kurt schwitters

Little help?

Hey crocs,

I'm looking for a smart, well-written noir-ish novel with a conspiracy-type plot. I know that sounds pretty specific. Please do NOT suggest Chandler, I am well aware of him, and I'm actually trying to find something noir without a detective, if that's at all possible. Graphic novels are ok, too, I'm more interested in the construction of the narrative than anything else.


Cross posted to hipsterbookclub

"May Kasahara, where are you now when I need you?"

So, I finished Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Which took me exactly two weeks to finish. Those were the longest 607 pages of my life.

I was so overwrought by the last chapter that if it had ended any differently, I might have spontaneously combusted. I'd also like to note that it makes two errors writing teachers always warn you about: it begins with the phone ringing and ends with somebody falling asleep. That just shows you that 95% of what writing teachers say (David Hollander and Nelly Reifler not included) is bullshit.

What Bird Chronicle does that I think a lot of books of this length fail to accomplish is it manages to encompass successfully a very long span of time. Long books about short spans of time (read: Ulysses) are hard to imagine on a real-world scale. Ulysses is 1000+ pages and takes the span of a single day. Um, yeah. Murakami breaks up the novel into "books" that span seasons; the sum total time of the book is around two years. I was very, very impressed by this, maybe more than I was by Murakami's lyricism (because lyrical writing can get tiresome and resort to line fillers like overuse of metaphor and simile and after awhile you're just reading how she is the pot and I am the boiling water kind of shit) and the absolutely marvelous work done by the translator. Marvelous in that it, at no point, felt like a book in translation.

One of the best books I've read, maybe ever.

x-posted to my LiveJournal.

Arthur Golden

Memoirs is kind of like A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, only not in Brooklyn. And in the first person. And with less poverty. And without the tree.

When I read Memoirs Of A Geisha when it first came out in paperback in 1997. I was 15 and probably had a difficult time cultivating the patience necessary to read on and on in sometimes-excruciating detail about how geisha dress and learn and put on their makeup every day. Now, although I feel Golden could have cut his magnum opus by 100 pages and it would have read smoother, I have to say that the voice is consistent, the details often moving the plot so seamlessly along that I found myself taking the book 200 pages in a sitting.

The only thing that annoyed me was that, like a pebble in a sandstorm, similies were overused. (Ha ha)

A Proposition


The listed link is to the complete text of Thorne Smith's "Rain in the Doorway".
No, I haven't read it, but I have read most of the other stuffr the man wrote.
What I am proposing is a chapter by chapter read and analysis of the book.
This may be off policy, but I firgured there was no harm in asking if people were interested in doing it.
  • Current Mood


I read "The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own" by Periel Aschenbrand, she of Body As Billboard reknown, in 90 minutes. What the fuck was Penguin thinking? Tarcher smacked of desperation already when they blitzed anybody on the YPG list with every single book they came out with, but damn. The book is just bad. Self-indulgent, boring, rambling. Periel is the Paris Hilton of the marginally-political set. I actually threw the book away when I was done [it was a galley, I got it for free, don't panic]. Threw it away.

You get a D+, Tarcher/Penguin.

From the founding editor of "N+1"

The problem with Benjamin Kunkel's Indecision is that it goes on for ten pages longer than necessary and makes the egregious mistake (in this case) of having a happy ending.

Other than that, I'd recommend it if you're feeling somewhat cut adrift and questioning what your life is worth and where you might possibly be going.  Very philosophy-heavy with a light touch, Kunkel's protagonist Dwight has been pfired from Pfizer (and isn't exactly sorry to see the dead-end job go), is involved with a girl he thinks may love him (uh oh) and is plagued by an inability to make even the simplest decisions.  With the approach of his 10 year prep school reunion, he knows a change has to be made.  Included are one kind of predictable pharmaceutical hoax and a very interesting scene of five friends taking ecstasy the night before September 11th.

It's a mind-bender, that's for sure.  Recommended.

kurt schwitters

Not a cookbook

Julie and Julia is not very well written. It is in desperate need of an editor. The book is unnecessarily fluffed with gossipy details of Powell's friends' love lives, and she occasionally switches tenses, which drives me crazy (not to mention the just plain unsettling open parentheses that never get closed). Powell is given to histrionics. She's occasionally immature, uses bizarre slang too frequently and has, famously, a potty-mouth that cannot be stopped.

I loved every page.

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