Big 21st century question: Do people still read books?
The Big 21st century answer: They do in Jail.
I read a lot of books in Visa Jail.
It’s either that, or gambling away what little money I
had or watching J-TV and slowly dying out due to the ocular bleeding induced by watching idiots look enraptured because a bowl of soup is warm.
So I read some books. Off and on for the next month or so I’ll tell you about these books two at a time. I have a habit of being sadly long winded, so two at a time is the rule on the book reviews.
Let me make it clearly: one of these books is good, the other is the physical personification of a brain fart.
Black Virgin Mountain
Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnamis a Larry Heineman joint and is a very good book. As someone who has read a fair amount of literature from Vietnam, and other wars since, I almost without exception trust the word of an enlisted man over that of the officers.
This isn’t because officers are “bad guys” or something equally ridiculous, but because in my experience, they seem to have more invested in protecting the system they are a component in. Enlisted men, particularly those doing only one enlistment generally don’t give a shit about the reputation of the organization they are leaving behind, and although this can result in unnecessary trash talking, it can also be the window into what things are/were actually like “on the ground” or “in the trenches”.
Heineman was just that: an enlisted man with mechanized infantry in the 25th Infantry Division from 1967-1968. This is the same division both Ice-T and Oliver Stone were also in. Stone actually was in Vietnam with the 25th at the same time as Heineman and in case you live under a rock, or in France, he made a little movie loosely based on those events called Platoon
Don’t know, maybe you’ve heard of it? (Yosomono has heard of it I’m sure; he still has my collectors edition DVD. I’m scowling; watch me scowl.)
Heinenman pulls no punches what-so-ever in this, his first non-fiction, work. It’s his reflections on Vietnam from an enlisted mans point of view, tied in with his trip back to that place in 1992 are intense and raw. His politics are scathing and his condemnation of the U.S. command at the time of the war total.
He is a very entertaining author to read. Slightly unorthodox and highly visceral.
The blessings of your life sought; discovered;stumbled upon; given to you as if pushed into your hand. Beginning with the simple fact of your life; any soldier will tell you that. (pg 243)
That was the Good. Now…for the bad and ugly.
The Mephisto Club
This book is a sloppy, embarrassing pile of shit.
Tess Gerritsen is apparently an internationally well-known author, and that makes me want to jump out of a window. I would have to WORK HARD to write something as formulaic, dull, totally lacking in genuine character or original plot devices as “The Mephisto Club”. I’d have to work really hard, and forget anything I’ve ever learned about what constitutes a good book, or writing that isn’t fueled by ones utter contempt and hatred for your own audience.
Every character is a horrid cliché. “Jane” is a stupid, boring, judgmental cop. She is married to what has become the new template: a handsome, quietly confident husband who can cook, helps with the kids and confidently subordinates his career to his dominant pig wife. Absolute tedium. Her parents are portrayed as complete degenerates, relics from an era the author herself clearly has no respect for and are themselves pathetic distractions and sad attempts to develop some character in a landscape of expansive cardboard cut outs holding signs with slogans like “But Samantha, I AM your father!“.
Oh and her dad is having an affair. DRAMA! PLOT TWIST! With a younger woman! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!
“Maura” is pathetic and again: dull. A female forensic examiner, she is nothing more than an over the hill drama queen polishing her boring crown of sexually deprived self imprisonment. Dull. Oh and who does she seduce? None other than a priest. DRAMA! PLOT TWIST! She rails against god, the church, Del Taco! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!
The larger story indicates that Gerritsen has been watching too much Harry Potter back to back with old CSI:Miami re-runs. It’s beyond moronic and insanely confusing. Are the murders super natural or is it a complex plan executed by a mastermind? Actually you never really know because the final conclusions are so purposefully mush-mouthed, you finish the book with far more questions and much less over all happiness than when you started it.
Oh and… an ancient order descended from a corrupt part of the church or a hardened Homicide detective; who will crack the case?! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!
It’s all just shallow, clichéd puppets being halfheartedly dragged around a hollow stage until someone seems to have gotten tired of it all and finally had the cop shoot some people. Something that was painfully easy to see coming. Just a stupid book.
I felt embarrassed to read it, but it was either that or gamble away my coffee money with the Filipino mafia next door.
If you like this review, you should check out:
|Samurai||The Eigers||Sh#t I’m in Detention … again||Confessions of a Yakuza||John Frusciante: The Empyrean|
I would have went and gambled a bit on the torn cover of that second book. Just to show it how time could have been better spent. At least the first book was good. Can’t wait to hear about the other books your read, hopefully more good than bad, Although fifty-fifty is much better than my average luck at life.
Between school and personal life I find myself just staring at the computer, wishing I had alcohol. Then I flip it the bird and go to bed rather than blog. It may be the lack of absinthe, but my writting skills have really hit rock bottom this term. That said off I go to sueeze out 9 papers before daybreak. Fn college.
Writing about something you are interested in is the key to consistent, good writing. Being able to write passable material about things you are not interested in is really the key to writing professionally. So far as I can tell.
Good luck with the papers.
They had a buncha Tom Clancy novels at my 3 stops (different places) in Jail over here. They got some connection? or do they confiscate books from sketchy looking foreigners in parks? I think we all look sketchy to them but why just Tom Clancy? Never read him before or since but I’m sure the next time I’m locked down I’ll be reading his latest…less he’s dead and then it’ll be his “lastest”
“This book is a sloppy, embarrassing pile of shit.”
Would LOVE to see THAT on the back sleeve of a novel 🙂
I tried to read a Clancy novel, honestly I did. I think it was “The bear and the dragon”? I made it to page 95 and had to stop. It was just insanely bad. Far worse than “The Mephisto Club” and more insulting to everything in general.
Well I just finished. Nine papers in no time. God I feel like crap. Time for pain killers and whatever other pills I can find.
How about sleep? It’s a great escape…unless you have crap dreams and remember them.
I have tried, on several occaisions, to write a blog on me and sleep. Each time I keep a notebook and check it in the morning. Each time it makes less sense than I had hoped.
I have asthma and severe,year round, allergies. When I go to sleep snot begins to drain into my lungs. I generally wake up feeling like a sumo has balanced, on one knuckle, on my chest, my head hurts from lack of oxygen, I am dizzy and disorientated, coughing for air, blowing my nose, hacking, cursing my existence. Then I always try to stand, I learned that going right back to sleep makes it worse, when I stand I almost always fall over. I walk to the bathroom, running into things and falling over. At this point I urinate, the snot that makes it into my stomache makes me P!$$ a lot. As I relieve my self I realise just how much snot has built up in my stomache.
The stomache filled with snot presents a special issue, I call it snot fever. See you have an artery that goes over your stomache, and this can be used to help regulate your body tempeture (I was a boyscout, made it to eagle, and loved below zero weather camping). Well Snot has a hot temp and allergy snot is vitamen defficient so you tend to waste calories and nutrients digesting it as it warms you up. All this leads to a shitty kind of fever.
So as I pee and try to sink any floating toilet paper. I have to gauge if I need to eat and get something besides snot in my stomache, or even If I should say F!@# it and just force vomit. Once I am back to the bed I try to figure out if I have been breathing enough to go back to sleep or if I should stay up a bit longer for more oxygen. Yeah I stop breathing in my sleep.
About this time I usually taste vomit. See as you asphixiate in your sleep, sometimes your body tries to clear airways by puking while your still asleep, thats what wakes me up a lot of times and I do not realize it till this point. I then check my nearest time telling device, usually a cell phone, only to realize I didn’t sleep near as long as I thought and a lot of that time was probably the wake up ritual. I usually, quickly, try to cough up the rest and finish blowing my nose. As I am no good at spitting loogies this ends up being a blow nose and get blood then cough once say F!@# it and swallow the rest routine, after which I colapse.
I have looked into sleep apnia machines and those are no help as all the snot in my sinuses and throat would just get blown into my lungs. I usually take anywhere from 3 to fourteen, over the counter, pills with some liqour, merlot helps. I do this not so much to breath better in my sleep, not gonna happen, more to make sure I don’t wake up as fast or as often. Melatonin pills are a godsend.
I have permanent dark circles around my eyes, thats why people always think I am high. I always wake up feeling half dead and everything hurts. I like dreams and even nightmares as reall life tends to suck more, so yeah dreams are a very short, but good, escape.
I have, for years, wished I would quit waking up. Lately though thats changed. I have a reason to wake up. I even am happy about waking up. I check everytime, upon waking, for emails and letter from that little Japanese female super hero (is that heroin?), my favorite pen pal.
Really I am missing a lot of what goes on with sleep and me. An oxygen deprived brain promotes killer migraines not good memory. I may have to videotape a night to get the blog written. If I had good insurance again I could go back to the shots and get rid of my allergies. Maybe if this college thing works out.
Currently I am down to two different kinds of allergy pills and out of booze.
You actually remind me of someone I meet often here. Not that he shares your particular pains but rather the excruciating detail the two of you go into regarding your own ailments. It would be a happening to put the two of you in a room together.
Well all that detail comes from years of that crap. I don’t even get it all down properly thanks to the nature of it, low oxygen fuzzy headedness. I like hearing about this sort of stuff from others, but not much on going on and on about it myself.
I figure mention it once when it is sorta brought up, so people don’t think I am a total nutjob, get it ALL out and quick then you never have to mention it again. I don’t wanna be the career victim that gets all their attention from sob stories and gets so into telling and re telling them that they smile and have excitement in their voice as they go over it. Screw that, if thats all you got to live for then go drown yourself.
Hearing others details of strange illness, especially if it has psychological effects or involves gore, now thats fun. The best things in life though are either real happy moments where your eyes tear up and the smile hurts, but you can’t stop it, or good old addrenaline, the kind where your hearts pounding and you wonder if your gonna die or go to jail. My co pilot for the addrenaline crazed adventures died so I am after true happiness, I.E. the smile of a Japanese woman.
So yeah. Hey just finished catcher in the rye and am about two right two reports on it. Thanks for reading through those boring, crap, comments I leave. Maybe someday I will get over there and get to meet that friend of yours, the one with the ailments. Mostly I wanna go to Japan and have some fun, drinkin, eating , camping, taking in the culture, and hopefully Directing straight to video Samurai Dramas with a touch of romance to them.
Nui Ba Den …. We “controlled” the top and the bottom, the VC controlled everything in between. “Every other bunker manned”… yeah, THAT was effective…. I know it’s been out 5 years already, but I have a big backlog of Nam books to read already, that said, I look forward to reading this one. I too have read/ own my share (400+) of Vietnam War autobiographies, bios, and battle histories.Whether officer or enlisted, one must not discount either’s perspective. It is interesting to read a few books from those said perspectives on a given battle to appreciate the shit sandwich most all of them were eating. There were plenty of ringknockers looking to punch their ticket and get out of there with “clean” records from their commands and hung guys out to dry, but the majority were honorable men just wanting to get themselves and as many of their unit’s soldiers out alive. The DESPISED “Rules of Engagement” is a common theme and was (still is…) the cause of a lot of good young men’s deaths….. If you have a particular time period/genre/unit of the war you are interested in I might be able to suggest a few books. ie: Seals/Rangers/ Dak To / Hamburger Hill/Hue/ Vietnamese Forces…. I didn’t serve there(too young), but grew up around a bunch of Nam vets, thus my respect and profound THANKS runs very deep. As for that douchehole Gerritsen, that book is good for toilet paper on a camping trip, and firestarter. I look forward to the other books on your list.
Alex you have sunk my battleship. Bastard. My reading is a bit more spread out and I have a heavy amount of interest in “obtuse” conflicts like Chechnya etc, but for similar reason you stated I always feel connected to Vietnam. Also, the US military learned so much during that time there it’s amazing. I concur also that the soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen that went there deserve respect, but I can’t get behind the lies and BS politics that put the USA in such a shit position. I’ll have another book post up soon, it’s a fairly long list and evenly distributed between nightmarishly awful and quite good. Awesome comment by the way.
Well I’ll be damn…I just wrote a long comment and internet fucked me up….
Anyways to sum it up…eventhough reading a bad book is worst that watching a bad movie, in your situation it was better than the opnion available. Where did you got those books anyhow? If Yosomono did the “favour” to infiltrate them for your reading he deserves more than scowling lol
Yosomono is literally my Jail manager/mobile library/ holy savior. So yes he coordinates all sorts of things and hooks up books. GOOD BOOKS. And not only good books but he has a firm grasp on what I want to read. The mind numbing horror of Gerritsen was not brought by him, but by another and in her defense I will add that she warned me. In fact those books were given to her second hand by a fantastic buffoon. So I can’t be mad or point fingers. It was all done with good intentions. Not like anyone was trying to push me to suicide….no one except Tess Gerritsen.
Speaking of which I want those books back at some point. Perhaps an exchange, one Platoon DVD for the detention books I passed through the bars at your penthouse prison?
Fuck it. Keep the DVD. Watched it already anyway.
Oh and I’m also keeping the hack-saw you had hidden in that one books binding. Sorry. It’s a nice hack-saw after all.
Well, I just finished “The Fall” – the second book in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s “The Strain” trilogy. Good stuff. A fresh, more scientific approach to the vampire genre. Just started “Dark Blood” by Stuart Macbride last night.
thanks for stopping by my blog, and glad to see your visa ordeal is over with…you get some long-ass comments! (on this post at least)…looking forward to reading more…
Cheers mate. And congrats again on that direct hire. Good news. And yes, we have some pretty seriously awesome, devoted readers, not joking around.
Speaking of detention…just catching up on the action in Oakland and remembering either a post or comments you had made somewhere about people you trained and your admonishments (okay, maybe that’s too polite of a word)… I kind of got a real bad feeling while hearing the news and adding ‘flash-bang’ to my vocabulary.
Hey Yos, or Gaijin I just posted a blog about a Hanko I can’t read. If ya get a chance could ya help me out maybe?
totally lost on this man. Yoso might be of more assistance.
What’s the link?
Not much point now, really. Already used the stamp under my signiture in a letter I sent to my pen pal. So if it doesn’t say what I ordered I get to look like a BAKA gaijin… my fingers are crossed… she has been the only good luck I have ever had so my hopes are not exactly up.
I know the Hanko is used for signing for things like mail, but I can’t help using it. It is fun for some odd reason. God now I am resisting the urge to go stamp random things all over the house. My parents would kill me.
Fair enough. From my personal experience, the hanko is used for official documents and in the place of your signature at the bank, post office, etc. I have never seen it used on personal letters, but maybe it was in the old days, who knows?
I wouldn’t stress too much, I’m pretty sure your penpal will find this adorable and cute and appreciates the effort.
Let me know if you need anything done in the future.
SWEET! Now I know other things it can be used for. Hells yeah I got me an excuse to stamp more stuff! No, wait… damn it, american banks and post offices will think I am nuts and then make me fill everything out again on a new piece of paper and sign it in pen. I hate this world.
Yeah the video I saw showed it just being used to sign for mail that has arrived. I decided on my own to sign the letter with it. Can’t sign for mail with it here. Still it is neat, and for some odd reason it is exciting to stamp things with it. I hope I got it saying what I ordered. Will know soon enough, as long as the person who sent the letter and presents for me got the adress right enough, I messed up and added Ms to the end of two words that shouldnt have them and missed a C on sanchome… god that was one of the two words I added an M too in the text; it read Sanhomem. My luck the letter won’t arrive and the crap post office here will throw it away when it comes back, presents and all.
Have to make a mental note to remember that you have offered to help me in the future.My memory sucks. Have to remember Mo is helpful for Japanese stuff, and maybe medical stuff. God I am going to forget when it is really important, I just know it. Anyway, thank you sir, thank you very much, you rock for trying to help me and offering to help in the future.
Don’t stress about the address, the postcode will give them enough to figure out the rest. I get some weird spellings when family send things and never a lost parcel.
yes he is using wordpress, No you do not need ANY coding knowledge to use wordpress, as wordpress is very simple and straight forward, Coding knowledge would allow you to do more and go further in the long run. It is not needed to start and make use of your very own wordpress though. My advice would be to create a wordpress right this second, and then worry about coding a few months from now when you have a sizeable following and are looking to spruce things up a bit.
Potzo has become our defacto BOUNCER. Cheers, Heavy.