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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mazeppa, A Brief Review of Two Brief Tales

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Never cared much for poetry. I read Mazeppa anyways and I really like it. The tale of a man strapped to a horse who runs with an almost endless energy is great. But I hunted this down for the ā€¯Fragment of a novel” included. It’s cited as the first vampire tale in literature. I’m interested in reading Bram Stoker and Prest’s tales of Varney the Vampire so I figured I’d start at the beginning. But it really is only an unfinished fragment and we only know that it’s about a vampire because the author said so. His publisher apparently printed it, without permission, combined with Mazeppa to pad the volume out. It’s very slight and there’s not much to say, but what’s there is good.

What’s perhaps most fascinating is that Byron wrote this fragment during the same ghost story competition held with Percy and Mary Shelley, out of which Frankenstein also came. History. Get it.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Books

 

Book Review: The Day of the Locust

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A bunch of weirdos and their messed up lives intersect on the fringes of Hollywood and everything gets more and more tense until a man goes Lou Ferigno on a little boy’s torso. It was a nice way to end things, especially since this reader wanted to strangle some of the characters himself by that point.

Funny story: I got this book because I read somewhere that it was science fiction. Or at least I thought i had. Obviously it’s not, but the whole time I was reading I kept wondering when someone was going to travel through time or aliens would pop up. Those that “come to California to die” seemed likely candidates for lizard people.

But about three quarters of the way through (okay maybe four fifths), it was clear that no one was going to be losing their cat in a wormhole. That complete misdirection got me to read something I may have never noticed otherwise, and I’m mostly glad for it. Also being such a short book helped.

It reminds me a lot of Camus’ The Stranger. But where Mersault acted on his sociopathic thoughts, Tod Hackett does a much better job of keeping his violent and rapey impulses to himself.

The cock fight scene was truly horrifying and depressing – I didn’t know much about that, and I wish I still didn’t.

This book is probably particularly relevant, and maybe even cathartic, for people living or working in Hollywood. But the basic idea comes across just fine even if you don’t. It’s ultimately an intriguing mix of repulsiveness, curiosity, satire and pointlessness.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Books

 
 
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