142 The Graveyard Book

April 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

Neil Gaiman had me right off his opening lines. And “The Graveyard Book” just keeps getting better, right from when Nobody Owens is given the Freedom of the Graveyard to when he meets Silas, Miss Lupesco, Scarlett, Liza, Mother Slaughter, the Ghouls, the Night-Gaunts, the Sleer, and of course, the Jacks of All Trades. It’s just the perfect blend of dry humor, suspense, adventure, horror, magic.

But the Convocation is hands down the coolest: “They were all men, that much was clear, and they sat at round dinner tables, and they were finishing their dessert…. They were European, African, Indian, Chinese, South American, Filipino, American. They spoke English when they talked to each other, or to the waiters, but the accents were as diverse as the gentlemen.”

141 Kim

April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

“They arranged and re-arranged their artless little plans for another hour, while Kim shivered with cold and pride. The humour of the situation tickled the Irish and the Oriental in his soul. Here were the emissaries of the dread Power of the North, very possibly as great in their own land as Mahbub or Colonel Creighton, suddenly smitten helpless. One of them, he privately knew, would be lame for a time. They had made promises to Kings. Tonight they lay out somewhere below him, chartless, foodless, tentless, gunless—except for Hurree Babu, guideless. And this collapse of their Great Game (Kim wondered to whom they would report it), this panicky bolt into the night, had come about through no craft of Hurree’s or contrivance of Kim’s, but simply, beautifully, and inevitably as the capture of Mahbub’s fakir-friends, by the zealous young policemen at Umballa.”

Rudyard Kipling elevates the juxtaposition and reconciliation of the young/white/hungry’s thirst for the Great Game of Imperialism and the old/yellow/ascetic’s search for Redemption from the Wheel of Life to a highly entertaining yet deeply thoughtful “Kim”.

140 Cloud Atlas

April 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

David Mitchell must have a very complex mind. His “Cloud Atlas” is like a labyrinth that leads to one dead-end after another, then allows a way out and leads to a new route. I keep going because I know somehow that I’m not really lost; I know I’m on to something. When Mitchell leads me right back to where I started, I don’t feel I’ve been had because it all comes together. Yes, there’s method to Mitchell’s madness after all.

And speak of madness, the chapter called “Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After” is most excruciating to read; squeezed every bead of patience out of me. But Mitchell more than makes up for it with these lines: “It’s been nearly twelve months! Little wonder, if the rumours about your brawls were even half true! How were the Philippines?”

Not exactly a flattering reference. But.

139 Little Children

March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Weren’t we all Todd back in high school? Being young, we felt beautiful and infallible and invincible, thought we could do any thing, even regarded ourselves young gods. But we didn’t know exactly what it was we wanted, so we pursued our whims with naive enthusiasm and consuming passion only to abandon them recklessly in pursuit of other caprices.

In college, we morphed into Kathy: still young enough to be daring and still arrogant to be stupid with our decisions. But we were already starting to realize our infirmity and stupidity. We started to recognize our mortality, and with it, our insecurity and fear. We understood: we’re not at all indestructible.

Then we joined the work force and we became Sarah. We were always tired angry disgruntled. We started seeing wrinkles and feeling ugly. We’re stuck in our cubicles, nowhere else to go. We knew now what we wanted to do and be but couldn’t find the time for any of it. We wanted more of life but we just didn’t know where exactly to take our aim.

In a few years, we will be Mary Ann/Larry/McGorvey. We will be desolate and unhappy. We have all the time in the world to do what we want but we will no longer have the strength to even lift our pointer. The people we used to loathe and ignore, they will be the ones we’ll need to wipe our ass after taking a dump. The mistakes we committed are too stupid to be reversible. Death will be our merciful reprieve.

“Little Children” seems like my own life, the whole of it, in a frieze. Tom Perrotta reveals bits and pieces of my past present  (and of what I think will be my) future: my ideals, imperfections, dreams, secrets, aspirations, frustrations, disappointments, regrets. It’s chilling; but I will not be McGorvey.

138 My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith

March 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

If it’s Kevin Smith you want, it’s all of Kevin Smith you will get in “My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith”.

I’m a fan, but not the devoted kind, so Kevin Smith candidly sharing what time he wakes up and how, what time he takes a dump and how, what time he fucks his Schwalbach and how, what type of hemorrhoid he has and how he deals with rectal pain, what time he sleeps and how is not at all uncomfortable for me. Just tedious and boring.

Yet I read on because the Clerks writer/director/actor is witty amusing flippant profound raw open.  He’s a sensitive and thoughtful soul too: his entry on how he was so conflicted about helping Mewes kick heroin is simply moving.

But then his closing entries are just a turn-off.  He cyclically heaps high praises on those who love Clerks II and obsessively bitches against those who don’t.

137 American Nerd: The Story of My People

March 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Benjamin Nugent says there are two main categories of nerds.

  1. The first type, disproportionately male, is intellectual in ways that strike people as machinelike, and socially awkward in ways that strike people as machinelike. The computer wizards.
  2. The second type consists equally of males and females. This is a nerd who is a nerd by sheer force of social exclusion. The outcastes.

Not so sure about this categorization. Isn’t everybody into computers and gadgets nowadays? Aren’t technophobes the outcastes now? So who’s the nerd now?

In “American Nerd: The Story of My People”, Nugent lists more characteristics interests behavioral patterns practices that set nerds apart from all the rest of us. There are two things I find quite amusing:

  1. Becoming a different person and having sex or making out as that alternate person. Role Playing Sex Games, any one?
  2. Leetspeak or elite speak, a computer culture invention of a language through which nerds communicate with one another. Sounds gayspeak to me.

136 The Night Listener

March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

“What do they always say about child abuse: the hardest part is getting adults to believe that it actually happened. People don’t want to believe something that barbarous, so they find ways to deny it.”

But did it really happen to Pete, that thing he calls The Blackening Factory? Or is he just too lonely, he’d get love and attention anywhere he can get them? Did Pete even happen? And Gabriel is just as lonely too, he’ll get love and attention anywhere he can get them. Is he right in believing Pete and in Pete?

Armistead Maupin wants us to believe either in Pete or Gabriel, or both of them. “The Night Listener” leaves it all up to us.

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