Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Homecoming by Harold Pinter

(pb; 1965, 1966: play)

From the back cover:

"In an old and slightly seedy house in North London there lives a family of men: Max, the aging but still aggressive patriarch; his younger, ineffectual brother Sam; and two of Max's three sons, neither of whom is married -- Lenny, a small-time pimp, and Joey, who dreams of success as a boxer. Into this sinister abode comes the eldest son, Teddy, who, having spent the past six years teaching philosophy in America, is now bringing his wife, Ruth, home to visit the family she has never met. As the play progresses, the younger brothers make increasingly outrageous passes at their sister-in-law until they are practically making love to her in front of her stunned by strangely aloof husband."


Homecoming is a short, sharp and caustic play. While this is structurally and tonally stunning, its pitch black harshness, with its sudden character shifts (or angles of attack), made this an unpleasant read from start to finish: no rays of sunshine in this cutting, bleak familial drama.

This is worth reading, if you do not mind its repentless darkness or are interested in studying how waste-no-word plays are written. Otherwise, pass on Homecoming.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Bone: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith

(pb; 1992, 1993, 2005: graphic novel, collecting issues #7 - 12 of the comic book. Second of nine graphic novels.)

From the back cover:

"Fone Bone and his cousins plan to return home after visiting the village of Barrelhaven with Thorn and Gran'ma Ben. But Phoney Bone risks everything on one last get-rich-quick scheme for the town's annual Great Cow Race. As usual, Phoney's plans go disastrously awry, and Boneville seems farther away than ever.

"Meanwhile, ominous signs indicate that a war is brewing, and Fone Bone finds himself helping his friends defend their idyllic valley from a formidable enemy."


Cow Race continues in the vein of the first Bone graphic novel (Out of Boneville) in that it is a fast-moving, word-spare and character-charming children-friendly comic book, a work that had me constantly smiling and laughing. Again, this is a great work, possibly landmark, with distinctive and equally charming artwork that further brought these characters and their world to life.

Cow Race, the second of nine Bone graphic novels, is worth owning. Followed by Bone: Eyes of the Storm.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

**M.J. Iuppa's Defining Even was published on the Microstory A Week site

M.J.Iuppa's epigrammatic and analytical Defining Even graced the Microstory A Week site today. 

This revenge-themed, numerically structured tale is the final entry in this year's Microstories. Many thanks to the authors who submitted their works and to those who read it. =)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

(pb; 1994: nonfiction)


Bird is a good, entertaining and instructive how-to guide on how to become a working writer. Her balanced, sometimes pen-joyous attitude and execution is realistic -- becoming a solid, good or excellent author does not often translate into material wealth and bestsellerdom -- and this hard-truth approach (for some would-be writers) makes this one of the better instructive books I have read on the subject.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

**Michael Koenig's Like Venus was published on the Microstory A Week site

Michael Koenig's sex nasty, pulp-noirish Like Venus graced the Microstory A Week site today. 

This neo-pulp story, which details the machinations a porn-minded, scheming criminal, recalls the works of Gil Brewer and Donald E. Westlake.

 Next week's story: M.J. Iuppa's epigrammatic and analytical Defining Even.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith

(pb; 1991, 1994, 2005: graphic novel, collecting the first six issues of the comic book. First of nine graphic novels.)

From the back cover:

"After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins -- Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone -- are separated and lost in a vast, uncharted desert. One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures.

"Eventually, the cousins are reunited at a farmstead run by tough Gran'ma Ben and her spirited granddaughter, Thorn. But little do the Bones know, there are dark forces conspiring against them and their adventures are only beginning!"


Boneville is a fast-moving, word-spare and character-charming first collection of this children-friendly comic book, a work that had me constantly smiling and laughing. This is a great work, possibly landmark, with distinctive and equally charming artwork that further brought these characters and their world to life.

Boneville, the first of nine Bone graphic novels, is worth owning. Followed by Bone: The Great Cow Race.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rama Revealed by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee

(1994: fourth novel in the Rama quadrilogy)

From the inside flap:

"On its mysterious voyage through interstellar space, a massive, alien starship carries its passengers to the end of a generations-long odyssey. For the great experiment conceived by the Ramans has failed. Rama III, with its carefully designed Earth habitat, as well as environments to house other intelligent species, has become a battleground.

"Instead of creating a utopia, the human contingent has brought forth a tyrant who seeks to conquer the other sectors of the vast Raman ark. Cosmonaut Nicole des Jardins, a lone voice for reason who is now jailed and awaiting execution, is aided in a daring escape by two tiny robots. On New York island, the dark, brooding and deserted city in the midst of Rama III's cylindrical sea, Nicole is reunited with her long-lost husband, Richard Wakefield, whom she'd given up for dead.

"Joined by their children and other rebels from the Earth sector, Nicole and Richard enter New York's labyrinthine underground aboard a ghostly subway hoping to find the ship's secret inner workings. What they find instead is the emerald-domed lair of the technologically advanced species that rules this fabulous subraman world: the octospiders. These arachnidlike creatures are luring Nicole and the rebels into their domain, but the Earth group is divided as to whether the octospiders are allies or enemies. . ."


Rama Revealed is a dystopian, violent and occasionally exhilarating read (especially when the octospiders, avians and other aliens are present) -- that said, there is a silver lining to this dark, sometimes horrifying fiction-themed novel, which runs chatty and long, especially in the first quarter and last twenty pages.

This is a mood-consistent, satisfactory (if often disturbing) finish to the Rama series. If you are a long-time Clarke fan, do not expect much of Clarke's usual optimism regarding humanity in this series -- except in Rendezvous with Rama, which Gentry Lee did not co-author.