The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Don’t let the brevity of this book fool you.

2/5 stars.
Paperback, 152 pages.
Read from January 11, 2018 to January 15, 2018.

It is amazing to me that I have not read anything by Pynchon up until this point. His works are common in University classes but perhaps my professors had more wherewithal than I gave them credit. This is your typical ‘English major’ read that most general readers hate. This novel is a challenging read despite its short length and I think for most people, myself included, no one really fully understands what this novel is about by the time that they finish it. This is the type of novel that needs to be dissected and discussed within the post-modern genre to be fully appreciated and unless you are a big English nerd, most people don’t have the desire or the time to do that so the hate that many people have for this novel is warranted. angtft.jpg

Oedipa Maas has recently found out that she has become the executive of a former lover’s estate for which she does not know why. As she proceeds to carry out the will, it leads her down a strange path of new friends, drugs, hallucinations, sex and philosophy.  And yes, I would say all of those things go very well together.  She also discovers a secret mail delivery service and a century-old feud.

“I am having a hallucination now, I don’t need drugs for that.”

This book has some very clever and funny moments. I did enjoy the bit where Oedipa, in an attempt to win at a game of strip poker, dresses in as many layers of clothing that she possibly can. While in the bathroom she knocks over a can of hairspray and it goes flying around the room at high speed causing her to hide. When all that commotion is over and she finally leaves the bathroom, she is wearing a ridiculous amount of clothing, so much so that she falls asleep during foreplay while her partner attempts to remove it all before they have sex. She only wakes up during the act of it, kind of rapey, yeah. Shortly after, Oedipa discovers the symbol of the secret mail service in a bar bathroom and after, I lost all clue as to what was going on and it is where I started to lose interest in the book.

“[Oedipa Maas] awoke at last to find herself getting laid.”

The novel is a perfect example of a postmodern piece of literature. The movement took place after WII and focused on surrealism and a stream of consciousness type of writing. However, for most readers, it is hard to appreciate that timeframe as we did not live it so a book embodying this genre definitely comes across as strange and even unnecessary.

As I found little enjoyment out this book I cannot rate it higher but I am curious as to what I reread would entail if I knew a little bit more about the background of the book and genre. The book is not long so I would say that it is still worth reading if you already have it on your shelf and have been curious about reading it.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

AKA James Frey… the twat.

2/5 stars.
Paperback, 440 pages.
Read from January 4, 2018 to January 9, 2018

This book was a reluctant read. I received this book as a gift and it had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. I picked it up when I was in a reading slump and it left no surprises, this is book was exactly as I thought it would be. I can’t say I hated it as much as others but I can’t sing its praises either.

The remaining Loriens are hiding away on planet Earth after their own was destroyed by the Mogadorians. John Smith, not his real name, is one of these remaining Lorien. He is number four out of nine Lorien’s with legacy powers. They are protected by a charm that will keep them alive as long as they stay apart from each other, though it can be broken if they are killed the corresponding order. Despite the Lorien’s efforts in hiding, the Mogdorians are on a death mission to hunt them down and number three has just died, meaning that John is next. John’s sci-fi story in intermingled with an attempt to appear and lead a normal human life as he and his guardian Henry, move from town to town trying to stay safe.  John falls for the most cliche high school girl, Sarah, and as his powers develop has to learn to keep them under control and not bring attention to himself. Even if the lame high school jock is bullying his friend and pestering his new love interest, which of course John can’t resist and makes a bunch of bad decisions going forward.

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The story felt flat and the characters were massively stereotypical, especially Sarah. It’s so bad it is near degrading in a way. She was a cheerleader who dated the main jock and bully in the school but magically gave it all up to pursue photography and now she is just a nice person who falls in love with alien and needs to be saved and protected. It is just such a shallow and very male-centric way to describe her and didn’t feel necessary.  On top of that, the writing quality is poor. To take an ounce of enjoyment out of this novel you have to find a way to get past that.

Also if you know anything about who this Pittacus Lore guy is, you might feel less inclined to read anything by him. Pittacus Lore is a collective pen name for James Frey, Jobie Hughes, and Greg Boose. While you may not recognize the last two names, you likely recognize infamous liar and businessman, James Frey. Jame wrote a ‘memoir’ about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. quite a few years back. There was massive controversy surrounding the book as it came out in an interview with Oprah, that not all of it was true. Frey has since gone on to create a publishing factory of shitty writing by hiring a bunch of ambitious writers by luring them with the promise of success and fame. This book and the following series is a result of one his business efforts.  You can read more in-depth about it in New York Books.  Frey seems very comfortable with his shady writing methods, provide it brings him fame and fortune, which of course it has.

If you consider all this together it is all pretty off-putting, but many readers are not interested in Frey’s misfit writing endeavours and just want a cool story, which is ultimately what keeps Frey’s success going. I for one, don’t care enough about this mediocre novel to pursue it further and would not recommend that any read or support the man behind it.

 

The Pirate King by R.A. Salvatore

How did Drizzt get involved in this mess?

2/5 stars.
Hardcover, 347 pages.
Read from October 26 to November 13, 2016.

Well I am now 18 books into this now 30+ series. It is nice to be able to fall back on this series for a quick, easy and entertaining read that takes me away with its familiar characters. I have always been thankful the series has continued but with this book I was wondering if maybe Salvatore wasn’t sure where to take the story next. I believe Salvatore would have stopped the series long ago had he had his own say but as the story is owned by Forgotten Realms it sadly means that they can get anyone to write and continue the story if Salvatore doesn’t want to (even though he thought up the whole story and characters). I am glad Salvatore has stuck with it as it wouldn’t be the same without him.

Luskan has always been a city with a bad reputation. Pirates, gangs, thieves and more because it is a busy sea port of people coming and going with merchant goods. Currently the Arcane Brotherhood are in charge and have a death grip on the city. Drizzt and Regis are in search of Wulfgar after he had not been heard from since he left to rediscover himself and his homeland. However the become compelled to help Captain Deudermont  who is looking to over throw the nasty Arcane Brotherhood from their corrupt rule on the city. However, the leader of the Arcane Brotherhood is not who he appears to be and devastation could be awaiting the group. And what if Drizzr and Regis delay their search of Wulfgar too long and are too late to help their friend if he needs it?

My biggest problem with this book was that there were too many characters that were introduced too quickly. I found myself completely because I got confused in trying to keep up with everything that they were doing and how it related to the bigger plot.  I also find Captain Deudermont’s character just a bit too righteous for my liking. Having said all this, the big fight that takes place with the Arcane Brotherhood was pretty awesome. Not the devastation, but how it all went done, which I won’t spoil.  I did enjoy aspects of this novel, just not as much as others in this series.

Overall, I hope the next set of books in this series promises a bit more. I have faith that Salvatore will redeem himself.