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.

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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.
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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.

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