Lady writers

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Breathtakingly cheeky book review of several books I have mostly not finished, including To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and Tirra Lirra by Jessica Anderson.

 

I looked at several ‘greatest books’ compilations in order to get a stack of stuff to read in YouTubeLess Africa, and Virginia Woolf’s name kept popping up.

Orright, orright, says I, and I got a collection of her books for a buck.

The most highly recommended one was To the Lighthouse, so I started there.

I’m about a quarter of the way through and Read More

Dirty Genji

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Book review of The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.

There was once an article in Return of Kings.  I cannot remember the exact theme of it, and nor can anyone else, because it contained a single throwaway line that completely distracted everybody from the point and was the sole topic of discussion in the comments.  The author had casually claimed that women with large dogs actually root them.  With an assertion like that, any sensible arguments that may have been made in the article were immediately forgotten in the mayhem that ensued.

For me, The Tale of Genji was like that.  The Prince, Genji, did many things – he seduced princesses, sometimes rather forcefully, won favour with the Emperor, was exiled by the new Emperor, was rehabilitated – but all of it kind of pales into insignificance when we consider that one thing that he did.

Reading other reviews, it seems that I’m the only one who’s so distracted by it.  Other, more mature readers are able to accept that Read More

Booze, bombs and booty

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Book review of My Life as a Mexican Pirate: A True Story by Mark Zolo.

Mark Zolo always took things a bit too far.  Back in the day I would check his site, Naughty Nomad, for its city reports before taking on a new international gig.  I liked to know beforehand whether dating would be possible there, and whether this would get my head cut off.

I did minimum two year contracts.  It’s a factor.  Don’t come for me.

But when I went on a week-long trip somewhere, I really could not be bothered trying to pick up girls and find a place to take them in a hostel dormitory.  The one time I went to Russia (Saik!  I’m not Russian), I was far more interested in hiking and seeing historical sites than bedding local women.  Between finding a place to stay, avoiding pros, and bringing along clothes suitable for a nightspot, it didn’t seem like it was worth it.

To Mark, it is always worth it.

For me, [traveling alone] meant doing just enough sight-seeing to stave off guilt, then bar hopping and chasing tail.

The places he’s been and the things he’s done to experience danger and pick up hoochimamas are astonishing.  As a result, this is the most bizarre and extreme travel book you’ll ever read.

I remember back in the day, he Read More

It’s finished!

I’m offering free review copies of my new e-book to bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers etc.  If interested, PM me your Kindle email address.

Wot dat?
You don’t need an actual Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for free on your phone or device.

 

 

 

Pssst, it’s available for sale already, on soft release.  I’m gunna spruik the living bollocks out of it soon, but for now, I suggest you check the free preview to see if it’s what you’re looking for.

Friend or foe? The strange case of J.M. Coetzee

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Book review of Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, with reference to other books by him and some by Dostoevsky.

I have always felt that I ought to like Coetzee.  Ever since I was in uni and the tutor pointed out that one bit in Foe where it seems like Character 1 is knocking on Character 2’s door but if you read carefully it’s the other way around, I’ve had an admiration for linguists like savage Papuans have for sorcerers.  This led me to take Noam Chomsky seriously for too long.

But I didn’t actually trouble myself to Read More

Intellectuals are bad, mmkay?

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Book review of Intellectuals, by Paul Johnson.

There are very few books that I have read twice.  One was The Lord of the Rings, which I read when I was eight and later when I was fifteen and actually understood it.  The only other I can remember off the top of my head is this one.  I happened to look something up for some reason, got distracted by the chapter on Sartre, and ended up reading the whole thing again.  The antics of this intellectual crowd are highly entertaining.  My favourite was the list of drunken injuries that befell Hemmingway, which stretches over three or four mirthful pages.

I thought about inserting here a check-table of intellectuals and their sins but concluded it would be too much work and you wouldn’t be that impressed anyway.  So instead I will Read More

Lockdown survival guide 5: reading material

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Part 1          Part 2          Part 3         Part 4

It’s come to this: people are looking for books to read.

This is my second collection of random, short book reviews.  The first can be found here.

These are books that I liked, but didn’t have enough to say about to justify a whole review post about them.  Hope you find something enticing.

Poor Folk, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This is the first novel by Dos.  It is a series of Read More

The thoughts of an emperor

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Book review of Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.

Poor old Marcki-poo.  High-born and bookish, he wanted nothing more than to go to Athens and study philosophy.  But duty called him to other things: in the age of the Five Good Emperors, starting with Hadrian, each new one was chosen for his virtues rather than because he was the son of the old one – though none of the previous four had had sons, so that was easily done.  And Marcus Aurelius felt the unwanted tap on the shoulder.

He insisted, against the wishes of the elite, that his Read More

Great poems for men, part 11

James Shirley (1596-1666) was certainly serious about this one when he wrote of the futility of pursuing empire when we all end up in the ground, anyway.  And then the colonized people will winge and whine at you for CENTURIES, even if you wiped out cannibalism (PNG, Fiji etc.), widow sacrifice (India) or people (Ireland).  Surely it’s not worth the trouble.  Seriously.

It is interesting that Shirley wrote this just before Read More

Random reviews – Ibsen, Vox Day, Kipling, Lovecraft, Aaron Clarey and more

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[Written in Africa]

I probably like writing reviews more than you like reading them.  For me, it’s a way of getting my thoughts straight about what I read and consolidating in my memory whatever is most significant.  It is not an assessment of how good a book is; if it were rubbish I would not bother writing about it at all.  Rather, it is just whatever thoughts were inspired by it.  This is why I often get sidetracked and end up talking about that girl with cerebral palsy who I totally failed to pick up and who was probably a lesbian anyway, or that metre-long shit I once did in the bathroom of an Indian restaurant in Shinjuku.

The problem is, I read a lot of good books – indeed, some outstanding and moving books – and yet I have nothing much to say about them.  I could sum up my thoughts in a paragraph, so I haven’t bothered writing a review.

Now that I’m just finishing up the biggest reading period of my life, I feel like these books deserve some sort of recognition here at the People’s.

So here we go: my ultra-brief assessments of other good books I’ve read:

 

The Complete Works of Ibsen

The plays are Read More

Great poems for men, part 9

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Book review of Delphi Poetry Anthology.

I promised very old English poems.  Such poems ye shall have.

In fact, we shall begin by going all the way back to anonymous, traditional ballads, apparently Scottish.

In the following story, Lord William tries to ride off with Douglas’ dirty slut of a daughter, so Douglas and his seven sons go out to meet him in battle.   William is injured, the couple escape and spend just one night together.  By midnight he’s dead and by the next day she is, too.  They bury William and a brier grows over his grave.  And then . . .

Read More

Great poems for men, part 8

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Book review of Delphi Poetry Anthology

In many respects, the twentieth century was not a very nice one.  Especially the first half.  While there were remarkable developments in diverse fields, historians will one day sum up that part of our past as, to use the historiographic jargon, ‘a fucking bloodbath’.

And so we come to Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), whose lifespan tells you all you need to know.

I quoted this one in an earlier post about Armistice Day, 2018:

Read More

Great poems for men, part 5

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Book review of Delphi Poetry Anthology: The World’s Greatest Poems

Tennyson, you say?  Oh, him.  I had to memorize a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) once in high school, and I’ve had a distaste for romantic poets bemoaning the untimely TB deaths of hot young hoochimammas ever since.  Here’s a snippet, in case you’re interested: Read More

Great poems for men, part 4

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Book review of Delphi Poetry Anthology: The World’s Greatest Poems

What a journey it has been!  And we’re not nearly done yet.

I’ve learned to appreciate the poetry that has no obvious meaning.  You could go looking for it, if you wanted to, or you could just enjoy it without trying to figure it out, as you would instrumental music.

And so we come to John Keats (1795-1821, the poor fellow did not fare well): Read More

Great poems for men, part 3

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Book review of Delphi Poetry Anthology: The World’s Greatest Poems

Lord Byron (1788-1824) is exactly the kind of man I ought to abhor, and his poems are exactly those I ought to despise.  Look at him!  A fat, aristocratic twit who never did a real day’s work in his life, porked his host’s wife, wrote lovelorn poems, thought his poetic ideas could save the world and then he went off to liberate Greece from the Turks because Euripides came from there or something and he sickened and died before he even got to fight.

Lame.

But here I am, writing about him.  Because he is one of the best, and even when writing about the most maudlin of topics he draws words as from a pallet, words that overcome the mind and reach straight for the heart.

I don’t want to like him!  I don’t want to like his poems.  But I love them. Read More