8/02/2009

08-02-09 - Books

Some recent book reviews :

"The Thought Gang" - Tibor Fischer. Absolute drivel. Not one redeeming thing about it. Tries so hard to be clever but there's not one interesting thought in the entire thing. The Z's and made up words and obscure vocabulary are ever so precious and pretentious and tedious. The side characters (mainly Hubert) are almost lively and wacky enough to get it back onto the rails as a Clouseau-esque madcap crime romp, but the boring Eddie and his awkward forced attempts at philosophizing jolt you back into the shitty worthlessness that is this book.

"My Life in France" - Julia Child. This was pretty mediocre. It was written "with" (aka "by") a real author, but apparently he's also a terrible writer, because the prose is very stiff and unpleasant. There are obviously parts where it's trying to get you excited and convey the wonderful food epiphany that Julia had in France, but it doesn't come across in the awkard writing. The thing I really appreciated was the feel I got for Julia's energy and character. She's extremely awkward, and kind of a bitch, but she's full of excitement and very welcoming to the people she loves. The thing I found really inspiring was the way she just casts aside people who would hold her back. They move to France and the other Americans working with Paul are boring drips, so she has nothing to do with them; one of her co-authors isn't pulling her weight, so she gets cut. Over and over there's a sort of unapologetic selfishness that I find very refreshing and admirable; it's not mean spirited or sour at all, she has great enthusiasm for the things she loves, and if you're not making things better, you're out, tant pis. If you want a memoir about the golden age of the foodie revolution, read Jacques Pepin's "The Apprentice" instead.

"Travels with my Aunt" - Graham Greene. Meh; this didn't really do anything for me. It's sort of obvious exactly what's going to happen from the very beginning; obviously the boring stick in the mud guy is going to get taken around by his aunt and discover his love for excitement and transform, blah blah. It's got a bit of a "Harold and Maude" vibe to it (which was also just awful BTW) in that "Maude" is just this absurd character who seems to have no concept of laws or responsibility and seems to magically skate through life unharmed. The book also is just terribly constructed, random bits will be incredibly drawn out, and then huge things will happen suddenly in one paragraph.

Some douche recommended Decca Aitkenhead's "The Promised Land" to me; it's just awful. First of all she's the worst kind of clubber (or just generally the worst kind of person) ; she wants to spend all her time talking about how great *her* group is, the fact that it was always better in the "old days", that it's not good now that it's sold out and gone mainstream, she's got this absurd hypocritical snobbery; it's actually quite hilarious when she describes her group's type of ridiculous rave dancing as if it's so cool, and then in her travel writing she mockingly pokes fun at other group's style of foolish rave dancing. You fucking twat, the whole wonderful thing about rave dancing is that it is always ridiculous, and everybody knows it's fucking ridiculous but they don't care because they're high and the good people relax their need to look cool and be self conscious.

There's a blurb on the cover of "The Promised Land" comparing it to Bill Bryson. They mean that to be a positive thing, but in fact it's a warning : they're both fucking annoying cunts. It reminds me a lot of "A Walk in the Woods" actually - in both books the author does the experience all wrong, doesn't prepare, doesn't research, and then just whines and complains and writes snarky condescending annoying uneducated drivel that's supposed to be funny but is just sour and sad for them. They both completely fail in what I want from a travel book, which is to be inspired and excited and to read about people who really dive into the experience and do it more immersively than I could myself. There's a whole category of modern travel writing where the author acts all superior to what they're observing and sort of bored and complain about the annoyance of travel. God, if I wanted that I would just listen to myself! I don't understand why you retards keep buying these books, and I really wish you would stop recommending them to me. Both Decca and Bill manage to take something that I really love and make me feel sour and unhappy about it and make me less enthusiastic about leaving my house (partly because I might encounter a fucking cunt like Decca or Bill).

I don't find condescending superior snarky writing to be at all funny any more. Maybe that's because I've been doing it myself for so long and I fucking despise myself, so what I want in a book is the opposite, I want an author who's energetic and accepting and positive and open minded and jumps right in to other people's customs and tries to see what's good about them.

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