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I am Legend by Richard Matheson [06 Feb 2006|04:05am]

Well, I've finished this one.

The cover has a blurb by Dean Koontz that states that this is the best vampire novel since Dracula. He's wrong. Dracula was a bit shit. This on the other hand isn't. Definately the best vampirte novel i've read, and for 1954 quite ahead of its time.

Basically I'd say that if you have any interest in horror whatsoever this is a book to read. If you have an interest in general culture this is a book to read, for the simple fact that this is the creator of all "survival horror" from _Night of the Living Dead_ to the _Omega Man_ or the _Resident Evil_ games. So when reading it remeber you are not reading cliches, because they weren't cliches when he wrote it.

Ok SPOILER ALERT.. if you are planning on reading it and mind being spoiled don't read this.

Matheson takes the Legend of Vampires and turns it on its head, the main character is the last man in the world, all the rest are vampires, infected by a bacillus which gives them the characteristics of vampirism. During the night he barricades himself in his house and during the day he hunts vampires in their sleep. Unbeknownst to him some vampires have managed to halt the contamination with the use of a vaccine which permits them to stay alive while still suffering photosensitivity and so on.

These living vampires go on to create a society seeing as they are not mindless as the dead ones. So who is the monster now? The vampires with an organised police force etc.. or the Human who kills them during their sleep?

The main character while waiting for his execution ends the novel with the words: "I am Legend"


I am Legend is a good example of what good sci-fi/horror can do in terms of twisting perspectives and providing new ways of thinking. Of course they wanted to do an Arnold Schwarzeneger film of it. How I love when Hollywood ruins good books.
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hiya hiya hiya [22 Jan 2006|04:23pm]

Well... I think its about time to reactivate this thingy. We have a new member and stuff and there has been interest shown by other members to reactivate this.

Well, I should start by telling you people what i'm reading and have been reading lately. I've recently finished _McSweeney's 11_, _Hunting Midnight_ by Richard Zimmler and the _Light Fantastic_ by Terry Pratchett. At the moment i'm reading _McSweeney's 13_ (couldn't find 12 :(), Richard Matheson's _I am Legend_ and Haruki Murakami's _The Elephant Vanishes_.

Yes, very very eclectic, from the brainless to the brainy. And because of that i'm always reading about 3 or 4 books at a time. I'll comment on books here as i finish them, but in the meanwhile:

What are your reading patterns, do you obseesively read one book? Do you read 10 at the same time? Do you leave a big gap between books or do you have a queue of books waiting?

Ok, my reading idiosyncracies. At the moment my reading system is the following:

I read 3 books at the same time, of which none can share a genre. So now I'm reading a short stories magazine, a Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror book and a "mainstream" one. When I finish one of these, a humourous book will pop in, specifically a Robert Rankin book, when I finish another one a short story book will come in, but not another macsweeneys, followed by a sci-fi/horror etc... Now bear with me, its even more anal retentive then this... you have noooo idea.

I can never read two books of the same series or author inside each genre. Meaning, after the pratchett humourous book i have to read a robert rankin one, when I get around to humourous fiction again and NOT another Pratchett. I'm reading Murakami at the moment because i cannot read the _guardian of the Dawn_ by richard Zimmler because that was the last "mainstream" author i've read... get it?

It's not over... I read these books in a set order (at the moment Matheson, McSweeney's, Murakami) and I make myself read no more or less than 20 pages of each before i change book. Why? I don't know.

And some people say I'm obsessive compulsive... Pffft!
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new book, post mortem? [12 Feb 2005|10:19pm]

i notice that it's a bit quiet in this community, which is also a bit of a shame, because for the past year or so i've been limited to japanese literature old&new, in lack of libraries & reccomendations in this sad land of Italy (they watch movies instead, here, and don't get me wrong oh they have an amazing film culture each and every one of them, but books, and especially foreign books, they've merely heard of them; the library issue on the other side is somewhat ambiguous, as good libraries are there, but borrowing a book is a largely impossible mission, and after spending over an hour in the procedure of liberating Anais Nin, i gave up).

so, inbetween funny short stories of early Tokugawa and good old zuihitsu i've read a good book or two, and right before these exams i've read (fanfare) The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (by Gaetan Soucy), which would have been written in golden print had CSS allowed. and as good books are many, but difficult to get to, i point out, here, to you, that the abovementioned is possibly the most beautiful book i've read in a very, very long while (and that's counting before japanese popular Edo classics). i almost linked to the amazon.com page to give some substance to the praise, but one should never read amazon.com book reviews, especially not for this book. sometimes it seems like the only people who read books are people who shouldn't be allowed to read books (or to talk about them later; or at least to give their opinion aloud). on amazon you'll read that this is a difficult book, that's it's scary, that the plot is rather thin, all kinds of plot details that you don't need to know, and even a couple of statements (book-inspired) that end with question marks. all of which is false. so i reccomend you skip amazon and award yourself with reading a book you don't know anything about. it rarely happens nowadays.
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Anais Nin - Delta of Venus [25 Aug 2003|02:05am]

Porn, porn, porn... how I love it.
Hmmm, quite. It is actually interesting, particularly in the way in which Anais Nin tries to make appealing eroticism to men, while being a woman, also the settings are extremly interesting. Paris in the beggining of the XXth century, opium parlours, bordellos and so on. It can get quite monotonous after a while though. I would advise reading one or two tales a day, or you'll just get jaded.

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another big update - Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light [25 Aug 2003|01:58am]

hmmm mixing pleasure with work. :) This is a sci-fi book like you've never read, earth is gone and mars has been colonised by people with the power to transfer their minds to new bodies, when they are old. Those who founded the colony take Hindu religion as a tool and claim themselves to be gods, they are eternal seeing that they transfer themselves while keeping knowledge from the worshipers (the people) who come to them when they are old to be transfered to new body. According to the caste system, they are submitted to tests and then transfered to a new caste or even to animals if they behaved wrongly.

The book is basically an exercise on how religion can control society, especially Hindu religion, which has lasted forever with a strict hierarchization of society. The main character is Buddha who fights the gods in order to give humans all the technological knowledge and let them make their own lives with free will.

Really good actually. 5/5
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Ah, Sabyne to the rescue [01 Jan 1970|01:53am]


Jonathan Frazens' The Corrections.

I've read this book about two months ago, and have the memory of a goldfish, so bear with me.

It's an excellent book, and I always admire authors that can write extraordinary things about ordinary life. These are the stories, in turn, of a family (The parents, older couple, the husband suffering from Parkinson, and their three (grown-up) children - the successful, unmarried daughter, the liberal university teacher and the married business man.

And god, do you start to hate all of the characters. I don't think I've ever read a book where I felt no sympathy at all for any of the people in it. They irritate you with their flaws, their actions, their obsessions. You want to throw the book out of the window and yet you keep on reading it. It's insufferable and fascinating at the same time.

So, all in all, 4/5, because it is ridiculously well written. It just put me in a very bad mood while I was reading it.
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Antonio Lobo Antunes - Conhecimento do Inferno (Knowledge of Hell) [18 Aug 2003|06:28pm]

Well another very good Lobo Antunes book, this one is also very much autobiographical and a psychiatrist is doing a road trip from Lagos to Lisbon (A trip I've done several dozen times, so I know everything he is talking about, which might be missed by non-pt people). Anyway, that trip is not that important, but the way in which the scenery and everything that surrounds him takes him back to memories of the psychiatric hospital, which actually stands for hell in the novel. It is a big rant on the whole asylum system, in one part the main character makes himself the victim of psychatry becoming a patient. It is all very weird really, but brilliantly written and extremly funny (I know its weird, but you kind of need to be portuguese to get the jokes, I don't know how they can translate his books.)

Also, Lobo Antunes is in my opinion the greatest master of analogy and comparison in the world. So yeah, I´ll be readiong much more of his stuff.


P.S. POST PEOPLE, I'll keep this anyway as a diary of readings, but please post.
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Kazuo Ishiguro - Artist of the Floating World [18 Aug 2003|06:21pm]

What can I say, writing doesn't come much nearer to perfection than in Ishiguro. This is a little book, 200 pages long and maybe because of that it attains a certain gem-like quality. This book is very much in the ishiguro tradition in the way that it follows the memories of an old person, in this case an aged painter in post-war Japan. What at the beggining seems like a completly innocent tale of an old man and his grandson remembering his days of youth and drunkeness soon takes on aspects tainted by militarism and the Japanese expansionist campaign.

Nothing bad to say about it really so I see no reason not to say 5/5.
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M. John Harrison - Virconium [13 Aug 2003|11:52pm]

One of the "new weird" founding set of novels, Virconium is a collection of books about breaking convention in Fantasy, with characters like Tomb the giant dwarf and insane characters in the immaginary land of Virconium talking about Blackpool and Venice. It makes for a different read, especially in the way surrealism is explored as a way to transmit fantasy in a more direct and gutural way. Also, the novel _In Virconium_ braks with "sword ans sorcery" fantasy ideas by making a full novel on Painters and their problems in a Virconium affected by the plague, the art world and its backstabbing in a fantasy world. If you read it memorise every name that is ever mentioned, an extra mentioned in passing in the first book might be the main character of the following one. You never know.

The kind of fantasy people should really read. (Stuff Tolkien and his cronies)

4.5/5 (surrealism can get a bit too much)
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Antonio Lobo Antunes - Memoria de Elefante (Memory of an Elephant) [13 Aug 2003|11:43pm]

Hmm Portuguese writer, yay. Also a post 1974 portuguese writer with all the freedom he got from it (we were under a fascist dictatorship before that). So, this is Lobo Antunes first book (you can get him in translation, he is another of those eternal Nobel nominees). So on with the swearing, really good swearing, liberating rough swearing, I loved it.

The story is that of a psychiatrist going through a divorce but the plot is not really important, the writing is. He is an amazing writing, and rarely for a portuguese writer he writes like people talk, he puts formalisms aside and goes with it, he is also a scathing social comentator on all levels of society and people, the best people in the book seem to be the masturbating loonies in the yard of the hospital.
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The Idiot by Dostoyevsky [04 Aug 2003|11:27pm]

my first dostoyevsky book. Yay, i really really liked it. the decadence of the people and the boredom of the people is amazing. The Idiot's main character, Prince Myshkin (an epileptic and therefore "idiot")is actually the inly intelligent and good person in the whole book. He gets his life completly screwed by the idiots around him but hey.

It kind of reminds me of Chekov in the way in which the aristocracy is portrayed as an absolutely bored class in Russia of unproductive slobs who do nothing but socialise and criticise everything about them while doing nothing. Still he has immensly deep characters like Natasya Fillipovna and Aglya Yepanchin, strong female characters, yet extremly disturbed ones.

Another thing worth noticing is the fact that behind all the cold intrigue and love story(s) is an immense sense of humor in Dostoyevsky, he is genuinely funny when he talks to the reader or explains something to the reader, some of the characters are downright ridiculous in a good way (not Jar Jar Binks funny). It is also a deeply political work, very worth reading. I just wish I could read it in Russian. Oh well.

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La di da posting. Jorge Luis Borges Complete Works, Volume II [04 Aug 2003|11:21pm]

Here we go, Volume 2 of JLB, hmmm it much more of a poetry volume, and I am not an avid reader of poetry, still it is full of little pearls. Although it is strange to notice that he is best when he makes poetry about that which he has never seen or can only imagine, he is very good outside the mundane.

The book Otras Inquisiciones (Other Inquisitions)is a much more interesting one, it is a collection of essays, which are JLB at his best in the fields of Philosophy, metaphysics and general speculation.

3/5 (very hard to judge, don't really care for some of the stuff, but other some is brilliant)
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out of sheer boredom i'm gonna cross post this in a couple of book communities [06 Jul 2003|08:42pm]

i went to waterstones the bookshop yesterday and it depressed me how many books there were that i wanted but can't afford so now i'm bored and i thought it would be good to see if anyone's interested in swapping a couple of books. not for ever i hasten to add, i may be alone in this but i love all of my books so people had better not rip me off :)

the books i'm after are:

the case of the general's thumb - andrey kurkov

anything by haruki murakami besides the wind up bird chronicles and norwegian wood

the book of disquiet - fernando pessoa

Things & A Man asleep - georges perec

anything by margeritte duras

the yage letters - william burroughs + allen ginsburg

ulysses - james joyce (i realise i may have to borrow this for a while)

anyways i just thought i'd send a post out and people can comment or mail me at rehab_doll75@hotmail.com and tell me some books or authors they'd be willing to swap

cheers, adam
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Update 4 - Jorge Luis Borges - Obras Completas (Complete Works) Volume I 1923-1949 [04 Jul 2003|04:02am]

Now this men is one of my gods, as with all complete works books its hard to judge it, because it is composed by a lot of stuff. His first writings when he was about 23 are quite crappy, post teenage poetry about the suburbs of Buenos Aires, and yet you see little glimmers of the men to be in them, poems like "Benares" or "Dacar" (his fantasist poems about places he has never been) are JLB?s invention at its best. In his 1932 collection of essays entitled "Discussiones", (Arguments, discussions?) he brings up many of the themes that will prevade the rest of his work in this book, like the Achilles and the Turtle problem, the Kabbalah, Heaven and Hell etc..

Another book in the collection is " Historia Universal de la Infamia" (A Universal History of Infamy) which is a brilliant research about several Infamous characters like Billy the Kid and Hakim of Merv (the veiled prophet), a character which will again show up in several of his tales. A History of Eternety also gets loads of more material for his tales, Thousand and one nights stuff, Icelandic Edda etc.

The rest of the book is composed by Ficciones (Fictions) and the Aleph. These fantastic tales, are amazing. He uses and abuses going beyond the story, plenty of reviews of non-existing books, tales told as truth by Borges, as autobiographical about non-existing people, references to non-existing authors, tributes to non-existing writers etc.. Just fuckin read it.


Next up: The Idiot by Dostoyevsky and Jorge Luis Borges - Obras Completas Volume II 1952- 1972
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Update 3 - Ash : A Secret History by Mary Gentle [04 Jul 2003|03:45am]

ok, this book is about 2200 pages long in normal type, in tiny type its 1113 pages long. About the size of the lord of the rings. This is a book im still undecided about, i finished it today, and I still dont know if I like it, I think that having a talk with the writer might help.

The thing is it takes pplace in an alternate earth, where silicon machines control miracle workers in the 15th century. These miracle workers are Visigothic (a european people long gone by the 15th century) and they are on a kind of crusade to conquest the whole of europe, and especially Burgundy. Now, the story is not as far fetched as it seems, it makes a lot of sense in its own boundaries, very much based on new quantum physics it proposes the existence of a previous past which could have been erased by a capacity to bend probability.

I won't get to much into it, Ill just say that as a story, it is very good, it is also presented as a genuine translation by a english latinist, some university press book with footnotes and all. This is where the wrong bits come in. Firstly the latinist, Pierce Ratcliff, is a shit academic, a complete anachronistic fuckhead. Then he seems to completly ignore a lot of history outside Burgundy and England. Now my problem is, is it the author who is shit or is it the fictional character? And if it is the fictional character is his universe also a parallell one? that would explain it. If not, its a pretty shit frame to a quite good story.

Ash story : 4/5 Academic Frame to the story: 2/5 (unless it is what i said before)
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update 2 - The Art of War by Sun Tzu [04 Jul 2003|03:33am]

All you need to manage a 100,000 men army. How useful is that? In like under 100 pages.

Not fiction but nonetheless i read it, this books importance today is the fact that it has become a kind of bible for coorporate hounds all over the world. Applying the art of war to buisness techniques, marketing and other shit. The book is rutheless, it teaches you how to win a battle or a war with no moral judgment, just efficience. It works.

Its scary, because its so easy to see how a set of advices on how to destroy human lives efficiently can be transposed to business with almost no loss of meaning. What does this mean about our society?

3/5 (or 5/5 for metaphoric value, which was not the intention of the writer)
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updates 1 - Alice in Wonderland [04 Jul 2003|03:26am]

hmmm havent posted here, neither has anyone else, but I founded it so I have to do it :)
Finished Alice in wonderland like 2 weeks ago, that man had some serious mushroom action going on. Drugs and druglike stuff is throughout the work, the cookies, the vial, the mushroom etc.

Alice tough, is probably the most annoying person in the ficcional world, and you almost pray that her head comes off. Id imagine that it was quite revolutionary for the time, a bit like Hyeronimous Boschs paintings (also mushroom induced), and it predates the whole surrealist movement by writing in a dreamlike way. Something that became very popular after the whole Freud thing with the surrealists. Still, not a very good plot, just one scene after another as if alice was walking thorough paintings and Carrol is saying, "Look how crazy I am".

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