Aug 6 - Aug 23, 2012
J G Ballard
Already a bit on the strange side, our protagonist finds himself rushing headlong into the strange world of car crash eroticism after his own automobile accident. Upon meeting others like himself, our protagonist becomes involved in a series of dangerously escalating encounters, until he meets his final deadly confrontation...
I like weird.
I like sex.
But I did NOT like Crash.
Which is strange, because I even liked the movie (maybe a little TOO much... there's a funny anecdote regarding myself, my boyfriend's dad, and this movie, but I'm not quite drunk enough to tell you THAT one) and there were so many components to this story that I could have really gotten on board with... in theory, anyways, but this read just plain sucked.
First, the beginning of the book started off with the end. What the fuck. Now I've got nothing to look forward to. I can usually handle that writing device, as long as the journey is entertaining, but Crash was just one long, dull, auto-erotic (if I can use that term here) fantasy.
See, I have no real interest in cars. For me, they are nothing more than a method to get from point A to point B, and occasionally a vessel for injured dogs I find wandering in the road. So when the author continuously natters on and on about steering wheels and instrument panels and whatnot, I'm yawning my tits off.
Plus, passages like this:
"In an evident burst of anger he had slashed at the instrument panel, bludgeoning several of the dials and the upper lip of the binnacle. Torn plastic housings and chrome strips hung over the light toggles..."
Kind of make me feel like Peter Griffin in that episode of Family Guy where he gets a ham radio:
Crash reminded me of Life of Pi, but with cars instead of boats. And also much more awful.
Now, I can forgive excess terminology and raging boredom with it if there's lots of sexy sex. But the sex was not sexy:
"He stroked the nipple gently, brushing the supernumerary nipples, no larger than delicious warts, with the ball of his thumb."
How the hell am I supposed to masturbate to this?!
And on top of that, the writing was just straight up unpleasant. The author just threw words and situations together that made no sense:
"The houses of our friends, the wine store where I bought our liquor, the small art-cinema where Catherine and I saw American avant-garde films and German sex-instruction movies, together realigned themselves around the palisades of the motorway. I realized that the human inhabitants of this technological landscape no longer provided its sharpest pointers, its key to the borderzones of identity. The amiable saunter of Frances Waring, bored wife of my partner, through the turnstiles of the local supermarket, the domestic wrangles of our well-to-do neighbors in our apartment house, all the hopes and fancies of this placid suburban enclave, drenched in a thousand infidelities, faltered before the solid reality of the motorway embankments, with their constant unswerving geometry, and before the finite areas of the car-park aprons."
I feel like I could open then book at any random page and get the same goddamn shit in the most confusing way possible every fuckin' time: Your fucked up body and mangled car make my dick hard. Plus, Ballard is repetitive as fuck. He commits the mortal sin of using the same word over the course of a couple sentences over and over again. I detest that shit.
Sure, I liked the acid trip in the car, and the general perversion of the book, but that was about it. Christ. I'm glad I'm finally done with this.
Mar 24 - Apr 11, 2011
When the Zombie Apocalypse goes down, I know how I'll handle it (run, shoot, hole up at Chapters) - but how will the zombies react? What will be going through their minds (besides my bullets, ha)? Zombie, Ohio shows us how it plays out for one sentient member of the undead.
This book took me two weeks to read.
Reading is my life, my being, my identity, and I've had two shitty books one right after the other. I've seen so many goddamn movies on Netflix over these last two books... I actually watched 'Spawn' last night before getting up the gumption to pick this up again. John Leguizamo in clown makeup is what it took for me to finish this book. Yeah. It was THAT bad.
I was just so uninspired by Zombie, Ohio. Every aspect of it seemed... retarded. Yes, retarded, at least in comparison to great (or even good) reading.
The characters were immature. It wasn't that they acted like a bunch of fresh-out-of-High-School girls tittering away in a corner, pointing and laughing, and cuntishly excluding me from a staffer bowling night (you know who you are), it was that they weren't fleshed out (ha!) in any way. No one was really brave, or stupid, or whiny, or nurturing. The characters instead were a collection of actions and phrases suitable at the time to move the storyline in a certain direction. The dialogue was all the same tone and style; throw a sentence out and it could have been anyone talking. No one stuck with any particular traits, not even our protagonist (whom we spend ALL of our time with) the sentient zombie Peter Mellor.
You'd think that somewhere within 240 some-odd pages ol' Pete would get himself some... I dunno... opinions, personality, a mind of his own, maybe. He's so... wishy-washy. And too easily influenced. He's the type of weak-ass character that would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge just because all the other undead boys and girls were doing it. He likes humans, he hates humans, he eats humans, he helps humans; whatever. There's hardly any rhyme or reason to it, other than the fact that he assumes he wants to bang his old girlfriend. He isn't even driven by the lust for BRRAAAAAAIIIIII-NNNNSSS. He just goes in the direction that the author sends him to best drive the plot along.
Though I use the term "plot" loosely. The story is basically just a collection of... undead evolutionary points. Shock at becoming a zombie. The revels of the zombie lifestyle. The eventual redemption that ultimately comes at the end of your average "summer beach read!" throwaway book that Cosmo endlessly touts... but with zombies. And there's this lame subtheme where we're supposed to wonder "Who murdered the zombie?" that was brought up maybe three times and therefore I didn't really give a shit about.
There was also this weird device the author used, kind of akin to Stephen King's trademark style (to me anyways) where every paragraph or so, Kenemore threw in a little aside in parenthesis. They were so plentiful though, that sometimes there were parenthesis within parenthesis. Like here:
" 'You look like a walking bomb,' Vanessa said at one point. It was a lousy analogy. (Yeah, I thought, I'm carrying a lot of guns... Just like a bomb. [Still, I took the essence of her point. It was a lot of firepower.])"
On that page alone, I counted FOUR asides in parenthesis, and I'm counting my above example as one... example. Fuck. I'm all for witty asides, but they happened with such relentless fury that they became jarring at times. JARRING! And yes, I'm aware that it's a device I employ on the regular, but I don't presume myself to be a published author with glowing recommendations all over my shizz. And I don't have an editor. Or a big fat author cheque, either (I'd accept one though).
Sure, there was gore, and ask anyone who knows me - gore is the lube that helps my brain run smoothly. I don't just like it, I REQUIRE it. Possibly to live. But one cannot subsist on gore (or lube) alone. I require sustenance! Meaty, thick, throbbing, turgid SUSTENANCE. This book had little. Maybe three inches worth.
As a whole, it was an immature work. Not up to my standards, but I could see how it could amuse some folk.
Honestly, I almost feel like I need an Oprah book or best seller to fulfill my need for multi-faceted characters and a strong storyline. Gah.
Dec 9 - Dec 13 2010
Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines
Published June 2007
The Zombie Apocalypse has descended upon the world (or at least our vaguely alluded to region) and the Vampires now have fierce competition for their diminishing human food source. Who will prevail? Zombies? Vampires? The weakest of the weak humans?! Common sense would discard one of those options right off the bat...
This book was so ridiculously over-complicated. I have never seen so many metaphors and similes between a front and back cover in my life (including my overstuffed English 12 binder). There was so little that actually "happened"... at least in the traditional sense. Instead of writing, "She slipped into another state," we're bombarded with, "The red lightning cracked again, web lightning this time. It netted the heavens, and in the nethers of space, an eight-legged shadow waited inside a black hole, watching with its nest of eyes. When the lightning faded to vivid tracers, the shadow scuttled forward on the still glowing filliments of silk. It sank its fangs into Shade's gray matter, and its scarlet poison liquefied everything inside her skull. After sucking out the fluids, the arachnid returned to its lair. Shade's consciousness went with it, simmering in the creature's belly, simmering in darkness unrefined." Yeah. Overcomplicated much?
And this... I don't even know what the fuck is going on here... "A moon leered down at him, empty eye sockets, lipless grin. It was his reflection. He was the moon. Below him, black, silver-frothed waves lapped at a gray beach. Two sets of footsteps disappeared on the horizon, one big, one small. Salt lingered on the breeze, alchemized into blood." I mean, he's hallucinating, right? But what the fuck. All I get from that is:
Yes, The Moon (AKA "The Alabaster Retard" AKA "The Vanilla Rapist"). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click the damn moon.
Also, The above passage reminds me that it's a highly inappropriate occasion to recall that Jesus poem about footprints in the sand (The footprints lead CSI Miami to the real killer right? I assume it's still Colonel Mustard in the S&M den with the double ended dildo? Isn't that how it goes? Or am I thinking of Buttprints in the Sand? Fuck). See how all this pseudo-intellectual bullshit makes my mind wander?
There was also some hella awkward sentences - "A pentagram swung pendulum from her neck."
And some just plain senselessness - "Frost conferred with his squad, sub rosa in the downpour."
So I hated the writing style. Clearly.
On top of that, the Zombies were hardly Zombies; more mutant regenerating cannibals than anything. The Vampires were weaksauce in comparison, and were literally no match (by author design) for the Mu-Zombs. So what I thought would be original turned out to be pretty tired and banal.
There were also numerous loose ends (What happened to the torsos? Who was the creepy one? What was the real deal between Frost and Bain? What was the real deal with Frost?) and nonsense (How could the aggressively mutating Mu-Zombs intersect every place BUT the escape route?)
The final insult was the weepy weak-ass protagonist. She got all teary-eyed and empathetic towards the humans, got all mushy and romanticized her subordinate AND her betrayer, and, really, just gave the fuck up for no discernible reason. Either she was a shitty Vampire to begin with, or she evolved into one when the shit hit the fan. To be honest, I'm with Bain on this one (and it's not often I take sides with the Nazi in the bunch). I liked him; he was a psycho hardass who would have made a fine leader.
Besides the assumed hating of non-Aryans, I mean.
The only things going for this book were the sweet sweet pockets of gore. A few times, I found myself put off my dried mango! Now that's good gore.
My verdict: Way less namby-pamby metaphorical observations, more abortion-vacuum-sucking tentacles.
Nov 13 - Nov 21, 2010
The Vampire Virus
Published November 1997
An irresistibly attractive blonde scientist ventures into the jungles of Costa Rica to to hunt a mysterious virus which already killed the last broad who traveled out that way. Also in the jungle? Sexy emo Vampires and an Ivy Leaguer proficient in human sacrifice.
Books teach us countless important things: Quantum Physics; the ABC's; how to macrame a nice plant hanger for that spider fern your aunt Bathsheba got you last winter, and other things of import. This books contains another invaluable tidbit: IF YOUR PREDECESSOR (in this case, lone female working in the intellectual field) DIES MYSTERIOUSLY IN THE JUNGLE, IT IS NOT WORTH INVESTIGATING. Thank God I read The Vampire Virus - I had really wanted to figure out for myself what happened to that that babe whose corpse just came back from Thailand with the mysterious virus that makes your own skin leap off and jump up your own ass. I mean, this is our basic premise here.
Epidemiologist Baily Harrison follows the steps of (dead) archeologist Janis Levy into the jungle to see what killed her. There Baily meets smouldering Lazaro and musically-inclined Ludwig (oh man, I wonder where that could possibly be going), both equally mysterious, of course, and both of whom happen to fall in love with her. Supposedly, there are also Vampires in this book, but other than some professed age and history, ninja-like skill, a few weak fang appearances, and one incident of rapid healing, there's barely any Vampirism at all. I mean, the crazy guy kills more people than all the current Vampires put together, and he only kills two people, three at most. In fact, there's very little in the way of savagery for a Vampire story set in the jungle. Yeah, there was a pretty badass scene where a still-beating heart is ripped from the chest of a still live human being, but that was HALF A PAGE in a three hundred page book. The rest was brooding Vampires contemplating good, evil, hate, and love. Don Lazaro must have been the original Edward Cullen prototype because really, he was kind of a wiener. All he wants is to be cured of being a Vampire, settle down with the good doctor, and maybe raise two-point-four kids in a nice villa. What the hell. If I was a Vampire, I'd be too busy being AWESOME with my IMMORTALITY AND IRRESISTIBLE CHARM , DRINKING BLOOD from SEXY BITCHES, and having sweet ORGIES OF THE DAMNED to be whining about love and moral contemplation.
There was little action until close to the end of the book - it picked up a little, but not by much, and the action is, again, centered around the crazy dude, not the Vampires. It was written well enough, but bordered on cheesy at times. And may I mention that the logging of the rain forest is used as a positive to bring those silly backwards Indians and crusty old ruins into the bright glittering twentieth century? FANTASTIC.
I found this whole story to be pretty dull, without enough carnage or action for a Vampire story. This story could have easily been about regular folks hunting for a cure for a deadly virus in the jungle, and it would have been pretty much the same.
I hate to admit it, but this used to be one of my FAVORITE books when I was a kid.
Some days I look back fondly at my childish literature choices, and some days I'm just quietly ashamed.