It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, a Review (of sorts)

As I sit and watch the surreal press conference between Trump and Putin after their so-called historic summit, where, after recently treating our allies like dog shit, Trump behaves like a sycophantic lapdog to a murderous dictator who wants nothing more than to destroy and subjugate the U.S. of America in retribution for how the U.S. of America destroyed and subjugated his beloved U.S.S.R., I am reminded of how I felt, or better yet, how my fuzzy, nightmarish memories leave me feeling from the surreal and tumultuous times in the U.S. of America during the late-Sixties through the mid-Seventies, you know, the era of national madness beginning with the Tet Offensive through the Watergate break-ins and subsequent hearings to Nixon’s humiliating yet palliative resignation and ending with America’s humiliating yet palliative retreat from South Vietnam.

Continue reading “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, a Review (of sorts)”

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A First-Rate Fish Tale of a Thriller: USA, Inc. – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | THRILLER
USA, Inc. (A Mike Wardman Novel: Book 1)
by Larry Kahaner

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
 

When acclaimed and prolific author, investigative journalist, and private investigator Larry Kahaner reached out to me to see if I would be interested in receiving a copy of his latest thriller, USA, Inc. (A Mike Wardman Novel: Book 1), I was at first skeptical, for the last two books that I read that were pitched to me as “thrillers” – one which I reviewed here and, the other, because I won’t review here any book that I cannot honestly give at least a Three-Star rating, I wouldn’t review – turned out to be less like thrillers and more like romance novels.

However, I was intrigued by Larry’s proposal after checking out his impressive bio; and then, after reading the book’s synopsis and preview, I was hooked, completely, and quickly wrote back to him to accept his kind offer.

And I’m truly grateful that I did because I found in Larry’s book a Five-Star Story that is fresh, fast, topical, and, yes, quite thrilling to read.

Literary fiction is my natural space for my literary endeavors; mostly, because I find they instruct me about life in ways foreign or less apparent to my way of living and thinking, often while set in surreal, nightmarish environments completely alien to my own. And the literature I like best (Kafka) instructs without the pedantry (Dickens) and overbearing, lifelike details (Balzac) that I look to literature to escape from in the first place…and which I too often find in genre fiction.
Continue reading “A First-Rate Fish Tale of a Thriller: USA, Inc. – A Review”

Games of Thrones + Peaky Blinders / Harry Potter = In the Heart of the Sea

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
FILM | MOVIE | STUDIO | DRAMA
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

At least that seems to be the math formula used to come up with the cast list. I suppose, though, to get the full sum of major characters, we would have to carry the new James Bond movies and take the square root of The Avengers.


 
I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I was prepared, based upon its flopping like a whale of a fish at the box office, for it to be a complete dud. However, except for some lame CGI scenes, I found it to be quite… “the bomb*.”

I especially enjoyed how the tale of a whaling ship being brought to doom by a vindictive whale – the inspiration for Moby Dick, of course – was unwillingly told by the old drunkard of a whaler Tom Nickerson (Mad Eye Moody) to Herman Melville (Q).

Some other notable cast member characters are:

Thor – Owen Chase
Vampire hunter, Abraham Lincoln – George Pollard
Thomas Shelby – Matthew Joy
Authur Shelby – Caleb Chappel
Catelyn Stark – Mrs. Nickerson
Benjen Stark – Benjamin Lawrence
Spiderman – Young Tom Nickerson
Tom Riddle – Henry Coffin

I guess I’m going to have to give the book the movie is based on another try. I downloaded the audiobook version via my Overdrive app a while ago, but it kept putting me to sleep. But, in the book’s defense, most audiobooks do that to me so it’s best not to judge it solely by its lullaby effect upon me.


BOOK


ON DEMAND/DVD

*In this instance, “the bomb” is used in the spirit of the contemporary vernacular of the youth to mean something good, as opposed to “a bomb,” which, of course and as oddly as it may seem, means something bad… like a dud.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Movie
★ ★ ★ = Average Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Movie

 
 

I was going to review Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, but…

…I am knee deep (I’m pretty tall dude so that’s pretty darn deep) into so much stuff* — stuff being formatting my two latest books HOW NOT TO DIE and SHORT VERSES & OTHER CURSES into print editions; setting up the logistics for the film adaptation of my short story “Leave” (fundraiser announcement soon – that’s right, I’m looking at you); adapting my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR into a screenplay (so that I’ll have it to shop around when I go out to LA to work on “Leave”); and of course the latest WIP — that I’v given up on it.

If it matters, I do feel quite guilty about it…

In fact, I feel quite guilty about not publishing much at all around here lately.

Publish or perish, an all that…

But, as a consolation for my quitting on this review, I recently read this interesting read from the Paris Review, which kind of (but far from exactly) reflects my thoughts on my relationship with Hemingway, and I offer it as a very nice, if not nicer, substitute.

In addition to discussing things such as my relationship with the Big Papa, I also had good intention (and we all know what the path to hell is paved with) to compare and contrast Hemingway’s view of Fitzgerald and Paris in the Twenties as found in his memoir with the beat up protagonist in Fitzgerald’s short story (perhaps a view similar to one he had of himself) “Babylon Revisited” (one of the best short stories ever put to paper).

I probably would have giddily gushed a bit about Woody’s “Midnight In Paris,” too…

However, because of all the stuff presented above and the nice PR essay, I lost my head of steam for it all and this is as far as I got/am getting with it…


The Romance versus the Reality of Hemingway’s Paris of the “Lost Generation”

BOOK | NON-FICTION | MEMOIR
A MOVEABLE FEAST
by Ernest Hemingway

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Ernest Hemingway
If you want to see what I think Hemingway and other authors would like as clowns, click here.

 

The memoir >>

The short story >>

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Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

That’s it. That’s alls I gots…

Pretty lame, I know; but what can say other than that the offer I presented in my “Hey Reader, What’s Your Angle?” post still stands. I’m still looking for good reviews to read, and perhaps reblog, that illustrate your reading and critiquing strategy… a bonus now for me would be ones that discuss Hemingway and/or Fitzgerald.

Can a brother get a link or two to a review, or what?


 

*Isn’t it funny how I’m always whining about how much I have to do, yet I somehow still found the time to promote inform you about all the stuff I have to do? Weird.

 
 

THE REVENANT: It’s Really Good (for a laugh)

THE REVENANT
FILM | MOVIE | STUDIO | DRAMA
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Since I didn’t know off the top of my head what the word “revenant” meant, I had thought, in the spirit of Shakespeare, it was a word created specifically for Art’s sake by combining the words revenge and covenant. Seeing the movie (and the squiggly red idiot line under the word when I type it) only reinforced this belief, because “The Revenant” is a grand, intense, soul-searching, cinematographic dream-scape of movie “inspired” by a book of the same name that was “inspired” by a legend which was more than likely “inspired” by a kernel of truth of the life of a mountain man named Hugh Glass, a contemporary of Grizzly Adams, may he rest in peace (both the real one who died long ago and, more importantly to those of my generation, to Dan Haggerty, the actor who portrayed him and who died recently) and Jedediah Smith (no, Robert Redford played Jeremiah Johnson, not Smith), which is about a father committed to his last breath regardless the odds or obstacles to exact revenge for the murder of his son.
 


 

In simplistic terms, it’s really, really good. It deserves all the Oscars nominations it has received, especially for Best Picture, Best Director (Iñárritu), Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), and Best Actor (DiCaprio).

As is typical with any film he is in, Tom Hardy stole the show. In my view, he just may be the best working actor there is right now. He out-acted DiCaprio, who is a pretty good actor in his own right – not great, but pretty good. But it doesn’t really matter as far as awards go seeing that they are up for different ones. But even if they were up for Best Actor, DiCaprio should still win it over Hardy, and all the others I’ve seen, for the overwhelming effort he invested and physical hardship and pain he endured for this role. His performance and commitment to his trade are remarkable.

As far as the logistics and filming of the movie, I do not know how Iñárritu did it. The movie is so big and so remote with so many moving parts – Mother Nature notwithstanding – I simply don’t know how they put it all together so seamlessly and beautifully, and breathtakingly so. I’m sure it will win for Best Cinematography.

I already said the movie is about a father’s commitment to exacting revenge for his son’s murder. And it is. But, unfortunately for Glass, the father, he has to fulfill this sad covenant that he makes with himself, his dead son, and his impartial god, after having just about the worst day, week, and however long his revenge exacting takes that one man can ever have.

I mean, this dude just gets keep getting creamed.

I mean, there are bears and “savages” and broken bones and infection and starvation and the frigid, merciless elements…

It’s like… Dude!

I mean, Death just keeps so relentlessly and rabidly on his ass that it finally became comical to me… and the guy sitting next to me.

Remember the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail?” Each time another near-death tragedy happened to Glass and his near-death tragic soul, I couldn’t help repeating in my mind that famous and funny line from the movie:

It’s just a flesh wound.

I whispered this to the guy next to me and we ended up giggling like two kids each successive time Death pick Glass up and pile-drived his head back into the mat.

Which brings me back to the word “revenant” and its meaning. Come to find out it isn’t a made-up word after all. It means, “a person who has returned, especially from the dead.”

There couldn’t be a more fitting word for this movie. In fact, it could be called The Revenant To The Nth Power, Glass returns from the dead so many times.

There are more things about the movie I could make fun with… like pointing out a cliché or two – yes, of course Glass gets all Luke Skywalker on us when he guts his horse (that had recently just fallen over a cliff with him – he survives; the horse doesn’t) and crawls inside it to stay warm during the night – but I’ll stop with the merrymaking.

But it doesn’t matter, the movie is good enough, and grand enough, that it can handle a bit of criticism from yours truly.

Out of all the movies nominated for Best Picture, I’ve only seen this, “Mad Max,” and “The Martian.” Out of those three, all of which I like very much, “The Revenant” is my pick to win.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.
 


Based upon the novel by Michael Punke

 
~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Movie
★ ★ ★ = Average Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Movie

 
 

A Review of Short Verses & Other Curses by Paul Xylinides of theliteraryreader

I am very proud and honored to have received such a warm review from the great Paul Xylinides of the theliteraryreader (theliteraryreader.com).

As you may be aware, Paul’s work is not unfamiliar to this site, as his THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA is reviewed here and is my favorite Indie Author read to date.

I strongly encourage you – it’s for your own good, believe me – to visit with Paul at both his literary review site and at his author site paulxylinides.com to check out the intellectually intriguing work he does. Make sure you follow his sites so you don’t miss out in the future.

To read my review of THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, click here.

To read more of Paul’s writing found on this site, enter “paul xylinides” in the search box.

theliteraryreader

Short Verses

Review

of

Kurt Brindley’s

Short Verses & Other Curses
(Haiku, Senryū, & Other Poetic, Artistic, & Photographic Miscellany)

by

Paul Xylinides

paul_picture_03

A Warrior Poet’s Hard-Won Epiphanies

Self-made and/or naturally insight-endowed, Kurt Brindley has the soul of a poet; further, he has the soul of a warrior poet. He makes passing reference to the martial tradition that has also been a part of his life in the poem “If I Were A Samurai:”


I would know

when to bow
and when to ignore
when to speak
and when to be silent

when to eat
and when to fast
when to think
and when to meditate
when to advance
and when to hold
when to strike
and when to parry
when to kill
and when to die

All writers — the serious and the not-so-much — inevitably find themselves in a battle, as often as not Biblical in proportions, for the human…

View original post 545 more words

One of these Fine Looking Books will be our selection for the IABS&R Volume IV…

I was going to post this on Saturday, seeing that August 8 was the last day for submissions to this volume of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review, but when I went to check my post office box – something I do only infrequently or when one of you kind folk email me to tell me that your book is happily on its way to me – and what to my wondering eyes did appear on the door to the office but a sign advising that the joint closes at 11:00 am on Saturdays. It was 12:30 pm. Unfulfilled me…

And so I went and checked again yesterday and found my box chock full of, not books, but junk mail.

My intention was to then come home to write this post; however, I got bullied over by all the nastiness in the news and ended up writing what I wrote… That gun thing.

So here we are. And below, I present to you four very fine looking books written by three assuredly fine writing authors. For the next couple weeks or so I will peruse them, mull over them, perhaps sacrifice a pencil or two to the Writing Gods, and then eventually come to a decision as to which book will be selected to receive the Full Monty review treatment as advertised and promised by me (read over various IABS&R pages to get an idea of just what a Full Monty review treatment may possibly entail).

So, in the interim, how about you also check out the four submissions by clicking through their respective book reveals, the guest posts by their respective authors, and maybe even purchasing one or all of them.

And if you do happen to purchase one or all of them, it would be pure awesomeness if you were to also write a smoking hot review of those that you read and post it on your site and on Amazon and on Goodreads and on any other place you can think of that will hark a clarion call to all readers of the world what you, yourself, have witnessed.

Can you dig?

Because that’s what this is all about…

Supporting and perhaps even celebrating Indie Authors.

Right on?

So here they are as advertised and promised by moi:

A NEW HUMAN & A MULTI DIMENSIONAL PARADIGM by Avril Meyler: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

This reveal comes from the second package of books I received the other day from my significant haul at the PO Box. The first package of which I revealed here. Subsequent to this haul I received another package from author K.D. Rose, so I will be revealing her book sometime next week. In the interim, you can check out what she’s got going on by visiting her website at authorkdrose.wordpress.com.


 

Meyler-package
Brindley, Bradley…it’s all good. :) Throughout my life I’ve been called many things. The G-Rated names being those such as Bradley, Bremley, Brentley, Brinely, and of course Brinkley. Like the old saw goes: I don’t care what you call me as long as it not late for supper. But in case you were wondering, Brindley originates from a son of a noble family that William the Conqueror brought over to England from Normandy. When the son was married he was given some land that was known locally as the “Burned Leigh,” which, in an effort to be accepted by some of history’s very first French-despising Brits, he took on as his own family name, or something like that. So, essentially I’m a Viking by way of England via France. Long live Rollo!

Anyway… Enough about me.

Meyler-books-front
The first thing I noticed about these books are their beautiful blues and purples that brings with them a universal, spiritual vibe. Which is appropriate, because although these books are rather diminutive in size – A Multidimensional Paradigm clocks in at a svelte 70 pages; and A New Human a bit huskier at 157 pages – they both promise some pretty heavy content.

Avril Meyler Books

A selection from the back cover of A New Human:

A New Human describes the soul’s journey through the awakening of her spirit in human embodiment. This experience sees her perception of life on Planet Earth undergo a major evaluation as she makes a bridge between her human self and her soul…

A selection from the back cover of A Multidimensional Paradigm:

Many people are undergoing a huge transformation as they begin to awaken and understand how Orwellian our world is becoming. In the past 30 years the Author has been shown past, present and future; possible futures, impossible presents made possible by mankind’s paralysis in the face of a fast changing world…

Does that rock or what? And I’m talking here a very heavy rock to accommodate the very heavy content of the books…

Anyway, she had me at “Orwellian.”
 


Author Avril Meyler website
Visit with Author Avril Meyler at her website: multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 

Meyler-books-flat

Meyler-books-spine

I know you’re completely intrigued by what’s been revealed to you today so you will be happy to know that tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from the author. Right on?

Write on, my friends…


 

The deeper we go the brighter the light
~ Author Avril Meyler

Author Avril Meyler is a qualified Aroma therapist, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who devotes her time to travel, volunteering and writing. You can learn more about her and her work at her website:

multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 
 

DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by G.N. Boorse: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS front cover

IABS&R VOLUME IV BOOK REVEAL
Quite the haul from just one visit to my PO Box, wouldn’t you say? Makes me feel like a kid at Christmas…

Well, we kind of kicked off the IABS&R Volume IV with this, so what do you say we go ahead and get this party started?

We’ll start off by revealing DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse in this post, and then we’ll reveal the other books in the haul at a later date. I will say now, however, that the other books are by author Avril Meyler and you can get a head start as to what to expect from her by checking her site out at multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS package
I was going to publish this book reveal earlier this morning and then publish a guest post by the author later this evening. However, the sons and I decided to make a quick day trip to New York City (jealous, ain’t ya) so I am publishing this from the road and I will publish the guest post tomorrow some time, Inshallah.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS front cover
Here is a front view of the novel DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse. It is a very eye appealing, professional-looking cover that is, quite honestly, compelling me to read it.


Author G.N. Boorse Website
Visit with Author G.N. Boorse at his website
asotherswere.me

Boorse-book-flat

Boorse-book-spine

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS by Author G.N. Boorse by cover
From the back cover of DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS:

A record-breaking mudslide traps seventeen people behind the glass front of a superstore. Food and supplies abound, but they yearn for freedom, debating the risks of smashing the windows and breaking free. The days grind on, and Audrey Frost’s nightmares won’t seem to leave…

Does DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS look rockin’ or what? Yes, indeed it does. The fun and excitement continues so stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post by Author G.N. Boorse…

And remember, we’ll leave submissions open for this volume for about a month or so, so if you want your book considered while also receiving a reveal treatment such as this, let me know soonest.

Right on?

Write on!
 

Available at Amazon

 

Author G. N. Boorse

asotherswere.me

 
 

A World At War Just Like It Was Yesterday: HAWSER – A Review

Hawser

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.

HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.

We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.

Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.

And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.

In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.

So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.


Hawser

jhardycarroll.com

 

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RATING SYSTEM:
★ = UNREADABLE
★ ★ = POOR READ
★ ★ ★ = AVERAGE READ
★ ★ ★ ★ = OUTSTANDING READ
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = EXCEPTIONAL READ