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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Paul Auster's IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS, William Gibson's NEUROMANCER, Sue Grafton's A IS FOR ALIBI and Kate Atkinson's NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

Yes, I read a lot. Yes, I used to be a fairly fast reader. Devouring one book after another. But things have changed, busy with my filmmaking endeavours, I can only read a rare book a week, and mostly for the Popular Literature and Science Fiction unit I'm doing now.

I'm still fucking pissed that my previous attempt of posting my reviews of the four books I've finished reading disappeared just like this. Poof! 'Blog can't be found' eh? Fuck you, Blogger, fucking you fucking piece of shit for fucking making my fucking post disappear like this, you fucking shit fuckwit. I'm more fucking pissed that the string of profanities I used will be useless except for venting my frustration. If Blogger were a person, I would fucking bash it to a bloody pulp with a fucking spiked baseball bat, if Blogger were a pregnant woman, I would insanely plunged my hand deep into her belly and rip out the fetus.

So, I'm attempting this again. But unlike before, I won't be posting book covers of them. If you are that interested, just click the freaking title and you'll get to view its info on amazon.com yourself.

In The Country Of Last Things by Paul Auster
Description: Imagine an American city in the near future, populated almost wholly by street dwellers, squatters in ruined buildings, scavengers for subsistence. Suicide clubs offer interesting ways to die, for a fee, but the rich have fled with their jewels, and those who are left survive on what little cash trade-in centers will give them for the day's pickings. This enthralling, dreamlike fable about a peculiarly recognizable society, now in the throes of entropy, focuses on the plight of a young woman, Anna Blume. Anna has memories of a gentler life, but comes to the city in a "charity ship" to hunt for her missing brother. She first finds shelter with a madman and his wife and later experiences a brief idyll with a writer, Samuel Farr.Together they live in the deteriorating splendor of the marbled public library. Promise is ultimately rekindled when the survivors consider taking to the road as magiciansan action implying that art and illusion can save. Auster, an accomplished stylist, creates a tone that deftly combines matter-of-factness and estrangement. The eerie quality is heightened by the device of a narrator who learns everything from Anna's journal. Auster's The New York Trilogy is soon to be reissued in Penguin paperback. (from Publisher's Weekly)

Comments: First few pages are main inspiration of the narrative device I used for the Blogathon story. First book read for my Popular Literature and Sci-Fi class. Good book. It has lesbian sex scenes in it. Okay, maybe just one. But it's unexpected, thus it's good. Short and easy read, though rather depressing. Not much people die in the end, yet not a satisfying conclusion. Nothing solved, no loose ends tied. Typical Auster style, I heard. What the hell? But yeah, the journey itself was fun, the destination's fucked up.

Neuromancer by William Gibson
Description: Here is the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace--and science fiction has never been the same.
Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway--jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way--and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. Until a shadowy conspiracy offered him a second chance--and a cure--for a price.

Comments: If you're a hardcore Matrix fan who believes that all of us are actually in the 23rd century, and the world around us is actually fake, and that you're desperately seeking for pills that can awake you from your slumber so you can join Morpheus in his rebellion while having orgies at Zion, and you DON'T KNOW that Matrix is influenced by this book, you ought to be VERY ashamed of yourself. This is not the very first cyberpunk book I've ever read (it was Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash couple of years ago, when I was 14-15), nor was it the first William Gibson book I read (it was Idoru two years ago, when I was 19), but it is truly amazing to believe that this book was written on the year I was born, by some guy who didn't even know that much about computers and used merely a typewriter to write everything. Many things in this book were almost prophetic. Gibson coined the term 'cyberspace'. Yes, that's HOW influential this book is. It's not exactly an easy read for some people, I didn't concentrate much while reading the first third of it, but it got so riveting that I finished the rest of it one morning, while I was taking a dump. (aye, I read in the toilet most of the time)

A Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton
Description: Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man. Until someone killed him. The jury believed that it was his pretty young wife Nikki, so they sent her to prison for eight years. Now, Nikki's out on parole and Kinsey Millhone's in for trouble. Nikki hires Kinsey to discover who really killed her husband. But the trail is eight years cold, and at the end is a chilling twist even Kinsey doesn't suspect -- a second eight-year-old murder and a brand new corpse.

Comments: Finished this in two days. Could've finished it in one if I had more time. But it's an enjoyable read, albeit dated and generic. But then, I realized that using generic would be the wrong word as this was written back in 1982, and it supposedly revolutionized the crime fiction genre due with its portrayal of the female protagonist, Kinsey Millhone, a spunky and tough private investigator that seemed like a descendant of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. And I could see that it might be a prototype of the character, Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next Literary Detective books (a series I didn't had the time to follow since book 3, unfortunately). But yet, I managed to solve the mystery by myself halfway during the book, and guess whom the main baddie was. It was too easy, thus that affected my enjoyment of the book. I wanted so much for it to really throw me off with its plot twist, some did, but the main one didn't. Not sure whether I would continue reading this series or not, but I heard the series gradually got better as it went on. Hmmm. (this book is Sue Grafton's first anyway)

Not The End Of The World by Kate Atkinson

Description: Atkinson, who began her career with Behind the Scenes at the Museum, a Whitbread Book of the Year, and enjoyed good reviews for two more novels, now gathers together this suite of comparatively loosely connected stories. Atkinson's work has grown increasingly diffuse; her most recent book, Emotionally Weird, was printed in three fonts, representing separate strings of narrative. This collection takes that conceit without the typesetting extravagance one step further, opening and closing on two women who seem to tell one another the intervening tales. Atkinson's Scheherazades, singletons of indeterminate age named Charlene and Trudi, appear first in "a food hall as vast as a small city," and by the book's end which may or may not be the end of the world they're starving to death in a squalid, freezing flat in what feels like an apocalyptic present. In the women's restless imaginations, readers meet more than one girlfriend (in different stories, and each unbeknownst to the other) of a man named Hawk; a gaggle of perfect-toothed American Zane sisters; and a governess who may or may not be a goddess. Some of Atkinson's devices a giant cat who impregnates a woman with kittens, an evil twin who gets to have all the fun make for stories as simple as fables, but some, like the nanny goddess and the virtuoso, multiple-voiced "Dissonance," are sharp and memorable, full of astutely observed family dynamics. While not as intense or as unified as Atkinson's full-length work, this is a sharp and wholly original collection.

Comments: Unlike the aforementioned three books, this one isn't for my Popular Literature and Sci-Fi class, it's my own book, and it makes me want to read Kate Atkinson's full-length novels. Her stuff are unique, some stories are good, some stories are way too weird (as you can see from the descriptions above) for me to understand at first, and left me thinking for quite a while, but her uniqueness attracts me, and I seriously wish that aspiring writers from Malaysia would read this and attempt to push their boundaries instead of writing something bland for the sake of making it easier for mass consumption. But that's another tale for another entry post that was briefly mentioned by Justin in his last 'Burnout' entry. After reading this, I told Justin that he should try using recurring characters in the short stories he writes for the sake of, er, making things connect loosely.

All right, that's all. Turned out that this became longer than the original post that disappeared just now. Here are the books that I intend to read next that have nothing to do with my Pop Lit and Sci Fi class:

Books Waiting For Me
Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson = 5th book of the Malazan series, my fave fantasy series besides Martin's Song Of Ice And Fire. Deserves more readers in Malaysia, go read it when you intend to hop off the LoTR bandwagon or the Harry Potter one. Or finally realize that 'commercial successes' like the shitty Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series are indeed really shitty.

Norwegian Woods by Haruki Murakami = It's a classic. I gotta read it. A tale of painful love, almost like reading something about my own life. Hah.

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami = His anthology. Won't read it until I finish Norwegian Woods first.

Margaret Atwood's Oryx And Crake = I loved her Booker Prize winner, Blind Assassin, when I read it last year. I know this one ain't as good as Blind Assassin, but then, not many books are.

Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips = Another anthology. Yeah, I have quite a few cos' they are easy to read.

Michael Chabon's Adventures of Kavalier And Clay = Pulitzer Prize Winner. Heard tons of great things about it. *sigh* The list is indeed long.

Dunno which one to read first, will eenie meenie mainee mo one of it soon to pick one.