Book Blog
Across the River and into the Trees (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 20 November 2016 00:00

've read a number of Hemingway stories and pretty much enjoyed them all. This one was a little tougher. While, yes, Hemingway could carry a tale of a man fighting an unseen fish along on the open sea, there were some long evenings in this one at a dinner table, a lot of small talk. Yes, a true test for an experienced reader.

I can even now imaging Hemingway calling me a bastard for criticizing him.

Still, the story is a slow one, a tale of a May-December romance between two people who might have been better off not lingering about one another. First, there is Colonel Richard Cantrell, a past-his-prime veteran of two world wars fought for Italy. He's got a number of injuries, some to his body, others, as they say, to his soul. Frankly, he's just a cranky cuss with a weak heart and a perchance to under- and over-medicate himself, almost as if he's willing himself to die.

And then there is Renata, a beautiful contessa of nineteen, tender and beautiful, who finds himself smitten on this craggy old warhorse. And thus we wander the beautiful sights of Venice (where the action takes place amongst all this scenery porn), with the Colonel musing and smoldering and thinking about the world and the people in it. Renata, we never see as anything but background. Mostly it's him - his dialog, his thoughts, his friends, his ideas, his demands.

I suppose this story was a bit like a ship without a keel, slowly making its way to its home port via a wandering path. I wasn't sure what the point of many of the scenes were - the Colonel would start a war story and then dismiss it. Even when he was sitting her down, near the end of the book, to explain his darkness to her, the stories we jumbled an inconsistent. So I'm left wondering if this was some great master plan of storytelling or simply Hemingway knocking off early for the day (yes, I know, You bastard!). But it wandered through and eventually went somewhere and there was the back cover and that was the book.

A strange little tale, something to take on if you want to try something new. I did enjoy it, more from the flow of the disjointed story than anything else. Worth a look. Christ, at least it isn't Harry Potter.

>>>AND THEN THERE ARE MY BOOKS. I USUALLY DON'T GO DIGGING FOR REVIEWS ON MY STUFF; I'LL LET YOU DECIDE. BOTH HISTORICAL FICTIONS ARE FOR SALE, QUITE REASONABLY PRICED. HAVE A LOOK!<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 October 2016 20:25
 
Beginning Go (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 November 2016 00:00

ang, GO is a confusing game!"

This from my sister, who is learning this game at my recommendation. And yes, it is a confusing game. Basically, if play your stones, black or white, in turn with the opposing player. If you manage to surround a stone (or group of stones) with yours, you take them. Territory, too. But in this, it's deceptively complex. There are students of this game who start as children and train, train, train to be pros. Me, I'm just a fifty-seven year old guy who has come about this game late in life and is delving into it.

And books like Beginning Go help. The authors take an unusual form of explaining the game, specifically detailing how it is scored first, then how it's played. And in the playing, there is the magic. This book takes a number of actual games and takes them apart, good moves and bad, to give a player an idea of what he or she should be looking for, how to push when you have to and defend when you have the time.

And it actually helped me. One game against an opponent, I realized that I had a real deficit in points. I needed a plan, and that plan was an invasion, a desperate move that worked so stunningly well that I too his entire side of the board, one that had clearly been his to lose. Of course, this is not to say that you still can't lose. Go turns quickly, and the game after that I just fell apart, the death of a thousand cuts. So things fall out.

But, yes, this book was good. Oh, I did have a couple of issues - sometimes the authors would dismiss a move as poor without explaining why that is so. And sometimes they would use terms (such as shoulder hit or dog's face) without any explanation (thank goodness for the internet there). But unlike other books, this one mentioned a number of things I hadn't considered, such as the sliding value of Ko or the need to safeguard your initiative, to seize it and drive the game.

So, yes, overall I'm satisfied with the insights this book provided. Of course now that I do know that, I'd better internalize it pretty damn quick - we've got a workplace tournament starting in two weeks. So let's see how that goes. I'm pretty much going to be the junior player, and can only hope that Beginning Go  either permits me to win, or to make my loss as difficult to accomplish as possible.

We'll see. But, yes, good book.

>>>IF ANCIENT GAMES ARE NOT YOUR INTEREST, PERHAPS ANCIENT PEOPLES ARE. CHECK OUT MY NOVELS ON THE PEOPLE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN, FOR SALE HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 October 2016 13:01
 
Red Hill (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 06 November 2016 00:00

othing makes the miles go by faster on a road trip than audio books. I only wish I could listen to more of them but my commute is only twenty minutes and most of the times I’m biking anyway. But we had to go to Atlanta for a model railroad function and stopped by the library the night before for a couple of audios. And that’s where we picked up Red Hill.

I’d shown the description to the wife – a brief read of the back cover made me believe that some vague disaster had happened to civilization and a group of survivors were holed up at Red Hill Farm, a converted farm house somewhere in the American mid-west. Turns out that’s not entirely true. The disaster is quite obvious – it’s a zombie apocalypse. And we know all about it because three quarters of the book takes place during this event. Only when all the characters reach the farm does it settle down.

So we have three primary protagonists (each read wonderfully by individual voice talents). There is Scarlet, the x-ray clinic worker who’s picked a very bad day to send her two daughters to stay with her ex. She spends most of the book trying to find them before leaving a message at her ex’s house (spray painted to the wall) telling them that she’s heading to the farmhouse she once cleaned for her employing doctor. And then there is Nathen, a father whose daughter has emotional problems and, if faced with the unexpected, suffers seizures (perfect for when zombies are drooling around for you). His story is that his wife left him a Dear John letter which he discovers only after he’s recovered his daughter from school and fought his way to her place). His vocal tones, when he finally gets into her place and sees the note (can you just imagine worse timing) was laugh-out-loud priceless. And thirdly, there is Miranda (one of the daughters of the doctor who owns Red Hill) who is trying to make her way out of the climaxing cities with her sister and their boyfriends in a new VW beetle when the poop hits the spinner. As I said, all three of the readers were perfect for the roles. They really added to the tale.

The weird thing about Red Hill is the context. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie or read a book where zombies aren’t new. Yes, I’ve seen dozens of these silly things and it always goes the same way – suddenly the dead are wandering around, biting people. And the living collect, trying to make sense of all this strange shit. But here, all those Hollywood stories are part of the characters’ culture. They know exactly what they are – they’re zombies! It’s just like the movies, the lurching, the attacking, the apocalypse. It’s as expected as the change of seasons, an event captured in films and finally happening. And that’s strange. I have to ponder what I’d think about this – between the running, the hiding, and the zombie-slaying. This would imply a deeper event, some sort of fated end-of-civilization prophesy, which means that movies somehow predicted it. Does this lead to a firm belief in God? In fate? It would be like smurfs suddenly appearing because of those silly smurf movies, or spaceships looking exactly like the Enterprise. If some horrible pandemic really did sweep civilization, I doubt it would end up exactly like a zombie movie. Long odds, all I’m saying.

But still, yeah, we all love zombie tales and this has it in bloody buckets, with all the groups seeing evidence of the other groups, their paths crossing and recrossing until they all get to Red Hill and the final conclusion. And while I, as a writer and lover of interesting twists, thinks the end might have been better if it hadn’t been quite so main-stream predictable, it works. So if you like your zombie-civilization-crashes from a woman’s writer POV, with everyone moma-bearing their children and all the XXX sex told from a XX viewpoint, give Red Hill a try. It’s the perfect audio book to make the miles fly by.

>>>IF YOU DON’T LIKE ZOMBIES, THERE IS ALWAYS ONE OF MY BOOKS. NOT A ZOMBIE IN THEM. HISTORICAL FICTION, WITH TRIREMES AND CHARIOTS AND EPICS. CHECK THEM OUT – THIS LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO THE AMAZON CLICKTHROUGHS<<<

 
American Flagg (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 October 2016 00:00

OGANG: 7:32

For those who have never read American Flagg, you simply have missed one of the more interesting comics ever produced (listen to me speak like an authority - I gave up on comics when Cerebus started to drag). But still, American Flagg. It was the first comic I'd ever read that captured the idea of media overflow (and this, in the 80s before the internet). Every panel was awash with infographics, trade marks, click throughs and raunchy videos attempting to get you to "stick your card into the slot (bum ba bum) and you're going to see something that's really HOT HOT HOT!" Images unimaginable flooded our eyes back then, those of scantily-clad women, of leather-jacketed Plexus Rangers, of holographs of "Bob Violence", of the City of Chicago decades after the meltdown of 1996.

GOGANG: 5:58

Into this shithole, where the offworld Plex keeps a beachhead through Plexmalls (a combination of shopping, living space, and fortifications) comes Reuben Flagg, a canceled Martian videostar (with something very much like CGI, his show continued; he got canceled) who is now a Plexus Ranger (think of a marshal in the old west). But in this case, he's more a deputy, finding himself under the corrupt "Hammerhead" Krieger, the mall's top ranger.

GOGANG: 4:14

But things are beyond nuts. There are weekly rampages of the local motorcycle political clubs, the downtown area is a literal war zone (where the Plex films "Firefight Saturday Night", a combination of armed insanity and ratings runaway. And into this the perpetually disillusioned, exhausted and frustrated Flagg finds himself mired in, just trying to made a difference, just trying to act in accordance to his sputtering idealism.

GOGANG: 3:05

And what can I say? There is sex, sex and more sex. There are domestic terrorists. There are foreign nationals who desire to cut shady deals. There is the Plex, its motive sinister and unknown. There are guns, dames, sex, sex, and yes, as I said, more sex. There are even recipes for Reuben Flagg's Spaghetti Frittata. And sex.

GOGANG: 1:23

I'm going to tell you, unlike the driftier Transmetropolitan, American Flagg kicked ass and took names. All through my unhappy existence of a game designer in a failing online company, every month I'd look forward to the latest issue. Sadly, a dozen or so stunning, flashy, Flaggy issues, the founding artist Howard Chaykin left the series. After that, it looked like something out of Archie & Veronica. The artwork was uninspired, simply crummy pencil drawings with the occasional echoes of the multimedia effort that made it work. I collected them, of course, but have never had the urge to re-read them past Chaykin's departure. Sad day.

GOGANG: 0:46

If you are looking to peek into this series some three decades after it was released, you can actually find it through Amazon - the "Definitive Collection". I bought the first volume which covers all of Chaykin's work. Anything after that is too painful.

GOGANG: 0:21

So, yes, if you want some artwork that will remind you of the worlds of Bladerunner, of all these old scifi classics where the world was going to hell and only one man could hold it together, check out American Flagg.

GOGANG: 0:05

And what's with this GOGANG stuff? Check out the comic for the answer, right after the attack!

GOGANG NOW! GOGANG NOW! GOGANG NOW! GOGANG NOW!

>>>I WAS DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH THIS ONE. IF YOU DON'T LIKE COMICS, CHECK OUT MY OWN BOOKS - THEY HAVE WORDS IN THEM AND YOU MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURES. FOR SALE, CHEAP. PUT YOUR CARD IN THIS SLOT...<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 October 2016 09:15
 
«StartPrev12345678910NextEnd»

Page 9 of 74