Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My favorite thing about books: reading them... or TBA

at 1:12 PM
I definitely read more than I play video games.  By a significant margin.  This might have something to do with my current living arrangement; I share a TV with 6 other people and so it's not often that I can take over my living room for a significant amount of time.  But it also fits my lifestyle better in a few other ways.  For example, I can pick a book up and put it down with less hassle than starting and stopping a video game session.  I also read a fair amount of non-fiction, which has the added bonus of making me feel like I'm educating myself, whether or not this is actually the case.

Now there's an interesting thought... has there ever been a truly non-fiction video game?  How could that possibly function successfully?  Would a game based entirely on historical fact be considered fiction instantly when allowing for very minimal levels of player control over action?  Or if someone wanted to publish something academic, to what extent could a thesis or study be successful as an interactive  "video game," ceteris paribus?  I'm guessing the "game" portion of that name might have to be discarded.

Oh yeah I wanted to do some an MMM for some books I recently finished.  Lets call it Tiny Book Assessments.  TBA.  Nailed it.

Miles: The Autobiography
Heroin is a hell of a drug
The "miles" in this case is one Miles Davis, the prolific trumpet player and composer.  It's a vernacular-heavy, no nonsense account of one of America's most interesting musical figures' life from childhood in 1930/1940s St. Louis to the end of his career in the late 1980s.  It does a good job of balancing its tracing of the music with the tracing of his personal life, and the sometimes absurd number of road blocks and bumps in between.  Let's just say it makes you dislike white people even if you happen to be one.  I would definitely recommend with hesitation, however, reading the tome if you're not a jazz head.  The books was often at its best when sharing juicy personal insight into his relationship with other jazz greats (Mingus, Monk, Diz, Bird, Max Roach, Tony Williams, Trane, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, et al) and I can't imagine that being particularly absorbing if you don't know a bit about the other's lives or music.  Here is where I would go off on a tangent about people "not getting jazz" and my thoughts on the matter, but instead of wasting everyone's time let me just leave it at this: if you don't enjoy listening to it, then don't and that's fine.  It just pisses me off when people try to create arguments about why its objectively not good music, when quite obviously its a subjective experience.  In any case, it still might be worth a read for the story alone.

A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel: The Sign of the Four
Whoops this is a graphic novel not a book.  Oh well, suck it up.  This is a adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's second Sherlock Holmes novel.  I haven't read the original novel, so my opinion suffices only as applied to the graphic novel.  My understanding is that the writing is almost entirely verbatim from the original, but much was cut to make it readable in the comic format.  This being the case, the story flows quite nicely, though I have to admit that I found myself going back a few times to remind myself of character's relationships with one another, a problem which might have been avoided given the more fleshed-out version of events.  The plot is classic Holmes, full of twists and intrigue, and manages to bring a critique of British imperialism to bare as well.  The art was well done, if a bit cartoon-ish for my liking; other might find it endearing, perhaps.
No seriously, it's a hell of a drug
Darkness at Noon
Arthur Koestler was a Hungarian author and journalist writing over a great swath of the 20th Century.  His Darkness at Noon was published in 1940.  It is an account of Rubashov, a fictionalized member of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, and his struggle as an old-guard Bolshevik after Stalin's consolidation of power.  A little background knowledge of the Stalin's purge, Trotsky, and the show trials will help with historical context when reading this gem, but the novel does a good job of putting the battling ideas up front, without too much contextual baggage.  The issue being confronted, at the heart of book, is what you do when your ideas don't align with your conscious.  It examines one man's psychological transformation as he is confronted by a brutal government he helped install.  I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone with a functioning brain.

Next batch of these will most likely include Boomerang, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Last Lecture and Homage to Catalonia.


  1. My god Andrew you need to work on spacing, I had to delete FOUR newlines from the beginning of your post and about a dozen others interspersed throughout.

    1. im not known for my proofreadin'

    2. I don't mind doing it for you, it's just funny and reminds me of old people writing emails.

  2. Jazz does suck though good point.

    In my experience, for every pop/rock nerd trying to objectively discount jazz, there's a jazzeroni saying it's the only "pure" form of music. It's just cyclical escalation that feeds on people's insecurity with their inability to understand why someone likes something different from them.

    At the end of the day it's totally irrelevant, because Wagner exists. When you consider the debate in that light, it's like arguing about whether McDonwald's or Burger King has better fries.

    1. Also you'd figure for someone with first name "Miles" he'd have come up with a better pun for the title of his autobiography.

    2. Like for instance, Miles "Tails" Prower

    3. then again he never came up with any good music so....

    4. Yeah I mean fair enough, everyone has crap opinions, which are just that: opinions. Like your's about Wagner being what I'm assuming you consider to be a meal at a 5 star restaurant versus jazz/rock/pop being fast food. I dig Wagner, but it's all just music. None of it exists on some higher plane of art than any other, and to pretend it does is another attempt to impose the subjective values wih which you judge music on the entire medium.

    5. Absolutely, the jab about classical was just a joke. It's totally subjective. Plenty of rock I enjoy just as much as Beethoven, and plenty of classical I hate just as much as John "Elevator Music" Coltrane.

      The very notion of "music" itself is subjective. For instance, see people's reaction to 4'33".