Middle Temple Murder.

Goodreads Review.
Free Wikisource Version.

 

From the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, this novel reared itself from a literary grave into my mind via a specific reference on Wikipedia. It is not quite so much fun as Dr. Watson & Mr. Holmes, despite being from the same era and a more prolific writer. Nevertheless it is gripping, strictly profane & the ultimate reveal of the villain is deftly done, and perhaps even realistic.

 

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War & Peace.

Goodreads Review.

 

If you read this great work of literature, you will learn about Mr. Napoleon. Not too much, this is a Russian book. You will be following the lives of various aristocrats and some military persons. Most of the characters were real people, so to were the events. The people who actually tend the farms (muzhik’s), are not characters so much as tiny non-essential cogs in the narrative & nation. Some landlord characters care for them, other landlords dismiss them and everybody else ignores them. Merchants are more completely ignored, as is to be expected of a feudal society.

There is no key character. Count Bezukhov is the closest, and is absent in person and in the discourse of hundreds of pages. Nor does it expound Christian theology, only a little ideological facade is proffered by Count Tolstoy. Nor does this epic tale focus on the year 1812, which was the peak aggression of the French Empire. Nor does it focus on a single conundrum. A fantasy contrast of rich & poor, which is present in a shallow form in Alladin does not fill these pages. A major exploration of the upper crust during a time of turmoil, it is an epic tale in diversity of characters and in the length of time covered from 1st page to last.

Larrikins looking for hi-jinks are better off reading Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. For such a reader, the high point occurs in the first hundred pages or so, with the tale of the policeman & the bear. Meathead bookworms looking for violence are better off reading something by Marshall Macao. Pitched battles occur several times, not more often. Armchair philosophers (& generals) seeking a schema for regular application on the evening news will find a little. Skip to the epilogue and appendix to read Mr. Tolstoy expound on the chaos inherent to all major human organisation.

It has earnt 4 stars. Reasons are numerous. To gloat about this experience requires an aware audience. My philosophy is sharpened from having read it. I am less ignorant of the events preceding WWI & pursuant social upheavals. Madness of crowds and the cult of celebrity prior to fast communications and fast transport is a fascinating subject. Unveiling of the hidden ugliness of times past is lacking. Rag on a stick method of hygiene for example. All the varieties of clothing would be less attractive when one can & does not dress oneself and everywhere itches. War would have been less deadly with the un-rifled barrels of the time, so there would have been more safety for heroism when opposing battalions can stand in eyesight of each other, fire all day and less than a 1/4 of the soldiers are dead at the end. I digress.

If you do read this book, pay attention to the French language. The preface forewarned me as I do you now. The appendix post-warned me, in a rather oblique manner. With careful application of French, Count Tolstoy develops a theme. Whether this theme is historically realistic, which it might be from the authors extensive research, or if it is a personal whimsy, I do not know. Alternatively, I recommend reflecting on the concept of nation and of the power of a single person during the days or nights you read. Many reviews on Goodreads are pleasant, only afterwards.

I read this book. Every. Single. Page. It is a, big, big book with, small, small letters. Pleasure shall be brought to me, when guests of my house see it in an alcove, mounted on a pedestal, near to the front door. Lit from below, with candles to flicker shadows across the pages as my fingers once flitted across them. The pedestal shall stand in the nook made from the slow curl of a grand staircase. The wicks of the candles shall be made from the hair of the illiterate and the floor tiled with the bank cards of the innumerate. I digress & apologise for wasteful words.

The Rum Diary.

Goodreads Review.

 

A book which shows some roots of Mr. Thompson’s fear & loathing. The narration begins with Mr. Kemp, a U.S. soul lost from the clutches of religion, free of grasping politics, flying to Puerto Rico after high times on foreign shores. A journalist by profession, arriving to serve a new employer, unable to reach contentment, Mr. Kemp aims for a wade through a quagmire of rum & little else besides. At times nigh-identical with the travel brochure Mr. Kemp is hired to write late in the novel, and at others, (I believe) surprisingly consistent with the articles he writes earlier in the pages (which remain imaginary). Vivid descriptions of a dissipating Caribbean lifestyle are dispersed throughout the short novel, so to are shocking descriptions of local culture. Garish contrasts between the tourists and locals are described more often perhaps than the tropical idyll, and the resulting blend is a satisfactory cosmetic for the journey of a disenfranchised young man.

Evolution Man, Or, How I Ate My Father.

Goodreads Review.

Terry Pratchett recommended it, as he should because it is a great book, smooth to read and whimsical. A rollicking read, saturated from start to finish with an ironic vocabulary which adds a shine to other, more upfront, demonstrations of wit. It seems unlikely that you, or anyone else has, or will read it without reaching for the dictionary. Do not be misled, the Latin doesn’t slow it down rather, it exaggerates one of the plentiful nuggets of humour. Follow Earnest through his adventures in the, hopefully Late, Paleolithic period. Don’t read too fast though, it might all be over too soon.

Occult Japan.

Goodreads review.

Available here at Wikisource.

A longer read than is pleasurable. Sometimes funny, such as describing the French as monkeys with cringe-worthy sansculotte (pants-less) institutions.  Within are details of ritual possession (which the author concludes are entirely real), the childhood development of the attitude, the dominant religions & their quarrels, the powers of possession, the pilgrim troop, journey & destination, the analogue of business cards that the pilgrims distribute, and so on. There was a momentary surprise to find an author so implicitly derisive of the Japanese culture & people to be aware of the Christian tendency to baptise any tradition to strong to be dismissed or daemonised.

The author appears sincere in investigating the psyche of the Japanese nation. Indeed he believes himself to have determined the origin of the possession ritual, as well as locating prehistoric religion / attitudes passed down through generations and lost to the confusion between Shintō, Buddhism and Ryobū. A confusion locals could only overcome by leaning on the author’s own strong, Western personality, to make explicit a certain ugliness of this book.

At times it reads as a tourist travel guide, it begins with the author climbing the Ontaké mountain peak, witnessing  a three-wheeling possession of monks. It discusses various attractions, with a tilt towards those favoured by locals instead of those most accessible by foreigners. & of course it mentions the cherry blossoms.

The last 100 pages or so are not worth the paper. I’d rather wipe with them to be honest. If you are interested in reading my words about his words about someone else discussing the mental processes behind difficulty in getting out of bed, you are a strange breed of ape. It is in these later pages where the authors racial pride really shows itself. I feel it has degraded my soul to read so many pages denigrating the Japanese. [To be clear, I believe there are inherited traits and do not favour a total Blank-Slate theory of human nature. A complex interplay of nature and nurture exists, of which this Mr. Lowell is occasionally aware.]

In the Penal Colony.

Goodreads Review.

 

Short enough to quickly read on the train, the narrative flows linearly. A simple twist at the end, one I failed to anticipate, despite ruminating on it during the train change. Mr. Kafka anticipates & predates the Saw film franchise, the Hostel film franchise.

The author, & this work particularly, seem to have acquired some respect, although precisely how this impression came to me, I do not know. However others attach metaphors, whatever it demonstrates about absolute commitment to justice, it is torture porn in literature format.

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.
True justice being an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, cruelty is more and mercy is less.

Mr. Sepp Blatter accepted a bribe, and because of that choice between yes / no, people (Bangladeshis & Pakistanis) have died. His own death, being singular, would be merciful.

His wealth, and the bribes more specifically, should be distributed between the wage-slaves he created. Without his ‘yes’, they wouldn’t be building the FIFA stadium in Qatar. Don’t get me started on the Qataris who funded the offer or corrupt officials who enabled the crooked process.

Slavery is an apt description, the Pakistani & Bangladeshi labourers do not have freedom of movement, some are beaten, some are killed. The wage they are paid is reduced by their overseers, without freedom of movement they must buy food at inflated costs, like how the Tuckshop used to be in Scottish Highlands.

If Mr. Blatter had said, ‘no’, they total suffering in Qatar would be lesser. His single death would be merciful, because his ‘yes’ lead to much more than one death.

All this leads should lead the Pakistani’s and Bangladeshi’s quite reasonable to resentment or hatred for ‘The West’.

Do you consent or dissent to this call?

P.S. Yes I do realise this is some years late.

Superlearning.

Goodreads review.

 

Apparently Bulgarians have extra-sensory powers including but not limited to predicting lottery numbers. You want that to huh?

Step number 1: Be relaxed.

Step number 2: Breathing.
The secret is to breath in for 2 seconds, hold your breath for 4 and breath out for 2 seconds. This timing will fit your breathing pattern into specific Baroque music, with 60 beats per minute (BPM). Make or buy a recording where the stuff to be learnt is spoken for 4 seconds, and listen to it so that your breathing stops for those 4 seconds.

The authors are certain of themselves, and the only reason the secret hasn’t caught on is the fumbling of the Canadian government. Applying it wrongly & damaging trust, the Canadians have screwed it up for everyone. By this day, decades after publication, all blind people should be able to see, telepathy should have made Skype useless and, most importantly, we’d all be much more relaxed.

The Road

Goodreads review.

Ueghhk… I did not like this book very much at all. A positive is the relatively low word count which allows a quicker read. Redeemed only because now other books nigh overwhelm me with sensuality and emotion. If you want to take this book seriously I recommend two courses; treat it as arbitrarily restricted artwork, or, as a narrative woven from the inconsistency of a schizophrenic, depressed homeless man with a kid.

So art often imposes contingent and frankly ridiculous restrictions to produce unique creations. The Road applies that method by using almost no punctuation at all. Conversations are not shown by quotation marks, which which fogs the train of thought, although conversations generally occur only to curb enthusiasm. Next limitation is the paragraphs, which often split apart what would otherwise be continuous. Explicable as art not literature, figuratively speaking this fracturing of paragraphs are climbing a cocoanut tree, there are no major branches it is simply the trunk. If you are not pleased by comparative literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

Duchamp tried to push his persona beyond the art world, and succeeded. I have heard more talk about his pisspot than about surrealism or photorealism or even romanticism. So perhaps McCarthy is trying to create a novel with reach beyond domain of literature, incorporating the system which heaps accolades upon his labours as an easy target for ridicule for those interested in simpler books or illiterate. Maybe, but I repeat, if you do not enjoy comparing literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

The second is obvious. The only bloom in these pages is fire, although this may be indicative of pyromania instead of depression. Read about Rome and surely a description of a laurel wreath will cross the page, I assume Herman Melville wrote briefly about a frangipani lei, flowers are found in Tolstoi’s works. I challenge a reader to find a single page where McCarthy’s characters whistle a little song, tell a terrible joke or anything derived from the passions (excluding of course; despair, dismay, disappointment, deviance, denial, denigration & so on, so forth). I believe Mr. Victor Frankl, a sense of purpose and humour are vital to our continued existence. The man in ‘The Road’ actively discourages his child from any dream of a better tomorrow. Page 160, sigh…

So McCarthy has built an elaborate metaphor for a depressive-type personality? A person who drags them self through day after day without purpose or humour and refusing to allow such concepts into the mind of the child in his care. What happens when a homeless man loses his trolley and all his possessions? Read this book if you would know. How does it feel to meet people who are born to die? Isn’t it a little nicer to consider the inevitability of death as ‘pretty girls make graves’ instead of, that baby in your womb is going to die as surely as if your husband were to decapitate and spit-roast it over an open fire? The ending would be more consistent with this interpretation and the overall tone of the book if the boy became a Mowgli bereft of animal tutors.

The book is tedious. No flight of fancy, no deeper purpose, not gonna get much of an experience from reading, if you share ineffable reader attributes with me. I appreciate it in the same way eating plain porridge for brekky can give one a great sense of just how smeggin’ good bacon & eggs can be.