Saturday, May 25, 2019

The GiftThe Gift by Vladimir Nabokov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My goodness-gracious, this book is one hell of a monster.

It is the ultimate Russian nesting doll of and about art, memory, satire, and "Art". If I wasn't already a huge fan of Nabokov, I probably would have thrown this book across the room.

Nabokov wrote this novel as a tribute to his native language and is the last, and undeniably brilliant, of that period. It is a prime example of a supremely self-satisfied intellectual engorgement. Beautiful turns of phrase, rich and belligerent in its knowledge of the Russian Greats, it waves itself under the noses of anyone who might dare to understand it.

Look. I know my fair share of the greats of Russian Literature, but aside from my Dostoyevski, I'm like a babe in the woods against my Pushkin and Gogol. Coming up against The Gift makes me flail like a flensed man hung from a gibbet. Or like the remaining skin of a man. In Siberia. If I wasn't a dedicated fan of the writer and his gorgeous prose, the brilliant structure, the way he nested his prose within prose within prose and went ALL META on me in a way that made my head spin, I probably would have cut off his self-satisfied intellectual engorgement and thrown it out the window of a moving car.

I both loved and hated this book. I wanted to DNF it because I couldn't follow so much of it. I didn't know enough of any of the poets of the period, let alone a sufficient number of the greats, to know whether Nabokov was MAKING THEM UP OUT OF WHOLE CLOTH a-la Possession. I guess I could look it up, but frankly, I'm happy I'm done and I want to move on. :)

It's definitely going to be right up your alley if you A: love Russian literature, B: love to hear about writers crafting their magnum opuses, C: are tolerant of monstrous egotists. :)

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The Starter WifeThe Starter Wife by Nina Laurin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! :)

This is definitely for all you mystery/thriller fans out there who can't get enough of your CRAZY WOMEN. You know, the Single White Female types, the Fatal Attraction types... or even Gone Girl. :)

All the nastiest tropes of our favorite crazy girls are upped here for our reading pleasure, evoking gales of disturbed laughter from tortured chests. :)

Fun. Good, evil fun. :)

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Friday, May 24, 2019

What My Sister KnewWhat My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Remember those good old days when twins always knew each other's minds and they didn't go all psycho on you?

Yeah, me either. That's why I really liked this particular mystery. It reminds me that siblings are never (or are always) exactly what they seem. :)

Confusing? Nah. This thriller will keep you turning those pages from the first car crash all the way to the last lit match. :) You know, to shine a little light on the problem.

I admit I figured out the big twist pretty early on, but it's not always about the end of the journey. The destination is usually not the biggest thrill in most mysteries. :)

Definitely worth the read if you like well-crafted characters and the slow descent into the secret past.

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RecursionRecursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have no problems in announcing that this book ought to be a multi-multi-billion-dollar bestseller.

Maybe I'm biased, too, but damn, this guy can write a great novel that tickles all my SF bones and reminds me how much I love well-crafted thrillers. Does this remind you of his Dark Matter? It should.

And if you loved the ideas behind The Butterfly Effect, Flatliners, and Groundhog Day, I'm certain you're going to fall head-over-heels for this novel.

Am I giving too much away? No. Probably not. The novel goes well beyond the initial premises of memory replacement and mystery and a bit of the oddball secret conspiracy bits and dives straight into the heart of some really messed-up emotional family stuff, the implications of which flatlined me.

And if anyone is worried that novels like these usually stop long before the full ramifications are revealed, rest assured. Crouch goes DEEP into the aftermath, aftermath, aftermath, aftermath. What we get afterward is not just a great mystery/thriller or an extremely solid SF novel, but one that is full of deeply emotional resonance and quality that will last long after the tale has finished.

I call this a home run. And I like it even more than Dark Matter. :) I'm reminded of the quality I read in another's book, The Gone World. High praise, I think. :)

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

High-RiseHigh-Rise by J.G. Ballard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this as primarily, even entirely, satire.

Sure, it has a lot of the great dystopia themes going on and for 1975 it's rather delicious and evil, reminding me of a souped-up version of something Silverberg once wrote but it's mostly all Ballard.

The writer is all about upper-middle-class anyone falling down the trash disposal of history, the total degradation of social mores, civilization, and tapping into that lizard self.

What we have here is a forty-level self-contained condominium that has it all. Everything the tenants need to survive. It's not locked from the outside world but no one wants to leave even when things start getting really Lord of the Flies. What starts from social snobbery falls into murder and raiding parties, whole floors against whole floors, falling further into smaller raiding parties and hunters as the trash piles up down below and the richer raiding grounds beckon to them above. All social order breaks down and rapes, murders, and cannibalism becomes the name of the game.

They believe they all have the very best of any world.

Do you see any similarities to us?

Read this way, I had a very delicious time with this book. I see something of Howey's Wool in it and I think I'd have an even better time seeing a totally modern take on this same idea. I'm sure we could all come up with some rather nasty new ways to flush society down the toilet assuming we can suspend our disbelief long enough. :)

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The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her MindThe Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nothing beats this title. I requested this pretty much only because of it.

That being said, I read it with an open mind and expected a bunch of snark to go with my telekinesis. The trick to this kind of genre book is not to expect anything outright original but think of it as a great way of telling a fun story.

And for the most part, it is. It's not about science. It's about running a snarky mystery novel with all the heisty action, running, fighting, and reveals that keep our MC alive. You know, with the law and the bad guys both after her and all of it under a time limit. Fun... and slightly forgettable.

Which is a shame because I really LOVE the title! And perhaps I've been spoiled with some truly bonkers snark by Chuck Wendig, so this stuff is not all that breathtaking. It's average. Amusing. And let's face it, it'll probably sell. :)

After all, it has ONE HELL OF A TITLE. :)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sure, I shelve this as satire, but really, it's just a manual of humanity.

We won't learn. We never have learned. We will never learn again.

I heard that the most eminent pig just got bailed out from his bankruptcy and is thinking about running for president. Hurray!

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