Tag Archives: reviews

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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The Lullaby Effect of Carter & Lovecraft versus When Nietzsche Wept

I’m only a so-so fan of HP Lovecraft. I guess I’ve read as much of him as I have more out of a sense of allegiance to the horror genre than a sense of loyalty to his literary acuity.

Which is why I was somewhat surprised when I found myself selecting Jonathan L. Howard’s CARTER & LOVECRAFT the other night when cruising my Overdrive app looking for an audiobook fix for which to fall asleep to…

Which, to me, is the primary purpose of audiobooks – literary lullabies.

And most of the audiobooks I listen to do a great job of it.

In fact, they do such a great job of it that most audiobooks I listen to, I don’t finish because each night I always have to go back to the last point in the book I can remember before drifting off to sleep the night before, which is, more often than not, only a minute or two after I started listening.

And the books I do manage to get through before the loan ends I often only remember in sketchy patches…

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Slowing Down the Synapses

Or, Speeding Up the Reviews

Not the primary reason but one of the reasons I decided back in April to take a hiatus from the web was because I wanted to give my brain a break from all the nonsensical chatter that was cluttering it so.

I have been having what I collectively call chemo brain issues for quite some time so I thought it may do me some good to lay off for a while all the hyper-clicking and attention-span deflating skim-reading that the web so sweetly and successfully induces us into doing and which studies have told us is altering our brain and its ability to focus on and process information.

To counter what seemed to me to be my lack of focus and ability to process effectively process information (perhaps less a result from all my web time and more a result from all the chemo and prednisone I used to be strung out on years ago (and, in the case of chemo, which I still take daily dose addiction of)), I decided to turned off the web for a while.

Which, for the most part, I did surprisingly enough.

To fill the time I no longer spent on the web, much of which had been dedicated to this blog, I mobilized the pen and cracked open the books pretty hard.

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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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The Alt-Oscars*

Kanye West** as Crucified Oscar image is courtesy of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Let’s do this.

ALT BEST PICTURE: I’ve only seen one “Best Picture” nomination — “Arrival” and I thought it was mostly Zzz… — so out of all the 2016 movies I have seen, not just those nominated, which still are only a handful… or, would it be an “eyeful?”…my Alt-Oscar for Best Picture of 2016 — and which is one of the best flicks I’ve seen in a loooong time — goes to:

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“The Way” of Technology

Well, my bold Westworld binge-watching bonanza proclamation turned out to be nothing more than a bunch of ballyhooed BS…

I only got through the fourth episode before running out of time.

Consequently, I can’t provide anything much in the way of a review. But I can provide a bit of feedback that might mean something about its watchability

Which is… I kept falling asleep while watching it.

Now, full disclosure, I’ve taken some of my best naps during what turned out to be some of my favorite shows so my inability to stay awake while watching Westworld in and of itself doesn’t mean that much.

As for what I was able to stay awake for… I really like what it is trying to do in concept; however, its execution…

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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