Book Review: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

4 08 2010

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Tucker Max

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world.”

– From the back cover of the paperback edition of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Tucker Max, Esquire, is perhaps one of the worst human beings on the planet. We’re talking about total scum of the Earth guy. He foul, rude, manipulative, sexist, selfish, and over all, someone you do not want to associate with.

He is also kind of a hero to me. If I were to see this man, I would approach him, shake his hand, and buy him a beer. I would then proceed to tell him that he represents the worst of humanity, short of someone who commits genocide, and expect him to kick my ass or verbally abuse me, preferably the latter. I would then have a story to proudly tell my grandchildren. Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

18 06 2010

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a well-known author of strange essays. I suppose that’s the best way to frame him and this collection: quite strange and quite entertaining. The essays are straightforward slices of the bizarre, touching on schizophrenia, death, and strange solicitations from people who pick up hitchhikers. Sedaris matter-of-factly presents each scene to his audience, describing each bizarre situation and extravagant character from his life with a dry sort of with that eases the reader comfortably into each absurdity, making it easy to accept them as the reality of the novel.

On a purely shallow level this book is very easy to read. The tone is conversational, as if you were listening to a story told by a very sarcastic friend who has lived a relatively quirky life. There are some truly hilarious parts– the sicker your sense of humor, the more of these seem to crop up.

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Book Review: The Satanic Verses

10 06 2010

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

Anyone familiar with this book will know that this is pretty much the father of modern controversial literature. Banned in several countries and causing the first instance in which a government publicly called for the death of a private individual, resulting in the death of a little more then 40 people to date, ‘The Satanic Verses’ has certainly caused quite a stir in the Muslim community.

‘Verses’ opens with the story of two Indian actors who have survived an explosion of a hijacked plane over the English Channel. After the fall, both actors begin a metamorphism. Gibreel Farishta, the easygoing and womanizing, Bollywood actor who specializes in playing Hindu gods takes on the characteristics of the archangel Gibreel. Contrastingly, Salidan Chamcha, the strict and uptight voice actor, is dead set on escaping his Indian heritage to fully embrace anglicization, takes on the characteristics of a demon, even so far going as growing horns and hoofed feet.

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To Defy the Human Condition

5 06 2010

I recently read a book by John Elder Robinson, the older brother of memoirist, Augusten Burroughs; which centered on his experiences growing up with Asperger syndrome. For those of you that are unfamiliar, this syndrome is considered an ‘autism-spectrum’ disorder, which basically means it’s a mild form of Autism. Some shared ‘symptoms’ include issues with social interaction, restrictive (and often very focused) or repetitive interests or behaviors, and speech/language issues. While all of these are excellent subject matters to discuss, I’m going to focus on social interaction – specifically lack of empathy and social isolation.

Robinson wrote that as a child he often didn’t understand how to react in social situations. Namely, an experience of a neighbor telling his mother something tragic, but otherwise unconnected to anyone involved. (I believe the situation was “My neighbor came over and told my mother about how her sister’s friend’s child died in a car accident.”) While his mother reacted, as I would guess most people do, with remorse and sullenness; John Elder reacted with laughter. This immediately caused the neighbor to become angered, as I feel most people would be in that situation. But he was laughing at the situation, not the details.

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Book Review: Wolf’s Trap

4 06 2010

Wolf’s Trap, William D. Gagliani [Listed as W.D. Gagliani]

The quote on the cover sums up this book:

“Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel.”

– James Argendeli, CNN Headline News

Gagliani has done a wonderful job drawing in readers and establishing an excellent beginning to a (hopefully) long series for Nick Lupo. Although the book incorporates some relatively cliche situations and plot devices (such as use of “Lupo” as the last name of the protagonist detective-werewolf), the book also presents the story in an interesting format.

Every character tells a part of the story, or rather their reaction to the same event – which is something that is often done by authors to retell well known stories in a new light [See: Wicked or Grendel]; but for Gagliani to make this a staple of his original story is quite interesting as it further develops the emotions and explanations of actions of each character in the novel. This in turn creates a wealth of interesting and appealing characters.

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Alain de Botton’s Philosophy of Aesthetics

4 06 2010

I’m currently reading through Alain de Botton’s ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ (Yes, the book from “500 Days of Summer”…) and some of his simple conclusions are what have impacted me the most.  He presents various philosophical conclusions from buildings we typically think of as “beautiful”. These various conclusions range from typical points such as ‘style’, ‘proportion’, and ‘cohesion’ to abstract, introspective perceptions such as ‘what is missing in our own lives?’ I must say it’s an interesting note, one I had never thought of before.

To explain further, close your eyes and imagine your ideal home.

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Book Review: Dog on It

4 06 2010

Dog on It: A Chet & Bernie Mystery, Spencer Quinn

I really loved this book. Being an animal lover, specifically of the canine variety, this book was right up my alley. The story is a fairly old one; detective and sidekick crack a tough case with some quirky characters or details. But wait! The twist: the one telling the story is the sidekick… and the sidekick is a dog… Yeah, it is a bit odd, but Quinn does a great job channeling his inner dog – and he does so to build drama and real mystery which keeps you reading. For instance, when Bernie is talking with a suspect, Chet nods off and misses (presumably) important details to the case. There are also cute moments when Chet is trying to convey something to Bernie and due to the language barrier (or rather, species barrier), Bernie doesn’t get details his partner knows.

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