It’s been a while. Long time no blog. I’d love to say that various interesting things have been keeping me from telling strangers about the mundanities that make up my life, however, that’s not the case. I’ve had blogs before and they’ve never really lasted but I told myself that I’d stick it out with this one and you can’t say I ain’t trying. Well maybe you could say that but at least I’m sporadically trying. Aaaanyway, I’m here now and that’s what matters.
A few pop culture related discoveries have occurred over the past month and a bit. I’ve fallen in love with several TV shows, most of them comedies. Community. Man, what can I say about that one. I’d need to utilise caps lock to fully express my love for this unapologetic ode to popular culture but that’d be an aesthetic nightmare, not to mention annoying. I’ve started watching the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, the first season of which is called Game of Thrones. Not more than two days ago, I decided to check out Parks and Recreation, another NBC comedy series. I’ve already caught up with every episode of Community and now I’ve got to wait until September for season 3 so I needed something to fill the gap left by my newly beloved. P&R is proving to be a worthy successor so far and I hear it only gets funnier. Woody Allen is another new fixation of mine. I watched Annie Hall and immediately had to see more of his stuff. I’ve seen three of his other films since, Manhattan taking the cake. I’m going to have to do write-ups about all of these things at some point so stay tuned.
The focus of this post, would you believe, was originally going to be on the last three books I’ve read. I guess I’ve still got some time to save face so here goes. First up: Slaughterhouse-Five. This one totally floored me. Cliche alert! – this is the kind of book that can alter one’s perception of life and death. It’s subject matter is naturally depressing, anchored by the main character’s experience in a POW camp in Dresden, Germany prior to the infamous fire bombing that devastated the city during WW2. There are plenty of books out there that aim to enduce empathy in readers by using doomed, historic stories as bait. That might sound callous of me, but honestly, I feel that I have read and seen enough stories of human kindness set against the backdrop of World War 2 (ahem, I’m looking at you Markus Zusak) to understand the strength of the human spirit during times of crisis. What makes Slaughterhouse-Five so refreshing is that the World War 2 segments of the story are mere fragments of a much greater whole. It really is a batshit-insane book. I won’t spoil too much but in an attempt to nail a genre on Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, I’ll label it a darkly humourous science fiction book with historic elements. It left me feeling optimistic about life itself, a little less afraid of death and excited about the future. Yeah, I’m starting to gush but I really think that this is the most I’ve ever taken away from a book. That really is the highest praise I can give.
I retuned to the world of fantasy after my journey through space and time with Kurt Vonnegut. The Name of the Wind is the debut novel by young American author, Patrick Rothfuss. He admits it’s essentially a culmination of much of his pop-culture fixations. It’s almost as long as one of George R.R. Martin’s tomes but it kept me engaged throughout nonetheless. I felt like there may not have been enough resolution at the story’s end but I guess that’s what the sequel’s (titled The Wise Man’s Fear) for. It’s what is known as a ‘bildungsroman’. According to Wiktionary, this term is German for ‘novel of education’ or ‘novel of formation’. In essence, it refers to a story that traces a character’s growth from childhood to maturity. The Name of the Wind shares some things in common with the Harry Potter franchise. It’s central character is part of an esoteric group that practices magic at a special university and is constantly haunted by the loss of his family to an elusive and evil foe. OK, that makes it sound like a complete rip-off but there really is a lot more to it. It contains much more mature themes for one, and the way in which the story is told is familiar yet refreshing. Put simply, this is a fun fantasy experience.
Most recently, I finished reading Red Harvest by one of the pioneers of hard-boiled detective fiction, Dashiell Hammett. It was published in 1929 and it tells the story of the nameless Continental-Op, a detective hired to investigate a murder in the small American town of Personville (affectionately referred to by the locals as ‘Poisonville’). Once he solves this crime, Elihu Wilsson, the de-facto king of Poisonville and father of the murder victim, hires the Op to sort out the escalating gang wars between men he himself hired to take care of a labor dispute. The Continental Op accepts however, justice for Elihu Wilsson is the last thing he has on his mind. What makes this book interesting is that it’s based on the author’s real life experiences as an operative for the Continental Detective Agency based in San Francisco. It comes across as formulaic at times but this is mostly due to the fact that it’s form has been imitated so often since it’s publication. It just goes to show how influential Red Harvest really was. Just don’t expect too much substance.
Well, it’s good to be back. See y’all later. I’ll try and come back a bit sooner this time!