Really obsessed with Goodreads lately.
"The kind of people I know now don’t have barbecues, Mama. They stand up alone at nights in small rooms and eat cold weenies. My so-called friends are bums. Many of them are nothing but rats. They spread T.B. and use dirty language. They’re wife-beaters and window peepers and night crawlers and dope fiends. They have running sores on the backs of their hands that never heal. They peer up from cracks in the floor with their small red eyes and wait for chances."Ask me stuff
Baltimore Noir edited by Laura Lippmann. Part of the Noir series, set in Baltimore and featuring a ton of writers from The Wire. David Simon’s (who’s married to Lippmann) story is actually just Bubbles’ story from season 3. My favourite was a re-worked Edgar Allan Poe story about a contractor who ends up working on what was once his grandmother’s house.
Ecstacy by Irvine Welsh. The main story about club goers was dumb, the story about a thalidomide femme fatale out for revenge was cool and the one about a romance writer and a necrophiliac was okay but I had to look it up to remember what happened.
Bed by Tao Lin. I was going to throw the towel in (sorry) after Taipei, but I liked Bed. Someone called his writing “single-entendre fiction" and I think that fits.
Stoner by John Williams. The ‘rediscovered’ book everyone’s been talking about this year. Enjoyed it. The guy’s life completely falls apart in so many brutal ways. He’s a farmer’s kid who becomes an English prof and does battle with the head of the department, and he has this weird wife who hates him and wants him dead.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I read it in high school along with everyone else, but I don’t think I really appreciated it at the time.
The Complaints by Ian Rankin. I’ve read a few of his Inspector Rebus novels and thought they were okay. This is the first of his Malcolm Fox series, which is related to Rebus except this guy is a Scottish internal affairs cop instead of a murder cop. It’s kind of clever because it has a sort of Mexican standoff with three different police units investigating each other.
Dead Men Scare Me Stupid by John Swartzwelder. This one has Frank Burly turning into a ghost and avoiding most of the usual science fiction stuff, except for a giant machine that undoes the government’s mistakes.
Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin. An Inspector Rebus novel, where he squares off with Rankin’s other protagonist, Malcolm Fox. I started reading Rankin’s books because I heard about this and loved the idea of an author having two book series and then pitting the protagonists against each other. The plot’s better than most of Rankin’s books but the ending was kind of shit because they basically just beat a confession out of some guy and ended it there.
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin. The latest Rebus/Fox novel. I liked this one the most of the three, I think. Although the way it kind of ties in to the Scottish independence movement was kind of gimmicky.
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. Lovelorn schizophrenic stalks/tries to woe a manipulative woman in London. His split personality wants to murder her. The woman is repelled by him but lets him stick around because she and her friend want to steal his money. Everyone drinks a lot because it is 1939.
Favourite books I read this year, in no particular order:
- The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
- Mean Boy by Lynn Coady
- The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
- Filth by Irvine Welsh
- The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
- Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
- Clockers by Richard Price
- The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
- City of Thieves by David Benioff
- NW by Zadie Smith
- Under the Skin by Michael Faber
- Cataract City by Craig Davidson
- The Dog of The South by Charles Portis
- Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis
- Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
- Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
- Canada by Richard Ford
Here is a list of all of the books I’ve read this year, with one final update coming sometime this week. There were a couple of books that I really liked but didn’t include on the list because I was re-reading them.
Well, they found Amelia Earhart. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, they found her in the trunk of my car. Boy, was my face red. I had a lot of explaining to do there. And after I had explained everything, they didn’t believe me! You probably won’t believe me either, come to think of it. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.
It all began a few months ago in the middle of a murder investigation.
"SOMEONE IN THIS STADIUM IS THE KILLER… Killer… killer," I announced over the PA system.
A mighty roar of surprise and anger went up. Everyone thought they were here for a free ball game. But there would be no double header today. Babe Ruth Jr. wasn’t here, despite what the posters promised. And they wouldn’t be seeing a race around the bases between a man and a tidal wave. Nor would the National Anthem be sung by an owl. It was all a ruse to get them into the ballpark so I could ask them a few questions about a little murder I was working on. I’d gotten the idea from a novel.
He told me the crooks used this place for more than just a dumping ground for undesirables. He said they also had a lot of food stored here in case there was ever a nuclear war. That way they could insure that in the future there would still be criminals.
He said they even had a selective breeding program going on down here, trying to breed the perfect criminal by crossing themselves with gorgeous showgirls.
"Wouldn’t it be better to have the women be scrawny and beady-eyed?" I ventured. "Maybe with the face of a rat?"
"Hey, you have your selective breeding program, we’ll have ours."
from The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder.
Band name: Loan Wolf
Album name: Predatory Lending
Morning Commute through the Boreal Forest - 8:35
Suit & Tie & Blood & Fur - 4:33
Three Wolf Conference Room - 3:20
Snowy Owl Mountain Meeting Massacre - 2:45
Water Cooler Wetlands - 3:40
Marking Territory in the Scent Free Workplace - 1:39
Loan Wolf in the Break Room - 3:39
Pinewood Paperjam - 8:25
Howling at the Printer - 4:35
Cold Call of Destiny - 7:36
Leaving the Timber Cubicles Behind - 3:55
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. I want to go to spaaaaace.
Filth by Irvine Welsh. Misanthrope cop has a Yeerk tapework that speaks to him and tries to remind him that there was a time when he didn’t use people and play ‘the games’ at work. The parts about his butt were especially gross. Great book, would recommend.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod. “Grandpa used to say that when he was a young man he would get an erection as soon as his feet hit Cape Breton.” Well okay then. The title comes from James Wolfe’s remarks about the Scottish Highlanders who fought for him at Quebec, about how they were good fighters but it would be no great mischief if they fall. Must read.
How I Conquered Your Planet by John Swartzwelder. Frank Burly takes a second job as a bus driver, and even a detective as stupid as Frank can tell there’s something weird about the passengers who get on at the mysterious new glowing bus stop out at the crop circles. For one thing, they pay the bus fare using money that looks like crops. They have antennae and they do a lot of hissing and mind control and they keep stealing military secrets. Maybe they’re magicians or something? This book was great, like if you could read a Chuck Jones short.
The Exploding Detective by John Swartzwelder. After buying an old Nazi jetpack from the back of a magazine (with extra rockets from an ad in a women’s fashion mag), detective Frank Burly is approached by the mayor to become Central City’s first superhero… The Flying Detective! It doesn’t end well.
If two men who were friends in their youth meet again when they are old, after being separated for a life-time, the chief feeling they will have at the sight of each other will be one of complete disappointment at life as a whole; because their thoughts will be carried back to that earlier time when life seemed so fair as it lay spread out before them in the rosy light of dawn, promised so much—and then performed so little. This feeling will so completely predominate over every other that they will not even consider it necessary to give it words; but on either side it will be silently assumed, and form the ground-work of all they have to talk about.
— Arthur Schopenhauer