Literally Hitler

Book review of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.

Previously: Literally Marx

Instead of fading with the passage of time, fear of Nazis seems to be growing stronger. Mainstream media asserts that WWII is currently being re-fought by the Proud Boys and other multicultural larpers. Western governments, three-letter agencies and all the other elite bodies sing in unison: the Nazis are back and they’re on the brink of taking over! (Unless we suspend your Constitutional rights to fight them.)

With Islamist terror forgotten and Covid fading, they needed something new. Plus, a dualist religion like Woke needs its Devil and Trump is struggling to fill the role.

With this newfound fervour for discovering fascists under the bed, it’s timely to go back and read what Hitler was all about.

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New book! Review copies available

Tales From Captivity is a collection of fifteen short stories I wrote during lockdown.

A little bit horror, a little bit comedy, a little bit rock and roll.

Three stories have previously appeared in Terror House Magazine while the rest are unpublished.

Tales From Captivity is about 50K words long (110 pages).

Please email me if you are a reviewer (i.e. you have a blog, Twitter following etc.) and I’ll send you a PDF version.

nvladivostok [at] protonmail [dot] com

I plan to retire my old Yahoo account but I’m still checking it for now if you want to use that.

I can also provide review copies to trusted, long-time commenters and correspondents upon request so long as you pinky-swear to (a) leave an honest review at Amazon, goodreads or a place like that, and (b) let me know if you spot any typos. A few always sneak through, no matter what you do.

Official release in a week or two, inshallah.

A vote for the apocalypse

into the vortex e-book

Book review of Into the Vortex by Brian Eckert.

Alt-lit is like a rock band’s first album. Brimming with raw energy, uninhibited, ready to take on the world. The band’s second record gets professionally produced and is much more polished – critics usually proclaim the second or third album the best – and yet many fans will declare the initial, rough recording their favourite.

Alt novel Into the Vortex is more like a second album, written in effortless, self-assured prose with nary an awkward simile or clumsy wording as we expect when venturing away from Penguin.

I assumed this was not Brian’s first rodeo but was surprised to see that according to his website, this is his maiden book. Either he has precocious talent or a brilliant editor. Perhaps both.

[Edit: the website seems to have been suspended. Alt cred recognized.]

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Literally Marx

Book review of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

I knew Karl Marx was an unwashed, financially irresponsible, bourgeois twit who knocked up his unpaid servant and refused to acknowledge his son.

But what was communism all about?

My usual policy is to read the Big Books. However, I satisfied myself with summaries of Das Kapital rather than tackle the whole thing. Life is short and it didn’t seem worth my time.

Instead I had a look at the much shorter Communist Manifesto:

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All the way down

Review of Under the Nihil (pronounced like the river Nile), by Andy Nowicki.


Many saints are lunatics.

Catholic figures such as St Catherine of Siena seem driven by inner demons that combine with contemporary values. The same might be said of secular martyrs – soldiers who insist on doing ever more tours of duty in some unwinnable hellhole; Western doctors choosing to work in African war zones; animal shelter ladies. Julian Assange, Edward Snowden.

A normal person lives his life, tries to get a job, get married, raise kids and pay off the house. He might give twenty bucks to the Salvos at Christmas, help the odd beetle back onto its feet and consider himself a good sort. For the average person, it is enough to obey the law and not to be too obnoxious.

The protagonist of Under the Nihil decides at a young age to become a priest. He is troubled, socially awkward, unpopular. Religion gives him strength and direction. One day, he thinks, I’ll be a priest and everything will be okay. I’ll have a vocation helping others. He prays and waits for this release from his uneasy life.

This hit a nerve.

But after years of training he fails the final hurdle: the psychological test. The seminary kicks him out because he’s nuts.

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A hard road

6 to 6

Book review of 6 to 6 by Mather Schneider.


There are some careers that inevitably push their people towards misanthropy. Cops, criminal lawyers, prison guards. Social workers.

Taxi drivers.

Mather Schneider was a cab driver in Tucson, Arizona for 15 years. This is a collection of stories he collected along the way. A few make the spirit soar; most leave the spirit muddied and lying in the gutter. In a good way.

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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 the wifi-free jungle, 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

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

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

Brave New World and the Last Man

Book review of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley with reference to Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Frederick Nietzsche and 1984 by George Orwell.

In 1984, the world is ruled by a totalitarian, self-perpetuating system that brutalizes its own upper echelons most of all.  In Brave New World, Huxley paints a different picture of the future, one where human interactions are mandatorily shallow, where casual sex is expected, and where bad feelings have mostly been bred and conditioned out of the docile, fun-loving population.

It is too easy to make fun of science fiction that is already out of date.  There are anachronisms such as scientists taking notes with pencil and paper, manual laborers who are still required in large numbers, liftmen (elevator operators), and English women who are slim and attractive.

But good science fiction aims to comment, not to predict, because the latter is impossible.  Huxley envisions what some of his contemporaries might have considered an ideal society: one where the family has been done away with, children are born in test tubes and raised in nurseries, trained from infancy to enjoy their assigned roles in society, and kept happy throughout their lives by generously provided rations of the feel-good drug soma.

Bernard Marx (yes, I yawned too) doesn’t fit in.  He doesn’t want to be happy all the time.  He wants to Read More

Aesop

Book review of The Fables of Aesop.

Thousands of years later, these stories still have relevance.

To wit:

The Fox Who Had Lost His Tail

An ugly feminist was unconsciously so disgusted with herself that she tried to convince all the other girls to cut their hair short and dye it blue, get out of shape and get tattoos.  She said it was much more convenient that way and that they would receive much praise for their changes on Instagram.

The other girls said to her, “If you were not so repulsive yourself, you would not thus counsel us.”

The Old Man and Death

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War is a racket

Book review of War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier by General Smedley D. Butler

We open our scene in a seedy pub in a disreputable south-east Asian city.  I’m not the kind guy who just sits around and drinks all day but for two or three days that’s what I’ve been doing, justifying myself on the grounds that I’m meeting some interesting people, and that I feel like it.

This long-haired ginga yank comes in and we get talking, he’s ex-marine, was in Iraq II but eventually quit that life, moved abroad, got himself a foreign bride and some halfie kids and now lives on less that 15 grand a year out in the burbs.  Not a dirty old man like most of them there, just my age.  Maybe even a bit younger.

He seems pretty cool and I ask him what I’m wondering, which is: how do you feel about that whole war now, in hindsight?

He looks at his hands for a while Read More

America’s favourite anti-American, part 2

Book review of Prejudices by H.L. Menken

We previously looked at Menken’s withering attacks on US involvement in WWI, the lack of protest against wartime curbs on Constitutional freedoms, sheep-like political views and Prohibition.

In Prejudices, Menken goes into some of the underlying human traits that prompt such cruelty and stupidity.  On the over-the-top violence committed against olde-time sinners – “saloon keepers, prostitutes, . . . believers in the Darwinian hypothesis, . . . adulterers”, he says: Read More

America’s favourite anti-American, part 1

Book review of The American Credo by H.L. Menken.

There was a girl I knew from a perfectly bourgeois, conventional family in the suburbs.  The mother was a high-school teacher.  The father sold computers.  One day her middle-aged parents, after years of dreaming about it, set off on a trip to America to visit Disneyland.  Unfortunately, they were denied entry to the United States as the father was recorded in US security files as being ‘anti-American’.

It wasn’t a complete misunderstanding – turns out he’d Read More

The good news from Tacos

Book review of Finally, Some Good News by Delicious Tacos.

Have you ever had one of days when you thought your life would be improved by a nuclear holocaust?

Delicious Tacos, of the eponymous blog, has days like that, too.  So many, it seems, that he wrote a book about it.  He takes his real life, known to many of us intimately through his long-running blog, hurls some really big bombs into it, and sees what happens.

The results are quite impressive.

Mr. Tacos has a very strange problem with women – they only want him for Read More

Diary of a Madman review

Book review of Diary of a Madman, and other stories by Lu Xun.

At what point do you stop respecting a communist?  Some people set an upper age limit, say, twenty.  Others go by an educative event such as the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.  And some let it pass all the way up to 1991, arguing that it seemed like a good idea at the time and who knew how badly it would all go.

I’ve decided I’ll forgive Lu Xun his communism because Read More