Thursday, July 20, 2017

VANCOUVER BOYS BOOK CLUB, IN REVIEW -- THE FINALE


You made it, bro. Welcome to the trilogy-closing goodbye installment. (Glasses Brandon's picks are still in brown, mine are still in blue, and JJ's are in green this time, to mix it up.)
THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE by Phillip K. Dick

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: 0/1
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: This book wasn't funny at all, but you have to give it up for the alternate-history-within-an-alternate-history plot device. My favorite character was The Man In The High Castle, and my least favorite character was Hitler.

Glasses Brandon: Hitler was not actually in this book, so i guess Jesse liked everybody. (Hitler IS in the book. -ed.) This was a great book, it was something I have been meaning to read for a long time. Alternate history ideas are always really cool. And it was interesting to see the power play between the Japanese and the Germans. It was also interesting to see censorship at work in a place like that. The trade in historical relics was a really cool side story too. 
JJ: This book was a drag  



HILL WILLIAM by Scott McClanahan

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: 1/1
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: On on a bleak winters day in early 2017 when I was feeling unlikeable and pissed off, this little tale of white trash sex, animal cruelty and child-on-child violence calmed me down and made me feel good. I picked it for book club two weeks later, and two weeks after that week book club was feeling the vibes, too. I'm going to read all of Scott McClanahan's books now, and probably read all the books that the New York Tyrant publishes. (They also published Eugene Marten's FIREWORK, which is one of the most fire works of fiction I've ever read.) (And also has some weird kid stuff in it.)

JJ: Just say that I liked it.

Glasses Brandon: This was the best book Jesse chose. And it was a freaking great. The portrayal of the miserable life in Coal country and the little vignettes that the author steered us through were powerful and terrifying. The brutal violence of children was stirring. It didn't make me feel good, I just couldn't believe some of the stories. He made you feel the way the characters would in that situation. And the way he explained how the character looked up to the older one and never questioned his brutality until he was older. Then in the later stages, the description of uncontrollable anger was very vivid.

I will also read more of Scott McClanahan's books. This shit was fucking great.



DISPATCHES by Michael Herr

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: 1/1
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: Michael Herr has a messy and beautiful writing style. I read this in the backyard, in mosquito weather, to give it extra realism, but I think that made it too realistic!! I definitely got the impression that I would've died in Vietnam. JJ and Glasses Brandon DEFINITELY would've died.

Glasses Brandon: The scenes in Micheal Herr's deceptively long novel about Vietnam were beautiful, powerful and horrifying. The scenes that really hit home were the ones about the soldiers who didn't want to leave. They would sign up for extra tours and find themselves unable to board the transport when they were shipping out.
Jesse: I should've read this when it was first assigned to me in LOOKING BACKWARD: AMERICA IN THE 20th CENTURY.  


PEOPLE LIKE YOU by Margaret Malone

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: 0/1
JESSE: 0/1

Jesse: This book would've been right at home in the New Yorker Fiction section. Too much ennui!

JJ: It seemed like the author to work out their frustrations rather than entertain the reader.

Glasses Brandon: For someone that hates the New Yorker, Jesse sure seems to know a lot about it. People Like You is a collection of short stories by an author I saw at Wordstock. The stories were great. There was a great deal of disillusionment and sadness etc. but I really liked the story about visiting vegas for christmas.
Jesse: That was my favorite story, too. I'm a sucker for a depressing setting Christmas.


THE STENCH OF HONOLULU by Jack Handey

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: 1/1
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: This is my favorite book of all time. That's all I'm going to say!  

JJ: Best Book of Book Club. True Funny Lives Inside this Book.

Glasses Brandon: There were lots of jokes, but a distinct lack of story. The jokes made up for it in the end.


THE PLEASURE OF MY COMPANY by Steve Martin

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: -
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: This was the third most fire pick of book club, and the second best cover. The narrator is an extremely lovable combination of creepy and upbeat, and I rooted for him in a way that I never root for people in "romantic comedies."

Glasses Brandon: This was a pleasure to read. The narrator had some extreme emotional and anxiety issues, but was well meaning and was able to overcome many of his foibles. He was initially mistrustful of many people, but came to find out that they weren't so bad. The line "you don't have to say anything. I already like you" would be beautiful music to the ears of any anxious romantic.


CLOWN GIRL by Monica Drake

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: -

JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: I was worried, going into this, that there wasn't going to be enough physical comedy or clown props coming into play, but by the time I was a quarter of the way through the first chapter I could see there was nothing to be worried about. The  narrator is very serious, but finds herself getting into absurd, goofy situations over and over again as a result of her interesting profession, and that's my favorite type of book. Like Charles Bukowski's POST OFFICE, kind of. Have you read POST OFFICE? This isn't the same writing style as POST OFFICE, but it's the same sort of appeal, to me. I would definitely want to meet the narrator in real life, even though she wouldn't like me at all. This was the most fire pick of book club.

Glasses Brandon:
This book is really really good. Drake captures the world of clowning in a gritty and realistic way. Jesse said, "This book is what Fight Club was trying to be." The grittiness does not feel forced. Instead it feels like Nita is constantly walking the line between clown art and prostitution. She wants to skirt the corporate gigs and remain true to her artistic roots, but is pushed further and further into desperation.

"For all I knew, Jerrod was a murderer. But he was a man who laughed like a boy." 

 (Weird choice for a quote. -ed.)


NOG by Rudolph Wurlitzer

GLASSES BRANDON: 1/1
JJ: -
JESSE: 1/1

Jesse: NOG poses an important question: do you have to sacrifice some of your morality in order to attain inner peace? It's hard to say what NOG's answer is, but I think the answer is yes. And when you think about it, that's the way it should be. Morality and inner peace must each come at a price...and the price of each is each other. Man, I am HIGH right now!

Glasses Brandon:
This book was good. It was confusing and crazy and I did not understand it that much. But I really liked the journey it took me on. It was like he was passing in and out of consciousness as he traveled. And sometimes I felt like there was more than one protagonist. The rubber octopus was really cool and so was the crazy ping pong game. Worth reading. 

JJ:
This was a rough one.. I’ll chaulk this up to seeing the end of book club and not finished strong. (You are unfathomably bad at english. -ed.)

.....And that's all we read, folks!!! See you next time.

FINAL SCORES

GLASSES BRANDON'S BOOKS: 10
JJ'S BOOKS: 11
JESSE'S BOOKS: 14 (with four "perfect score" books!)

2 comments:

  1. Hey I read half of the copy of The Stench of Honolulu that Jesse gave me and it was really funny but then I remembered that I don't read books for pleasure and stopped.

    ReplyDelete