Saturday, July 28, 2012

Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

I suppose it's nostalgia. Or maybe it's the fact that my son will never possess a mix tape the way technology is changing the way we listen to music – as I type this, I'm currently using my Pandora One account. Whatever the reason, however, there's something that tugs on the heartstrings between the lines of Rob Sheffield's writing.

Much like Sheffield, I spent the better part of my youth making mix tapes. Mix tapes for the girls I had crushes on. Mix tapes for my friends. Mix tapes for people I was getting to know. Mix tapes for my friends' sexual activities. Mix tapes to play while I was writing bad poetry and shitty short stories. Christmas jams 1999. Summer of Love '97. Songs to Kill Yourself To. Songs to be Reborn To. Life's soundtrack on tiny spools of magnetic tape. When CDRs came about, I segued in that direction. The latest shared playlists I made were on Second Life, back when I DJ'ed as Blaspheme Baxton. Nothing, however, can amount to the sweat and blood poured into the mix cassette tape.

And every mix tape tells a story, or part of one. It maps the path of good times and bad ones. It shows us that everything has its time, everything will pass. And isn't that what Sheffield is telling us? Each song brings him closer to his wife, while aiding him through the world without her.

One can only wish to possess Sheffield's musical insights, and his ability to write about experiences so beautifully. If not for responsibilities, I would have allowed the book to suck me in and not resurface until it was finished with me. If you haven't read it, I suggest you put down that current bestseller and pick up a copy of this baby.

Extra thanks to Angela, who loaned it to me. She's lucky that I'm willing to give it back to her.

Pick up your copy at Amazon, or for your Kindle. Until next time, happy huntin'.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Good Lion adapted by Don Brown

A few days ago, a co-worker handed this book over, asking if I ever read it. It's pretty dark, he said. "I don't know how this is in [the easy] section." I grabbed it out of his hand and vanished to my cart. A quick read, obviously. In the end, however, I'm still confused. How can we shelve this in the easy section?

Reading levels found in the easy section range from beginner to third grade, so it's not too surprising that this ended up on those shelves. However, our fiction section ranges from third and up. Things that are a little more "mature" are usually shelved there when it comes to third grade books. Why not The Good Lion? Autobiographical, Beryl Markham talks about an incident in her childhood when she was attacked by a seemingly tamed lion. Tragic? Yes. Dark? Most definitely.

The English major in me wants to over-analyze the deeper meaning. That maybe we're all good lions on the inside and our primal tendencies lie in wait. Waiting for that moment when we can let loose and allow them to spring forward. Maybe we're all just dying inside our cages.

The Good Lion can be purchased used at Better World Books. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Savages by Don Winslow

We got it, Don Winslow. Loud and clear, actually. In the drug trade, there are no good guys - no matter where you moral compass may point. And Oliver Stone? What did you see in this? Potential? We'll have to see how you vamped up the film later. I'm not going to spend more money on Savages, not yet anyway. Let's just hope Netflix picks up when its released for home viewing. Besides, my money is for The Dark Knight Rises. Sorry.

Savages follows the fall of Ben and Chonny - a potent strain of marijuana that blends indica and sativa in perfect harmony (it's stoner science, I suppose). The growers and distributors of the strain are Ben - a pacifist and humanitarian who majored in business and botany - and Chon - formerly John, a SEAL who uses his skills to "negotiate" with people who get in their business. Coupled with the living-in-the-material-world girl, O, the threesome is a sexually charged epitome of what wrong with the world. In a word, they are savages.

Enter the Baja Cartel. After a viral video of a beheading is sent to Chon, he knows the days of running the game solo have come to an end. But will they go down without a fight?

Don Winslow presents to us - poorly, but still - a tragic tale of emotionally (not just sexually, by the way) charged characters. But isn't that the definition of a savage? One who follows emotion rather than logic and ration?

The story itself is great. Winslow's execution of it leaves a sour taste. His character development is unfavorable - there are just things that didn't need to exist (so what if Lado is having an affair?). 

Savages is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and is available for Kindle and Nook. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Glue by Irvine Welsh

I did thing backwards – sorta. Back when Barnes & Noble placed Irvine Welsh's Porno out on the discount table, I bought it not knowing it was a sequel-of-sorts to Trainspotting. Okay, fine. I bought Trainspotting at Hastings back when McAllen, Texas housed a location. After reading that book - this must've been on the old book blog (the one that I never really paid any attention to, so I won't link my review, if I wrote one, that is) - I surfed Amazon to read some customer reviews on the book (don't ask why I did this because it's a bad habit I broke long ago). That's when I realized that some of the characters featured in the sequel had their own book entitled Glue. Great, another book I have to buy. That being said, it took me nearly a decade before I started reading it. And nearly three weeks before I finished it.

From childhood to adulthood, Glue follows the story of four friends coming from the schemes of Edinburgh. There's Carl Ewart, whose passion for music is destined for greatness; "Juice" Terry Lawson, whose only concern in life is getting his hole; Billy Birrell, whose dedication to his sport makes him into a local celebrity; and doomed Andrew Galloway, whose run with bad luck helps steer the course of his friends' lives. Mixing in humor that he used in Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh manages to keep the reader engaged in this slice of life novel told in four separate decades of the characters' lives.

The novel also features some of the beloved characters of Trainspotting, which is why – I guess – that reviewer stated that Porno acted as a sequel-of-sorts for both novels. Renton makes an appearance as does Begbie and Spud. Some of the events of the novel are mentioned in Glue, as well.

Glue is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Also, keep an eye out for the Trainspotting boys in Welsh's upcoming novel, Skagboys. Until next time, happy huntin'.