Blankets by Craig Thompson

An honest and somewhat clumsy autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson, his first major success, a thick 9-part book about growing up in snowy rural Minnesota, about young boy’s religious acceptance, god fearing reverence, affection, love, and subsequent denial of god, and on finally moving on.

While Blankets is a critically acclaimed masterpiece of modern comic book storytelling, I remain a much bigger fan of Thompson’s next story called Habibi, a much harsher tale of love, poverty, almost medieval violence and bigotry. To me, Blankets vs Habibi is a good US indie flick vs a major groundbreaking Scorsese biopic.


Dead Men’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh

Almost sixty now, Irvine Welsh still rocks my world and gets me glued to the pages like he used to 25 years back or so, even now, with yet another book on Rents, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie. It’s officially the fifth in the series, after Trainspotting, Porno, Skagboys and Begbie’s very own The Blade Artist, but really like the twelfth, if you count the rest of his Edinburgh novels like Glue, Filth, A Decent Ride and the rest.

Traveling between Miami and Scotland, Welsh carefully places his characters on the same routine that he undergoes himself, red-eye flights back and forth, a huge divide between sunny and well fed Florida and a drizzling damp and bevvied up brawly Leith.

Everyone’s now older, somewhat tired and weary, yet Hibs, ching, lassies, parties, and chapter after chapter of this unique Welsh-invented brute Scottish language you first learn, get accustomed to, and only later appreciate. The part on Scottish Cup final of 2016 made me open up YouTube and watch Sunshine on Leith sung by the stadium after a major mash up in the pitch.

I dream that one day I re-read most of Welsh’s books in a TV-show-like binge kinda way, as I am tired of not remembering certain parts of previous books that the old master carefully cross-refs here – without it I’m often clueless, as my memory fails.


The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I have a confession to make, I’m a first time reader of Julian Barnes, bought this book by its cover (well, I clearly knew who Barnes was), yet I had no clue what and who it is was about – and I was so friggin’ impressed. This is likely the best book I’ve read recently, and by far.

A novelized biographical story about Dmitry Shostakovich, a small time Greek tragedy delivered in three acts, pondering on the relations with the Power and its great carnivorous Helmsman Iosif Vissarionovich, then with the Cornbob vegetarian Nikita Sergeevich, on cowardice, internal insecurity, irony, fear, self-reprimand, and despair by one of the most revered Soviet composers of the past century.

Beautifully written, well composed, and definitely built to withstand the grinding noise of time. I’m impressed.


Манарага Владимира Сорокина

Не самая мощная книга Сорокина, но все ж ничего, эдакий короткий типический для автора фантасмагорический экзерсис на тему конца литературы, Fahrenheit 451, рукописи горят и все такое. Вспышки и всполохи тревожного будущего. Тьфу-тьфу-тьфу, лишь бы большинство его предсказаний не сбылось, ох.

Конец оживляет, отличный, да. Now, where are my fleas?

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В полночь самолет ждет дозаправка в Санкт-Петербурге, красивом городе, построенном царем Петром на костях русских крестьян. Блоха сообщает, что крестьян в то время целыми деревнями сгоняли, вываривали в огромных котлах, кости дробили, мололи в муку, добавляли образовавшийся во время варки клей, гальку и получали так называемый русский бетон. Из этих бетонных блоков сложен фундамент Санкт-Петербурга. И надо сказать, город стоит до сих пор.

 


Millennium People. A Novel by J.G.Ballard

A poet of the perverse, sad, twisted and deranged, the late J.G. Ballard is a genius – well, in my scorecard he is. This post-millennium and even post 9/11 Chelsea suburban anarchy novel is a gulp of fresh air, sharp, thought-provoking, full of perennial wisdom quotes.

Chelsea Marina burns, as its middle class residents of law abiding salariat of lawyers, doctors, accountants and university professors gradually turn into radical arsonists, gallery bombmakers and indiscriminate murderers. Finding the meaning of life in acts of meaningless violence and cruelty, a revolt against nothing, nil, zero, zilch.

Brilliant and just as thoughtful as as a much earlier Crash. I just long to see this one in a camera frame – and preferably, directed by David Cronenberg.

“I'm a fund-raiser for the Royal Academy. It's an easy job. All those Ceos think art is good for their souls.”

“Not so?”

“It rots their brains. Tate Modern, the Royal Academy, the Hayward… they're Walt Disney for the middle classes.”

 


Демонические женщины Леопольда фон Захер-Мазоха

Сборник коротких рассказов-новелл австрийского Тургенева из Львова, конечно, слабее его романов. Некоторым, в силу их краткой длины, не хватает глубины, резкости, объемности “длинного метра” Захер-Мазоха, они остаются мимолетными историями, пересказом, кратким содержанием, чуть поверхностным, в них нет волны переживаний и эмоций Венеры или Душегубки.

Наиболее выдающиеся два рассказа, на мой вкус, – это Подруги и Женщина-сирена, оба в более нежном, нервном, открытом, игристом стиле. Романтизм 19 века в прекрасной форме, можно читать и сейчас. Что-то можно даже разобрать на цитаты.

Ну и, в любом случае, Venus is calling.

Лодка проплыла совсем близко, и дама, точно сошедшая с библейской картины итальянской школы, повернула голову. Дэлер увидел бледное интересное лицо, с энергичным маленьким орлиным носом и большими черными горящими глазами.

– Это принцесса К., – шепнула Цецилия.

Когда лодка отплыла достаточно далеко, Дэлер заметил:

– В свое время она, по-видимому, была хороша.

– Она и теперь хороша! – воскликнула Цецилия. – Женщины сохраняют свою красоту до тех пор, пока не перестают одерживать победы.

 


The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh

Good lord, let me start with a friggin spoiler – the dumb of me, I didn't pay attention to the cover, I didn't read the summary on Amazon – so man, I nearly jumped at the end of chapter five. Cause damn, it's not yet another US novel by Irvine Welsh, no sir – it's a FRANK BEGBIE novel – God, who could've thought.

Overall, as Welsh's prose typically is, it's a fast read pulp fiction novel, spanned between California and Edinburgh. Filled with archetypical rage, hatred, violence – but also totally shows Welsh (well, Begbie) getting old, reserved, treacherously double-faced. Breathe, man, breathe, one, two, three

The finale, with all the knives and chisels, is somewhat like a ball gag scene from Tarantino – but despite all that, the book lacks something. It just needed more – story, drama, action, well, I dunno what. And it sure as hell left the page open for a new Renton sequel. I'm in, always!

Read my first Welsh's book in 1996. 20 years have past, everyone chose life, and sadly, no-one got a bit younger. And yeah, Decent Ride was much funnier.