stories by kelly link
Archive for April 19th, 2005
Besides new novels from Eco and Pamuk, what else looks interesting on the horizon?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Looks like another literary historio-conspiracy fest. But this one involves Vlad Tepes, the Impaler. I’ll probably buy it. From the publisher:
In this riveting debut of breathtaking scope, a young girl discovers her father’s darkest secret and embarks on a harrowing journey across Europe to complete the quest he never could — to find history’s most legendary fiend: Dracula. When a motherless American girl living in Europe finds a medieval book and a package of letters, all addressed ominously to “My dear and unfortunate successor…” she begins to unravel a thread that leads back to her father’s past, his mentor’s career, and an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright: a hunt that nearly brought her father to ruin and may have claimed the life of his adviser and dear friend, history professor Bartholomew Rossi. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula, have to do with the 20th century? Is it possible that Dracula has lived on in the modern world? And why have a select few historians risked reputation, sanity, and even their lives to learn the answer?
My answer to those questions: Madam, I do not know.
New Stuff from Authors I’m not crazy about:
None of them are bad writers, I’m just not a fan. People love these guys, so all of these should be big sellers.
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. He’s so “crazy”. His books are so “odd”. Palaniuk has a HUGE cult following and a lot of casual fans thanks to Fight Club. Somehow I missed the boat…From Booklist:
In this over-the-top gore fest from Palahniuk (Fight Club, 1996; Lullaby, 2002), a group of aspiring writers move into a locked, windowless theater to write their masterpieces under the guidance of a (seemingly) old man. The story of their hellacious retreat-kidnapping is interspersed with poems about the various writers and stories by them. Convinced that they will one day sell the story of their dystopian nightmare for millions, the writers seek out suffering to make their lives saleable: they starve themselves, lop off body parts, cannibalize, and so on. The stories here vaguely resemble ghost stories, but rather than being scary, they’re just disgusting. Sex dolls shaped like children, a fetus aborted by Marilyn Monroe, a pool intake sucking out a man’s colon–you get the picture. There’s a point to the madness–Palahniuk is exploring our yearning for suffering and our newfound desire to make our misery marketable. The allegory is sometimes very clever and pitch-black funny. But Haunted provokes a lot more nausea and eye rolls than deep thoughts.
Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis. I got nothin’ by way of a review/teaser….Except this, pulled from a Bret Easton Ellis (henceforth, BEE) ‘celeblog’, whatever the hell that is:
There’s nothing old-fashioned about this story, and BEE is not playing a reformed version of himself, whatever that means. He is the main character and the first 30 pages or so is nothing but biographical information on him, and then the actual story begins where the bio leaves off. The story takes us on a supernatural haunted house joyride with a disconnected upper class family and a little girl’s extremely creepy stuffed animal. Bateman makes a return, and Bret the narrator speaks in a post-Fight Club narration of an unsolved mystery. This feels very different than his other novels and is much more mature, even bittersweet by the touching end. Finishing the last page reminds me again that I wish BEE would write faster. Getting material this good so infrequently is blessing and a curse. I’m going to be letting this one settle for a while.
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice. Is Anne Rice tackling Jesus now? That sound you heard was my howl of despair. Goth chicks everywhere will LOVE this. Then they will have their name changed to “Rzyyleh D’Sabatanu” and bitch about cats and dogs not being “in the bible”.
New Stuff from authors I like:
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. In all honesty, I will probably not read this one. Sounds too Hollywood for me. Well, I say let the old man cash in. He can rest on Blood Meridian for the rest of his life. From the nice folks over at cormacmccarthy.com:
Set along a bloody frontier in our own time, this is Cormac McCarthyâ€™s first novel since Cities of the Plain completed his acclaimed, bestselling Border Trilogy.
Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and over two million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victimâ€™s burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes that Moss and his young wife are in desperate need of protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem. The pursuit stretches along and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to answer what one asks another: How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?
A harrowing story of a war society wages on itself, an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, and a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.
i decided to put together a ’90s comp for some friends at work for no good reason. It’s not nearly interesting enough to blog about, as i picked some obvious radio fare, just to entertain them, like photos of me with long hair.
However, one song that i just felt that i had to have on there was the Tigerbomb version of “My Valuable Hunting Knife”. I just downloaded it off someone a few minutes ago.
I truly believed that whole albums full of slickly produced songs by GbV would give me endless delight.
I’ve been trying to cobble together a post about Bondurant’s The Third Translation for days now. I read the book last week, after picking it up for next to nothing (combining the regular discount with my employee discount.) I knew that it fell into the post-Da Vinci Code glut on books trying to mine the audience for a somewhat historical conspiracy thriller, but with the nod to Umberto Eco in the introductory epigram, and the blurb from Adam Johnson, it felt worth giving it a chance.
It’s not as if i expected Eco, but it turned out to be a lighter read than i expected. Every comment i come up with sounded defensive, because i did like the book after all. I just didn’t want to elevate it more than it deserved. It felt unfair to clobber Rule of Four with The Third Translation, because i knew it was a different kind of book. I decided to give The Geographer’s Library a shot, just to see how many knockoffs of a literay take on a conspiracy thriller can be cranked out. I made it through two chapters at work last night, but no more. It’s so painfully selfconscious that… i dunno… i want to burn down some liberal arts universities, to drive the students out into the wilderness to gnaw at roots and suck out the eyes of cold fish.
The Third Translation is not really of that genre. That Adam Johnson blurb was a giveaway, but i kept trying to stick Bondurant’s book back into the Da Vinci Code cash-in niche. The book’s definitely being marketed that way, as we have a sizable stack of that title featured in a few places, but it doesn’t deserve this fate. Bondruant should have stuck somewhere out of the way so that he could be nurtured instead shoehorned into a genre that he doesn’t belong in.
The Third Translation is more like Parasites Like Us than The Da Vinci Code obviously. It’s more about the nature of humanity than an escapist adventure or a study of a character. I like these pop archaeology books that take on modern man as a way station between the past and the future, flirting with concepts of transience, permanence, mortality, and the divine. Johnson’s book mined the vein of Vonnegut black satire, but Bondurant crafted his in the guise of a small thriller. I’m sorry that he chose now to attempt such a stunt, as he’s doomed himself. No matter how many interesting details he weaves into the story about the real Stela of Pesar, the evolution of Egyptian religion, Abu Simbel, or the Aswan High Dam, it isn’t going to match the church-challenging controversy of a Jesus who is husband and father. The danger never seems too real, except for one moment when it seems that the whole story is about the go topsy-turvy, then changes its mind to go back to a personal breakthrough for the protagonist, which is an disjointed followup. Leaving that previous episode unresolved is fine, but seemingly ignoring it is extremely irritating.
Anyway, it’s a first novel. Please don’t mistake my fondness for the book for a slathering five star review. Some of the characters are cliched. Some of their actions are awkward. I don’t mind that. Bondurant’s heart was in the right place, as the book is not really aping the trend it’s being marketed for. Admittedly, it throws up its hands in what i believe is defeat in making a great cosmic mystery into a Chop Wood, Carry Water acceptance conclusion. i cannot fully accept a story of one who looks into an abyss of time coming away warmly transformed, but that’s what he’s trying to communicate with the Third Translation (the actual meaning of that translation, not the book) anyway. It’s a nice enough debut, better suited for light pop lit than genre pulp, but not cosmic transformative stuff either. I’ve read heavier comic books (obviously.)
This absurdly generous guy who i’ve been getting this Catalan psych-folk from told me that if i enjoyed Musica Dispersa and Jaume Sisa, then Pau Riba would be the master. I dunno… It’s nice, in fact, it might be great, but because i’m into the psychedelic whimsy of those other two bands, Pau Riba seems more like folk-rock than psych-folk. Where before i heard some resonance between the Catalan language psych-folk movement and Brazil’s Tropicalia, now Dioptria makes me think that i’m just trying to lump together Latin language music for no good reason.
Pau Riba “CanÃ§Ã³ 7a en Colors” It sounds great, and the melody is one not only i can remember, but it follows me around for hours like a trail of smoke. It’s my favorite song from Riba’s Dioptria right now, a long, winding acoustic guitar epic, the closest song to the psych-folk i heard in the other albums.
I’m now looking for his collaborations with Daevid Allen, which are bound to show off more…. ahem…. whimsy. (sorry.)