Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Egg Said Nothing, V for Vendetta, 10 A Boot Stomping 20 A Human Face 30 Goto 10

Every time I post something here, I feel like I haven't done much on here for a while. I only made one new post for March, despite reading 2 novels, 4 novellas, a poetry collection, a graphic novel and 1000 pages of ongoing serial comic. I've also been writing essays and stories and poems and such.

At uni, I'm doing a unit this semester that's done entirely online. The idea is that we're making use of the internet as a space for writers. And for this unit I have to create a number of new "nodes", such as a twitter account, blog, youtube account, blog, podcast or blog. As a warm up for the creative assignments for the unit, I whipped up this fictional blog: and my assignment blog, which I'm starting to pull together now, is a poetic/minimal webcomic. I don't draw/paint much, so it's really sketchy as shit, but it's fun. The thing is, now I've got two blogs I'm going to dump my creative works onto then leave once they're done. I may or may not continue Billy Demonseed, however, I have turned it into a print zine. The thing is, I've got to have at least one other "node" and I'm definitely not recording any creative content to put onto youtube (I don't have the resources) and I'm definitely not doing twitter.

Probably the easiest thing to do would be to make a profile blog and link it back to my pure fiction blogs. I've been playing around with the tools over at wordpress and while I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, it would make sense to make the blog there. I only really need to maintain it for the next three weeks, but I'm wondering whether I should consider it a trial of sorts, to perhaps start my personal blog afresh now that I've got a clearer sense of direction with where I want my writing to go and how I want to go about it. Then there's the question if I want to hang onto that one after the three weeks, do I keep this one for book reviews or take them over there too and spread them out amongst posts about other things? I think it would make more sense to do the latter, to keep it all tied in. I mean, my music blog and flash fiction blog on my blogger account are just sitting there collecting dust, and this blog hasn't really been about my own writing for quite a while now.

But anyway, I came here this morning to write THREE book reviews because I am fantastically behind the times now.


The Egg Said Nothing - Caris O'Malley

This is the third book I've read from the New Bizarro Author Series, as recommended to me by Steve Lowe (author of Muscle Memory). I read this back towards the end of January, but one thing I remember about it was that it was really good.

Muscle Memory and Bucket of Face were really good, but this was my favourite out of the three. Why? It's a lot darker and complex. They're all really comical, but this one is comical in that violent Kill Bill sort of way. Blood spatter comical.

The Egg Said Nothing is about a guy who wakes up to find that he's laid an egg. There's no logic to it, and it's something he has a lot of trouble getting used to. Then the time paradoxes and murdering begins and I won't hurt your head (or mine) trying to explain how everything works because it's just tragically suicidal.

The writing is great, clever, logical, yet desparate and sprawling. My impression is if Chuck Palahniuk started out writing Bizarro, it'd look something like this. Honestly, I can't wait to see what Caris O'Malley puts out in the future.


V for Vendetta - Alan Moore & David Lloyd

This is the first graphic novel that I read. I love it. I saw the movie first, and I really enjoyed the movie, but the graphic novel is just something else. I guess the reason why I chose this over other graphic novels/comics was because I'm not a fan of superheroes. I never really got into batman or spiderman or superman. Sure, I watched the X-Men movies and the Batman movies and enjoyed them for what they are, but V for Vendetta, it utilises the comic book space to put its best foot forward.

Since reading this I've read a good chunk of the Walking Dead zombie apocalypse series and the Watchmen graphic novel (the latter story also written by Alan Moore in the '80s). Now, I don't want to write off all superhero comics as comic book geek trash, and while I'll get around to writing about Watchmen later, the reason that drew me to these graphic novels was the story. The writing. Moore is a genius. V for Vendetta is a fully rounded story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. There's a lot of plot and character development, and it's all ridiculously well thought out, considering it was originally released as a serial comic. It's not like the comic or the sitcom that brings everything right back to the start at the end of the issue, or that has a cliffhanger ending, where the only purpose is to keep the series going.

It's a benchmark for dystopian literature. It's dark, it's gritty, and while it's got the good vs bad hero factor that superhero comics do, the enemies are posed as real people, the heroes often act in ambiguous or morally questionable ways. This is something that crops up in the Watchmen too, but right here we have the gritty underbelly of our society, corruption and greed and fear campaigns, and it's all fiercely political, and I think that's something that resonates with the story even to this day.

When I think of this book, I think I'll always have the distinct memory of the time and place where I read it. I bought it in Melbourne, in a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book, all round nerd shop in the city and I read it on the plane home. The whole lot. I've only read whole books like this twice, and the other time was for another book I'm very fond of, Dorothy Porter's verse novel, the Monkey's Mask. This book is utterly captivating.


10 A Boot Stomping 20 A Human Face 30 Goto 10 - Jess Gulbranson

I also got this book on my travellings in Melbourne. It's the first book I've bought from LegumeMan Books, and I found a number of their titles in a quaint little cult bookshop called PolyEster Books. I'd heard a little about this, mainly that it was a really weird novel, and so I bought it.

I read it towards the start of February, a quick read, very violent and self-destructive and so strange. I can't remember a whole lot about it aside from bringing music legends back to life, conspiracies that I think somehow involved a group of autistic children, and I'm afraid I understand very little of it. I think at some point I'd have to go back and re-read it to recall what was going on, because really, the narrator was thrown into a situation far stranger than the previous one at every opportunity, and when things started making sense and he was beginning to gain a level of control and understanding, that went right out the window.

It's a great chaotic read. I've got high hopes for Gulbranson, and for LegumeMan Books, which I don't thing I mentioned are based in Melbourne, so hooray for having a decent cult/niche publisher in Australia. I'm probably going to be holidaying in Melbourne again later on in the year, so I'm thinking I'll take the opportunity to duck back down to PolyEster and grab another LegumeMan title. I've currently got my eye on a book called Should Have Killed the Kid. From what I've heard it's set in post-apocalyptic Melbourne. And Melbourne is just great. :)