FEBRUARY READS or 29 DAYS LATER

Erik from The Pure Mood here. Here’s lightning in the bottle mini reviews for the books I read in February.

 READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

This was a really interesting book in that it’s entirely about nostalgia and is seemingly written by a guy obsessed with his childhood to teenage years. The concept of the book is the not too distant’s future primary concern isn’t so much the economy or overpopulation but the pop culture of the 1980’s. A massively succesful MMORPG in the style of World of Warcraft becomes a world wide obsession, and soon the virtual reality there is so much nicer, everyone packs it up, plugs it in, and goes to school, works, falls in love, all in an online universe. However, it’s not a scating critique of online addiction or running away from the real world like Peter Bagge’s OTHER LIVES – it’s more a look at how we use our heroes to define ourselves. In the future, most everybody’s hero is one man, and when he dies and his fortune will be left to, basically, the person who can become the most like him, people amass themselves in his pastime and hobbies. This is what fanatacism is, and it’s a large part of geek culture and READY PLAYER ONE has a lot to say about it.

WISHFUL DRINKING by Carrie Fisher

I was pretty late on reading this one, and it’s not to be missed. Fisher has a hilarious voice and her antecdotes on the surreal nature of celebrity (I never stop to think how much being made into a PEZ or a toothbrush can mess a person up) and feeling unloved and fragile are funny and human. Also, how did I never know she was married to Paul Simon?

 THE SENTIMENTALISTS by Johanna Skibsrud

A book about memory, about how we build ourselves into what we are based on on the movies, poems and stories that tell us about who we are better than we can. This book will practically leave stains of melancholy on your bedside table if you leave it there too long. The prose is very spare, hollow and crying out for you. That sad, forcing a smile sort of book.

 THE MORPHODITE THE GENETIC TIME BOMB PERSON by M.A. Foster

I picked this up for the amazing title. There was some really great moments in this, but it was way more political intrigue and way less crazy sci-fi genetic time bomb morphing than I was expecting. ALSO NEVER GOOGLE MORPHODITE

DARKEST LIGHT by Hiromi Goto

Honestly, a must read. The prose style alone is crazy – terse, short sentences that come out of the page and punch you in the gut until you whimper and ask for more. The world is just so fully realised you’ll feel the feathers of crows wings beneath you. A really unique, unforgettable cast of characters and some meditations on life, death and destiny that will keep you up at night. A must, MUST read.

ZOMBIE SPACESHIP WASTELAND by Patton Oswalt

Essential reading for any fan of the funny but especially any proud geek – refernces to REM, Grant Morrison, D&D and SPIDER-MAN 3 dance sequences abound. Alternating between memories of growing up as a teenage geek with little prospects and different thoughts on media and the film industry written in the voice of a cast of different characters, it’s a real laugh out loud book that’s also hardcore real and honest. Being as in love with the city of Vancouver as I am, the Surrey story was certainly the cherry on top.

GODARD A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AT SEVENTY by Colin McCabe

Now, don’t get me wrong this was a FANTASTIC look at Godard’s life and art, his family background, his place in the New Wave and his profound influence. But my criticsm of it was McCabe spends time telling us how Godard’s non-sixties stuff is so brilliant, such a shame it’s so rarely seen, etc. But he never gets so much into what’s great about it, and he devotes the majority of the book TO the more well known ’60’s classics like BREATHLESS and ALPHAVILLE and PIERROUT LE FOU. It just felt to me like when books on Dylan stress how KNOCKED OUT LOADED or SHOT OF LOVE are these terrific albums with so much to love about them, but once they get passed Brownsville Girl and Every Grain of Sand there’s so little to say the book is 35% BLONDE ON BLONDE. Anyway still an amazing book and really hit the nail on the head a few times specifically as to what made Godard so unique and special and incredible.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

The Steig Larrson/JK Rowlings/whatever of the year, THE HUNGER GAMES is the book you’re seeing everyone on the bus reading. And for good reason because it really is well done. The prose style is as bleak and dystopian as the setting, the description that stuck with me being in the opening pages, Catniss describing the closest thing she knos to love is her cat not biting her when it gets to eat entrails. Page turning, intriguing and all those other quotes you read on the backs of books.

NICHOLAS RAY by Patrick McGulligan

One of the best books on a director I’ve ever read, period. Ray is beloved by many a film freak for untouchable classics like IN A LONELY PLACE and JOHNNY GUITAR, and most known by everyone else as the guy who put the James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Ray is painted as a perpetual adolescent, a latent homosexual with more insecurites than he knew what to do with. The stories behind the movies are fascinating, but the man is painted as a character as complex and tragic as any of the ones in his movies.

That’s it for this month. I’ll be back in March with Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS, Steve Erickson, Sherlock Holmes spin-offs and more.

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