Neuromancer by William Gibson

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How do I rate a book like Neuromancer? It reads like a freakish cross of Williams Burroughs’ Post Modernism, Walt Whitman’s metaphysical soul surfing, and Philip Dick’s future noir. Gibson was far ahead of his time, took an entire generation forward, blah blah blah, everything everyone else read on Wikipedia.

Ok, so what about the book itself? To be honest it was tough to get into (and I never fully did), but once I got into the groove it became a decent techno surrealist adventure. But then… the issues started popping up. The techno jargon, which was neat in the beginning, murdered the flow like speed bumps on a freeway. The unfolding plot was mega jerky. At times I just gave up trying to figure what the setting was, let alone the plot. I’m a huge noir fan, so I’m used to getting multiple plot twists, but this was a bit overkill.

The parts that were good, we’re awesome. I felt like I was exploring the matrix, seeing an incredible cyberspace landscape, and stretching the fabric of my imagination. This was definitely one of those books that has opened my third eye.

The story is a bit generic (gotta steal this to kill that). The characters were interesting, yet lacked in any real depth. There’s a bunch of Rastafarians for some reason (wft? ok cool whatever). The reality juggling between the real world, cyberspace, and other people’s eyes was prime sci-fi stuff.

The verdict.

The annoying confusion, jargon choppiness, and thin characters kept this book from being a 5 star read. There were some parts that were so convoluted that I literally fell asleep. Other parts were a straight up grind to get through. Still, this is one tripped out read. My brain is still sizzling from flying around in the matrix. I give this book 3 and half Keanu Reeves heads.

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100 years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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I have discovered a writer who didn’t write a story with words, but wove a mysterious living thing from strands of his soul. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is a book that hardly requires additional praise. It was awarded the Nobel Prize, has been translated in every major language, and is considered one of the first major works of magical realism. What can I add that hasn’t already been said? It’s a waste of time to write a review, and so I’ll try instead to write about the experience I had.

To give you a little background, the story is about the founding and collapse of an imaginary town named Macondo, whose existence is intertwined with the bloodline of the man that founded it. Immediately the storytelling quality mixed with real historical events reminded me of the way my grandparents told us stories. It starts off as a realistic account of something that happened a longtime ago which can be verified by relics and people who are very old now. Things were different back then. Incredible things were common occurrences in the past that were simply accepted into daily life. Restless ghosts wandered through the streets, people died and returned from death, and there were those who predicted the future in order to buy bread. In those days people suffered more, but they also loved harder in a way that was more painful. Those time are forever receding away from now.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a living remnant of that time. It is a lucid dream existing in the wakened world. What is the use in trying to make sense of a dream? That is how this book tells the history of the Buendía family and Macondo. It is played out like a wonderful nightmare that is infused with a religious quality and is nostalgic for love and life. Do not expect a traditionally written book. Some will hate it because it does not follow the rules. García is a literary anarchist who is only concerned with driving his story like a healing weapon at our soul. I feel more human having read this novel.

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‘The Goon’ movie? David Fincher, Dark Horse turn to Kickstarter

Why the fuck isn’t this being picked up?

Hero Complex - movies, comics, pop culture - Los Angeles Times

Eric Powell’s Eisner Award-winning comic series “The Goon” — about an orphaned bruiser and his sidekick who fight zombies, cannibals, robots and other demonic creatures — might be getting the big-screen treatment if David Fincher gets his way.

The “Fight Club” director is teaming up with Dark Horse Entertainment and Blur Studio, launching a Kickstarter campaign this morning to get the ball rolling for a film adaptation of “The Goon.” The campaign aims to raise $400,000 to make a full-length story reel — basically storyboards with voice-over that serve as a blueprint for the film.

Two years ago, Fincher and Tim Miller of Blur Studio (a Venice-based animation and production studio) optioned “The Goon,” developed a feature film script written by Powell and released a concept trailer (above) for a full-length animated film. Though the clip was well-received at Comic-Con International in 2010, major Hollywood studios have…

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POP. 1280 by Jim Thompson

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I decided to keep the pulp fiction train going with another classic. POP. 1280 by Jim Thompson is a story takes place in a small, racially segregated, god fearing town called Potts County. Nick Corey, the High Sheriff, is known to the townsfolk and his wife as the easygoing moronic lawman that’s too cowardly to arrest anybody. What nobody knows is that hidden underneath his goofy exterior lays a mercilessly sinister and manipulative personality. One day Nick gets tired of the corruption in the town and decides to do a little vigilante work which opens a can of worms. Nick’s other problem is that he can’t quite keep it in his pants. Eventually the juggling act is set to blow up in everyone’s face.

Besides being a classic pulp that beautifully weaves murder, sex, and betrayal, POP. 1280 is a biting satire of American culture. There are several scenes in which lawmen debate the issue of “Nigger” politics and law with an air of total sincerity. The hypocrisy of Christian brotherhood is hilariously depicted when a character is literally assaulted with a bible. Thompson cracks the mask of the good American citizen which then breaks away, piece by piece, to reveal the true American character: animalistic and absolutely shameless. But Thompson doesn’t get on a high horse. His critique of society is almost a concession to the amorality at the core of our being.

You want some pulp? Here it is. Pop 1280 takes no prisoners and makes zero apologies. It’s crude, vulgar, and sadistic as hell. For a tiny pocket book of merely 215 pages, it’ll grab you by the throat and drag you through the woods. It’s funny. I laughed out loud multiple times. The murders are always personal. Like all of Thompson’s writing, this one is deeply psychological. It puts you in the passenger seat alongside a charming psychopath. What a ride…what a ride. Who are we going to run over next? The suspense is killing me.

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The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett

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The last three books I reviewed were a little heavy on the brain so I decided to read something purely for fun. Fun for me is old school noir. The genre is fascinating because the writing in some cases is both masterful and cheesy. The masterpiece of cheese I picked up was The Dain Curse by the granddaddy of hardboiled crime, Dashiell Hammett. The story is about a detective who is called in to solve the case of missing diamonds. It starts off pretty slow and I’m expecting a straightforward detective read. Our guy meets Gabrielle, a beautiful young woman with an addiction for the occult and morphine, and suddenly it’s like this straitlaced book decided to drop a couple hits of acid and fill body bags like Christmas stockings.

The plot gets crazy. New characters and plot twists are fired at you with inhuman speed. Hammett pushes the story to the point of disintegration then pulls it off incredibly every time. The tough guy talk and longwinded confessions by the villains were all there. Everyone had a gun in his book. I think even a dog accidently shot a key witness. Yet with all this madness going about, Hammett keeps a straight face the entire time which makes it hilarious. Mind you this book isn’t a comedy, just like old kung-fu flicks weren’t made to be funny—and yet, there they are. Even the racism is so over the top that I couldn’t help laughing out loud.

I couldn’t see the hand that was exploring my inside coat-pocket, nor the arm that came down over my shoulder; but they smelled of the kitchen, so I knew they were brown.”

I literally dropped my taco and felt guilty for stealing this wonderful book, especially since I had just received my welfare check.

This book may come off a little bizarre to some of the noir purists, and rightfully so. As for me, I see the early roots of pulp in this blood soaked gem. It’s sort of a hybrid between vintage crime and pulp. Hammett is better known for his work, The Maltese Falcon. I can honestly say I enjoyed this one better.

 

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Can we End all Wars?

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I’ve often wondered about the necessity of war. True, if we hadn’t intervened in WWII the Nazi’s could have taken over. At the same time I have to acknowledge that the US government is guilty of committing and supporting its own atrocities before and after the war. And so I wonder what it means that one abusive superpower had defeated another. For example, we stopped Imperial Japan by committing one of the greatest atrocities in human history, the dropping of two Atomic bombs on large civilian cities which killed close to a million people in totality.

Perhaps it is human nature that there will always be war. This is especially true when we are taught to dehumanize at will, economic policies encourage the exploitation of weaker people, history is edited to produce a living myth, and people celebrate war rather than condemn it.

I do agree that abuses happen because good people do nothing. But I also think that our education system has greatly failed in teaching us the tools for becoming critical, independent thinkers and humane people. Thus we have a responsibility to educate ourselves. Especially in the US where information is for the most part free compared to the rest of the world. Pick up some Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and as Bill Hicks puts it, “squeegee your third eye.”

Maybe we’ll never be able to END ALL WARS, but we can at least end all unnecessary ones committed on our part.

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Fire From the Ashes: Short Stories about Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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Fire from the Ashes: Short Stories about Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an anthology of short stories by Japanese writers who experienced the Atomic bomb or lived during the era. The stories are presented and edited by Nobel Prize Laureate Kenzaburō Ōe. Through their stories a wide spectrum of the devastation is given in unwavering detail. Some of the stories take place within the raw carnage of countless burned people in a setting that is an almost surreal representation of the end of the world. Other stories tell of the aftermath in which people attempt to make sense of what happened, live with their injuries, internalize the death of their loved ones, revisit the bombsite, and experience ostracization within their own country.

In compiling this anthology I have come to realize anew that the short stories included herein are not merely literary expressions, composed by looking back at the past, of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. They are also highly significant vehicles for thinking about the contemporary world over which hangs the awesome threat of vastly expanded nuclear arsenals. They are, that is, a means for stirring our imaginative powers to consider the fundamental conditions of human existence; they are relevant to the present and to our movement toward all tomorrows. (Kenzaburō Ōe)

This book is the cumulative result by a group of writers to intellectually confront the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the realities of living in an age of nuclear weapons. The stories themselves are written at the highest caliber of modern literature and done so with a degree of restraint that adds an immense solemnity. Nuclear annihilation is the ultimate method of dehumanization and self-destruction. It goes beyond all atrocities for at least in traditional genocide the killer must see the faces of their victims, and so acknowledge their humanity, before killing them. A nuclear weapon dropped from the sky or fired as a warhead from miles away is impersonal as ringing a doorbell. Japanese and American people, though tied by this historic event see it in a different light. Japan says it as an atrocity, while most Americans see it as a justified means to an end. Yet if take it on sheer numbers, a devastation of one-hundred 9/11’s in a single instant is still preferable to one Hiroshima or Nagasaki. That is to speak nothing about the agonizing effects of radiation burning and birth deformities that would ensue. This is not a defense of one atrocity over the other, but a condemnation of them all. The question of extinction vs. salvation raised in this book has not ceased to be relevant. The torch has been passed to our generation and it is up to us whether we will use it to cook for the hungry, or continue to crush it out on people from above.

The following writers are included in Fire from the Ashes: Masuji Ibuse, Tamiki Hara, Katsuzo Oda, Yoko Ota, Ineko Sata, Kyoko Hayashi, Mitsuharu Inoue, Hiroko Takenishi.

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End The Fed by Ron Paul

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Ron Paul makes a bold statement, End The Fed.

With our economy falling into chaos the foundation of our lives had turned from rock to sand. The housing bubble was the latest in a string of many that suddenly went bust. The events of 911 shocked the nation and lead to the ongoing War on Terror. Slowly a picture began to be formed which revealed Wall St. crocked business practices as a key element in the housing collapse. Two massive bail outs, at the tax payer’s expense, did not deliver the results promised. People got angry, they organized into the Occupy Movement and we’re met with clubs and pepper spray by our police. Yet the economic disaster continues to grow.

At the crest of this tidal wave Ron Paul shouts his message—End The Fed.

In his book, End The Fed, Ron Paul challenges the reader to rethink the nature of money. It is such a central part of our lives, but the nature of how it functions is almost a complete mystery. What exactly is the dollar? What controls its value? And why is it failing? These are all questions many of us never bothered with before, but the economic catastrophes have created a demand for answers. The American people know they’re being squeezed by some type of scam while CEOs are pulling in record breaking figures, yet the question of “who” and “how” remains purposefully unclear. Ron Paul provides a clear and strong argument that the Federal Reserve Bank’s ability to print unlimited amounts of money, with no discretion of the people it affects, is unconstitutional and the exact reason for the mess we’re in.

I know most people are cringing at the thought about reading a book on economics. Economics isn’t sexy compared to the subjects of war or civil rights, I admit that. And you’ll probably have to reference Wikipedia and youtube videos for all the Econ stuff you’ve forgotten since graduation. But once you begin to see the big picture of how the Federal Reserve fudges with the supply of money to fund an ultra, massive government that’s reaching fascist proportions before an inevitable self-destruction, complacency will no longer be option. I found this book to be one of the most fascinating reads on social critique since discovering the works of Noam Chomsky. In time it will become clear that next Occupy Movement will no longer be at Wall St., which is only the middle man, but at the headquarters of true masterminds, the Federal Reserve. The longer we let them work, the longer we’ll be trading real liberty for counterfeit bills. When the masses final wise up to whose pulling the strings, they’ll surround the hideouts of these government crooks, and their yell will be, “End The Fed!”

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Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

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Confessions of a Mask is Yukio Mishima’s second novel which is thought to be heavily biographical and gained him recognition as brilliant young writer. The story centers on Kochan, a boy growing up in Imperial Japan during WWII. From a young age he realizes he is a homosexual yet forces himself to pass as a heterosexual in the Right-wing militaristic society. Kochan has a perverse fascination with death. From a young age he fantasizes about how he will die. As he becomes a young adult these fantasies take on a darkly erotic tone that interweaves death and sexuality. The struggle of fighting his true nature results in a deeply agitated state of mind which Mishima conveys masterfully. The majority of the story plays out in the backdrop of Japan’s final years before the atomic bombs lead to the unconditional surrender.

This is a heavily psychological book that is concerned with death, eroticism, polite society, emotional secretiveness, and inner conflict. The story is told as a thoroughly written confession in the form of a long letter. The strong emphasis on isolation and use of interior monologue reminded me of J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Mishima’s exploration of human sexuality and isolation is tuned at a fever pitch that many writers have never reached in their works. There are a few memorable statements about the absurdity of war, yet I would not say there is an anti-war theme. The anxiety of war is presented clearly in lives of all the characters involved.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in books that push the limits of literature and societal norms. This book is definitely not an easy going read. It is a disturbing novel that will agitate even seasoned readers. Mishima’s use of language is impressive. Each word is carefully selected to create a written style that is direct, profound, and confronts the reader unwaveringly. This is the fifth book I’ve read from Mishima and I have yet to read anything that hasn’t left a lasting imprint in my mind. I would go as far to say that a person could choose any of Mishima’s works, blind folded, with perfect confidence of selecting a literary treasure. I am planning on reviewing Mishima’s entire collection.

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War is a force that gives us meaning by Chris Hedges

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Chis Hedges was a war correspondent for the New York Times in many of the defining warzones of our times: the Balkans, Central America, and the Middle East. He has reported on wars from the inside, surviving ambushes, diving for cover alongside his military escorts, and witnessing the aftermath of every atrocity imaginable. The psychological scars from knowing the face of mass produced death are still with him. In his travels around the world he’s found a recurring dynamic at work, the addiction of soldiers and citizens to the ecstasy of war. Hedges covers this topic exclusively in his book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.

This book is journalistic, philosophical, and part social critique. It is effectiveness rests in analyzing the myth of war. He explains how it’s created, who perpetuates it, how it’s disseminated in society, what function it serves, its psychological effects, how it’s maintained, and what happens when it’s finally punctured by the undeniable reality of war. He cites his own experiences and the accounts of soldiers and citizens in war to illustrate where and how these recurring themes unfold in real life. These accounts include graphic accounts of murder, rape, torture, suicide, genocide that deflate the glorious lie which herds generations of men into battle. Yet amongst all this carnage there is a lust for combat and its incomparable rush that fills the emptiness felt by entire nations. No longer is anyone insignificant in the theater of war, we are elevated to the calling of destiny, and to push back against it feels almost impossible. To avoid its intoxicating effects is outright hopeless.

I have often wondered how people I’ve greatly respected for their intelligence and wisdom, people I have personally known, would become incapable of discussing war in any rational way. Their responses on every aspect of the War on Terror would be variations of the empty, clichéd reasons parroted from mainstream media; “they hate us for our freedom”, “Muslims are evil”, and “torture is permissible when we do it.” I wouldn’t accept such absurd reasons for going to war, and so I turned away from the news and began reading writers like Noam Chomsky who gave a grimmer picture of what’s going on. When I approached people with this newfound evidence they’d dismiss it all and hold tighter to robotic ways of thinking. I increasingly became an outsider, an intellectual minority. The whole time I’ve been wondering what this hypnotic like way of thinking is. Could it simply be effective propaganda? The answer is that war is a force that gives us meaning. It is a longing for death that is inside us all. We decorate and justify it with patriotic and glorious gestures, but that death drive is always there. This is a work that lays bare our naked desire for death and recognition. Nobody in our generation can afford to miss out on this highly enlightening work.

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