Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Ridiculous Selves

Earth (The Book) by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show
238 pages
published by Grand Central

If you have read America The Book, you know what to expect heading into Earth The Book. And that's not a bad thing, because America was hilarious and Earth doesn't disappoint. Not as good as America, but very very good.

"For society to flourish, it would take work. So what was work? Tasks we performed for compensation in the service of an employer, be it individual or corporate entity. And yes, it was as exciting as it sounds. We didn't want to work. In fact, that's about as good a definition of "work" as you could have-- 'that which we didn't want to do, but had to, if we didn't want to eat dirt.' Of course, some workers attacked their jobs with passion and creativity. These people were known as brown-nosing jagoffs." pg.128

"We relied on a system of small regular bribes to keep certain sorts of transactions moving smoothly. Tipping 15-20% of the bill encouraged servers to treat customers with something milder than disdain. Tipping was both an acknowledgment of servers' underpayment by management, and a handy excuse for management to continue underpaying them." pg.133

"The only thing that increased more rapidly than the speed of new technology was the speed with which we became irritated at its now relative slowness. Eventually, we developed the capacity to be instantaneously disappointed. This was the final triumph of faster." pg.182

"If necessity was the mother of invention, then laziness was its drunken stepfather. Man created many contraptions to free up as much of his time as possible. This helped us achieve our life's greatest goal: doing nothing." pg.183

"As confident as the human species was that after death, a Higher Power awaited us in an eternal utopia filled with everyone we've ever known and/or virgins, one thing we all feared was death. And although we never quite succeeded in conquering the Grim Reaper, we did manage to confuse and delay him, allowing many of us to enjoy up to twenty extra years of feeble dependence." pg.188

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DeLillo Gets A Fresh Coat of Paint From Picador

In March 2011, Don DeLillo's novels will be re-released with spiffy new covers. Here's a few, just to give you an idea:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Death is the Mother of Beauty

Angels by Denis Johnson
209 pages
published by Harper Perennial

I'm going to devote almost this entire review to Johnson's really just beautiful prose. This is Johnson's first novel and while it took a while to get going, the last half of the narrative (where one character is an mental institution, the other on death row awaiting the gas chamber) is probably the best stuff I've read in a long time.

"She snuck over to Sarah's to borrow the gun and there he was, sneaking home, out of Sarah's trailer with the door creaking so loud in the quiet she took it for herself, screeching, Bill, and he saw, and she saw, and Sarah in the doorway with her panties saw, so everyone knew that everyone else knew what was what with who." pg.15

"Freed of negative energies, he moved easily toward solutions." pg.89

"He felt like a grownup in a room full of children playing with toy cars. To get them to see who he was involved tearing them out of a tiny exclusive world of their own creation." pg.162

"He knew a rush in his veins--he felt their need baked into these walls--and he wanted to make himself a sacrifice and his death payment for something more than his stupid mistakes. If Brian could promise him he'd make the crucial difference for somebody, he would walk through the door and be slaughtered here and now." pg.174

"He couldn't believe he'd actually been asleep. All night he had lain with the Unmade, with God, the incredible darkness, the huge blue mouth of love. I'm going to be turned into space. This is the hour of my death." pg.204

Chris Ware is One of The Greatest Artists Alive

Acme Novelty Library #20 by Chris Ware
72 pages
published by Drawn and Quarterly

Another addition to the world of Rusty Brown! This time we learn about Jordan Lint. Lint was introduced in the first Rusty Brown volume as a school bully.

This new story line follows Lint from birth to death, with each page representing a specific time in his life. The narrative and art work also represent each developmental, with the first few pages visually representing the world as a baby would see it and then as a toddler, a small child, a pre-teen, a teenager, etc. As the story progresses, the artwork and narrative become more and more complex, a la Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by Joyce.

Ware pushed himself to experiment a little with this work and it worked out beautifully. If you have never had the pleasure of reading Chris Ware, you better get started.