4 Books and a Stuffed Gorilla

1. The Greek Myths Vol. 1 by Robert Graves
From a scholarship standpoint I hear this is a bit ofan unsightly conglomeration of fornicating individuals notable for its awkwardness (a clusterfuck), but damn this book has life in it. Graves is shoe-horning all the myths into his grand unified theory of mythology as laid out in The White Goddess, but he believes it and allows the mythology to inform his own work, so in a way they are accurate in the sense of mythology being a living thing that people can still embrace as meaningful in their lives, and not something dead and confined to the dust. Great stuff in here.

2. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
A bit of a masterpiece for its style and oblique plotting alone, even if its characters and situations often irritated me. In a way it reminded me of Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. Similar jazz-age setting and critique ending in chaos, though Waugh is a more adept stylist using vignettes of varying “thickness” to develop his story. The reader at the end is left feeling the emotions Waugh’s characters are incapable of.

3. The Edogawa Rampo Reader by Edogawa Rampo
A decent collection though not as good as Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The highlight story was “The Air Raid Shelter” about a pyromaniac during the firebombing of Tokyo. It delivered the oddly captivating creepy. But the essays at the back are great.

4. Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
Aesthetic YA science fiction, is that a thing? If so that’s what this is. If not, well, that’s what it is still. It’s set in the future on another planet, but that’s more window dressing on the narrative than a thing you get details about, and science fiction in the way JG Ballard is science fiction. Teenager Pella Marsh and her family leave a dystopian future Brooklyn for a frontier life on the Planet of Archbuilders. John Ford’s The Searchers ensues except mashed somewhat with the spirit of Philip K. Dick’s Martian Time Slip.

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