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The Sirens of Titan: A Novel
The Sirens of Titan: A Novel
von Kurt Vonnegut
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,60

5.0 von 5 Sternen Listen: more sci-fi, more criticism., 29. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Sirens of Titan: A Novel (Taschenbuch)
More in comparison to his other works, I mean. (Which are still - don't get me wrong - amazing.)
About the sci-fi: there are trips to Mercury, Mars, and Titan (one of Saturn's moons). There are plans of an interstellar attack, all run by one man, leading a totalitarian society on Mars by controlling the people who live there with pain-creating antennas implanted in everyone's head. There is time travel, to a certain extent. There are almost-human robots. And this (as mentioned by other critics) is one of the reasons I think this book hasn't been appreciated to its full value. People make a relation between 'extreme sci-fi' and 'lame'. I have made this relation before; this book forced me to bite my tongue. The sci-fi feel of this book only makes it more interesting, in the sense that more becomes possible, and the meaning of life - which is developed often in this book - can be spoken of by many different points of view.
Now, about the criticism of humanity: even though Vonnegut is well-known for his criticism and mockery of the human race, NEVER - in any other book - has it been so direct or cruelly honest. You can't help but appreciate the wryness with which he says everything he has to say about us. The banality for reason and meaning of human life in this book is, ironically, depicted in a hiralious and inventive fashion.
This book demonstrates - as much as, and maybe more than, his other books - that Vonnegut is the cleverest, most perceptive author out there.
Kudos, Kurt, on a book that will never be read for the last time.


Invisible Monsters: A Novel
Invisible Monsters: A Novel
von Chuck Palahniuk
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,79

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Palahniuk writes as a woman, this time., 15. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Invisible Monsters: A Novel (Taschenbuch)
That's right: the narrator of this book is a woman, Shannon, an ex-model who got disfigured in an accident.
Other characters are Brandy Alexander, queen supreme, beautiful woman - and friend of Shannon's - who makes heads turn her way when she walks into a room; Manus, Shannon's boyfriend - until she gets her accident, that is; and Evie, Shannon's ex-best friend. All great and interesting characters, who all have great interactions with each other and are linked to each other one way or another.
But the most remarkable thing about the way this book is written is the way it jumps back and forth in time, from event to event. Palahniuk often uses the phrase "jump to", like "jump to the time we were modeling in a junkyard" or "jump to Thanksgiving dinner before my accident". This jump can occur once every chapter, and can occur twice per paragraph. It never feels random, though, and it's never tedious, as long as you can keep up. At worst, write down some sort of basic timeline, where you can jot down things that might serve as time reference points later on. But this isn't necessary.
Anyways, the basic plot is this: after Shannon's accident, she wants to start a new life, and ignore her past. Forget about her family, her modeling career. Now, she drives around with her newly-acquired friends and visits open houses that obviously belong to wealthy people. They then create a diversion while they steal any drug or makeup they can get their hands on. (In this book, Palahniuk displays his wide knowledge of legal drugs, as he did in Fight Club. He can sometimes be pedantic, but I chose to ignore this. He tells of Demerol, Benzedrine, et caetera. You - as a reader - have two choices: either you read this book with the Physicians' Desk Reference next to you, looking up every drug mentioned in the book, in order to really know what each drug mentioned does to the system, OR you simply take his word for it. I, of course, chose the second way to go, seeing as the effect of each drug in this book have little to do with the actual plot. Just so you know.)
Basically, as the book develops, you know little bits of the relatively distant past, near past, and present, which are all developped and explained at the same time as the story goes along. It's the same feeling as if many separate lines grow and grow until finally, at the last page, they all meet end to end, creating the story in its simplest form.
I'd also mention that this book is very direct, raw, and hilarious - in a wry sort of way. Palahniuk will very cleverly attack the homophobia versus gay pride issue by placing both those feelings in the same characters, Shannon's mother and father. Analogies are also often made between humans and God, showing the reader how many people "become" God, by either watching TV or becoming parents, for example. Great sarcasm and wit is used throughout the book, which - along with Palahniuk's always excellent writing style - will keep you reading no matter what.
This is an excellent book, and you will not be disappointed, I promise.


As I Lay Dying (Vintage International)
As I Lay Dying (Vintage International)
von William Faulkner
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,95

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Seriously: what is all the fuss about?, 17. Juni 2000
Old woman, waiting to die, with a big family around her. One of them is building her casket for her, and she can hear him banging away at the nails that will be holding together the boards destined to the stashing away of her body forever. Sad, poor, wretched, weak, et caetera.
If you are still reading this review, you have a chance of liking the book. Personally, I couldn't take it anymore. Just a big juicy grey cloud to bore everyone without even a mild attempt at making it entertaining. I cared for none of the characters (they seemed fake and unidimensional), and the story - or lack thereof - forced me to throw the book away after having gotten halfway through it. I can't even believe I made it THAT far. I guess I figured I owed it to literature to give the book a bigger chance. I regretted it 70 pages later, where I still couldn't take it.
The writing style is uninteresting, the characters are dull, the setting is lame. The book is a waste of time.
I gave it two stars instead of one, because - again - I owed it to literature not to make As I Lay Dying bottom out, even though, in my heart, I feel it deserves just that.
If you intended on reading it but haven't yet, then this review just saved you a few hours of time you can now spend flying a kite.
You're welcome.


Cat's Cradle: A Novel
Cat's Cradle: A Novel
von Kurt Vonnegut
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,50

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5.0 von 5 Sternen First an author, then a president, then a martyr, kind of., 10. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Cat's Cradle: A Novel (Taschenbuch)
Jonah, the main character, plans on writing a book about the day that Hiroshima was hit by the a-bomb, but not about the bomb itself: he wants anecdotes, stories that happened to people on that particular day. To pursue this idea, he gets in touch with Newton Hoenikker (son of Felix Hoenikker, inventor of the a-bomb) and many other characters related to Hoenikker's life. We see that his interest shifts slowly from the day the a-bomb hit Hiroshima to the Hoenikker family. This wild information chase leads him to an island, San Lorenzo, where Frank Hoenikker (another son of Felix's) is one of the top dogs - his title exactly, I can't remember.
Anyway, before dying, Felix had invented ice-nine, a chemical product able to "teach" water molecules to assemble themselves in a different manner, the way oranges can be piled up in a different manner in a crate.
This tale, also revolving around a religion thoroughly explained - called Bokononism - gives us an apocalyptic view of ourselves, and takes to the extremes many things we take for granted. And still, for some reason, you just can't help laughing at the bitterness and harshness with which this story is written.
This is without a doubt a must-read, and is one of the best-ended books of all time. You will not be disappointed.


Something Happened
Something Happened
von Joseph Heller
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,29

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The fact that something actually happens is arguable., 13. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Something Happened (Taschenbuch)
The thing is, nothing happens (until the last three pages of the book), but this is only because Heller's object with this book wasn't to make something HAPPEN (as weird as that may sound), it was to make believable characters. I have rarely met a character as honest and straightforward (with the reader and himself, not his entourage) as Bob Slocum. He isn't ashamed of saying that he is ashamed of his son because he can't be competitive, ashamed with his other son because he is mentally retarded, and confused/frustrated because of the way his daughter has chosen to live her teenage years.
He wants to help his son achieve well in sports, but doesn't want to embarrass him and doesn't want to force him into anything (he just sometimes wishes his son were different). He wants to understand his daughter, and not get into bickerings over useless topics and speculations and racial issues (yes, Bob is mildly racist, even though he doesn't always realize it). He wants to ignore is retarded son, or even get rid of him (he doesn't even consider Derek, the mentally retarded child, as his son. He is often caught saying "my son, my daughter and the other kid" or "the idiot"). This kind of honesty doesn't grow on trees.
He sleeps with his wife - and with other women, but seems to enjoy it less or not at all -, he fantasizes, et caetera. He is the most shockingly believable character I have ever read about.
I beg you to read this book; you won't be disappointed.


Survivor: A Novel (Roman)
Survivor: A Novel (Roman)
von Chuck Palahniuk
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen You know, from the beginning, that his plane will crash., 13. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Survivor: A Novel (Roman) (Taschenbuch)
This type of writing is following the Vonnegut rule, which is to disclose all information early. Suspense created by lack of information is usually tedious and annoying, and not suspenseful at all.
This book is amazing, simply because of this: at first, you have a man called Tender Branson, who is part of a cult that declared the Apocalypse ten years ago (like every good cult does when the law finally gets involved). So, as a member of this sect, he should had killed himself ten years ago, but he decides to keep living (even though he regularly thinks about getting it over with).
Suddenly, he is the last member of his sect that is still alive (the Survivor), and an agent turns him into a superstar overnight.
His name is put on many products supposed to be spiritually improving: for example, he releases a book of prayers (the title of the book escapes me) featuring prayers to deal with everyday problems, like: The Prayer To Find Good Parking Spaces; The Prayer To Help Quit Smoking; The Prayer To Hlp Fight Hair Loss; and it goes on. Some prayers are even shown to the reader, and we can't help but find them hilarious: to put it flatly, the prayers are corny as hell. Potboiler material (of course, to add to the satire, the prayer book still ends up selling millions of copies).
The entire book is Tender Branson recording his last words on the black box in a plane, which he plans to crash with himself in it. How he got himself in that position is nothing short of genius on the part of Palahniuk (which involoves a friend of Tender's, who can see the future. And strangely enough, it doesn't seem to amaze anyone in the book) and the general way the text is written is simple, direct and without useless sentences.
Also, just in case you're interested, the book starts at page 200-something, and ends at page one. In my opinion, it really goes well with the idea of the book.
I beg you all to read this book. (And please, everyone, stop comparing it to Fight Club. Who cares if it's better or worse? They're two entirely different books, and both amazing. Case closed.)


Fight Club
Fight Club
von Chuck Palahniuk
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,98

5.0 von 5 Sternen Yes, yes, I should've read it FIRST., 18. März 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Fight Club (Taschenbuch)
Freakin' movies. They come out, look REALLY amazing, then you go see it, then you LOVE it, then you learn it was a book first.
Yes, I read the book, and it was amazing. But it would've had so much more effect had I been able to forget Norton's deranged face as I read. The thing is, when you've seen the movie first, the book seems to skip parts of the story, when in fact, it's the MOVIE that fills in blanks from the book. And those blanks are there for a reason - but movies just can't pull that off as well, and it's understandable.
Example: in the MOVIE, Tyler Durden fights against the narrator in a parking lot. They get a kick out of it. They start to do it regularly, and they eventually get crowds. Later, a member of the crowd joins in. After a bit of this development, they move what is now called Fight Club into a bar basement, and have regular members. The popularity escalates. Soon, they have over fifty members.
Now, in the BOOK, Tyler and the narrator fight for the first time in the parking lot. The chapter ends. You turn the page, and there are ALREADY fifty members to what is now called Fight Club.
Of course, having seen the movie first, I filled in the blanks the same way the director did, only he was able to be creative about it, and I was only able to follow in his footsteps, KNOWING that between those two chapters, the movie script told me what happened.
Summary: both BOOK & MOVIE are excellent, but cover the former before the latter. You'll appreciate BOTH a lot more.
PS: I like the book's ending better than the movie's. (They aren't a LITTLE different; they ARE different.)


Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five
von Kurt Vonnegut
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,41

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Funny as hell, even though it IS about horrors of war., 4. März 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Slaughterhouse-Five (Taschenbuch)
Billy Pilgrim, the hero of the book, is just a great target for his entourage throughout time. At first, being one of the only prisoners of war without a decent coat, being shun for his loud sleeping, the death of others being blamed on him and such. However (here's where it gets unexpected), Billy had become unstuck in time, meaning that he can travel in the fourth dimension (time) just like a normal person could travel in the other three (up/down, left/right, backwards/forwards). This talent is typical of the good people of Tralfamadore, with whom Billy has contact with at one point. To these people, dying does not matter, because it is simply a moment like any other, one that can be lived over and over by the Tralfamadorian. So all the moments in life are predetermined, and it is up to everyone to go live the moments which he prefers. A good point, applicable to even those who cannot travel in the fourth dimension. This book contains some hilarious material. Billy, at one point, watches a WWII movie, but backwards (remember, Billy has become unstuck in time, meaning backwards movie-watching is accessible to him). The movie develops like this: Crashes American planes begin flying backwards, and magical German cylinders attract and suck in bullets from the planes and the corpses inside, healing them. Later, bombs are sent to the USA, where they are dismantled and the parts are never to be used again. Hitler (this isn't in the movie - Billy imagines this) then shrinks back to childhood, then babyhood, then doesn't exist. All ends in perfect harmony. Please, all, you must read this book.


Good as Gold
Good as Gold
von Joseph Heller
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,82

5.0 von 5 Sternen I almost feel guilty loving this book., 15. Januar 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Good as Gold (Taschenbuch)
The Marquis de Sade couldn't have done a better job giving us a character to pity (at first): his family (described above by a fellow reviewer) is complete bedlam, some siding with others, some hating others, some just simply being bitter not to be mean but just because that'S the way they are. Poor, poor Gold. Or so we think at first, until he starts being glorified by the White House and his friend, Ralph, sometimes suspected of being anti-Semitic - yes, Gold is a Jew - offers him a job (unless he can't offer him a job), where he will be able to guarantee success and prosperity (unless he can't). Being promoted without even having a title, Gold climbs the government ladder, pleasing everyone with his bitter jokes that, for some reason, are appreciated because they are taken seriously. He separates from his wife (who barely seems to notice), he meets a Washington girl, Andrea, who he must marry in order to gain enough respect in the White House's eye to gain a respectable title, but Andrea wishes to marry him only when he achieves this title. Clearly, this book is for you, no?


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