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I'm not a huge sci-fi fan when it comes to books but one of my favorites has always been 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card. It's commonly considered the greatest science fiction novel ever written.

Even if you're not into science fiction this is a tremendous novel. Definitely worth a read.

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there's a frog in my snake oil
I'm not a huge sci-fi fan when it comes to books but one of my favorites has always been 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card.
I loved this when I read it as a teen. Found out recently it's actually on the Marine Corps pro reading program.

Is that where you first read it Gunny? There's an interesting discussion in the blog post about whether people are drawing 'maneuverist' or 'attritionist' lessons from it. (Which I read as field responsive vs top down control approaches)

I definitely liked both aspects in the book, in terms of enjoyable fiction (IE both the weird personalised dreamlike computer game he played, to make him more self-reliant etc, and the zero-G strategy games turning into sprawling attempts to oversee whole battleplans)
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Virtual Reality chatter on a movie site? Got endless amounts of it here. Reviews over here





The Devil's Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood by Julie Salamon.

Detailed behind-the-scenes about DePalma's adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel that covers pre-production through the fallout over its release. I think my appreciation of most movies would benefit from this sort of critical scrutiny that rarely appears to happen - even for movies that didn't bomb at the box office.

The King of Chess by Ah Cheng

Pretty good first novella by an important Cultural Revolution-generation Mainland author. It was of further interest to me because it's been adapted to film at least twice, the latter of which I saw recently. That adaptation -- which was a Hong Kong production -- adds a large frame story set in late-80s Taipei and changes the narrator from one of the educated youths sent to labor in rural Yunnan during the Revolution, to a sort of Cultural Revolution tourist from Taiwan who somehow accompanied his relative into Southern China. I suspect this was to connect or double the experiences of the Chinese in the novella with with those of their analogous cohorts in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and to situate it temporally, but it seems like a really odd concept to me.

The movie is also much more melodramatic than the book, which I think handles the tension between nostalgia and detached irony more-effectively.

The other day I watched The Bird People of China, which is a very different movie about semi-willing tourists (this time Japanese) cast adrift in Yunnan. That movie seems to exploit a more-conventionally exotic, mythological portrayal of an indigenous culture another step removed from the grimy "official Chinese" towns. Just another set of connections to keep in mind when I watch the first (Chinese) adaptation of The King of Chess.



Black Alice by Thom Demijohn (Thomas M. Disch and John Sladek)

Very strange, creepy later civil rights-era (written in the late 60s) thriller about a seedy man who stages the abduction of his schizophrenic daughter, has her skin dyed black and imprisons her in a mixed-ethnicity brothel in Norfolk VA (that caters to local frats and Klansmen). All part of a largely-incompetent scheme to embezzle money from the girl's trust fund.

There's a good deal of misanthropic humor to be taken, especially from the father's pompous internal monologues, comparing himself to Nietzsche as well as famous "heroic criminal masterminds" such as Macbeth without even a hint of self-awareness.

The title is a reference to Alice in Wonderland and how Alice enters a looking-glass world by taking a pill that turns her black. There are actually multiple nests here in that the girl already has her own inner worlds as a child with multiple personalities, and much of her insanity was also engineered by her father, though I actually thought Alice's schizophrenia was the least compelling and mysterious device in the novel.



I loved this when I read it as a teen. Found out recently it's actually on the Marine Corps pro reading program.

Is that where you first read it Gunny?
I read it while in the Corps (early 90s) but not on any reading program.

Here's another one.

'Killing Pablo' by Mark Bowden (author of Black Hawk Down).

This is an excellent read detailing the American and Columbian efforts to capture Pablo Escobar. There's a movie by the same name coming out next year.




Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
Recently finished The Secret History by Donna Tartt and LOVED it. Really great characters, fascinating situation and interesting themes. She's sifting through the notion of degrees of evil and the perception of it, but in a very matter of fact, non-judgemental approach. Read the whole last third of it in one go.

Just about to start her other novel The Little Friend.
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Review: Cabin in the Woods 8/10



there's a frog in my snake oil


Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Based around the real WW2 story of two 'amatuer' Berlin rebels, who protested through postcards, this is a touching take on 'the banality of good'. The vibe of the time is mainly portrayed through a supporting cast of jobsworth detectives, gossiping thieves, stalwart wives, dreaming & dastardly youths, and on. It makes for a teeming picture of a society devouring itself, yet still held up by constructs of fear, and various forms of formidable willpower.

You do find yourself questioning how much of the book is about Fallada's own conscience tho (given that he 'ran away to the country', as another character does, and ultimately had the chance to flee all together, but chose to stay). The argument that even rebellions doomed to failure are worthy for asserting superior morals seems valid, but perhaps loses something when you feel he's trying to shore up his own anaemic attempts to stand up to the Nazi machine.

On the whole, even if you feel he's probably invented some of the specifics he portrays, in this book based on research & experience but rushed out in 24 days towards the end of his harrowed life, it still has a tendency to stay with you. Like a smack round the head, that leaves something very much like the truth ringing in your ears.

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Today is World Book Day and i will be mostly reading this



as i am at work

followed by something more relaxing when i get home
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i'm SUPER GOOD at Jewel karaoke
Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery


Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton


The Cardturner by Louis Sachar


Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Sputnick Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami


Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother by Amy Chua reading now



I've finished and nearly finished several books since my last post.

King Lear Extremely moving and complex play and one of the all time classics of English-language Literature. It's exceedingly hard to briefly characterize many of Shakespeare's plays because ambiguities abound (and sometimes even identifying the bigger ambiguities is ambiguous) but everyone should read at least this and Hamlet more than once.

Cinema, Censorship and the State by Nagisa Oshima. Collection of essays by the venerable iconoclast of Japanese Cinema. If you're interested in Oshima or just in Japanese films of the 60s and 70s this book should be worthwhile, otherwise, probably not. There are a lot of detailed and interesting (mostly political and literary) footnotes as well.

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez Reverte. Erudite mystery involving modern art historians and an antisocial chess master's efforts to decode a renaissance painting and solve the murders connected to it. Ambitious but kind of silly, though it is fun to find a big nod to Dressed to Kill hiding out.

More soon.



A system of cells interlinked
Discipline and Punish - Michel Foucault

I find his writing to be pretty stilted, but that doesn't matter, as this book is damn interesting. It covers Foucault's views on Normalization in Western culture. I just wish his writing wasn't so dry.


Mediated : How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in it
- Thomas de Zengotita

This guy slides to the other end of the spectrum when compared to Foucault, in that his writing is a bit too casual and matter-of-fact. Meanwhile, this Harper's Magazine regular stuffs the pages with interesting ideas about the different levels of representational reality in which we reside in today's society.
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Is white trash beautiful
Here is a list of a few novels that I love

A Scanner Darkly 1977 Philip K Dick 5/5 . This novel is 10 times better then the film.


Fall on Your Knees Ann-Marie Macdonald 1997. 5/5


Middlesex 2002 Jeffrey Eugenides 5/5 This novel won The Pulitzer prize and it is a wonderful read.


Anita Blake series 1993 -2010 5/5 A fun paranormal romance series.



Really considering re-reading my favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird which i have had since i was 12. Its falling apart but i love it



But a lot more worn out than that picture!



Partway through several books right now, I think. Gonna try to finish a few of them soon. I've actually got quite a few lined up for later this year that I'm very anxious to start.
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The Adventure Starts Here!
I've always got several books on the go, but now I'm making an effort to get through them. I'm about 150 pages into Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and I'm loving it, aside from the fact that I'm reading an actual physical paperback book instead of a Kindle edition. (I already owned the book and they want nearly ten bucks for the e-book formats. No thanks.) Weird to be holding open an actual book for a change, and to be unable to change the font size....



After this I'll be finishing up David McCullough's John Adams ... then Chip Hill's The Fire Watcher. Then Austin Camacho's Blood and Bone.

Then, back to Crime and Punishment to finish it off. Weird mix of books, now that I look at it all in one post.