (46 hours) and having two really good readers. The shifts into alternate realities have been rather subtle and the characters have reacted first with the belief that the differences in universes were always there and somehow they'd just overlooked them which seems an imminently reasonable response. I'm intrigued to see how the two characters will intersect as their paths are so different but also tinged with the tiniest of overlaps. Murakami's flat, matter of fact delivery is a deft tool to deliver the more incredible events in his fiction.

There was a moment where I started to flag in my concern for the two leads, as the action seemed to be in a holding pattern. It seems the author sensed this too, as a third narrative perspective started, and the book regained its early energy. But the end fell kind of flat for me. I don't want to give any spoilers but it all closed much sooner than it seemed the storyline required (at least as far as I was anticipating).


Flashback - Dan Simmons Right now things aren't looking good for reading Simmons books again. I'd enjoyed The Terror a lot, I'm one of the few who rather liked Drood, and I was prepared to give him a pass on the Joe Kurtz books as I figured he was going for a stylistic aping of the pulps (replete with their of-the-time casual racism, which came off badly in his modern mysteries), but this book is such a bad cobbled together mish-mash of Glenn Beck's more fevered political prognostications that it's like living through the early days of the Iraq war again.

La Raza? Requonquistas? Are you serious?
The New Caliphate? Are you for fucking real?
The collapse of green energy after all the scientists in the world admit climate change was a big fraud to bilk those fat research grants? Are you insane?
An economic collapse of the United States due to"entitlement" programs (that actually circulate money in the economy) rather than through tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy (which takes money out of economic circulation)? What are you smoking?

Simmons tried to say this book is not a reflection of his politics. Riiiiiight.

One of these bits above could be a riff for a dystopia, but all of them taken together are just such a consistent mass of middle aged conservative Fox News hyperventilation that it's hard to see this book as anything but a panty wetting cry of fear.

I'm finishing it instead of chucking it aside because Simmons still can put together a scene decently and because I always have to know whodunit but this book has seriously put me of the author permanently.


Hardcase - Dan Simmons A bit cheesy and obviously aping Westlake's style as Richard Stark, this was fun but ultimately pretty forgettable. I say that as someone who really enjoyed The Terror and Drood for their historical depth and period accuracy. It's a testosterone fantasy with the faintest of mysteries and a bunch of crime but you never feel like you're really seeing the inside of a life on the other side of the law like you did with Stark's Parker novels.

Home Land

Home Land - Sam Lipsyte I'd like to write a lot more about this. And will when I have time. If you dig the blackest kind of humor you'll like this. (Although one weakness of this particular sub-genre is that everyone is crazy and everyone speaks in crazy poetry.)

Gone Girl

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn Started reading this because a friend wants to see the movie. Enjoying the dual narration and the author's black wit.


Enjoyed every minute of this even enjoyed how angry the ending made me so I'd call it a good read, GoodReaders.

Zone One: A Novel

Zone One: A Novel - Colson Whitehead I was never a huge fan of zombie movies even when I was more into horror movies, so I approached this novel with a little bit of a misgiving. The author is brilliant and I've loved everything else I've read by him, so that gave me less reason to worry.

This is a great book and zombies are really only a small fraction of what the book ends up being about. It is more about modern society and what we would do without it and coping strategies and the psychology of minimizing consequences and emotionally not reacting.

With various social media quizzes like "how long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?" people tend to think they would be very good at surviving in an end of the world scenario, but I think people frequently misunderstand what skills and what kind of a mindset they would need to be able to deal with the end of the world. The protagonist of this novel, the long surviving Mark Spitz, has the skills that are necessary which are not Rambo-like in any way.

An interior novel for long stretches, Zone One tends to double back on itself and in the midst of shooting a pack of zombies in the head, the author will have the protagonist revisit some memories, think back through various scenarios pre-and post apocalypse that are related to what is currently taking place.

This kind of narrative boxing up of incidents is a mirror to what is most likely one of the most necessary survival techniques/strategies in a post-apocalyptic world: mental compartmentalization.

Recommended, even if, like me, you are not a big fan of zombies.

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller The classic status of this novel in the haunted house genre kind of mystifies me. I'd not consider it one of Jackson's best, the haunting is rather tepid even by the standards of the time period. The characters are all intensely flakey and suddenly very familiar with each other. Within a day of meeting these four total strangers, they all feel familiar enough with each other to start making the kinds of personality critiques I'd not make until I'd known someone for months at the very shortest. "Always have to be the center of attention," one male character says, intended not unkindly, to the face of a woman he met that week. Predictable, not terribly scary even as a psychological portrait of a person falling apart, and then with a last page "twist" as its climax.

Four unpleasant people go to a haunted house and not much happens and then two more even more unpleasant visitors arrive, so no one in the book is terribly sympathetic.

The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling Holy crumbs; it's like all the sex Rowling couldn't write about in the Potter books came out in one go with this fun, dirty romp through small town politics.

Bring Up the Bodies

Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel Just a short comment that Mantel has been slowly, ever so slowly showing Cromwell become changed by power. It's very nicely done. Can't wait for the third book.

Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures

Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures - Mary Ruefle My reviews have gotten much shorter since I'm out of that racket these days but this one's profound and astonishing at every page or very nearly.

The Pale King

The Pale King - David Foster Wallace, Michael Pietsch Too early to report much though you'd recognize the prose style as Wallace's if you only had one sentence, one four page sentence, to go on.

My vacation book, my beach book, because the work part of life is a much harder time to read challenging fiction, I think.

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart In the midst if reading this and it's very, very funny but in a "this is absurdly over-the-top but just enough over that it seems plausible" way so you laugh but it's a "haha oh geez" kinda laugh like when you know you're well and truly fucked and all you can do is laugh. So if contemporary society seems both painfully ridiculous and hilariously terrifying then this should appeal and give you nightmares at the same time.

Horrifying, really.


Habibi - Craig Thompson Craig Thompson has created something complex and conflicted and contradictory and very lushly drawn. His fascination with Islamic culture is inked across every detailed and luminous page while his story has elements of a parable to it that can make the characters feel more like authorial devices at times than fully realized and fleshed out characters.

The corruption of society and personality has always been in Thompson's work, and this mammoth book (600+ pages) touches those themes over and over in different ways though sometimes the serendipitous elements rub rawly against the modernist critique.