All the Pretty Horses (book review)

Happy Monday!

all-the-pretty-horses

I have been looking forward to this review for a while now.  My first taste of McCarthy was when I saw the deeply disturbing but fantastic 2009 movie The Road staring Viggo Mortensen previously known for playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings and the star role in A History of Violence.  It would be years before I actually picked up my first two McCarthy books, two for one deal at a second hand book shop got The Road and All the Pretty Horses, and what excellent purchases they were.  Sadly I may have to re-buy my book collection since I’m in the process of beginning the naturalisation process so I can be a full UK citizen and I did not realise how steep the shipping and handling over seas is!  However I did bring some of my books, All the Pretty Horses being one of them.

Setting: 1949, San Angelo, Texas => Mexico

Three Sentence Summary:

  1. John Grady, our main character, has lost his grandfather and the novel opens with a viewing of the body and the news that the ranch he lives on will be sold.
  2. John and his friend Lacey decide to ride their horses south into Mexico in search of fun and work and pick up another companion, reluctantly, a young outlaw calling him self Jimmy Belivins.
  3. John and Lacey loose Belivins at some point and ride further south in to the Mexican landscape eventually finding work but the trouble Belivins got into catches up to John and Lacey who are put into prison and narrowly survive long enough to be bailed out when Lacey decides to ride back to Texas and John tries to find the girl he fell in love with on the ranch but ultimately gets revenge on the corrupt officials who imprisoned him and his friends, reunites with Lacey, and then rides off into the sunset.

Review:

This story is a seriously sad one.  Some main themes include isolation, loneliness, being “the stranger in a strange land”, and loss.  John Cole Grady, over the course of the book looses his grandfather in the beginning which also means that his family is selling off the ranch something he was deeply attached to, later John Grady falls in love with a young woman living on the ranch, Alejandra, whom he will later be forced to never see again, after him and Lacey are arrested they reunite with Belivins only to witness him being walked off and executed off the record, by the end of the novel John Grady’s father dies along with the longtime family caregiver (his mother has been out of the picture for a long time), and it’s somewhat implied by the ending that the strain of the journey on the friendship between John Grady and Lacey ultimately breaks them up leaving John Grady with no more ties and no home to ride off alone into the sunset with his horse and Belivins bay horse.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish Book Review

Happy Monday!

so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish

I like this book.  Like a lot. After Adam’s last first final book in the trilogy(1), like every time I’ve read this series, I think “Cheese…I don’t remember if the rest is more of the same or what”, and then I’m always pleasantly surprised. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish feels like Adam’s second attempt to end the series and in a way it is what I accepted as the end of the series until I got my first omnibus version.  If this book ended the series, like for good (no more prequels, no more post-humorously published volumes, please just let the series die a dignified death), I would have been extremely satisfied.  Maktub.

Three Sentence Summary:

  1. Arthur has been hitching across the galaxy after the events of the last book and is inadvertently and curiously dropped off on Earth in England where he gets a ride with a jerk who introduces Arthur to his medicinally sedated “mentally unstable” sister, Fenchurch, the first human woman Arthur has seen in who knows how long(2) and naturally falls obsessively in love with her however after calling several hospitals asking after her, after arriving home to an eight year pile of junk mail, and generally being super hardcore creepy he notices a fish bowl that has an inscription on it reading “So Long and Thanks” which prompts him to sleep on the events of the rainy evening.

  2. Arthur decides he wants to find the cave in which he used to live in on prehistoric Earth and discovers that Fenchurch lives in a flat that was constructed precisely on top of Arthur’s cave in prehistoric Earth which is the second time he’s seen her now (he picked her up hitchhiking sometime between the fishbowl thing and showing up on her door step) which firmly establishes this story as a romantic comedy science fiction, maybe a first of its kind, and so following the formula Fenchurch makes a big reveal about her “mental instability”, as it turns out Fenchurch is the girl mentioned in the first book who had received the question for life, the universe, and everything moments before the Earth was destroyed,  which is code for she floats inches off the ground all the time constantly (literally) and when Arthur notices this he teaches her to fly and they have lots and lots of flying sex.

  3. Eventually Arthur and Fenchurch receive a lead onto an enigmatic scientist, John Watson aka Wonko the Sane who looked like…I’ll just have to quote it:

If you took a couple of David Bowies and stuck one of the David Bowies on top of the other David Bowie, then attached another David Bowie to the end of each of the arms of the upper of the first two David Bowies and wrapped the whole business up in a dirty beach robe you would then have something which didn’t exactly look like John Watson, but which those who knew him would find hauntingly familiar.

P. 583

…and with all this David Bowie power combine Arthur and Fenchurch are shown that if they hold the fish bowl they got up to their ear they can hear the dolphins explaining to humanity about the impending Volgon demolition and that they tried to warn us however they (the dolphins) are off to another dimension before this Earth is destroyed so they can create a new Earth for the Humans and then a wild Ford Prefect appears via a giant robot shaped spaceship that causes mass mayhem and however dunk Ford is he explains…nothing(3) but there are some cut away Ford POV chapters showing where he was when he discovered that his copy of the Guide has the full version of his entry on the Earth and how he got from there to the Earth and after finishing his surprisingly accurate drunken rehash of his POV chapters(4) they decide to hijack the same robot-spaceship that Ford arrived on to go see where God’s Last Message to his Creation is and read it but on the way they meet Marvin who explains that due to continuity (errors?) that he is now about 37 times older than the universe it self which has made him almost nonfunctional however Arthur and Fenchurch help Marvin to the destination where God’s Last Message to his Creation can be read and after reading it: (get ready for the feels)

 “I think,” he murmured at last from deep within his corroding, rattling, thorax, “I feel good about it.”

The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.

p. 610

Thoughts:

This book is closest to my heart in the series.  I love Fenchurch.  Finally Arthur has a love interest AND this woman isn’t an insulting gender-genre cliche AND she actually is a fairly interesting character.  I’m not generally crazy for romances in literature(5) but after growing with Arthur over the last few books it feels so satisfying to give him his home back and someone to love and be loved.

Take this thought from Arthur’s head:

“Perhaps we ought to first sort out,” said Arthur, “where I’m taking you.”

fenchurch

arthur-dent-says

Very close, he hoped, or a long way. Close would mean she live near him, a long way would mean he could drive her there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See? It’s crap like THIS that makes me really makes me peel with “aww”.

I did not like Marvin.  Like at all.  I wanted him to die the entire series.  This death is simultaneously satisfying and heartbreaking and every time I read it I feel those heart strings.

Above points are all in favour of this book making a strong cannidate for the end of the series but an subtle absence is felt with out Zaphod or Trillian in this book as much as their characters were 100% throw-away(6) in the overall series (including the prequel short story) and their stories were pretty much resolved(?7) after the events of Life, the Universe and Everything however I just kind of wanted to see them…or have mention of the heart of gold finding god or something improbable like that.  Would have been a much stronger ending than the “seriously? WTF, man.  What is your deal INTRODUCING A BRAND NEW CHARACTER IN THE EPILOGUE THAT SERVES NO PURPOSE?! Seriously, can’t have any nice moments here…” (drops mic, walks out, turns off light switch on way out)

 

Footnotes:

  1. Go ahead and re-read it.  It makes sense in the context of this series.
  2. Given the time traveling and dimensional travel, I’m pretty sure there is no right answer.
  3. He kind of rambles on for a few pages while the giant robot does giant robot things.
  4. His drunken rambling makes about as much sense as some of his chapters, like the one where he keeps listening to the “Tick Tick Tock Tock”ing and giggles about it.  I think Adams was getting paid by the word by this book because there are much easier plot devices to get Arthur and Fenchurch a ride off planet.
  5. Unless it’s something silent and complex like John Grady and Alejandra in All The Pretty Horses by McCarthy  and I’ll just read it over and over and over…or really anything Cormic decides he wants to write about I’ll read because his prose is just so so lyrical and violent like broken church stain glass sparkling in the morning sun.
  6. I can think of a much more amusing scenario where in Zaphod’s causal absence, Ford steals the Heart of Gold and abducts Arthur and they go have space adventures and Trillian only exists because of the phone number joke in the first book which could have been replaced with Fenchurch and hell I think we’re on our way to an interesting reboot of the series, eh?
  7. ? Honestly I care so little about their character arcs that I won’t check the source text (sitting right in front of me).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series Review

Happy Monday and Labor Day for my American readers.

hitchhikers (test)

This info-graph is a general overview of the series.

The Hitchhiker’s guide has an interesting history beginning as a pitch for a 6 part series called “The Ends of the Earth” where the earth ends at the end of each episode surly many of them end on a stupid Thursday(1).  This idea eventually evolved into what we have here today and then some(2) including the movie adaptation of the first book.

This series has a pretty close place to my heart and I have a pretty long history with it, probably the longest/first bookmance(3) I’ve ever had.  I remember when I was a kid, somewhere around 13-15 years old, my dad gave me the first Hitchhiker’s guide book.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy book cover

This is the cover art my dad’s copy had. Still my favourite of the versions.  Look at that meaty hand.

It might have been my first literary brush with literary si-fi, I was brought up on Red Dwarf(4) so I was well prepared, and it was good. Really good.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy book cover3

This is the cover art my best friend in middle school (ages 11-14ish) in school had. Clearly inferior to the original.

My dad had all the rest of the original books up to So Long and Thanks For All the Fish and I ate them all up. I have specific memories of reading these books in school and literally laughing out loud involuntarily in class.  I’m pretty easy to laugh(5) but usually I’m pretty good at restraining my self in public but this book got me several times.  Even on revisits.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy collection book cover

My first copy of the omni-bus.

Fast forward a few years and I’m at a book store, constantly building my library (sometimes I like to think about the day when I have enough books, that I’ve actually read AND enjoy no cheating with “the entire Steven King collection”, to make a book fort(6)), and I see this almost biblical looking version of the collection which was really nice because it came with a tassel bookmark.  This copy got donated after the first or second library purge(7) and in the last year since getting back into school I’ve begun replacing or obtaining copies of books I remember reading and enjoying but had borrowed from a friend or the library and this series was recommended to me on amazon.

This is my third and most recent re-reading of the series and I’ve had mixed reactions.  At first I was totally pumped to read this thinking I would blow through it in a few weeks but it ended up taking me about two months to read 815 pages +/- 20 pages because they count the title and dedication pages in between each book and most of that was spent trudging through Life, The Universe, and Everything.  However we will get to that in time.  The good news is that this series starts and ends pretty strongly (see info-graph above).

As in Adams style(8), over the next 7 weeks I will present to you:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Ultimate Review:

A 7 part review in 8 parts

Tune in next week for part II: The actual review for The Hitchhiker’s to the Galaxy the book.

Footnotes:

  1. The Earth is destroyed on a Thursday afternoon several times in the series.
  2. As I learned in researching this article that there has been yet another novel added to the series called “…and another thing.” which, I personally, do not count as cannon and will not likely read the reasons for which will become clear as this series progresses.
  3. If we can have words like “bromance“, which I reluctantly have adopted in specific situations, I’m championing the word “bookmance”.   I’ve submitted a definition to urban dictionary and I might adopt the word for one year for 25$ on wordnik, my favourite dictionary site.  Depends on if urban diction approves.
  4. I have so many fond memories of late night Sunday, kind of like tonight actually (as I write this that is), as a kid with my parents watching the foreign shows on PBS channel nine like Red Dwarf (British) and The Red Green Show (Canadian).  These came on, if I remember right, after the X-Files on Sunday nights.  Sometimes we would order Cecil’s or Imo’s Pizza, St Louis Style pizza, and it was pretty much the best.  I have a lot of television related memories, more the scheduling aspects rather than the shows them selves.  I don’t know, there’s an essay memoir in there. Something in Infinite Jest rattled it loose.  Stay tuned.
  5. I read a snapple facts once “Snapple fact #831: Adults laugh only about 15 to 100 times a day, while six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day.”  and I keep meaning to start a data crunch project on this, I keep track of other things in my journal.  Another thing for the list.
  6. book fort
  7. As a minimalist I have regular purge events where I strip down to bare essentials however in the last major purge I decided to begin building a library rather than holding on to a few prized pieces, however I do prune it regularly.
  8. His series started as a trilogy and remains to be frequently refereed to as a trilogy because humour.

 

 

 

Saturday Morning Announcements

Good morning my lovely reader or at least it is still morning where I am and it is a beautiful one.

I have announcements for my regular readers, however they’re pretty general so everyone is invited to stay for a moment.

This week, as my regulars can probably guess, has been a confusing and busy one.  Now that I’m at the cap of the week and have had a moment to construct my thoughts I feel that I should say a few things.

As you may or may not know, I’m a student who is trying to study abroad in England for the up coming scholastic year and I am at the climax of the bureaucratic leg of this dramatic journey.  I sent off my student visa application and am pending approval.  Regardless of where I take classes this year(1), I have already begun working ahead and have the rest of the year’s worth of Monday posts worked out so that you can keep getting quality (at least I, think this is quality) posts every Monday and I can focus on Friday posts and life at large (see footnote 1).

This is the projected schedule:

5th Sept – 24th Oct

  • A 7 part review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series in 8 parts à la débandade or in the style of Adams, both translate the same

31st Oct (Halloween)

  • Ocean at the End of the Lane by Gaiman

7th Nov

  • All the Pretty Horses by McCarthy

Nov 14th

  • SURPRISE!

21-28th Nov

  • wherever I end up taking classes this term, I believe I will be in midterms hell by this point.  I will likely take one of these weeks off an the other will be something relatively light hearted.

5th Dec (Louie’s Deathday!) – 2nd Jan 2017

  • Remember the “SURPRISE” from Nov 14th?

As for Fridays? I’m still in the formative phase of this blog and I believe Mondays are good book review days so when ever I have a book review, it will be Monday.  However since this blog was never intended to be exclusively a literary blog, I wanted to keep Fridays more flexible.

I’ve been watching a lot of classic movies in prep for this class I signed up for in
England called “Literature in Film”, which I am obnoxiously excited for, and almost all of them are based on books so I might do a Flicks Friday thing, however I haven’t read/don’t (yet) own all the books to these movies.  Though I might do movie reviews and have a book counterpart review later when I do read the book.  I’m also working on a film/book juncture essay examining the confluence of two story telling mediums and maybe proposing where one can learn from the other or even form a new hybrid genre.  It’s a really big idea that I’ve been wrestling with for a few months now, so no promises when that will be finished but it is an aspect of storytelling that interests me.

I’m also working on a graphic novel, but very slowly, and I’m toying with making more comics in the Fin & Louie cannon (I have a birthday comic for Fin, 23rd Sept) so I might make Friday Funny however ultimately right now I’m just spit balling ideas and will for the moment keep Friday Formless so I can do what ever I want.

If you have any suggestions, comments, concerns, book/movie recommendations, well wishes, etc feel free to leave a comment below.  I’m pretty open to suggestion however suggestions are subject to discretion.  No ideas are bad ideas. Unless they’re bad ideas. I trust your judgment.

Footnotes:

  1. Due to lots of complicated factors, I am fully prepared for my visa application to be rejected and in which case I have a lot of work to do (find new housing, late registering for classes [then catching up in said classes], and possibly find another job) in a very small amount of time (depends on how long it takes to get the results back but if nothing else I need to be in a new housing situation or on a plane by Oct 1st and have to have begun late registering for classes if necessary by Oct 1st, so like at best I have 3 weeks but probably closer to like 5 days).

Getting Acquainted with the Neighbloggerhood(1)

Happy Friday folks,

First order of business: I realize about four people might have expected a post yesterday based on my announcement last Thursday(2) however after giving it some thought and a change in my work schedule, it seems like a Monday/Friday posting schedule would be more practical.  Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

I’ve been on here for a bit now, found some really cool blogs to add to my reader, and garnered a (very) small following and something I’ve considered is that I don’t really know much about my fellow floggers(3) and I’m really interested in making a personal connection for fun and profit(4).

What’s your favourite book?

House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski I’ll never forget the first time I met this book (yes you can meet books, books are people too #booklivesmatter).  It was the fall of my senior year (high school) and I was in the second most disappointing class of my scholastic career(5), advanced creative writing (it was disappointing because of the teacher I had was…not fit to be teaching sub 18yo individuals).  One of the projects we had was a book-report presentation on our favourite book and this girl I sorta had a thing for but was way too “alternatively cool”(6) for me man.  I was a freak too, still am #freakforlife, but way too fucking shy to be worth more than the last square on a roll of toilet paper.  Anyway she began presenting this book, House of Leaves (HoL) and she was having trouble describing the general story other than “This is a really freaky story, man. Like ‘I couldn’t read it before bed’ scary”.  After class I went to some book store and found the black beauty just sitting there. Last copy.  It took me 3 months to get through the first read. With all the annotations, the extremely dense prose, and the extremely experimental frame-story with in a frame-story with in a frame-story story telling style it was my first real hard read.  Also, looking back, my first post-modernist book.  MZD’s monolith-esque tome was the first book to show me “you can break the rules in writing, it’s a brave new world”.  That was about 10 years ago.  I’ve re-read the book more than 15 times since.

Honourable mentions:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

All the Pretty Horses by Cormic McCarthy 

What’s your favourite body part?

I really like hands. Being a stick figure I’m envious of the banana looking appendages at the ends of human arms.  I don’t know why I like hands however I can remember precisely when I began noticing them.  I was seeing this girl, years ago, who had a knack for knitting and one time I was just watching her knit and I noticed there was something different about how she held her needles.  It’s really hard to explain but I think she was double jointed in every joint of her fingers because her fingers were bending in ways I’ve never seen before and I found that observation to be extremely profound and was deeply attracted to the length of her long artistic fingers and how they gracefully locked string into string onto needle.  Ever since I’ve found my self looking at hands and marveling at their complex beauty.  Nice hands are nice.

Honourable mentions:

Hair (on the head)

Back/torso (like the back of the torso, the front doesn’t do much for me unless you have like really nice obliques…then me might have to be friends)

Legs (specifically calves)

If you were reincarnated into an animal/drink/ice cream flavour, what would you be?*

  • I have to give credit for the ice cream flavour bit. Source

Animal: Dog.  I’ve never fathered a dog(7) but I’ve lived with several dogs and I love them all even the poopy little ones who peed everywhere all the time.  Also, as strange as this may sound, I always kind of identified as a dog but not in the furry way. When I was a kid and I got excited, I would wag my tail and as an adult I enjoy going for walks in the park and rides in the car(8).  I’m also colourblind, smell sensitive, and enjoy getting my head scratched

Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

This has been like the running joke of my life.  It changes depending on my hair and I change my hair a lot. Also I’m pretty sure I have one of those “generically good looking” faces that is easily forgettable but also easy for people to see who/what they want However, they’ve always been obnoxiously flattering (and not even most of them have been come-ons either) so here’s a list:

Johnny Depp

Orlando Bloom (when LOTR came out and I had long blonde hair)

Matt Damon

Daniel Radcliffe

Jack Kerouac

And more but I really can’t remember.  It’s almost like every single time I meet a new person or group of people, someone says “Hey, did you know you kinda look like (insert celeb)?” or “Hey, come check out this kids face.  Doesn’t he look exactly like (insert friend I’ve never met)?”

At what age did you become an adult?

Never. Fifth grader for life.  Seriously though, I’ve struggled with the question “what does it mean to be an adult to me?” quite a bit in the last few years especially with 30 right around the corner.  I matured early, but entered some form of social arrested development when I started drinking and drugging and have decided in sobriety that it’s time to begin catching up on the parts of my life that I let fall by the wayside for the last 10 year because I was too fixated on being a work-holic/drink-aholic.  So I guess, I began the process of becoming something resembling an adult this year in the eve of my 27th year.

Where’s Waldo?

Some say he’s still out there somewhere…

So here’s the rules of the game:

  1. I’m tagging all 4 of my wordpress followers (you are my favourite people on wordpress).
  2. Answer the questions, post on your blog.
  3. Tag some friends(9)

Brittany and Arpil @herestwenty

Don Maciver @donmacieverpoetry

The folks at Royal James Publishing @royaljamespublishing

annette @outsideofacat

Footnotes:

  1. Surprisingly, this word actually works with the prefix “neigh-” meaning “near” and the suffix “-hood” meaning “state or condition being” ergo the new word could be defined as “nearby bloggers” aka “the regulars I see and follow and want to know more about”.  Though the word doesn’t have quite the mouth feel of a viral-prone word like “meh”.
  2. SQUEE! My first self-referential citation!
  3. I tried to combine “blogger” and “follower” into a new word however I think I missed the mark.
  4. Still working on the “profit” part.
  5. The first being Anthropology of Native American Spirituality.  Subject matter and reading material: spot on; the teacher: not so spot on.
  6. She was a hardcore punk with a devil may care attitude and on the verge of burn out because she wasn’t being challenged enough.  She was also really hot.
  7. I’m really against the slavery language we use towards our furry children/friends.  I believe animals are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. Example: Prairie Dogs have such a complex language, they can communicate to their fellow dogs what sort of animal is passing by and if it’s a human whether it’s a human they know or a different human based on the colour of their clothing.  I talk to animals, plants, insects, anything living as if it were an adult human being worthy of my respect.  The only people I talk to like a child are adult humans who demonstrate a necessity for simplistic language.  Show respect to your fellow non-human companions, and see what happens. You’ll be surprised.
  8. Also, like a dog, I don’t drive. So rides in the car are like something I really enjoy, even if it’s just accompanying a friend on an errands run.
  9. Not sure if I’m doing these tags right.