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New York, New York, United States
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Fraction of the Whole

A Fraction of the Whole is, in essence, the quirky saga of Martin Dean and his son Jasper. Martin is a professed misanthrope, railing against anything and everything, but especially against the institution that is society. He has serious hang-ups about his brother Terry, who was revered by the general public as first a sports star and then an infamous murderer. Martin's gripes with life are passed down to his son Jasper who grows up struggling to be his own person, but finding it basically impossible with his father's constant diatribes poisoning his independent thought.

Martin's unusual life takes him from the Australian bush, to languid Paris, to a labyrinth of his own making and to sweltering Thailand. Peppered in the midst of these journeys are both Martin's and Jasper's acute and often side-splittingly hilarious view on life.

A few of my favorites:

"I have nothing against children, I just wouldn't trust one not to giggle if I accidentally stepped on a land mine"

"Her mask was a weave of tattered shreds torn from all the beautiful parts of herself."

"loneliness..how it's like the slow squeeze of testicles by a hand that's just been in a refrigerator."

"Play the game of life without trying to work out the rules...and above all, bless every single minute of this silly season in hell"

I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. Delightfully strange and so damned funny. The characters leap out of the pages with their varied idiosyncracies. (My only quibble is that it's tough to differentiate between Martin's voice and Jasper's. Although I suppose that's Toltz's point.)

And while I'm not a misanthrope (at least not all the time), I felt an unholy glee reading through the many anti-everything tirades scattered throughout the novel. What a refreshing read!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Make Love

it's repetitive, but it's the simplicity that gets me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Stand

In 1990, nearly 99% of the world's population is wiped out by the accidental release of a U.S. govt-created plague. Called Captain Trips by many, and Superflu by others, millions of people die horribly, in a state of delirium and fear, choking on their own mucus. However, about 1% of the population is not affected. These people are left to rebuild the shattered remains of their world. Half are compelled to follow their very vivid dreams to Boulder, and the other half...their nightmares to the dark man in Vegas.

The Stand rates as one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. To me, this novel is Stephen King's most courageous dive into the study of sociology and parapyschology. I am most fascinated by how vividly he outlined the post-apocalyptic world. I mean, think about it, money no longer matters...education, status, fashion. All of what we hold so dear to us now, is basically moot. Everyone gets the opportunity to start fresh. Of course, humans being humans...many will make the same mistakes, even after being forced to learn such a catastrophic lesson.

What also intrigued me was how quickly the Dark Man's society was set up again. They had water, electricity running, even the beginnings of a school system. As Glen Bateman so adequately put it, many techies would be drawn to the dark man's side...they crave order and structure, perhaps even at the cost of their freedom and peace of mind.

However, on Mother Abagail's side, while people felt (relatively) safe, organizationally, there was almost total chaos. Even with the institution of the governing board (or perhaps because of?) it took much longer for this group to get rolling. As Bateman said again, Mother Abagail's side consisted mostly of professors, writers, free-thinkers. In truth, these kinds of people are most useless in the direct aftermath of an apocalypse.

These are just a few of the points I found most fascinating with this novel. The parapyschology aspect I enjoyed, but it's the sociological implications that I found to be much more unsettling. And to me, a great novel is one that is completely disarming.