The Hive by Charles Burns

The Hive is a dark and disturbing continuation of X'ed Out, recently published part 2 of Charles Burns' new trilogy definitely inspired by Hergé's Tintin – but with a Naked Lunch twist.

Given it's a very complex multilayer story (part 1 made no sense on its own, part 2 now start to form patterns of sense), I was left with no option but to re-read X'ed Out again – just to remember what it was about. Timelines cross – reality, imagination, hallucinations, present and past, all intersect and collide – and oh boy, now both X'ed Out and The Hive have become a thrilling read.

My problem – by the time part 3, called Sugar Skull, hits the shelves, I will have forgotten X'ed Out and The Hive entirely, and will have to re-read both again. It looks like a marketing scam, I would say, splitting a 300 page graphic novel into 3 thin installments to sell 3 books $20 a piece and not just one for $25. Oh well, I like it so much now that I couldn't care less. Finally, a great follow up to Burns's renowned Black Hole, well overdue.

P.S. … and if you didn't like my imprecise praise and want to read proper review of the books, here's a decent one. Enjoy


All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein

Ages since I read any science fiction stuff. Came upon this short story while wiki'ing Heinlein upon re-watching Starship Troopers recently. Plus, I guess it also popped up on some libertarian wires that flood my facebook feed.

After all, what's $1.25 paid to amazon for a story about a man who realized he is both his own father and his own mother? Well, go figure.


Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business by David Mamet

Mamet's non-fiction book on the movie business is one big piece of sheer cynicism – and intellectual superiority. Be prepared. A true cinema buff like myself, I was humbled by the vast amount of names and movies I have missed entirely or haven't seen at best. And many things I didn't know – well, I don't know some of them still.

The book is smart, but it ain't an easy ride. When you have every line as a punch line, I tend to miss a few punches. Like some say, your brain is a muscle, and here you are forced to train it.

The most interesting part – the section on Genre. You can read all the Cinema Scope, Sight & Sound, Искусство Кино, etc etc – but this bit is obligatory reading for all the movie zombies like me. You could've skipped War and Piece at school (like I did, miraculously), but you mustn't miss this.

If the shark makes us say “ooh”, it has earned our few dollars. If the filmmaker can make us say “ooh” of a shot of the empty water, give him his private plane.

The observed rule in Hollywood is: “Feel free to treat everyone like scum, for if the desire something from you, they'll just have to put up with it, and should they rise to wealth and power, any past civility shown towards them will either be forgotten or remembered as some aberrant and contemptible display of weakness.”


Why I Left Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith

Not a mind blowing book for sure, but maybe a worthwhile, I dunno, bathroom read or something. A few observations, though.

A, the book is 11 chapters long, and the first 10 is all [in high pitched voice] “I love you, Goldman Sachs, I love you”, over and over again. Agree with dealbreaker, sometimes it seemed as if he wanted the firm to turn to him and say “I'm so sorry, Greg, old buddy”, hug him and then elect him partner or CEO or something.

B, most of it is written with an attitude as if he had not outgrown his junior banker excitement – strange to hear it from an overdue VP/ED who worked 11 years in the industry – and especially on GS trading floor, for Christ's sake – would be more acceptable for an analyst or associate to still trumpet all those “wow's” sooo loud and clear. Looks to me GS never promoted the guy for a reason.

C, chapter 11, “the muppets” chapter (the word itself used less than a dozen times), is way too idealistic for my taste. Maybe I am far too cynical (indeed), but why would you run your firm over in the press like that and bury your career along with it? I don't want to, but I kinda buy into Goldman's case that there are two versions to this tale.

Overall, a quick read – not anywhere as good and exciting as The Accidental Investment Banker, but it has its laughs. Roger out.