Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: The Sweet Forever

The Sweet ForeverThe Sweet Forever by George Pelecanos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy smokes! What a book! Do you like The Wire? If so, then you will love this novel. Cops are crooked (but not all bad), criminals are evil (but not one-dimensional) and the streets of DC are a Coke-fueled war zone. Len Bias is actually a uniting thread throughout the story, and if you know anything about Len Bias's tragic end, then you already know the overall arc of this story. I now NEED to read every book in this cycle, which is kind of like August Wilson's Pittsburgh cycle, but with far less stories and set in D.C. Just a masterful work of crime fiction. Great stuff! Pick it up if you can find it

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: Sons and Lovers

Sons and LoversSons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now here is a book that could have easily been 200 less pages. I mainly wanted to read it because of another book I read called Dubin's Lives by Bernard Malamud. It was about a biographer who was struggling to write a bio on D.H. Lawrence. Have you ever wanted to read another book because it was mentioned in a book you liked? If so, then you have probably felt the sting of it not being nearly as good as you were hoping it would be, and that's the problem with Sons and Lovers. It's a mostly autobiographical look at the author's mommy issues and his love of a married woman. The only problem though is that D.H., or Paul as he's called here, is one of the most boring aspects of this book. The more interesting characters are his older brother and his father, who kind of fade into the background for part 2 of the story, which is a major slog. But that first part is pretty damn good, which is why I'm giving this book three stars instead of two. Or even one. Anyway, it may be a classic, but it doesn't deserve to be. Don't read it unless you have to.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: Logan's Run

Logan's Run (Logan, #1)Logan's Run by William F. Nolan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is Logan's Run a good movie? Not particularly. Is Logan's Run a good book? Not particularly. Though it starts out well, it soon turns into, first this happens, then this happens, and then this happens. The end. So it's only exciting and for the first 20 pages or so. Then it dovetails, reaches some heights, and then concludes. a sci-fi masterpiece, it's not, but it didn't have to be. It's short, and that's fine. Mediocre with a hint of greatest. What else do you need?

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: The Prince and The Pauper

The Prince and the PauperThe Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This rather short book took me quite awhile to get through. It's not that it's bad. In fact, after struggling through the first 60 pages for a couple of weeks, I read the rest of the book in a single day. This is not because it picks up considerably, but rather because I had the time. It's the kind of book that doesn't grip you because you pretty much already know where it's headed. That's not the book's fault since many familiar tropes come from this famous novel (Any mistaken identity story has this book to thank as its inspiration). The fantastic satiric humor of Twain is of course present, but it doesn't have the same grip or relevancy as Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, or A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It's kind of just blah. A fun book, to be sure, but not a great one. You can pass on it.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Call to Democrats: Stay Angry

(Image taken from: Daily News Bin) Registered Democrats are usually supposed to be the “adults.” While Republicans can go about calling us “libtards” on social media and saying that we “just want everything for free,” Democrats are supposed to be the ones who take the higher ground. In many ways, we’re often called out as being elitists since we tend to believe we’re somehow better and smarter than our myth chasing, science disbelieving counterparts. But on November 8th, we lost everything. Republicans will retain the House and Senate and we’ll also have a Republican president. So, in every way, we’re screwed.

But we don’t have to take it lying down. Donald Trump didn’t just dismantle and refigure the Republican Party overnight. The Tea Party was doing it for years before he started his campaign, and we as Liberals need to do the same. I’m not saying that we should mount Bernie Sanders as our patriot and form a leftist version of the Tea Party. The “We are the 99%” movement ran its course and doesn’t need to be revived. But I am saying that we need to be just as divisive and rigid in our beliefs as Republicans have been for years. This might sound counter to our beliefs, but we need to be petty like Republicans. One thing the GOP loved doing was snatching away any of Obama’s achievements. If the economy was doing well, it had nothing to do with Obama. If Obama was taking out members of ISIS in drone strikes, the moment something terrible happened like the Boston bombing or San Bernardino, he wasn’t doing enough to keep us safe from terrorists. Well, you know what? We need to do the same for Trump and his administration, and we need to start right now.

One narrative I am afraid to see unfold is the destruction of the Obama legacy for the birth of the Trump Presidency. There are those who honestly believe that a black man ruined this country and that a white man will make America great again, and we need to make sure that Republicans account for their own failures. There will be many who still blame Obama even though Republicans control all the major seats, but we can’t let them get away with that. We need to hammer them on social media and out in the streets that this country was heading in the right direction during Obama’s two terms, and that all future failures will be on their shoulders and their shoulders alone. Republicans are already saying that we should just accept the course of action now that our democracy has picked Donald Trump as President, but there are those who never accepted Barack Obama as President, and we should do the same with their candidate.

One might say I’m preaching hate and not love, and it’s a fair argument. But we can’t just submit like Republicans think we already do. We have to be strong, we have to be tough, and we can’t give in. In other words, we have to be Republicans at heart. Just not in mind.

Review: The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Death of Ivan IlychThe Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a book of both economy and horror. It doesn't contain zombies or people getting their brains bashed in with spiked bats (too soon?), but its subject matter and frankness toward death are so raw and so bald that it's probably the most horrifying book I've ever read. I mean, seriously, what's scarier than questioning your own mortality? What's scarier than death? Tolstoy, a Christian, presents a rather happy ending amidst all the talk of black holes and falling into nothingness, but the rest of the book is stark and direct. It's a masterpiece, surely, but not the kind of book you want to have on your nightstand when you're lying in your own death bed. Talk about a downer. Yeesh.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: On Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pretty much the greatest book on writing you could ever possibly read. If you do read this book-and I highly encourage you to do so-then you never have to go to a single writing seminar in your entire life. I should know since I've been to several, and none of them match the direct simplicity of what makes for good writing as this book does. It doesn't hurt that Uncle Stevie is super humble and is like a friend throughout the entire lesson. This book has reinvigorated my love for writing. It helped me get at least a good 8000 words in my latest novel, which has stalled a bit ever since my wife and I had our first child. In every single way, if you write, then this is a must-read. Like you haven't read it already...I know I'm very late to the party.

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