Author: Matt

Review: Perfidia, by James Ellroy (2014)

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books / film / film noir

Musical Accompaniment: “Life During Wartime” by the Talking Heads In retrospect, I probably wasn’t ready to fully appreciate Perfidia. For background, about five years ago, I tore through James Ellroy’s First L.A. Quartet over the course of a summer. I first got into them by way of Curtis Hanson’s film adaptation of L.A. Confidential, which remains one of my favourite movies ever, and also through Brian de Palma’s ill-fated adaptation of The Black Dahlia, which I still don’t think is […]

Review: Will Starling, by Ian Weir (2014)

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books

There’s something about the idea of surgery that captures our imaginations. The idea of a person who holds a literal knife’s edge between life and death for a helpless mortal, who’s either tied down or unconscious on a slab? Both of these scenarios hold their own horrors, making this the stuff of great drama. Far from the rich, professional class they embody today, the history of surgeons is until the 20th century pretty barbaric; practitioners […]

Review: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, by Mark Leyner (2012)

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books

“Even those who consider all this total bullshit have to concede that it’s upscale, artisanal bullshit of the highest order.” About a year ago, I thought that it might be difficult to summarize the plot of Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Bleeding Edge. This line of thinking feels very quaint to me now, as I’ve entered what I’m going to call the “Post-Nutsack” era (P.N.) of dealing with strange storylines due to Mark Leyner’s masterful book The Sugar Frosted Nutsack. […]

Review: The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell (2014)

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books

WARNING FOR SPOILERBABIES: There are some things that could be construed as spoilers in this review, so be aware. The inside flap of The Bone Clocks posts a glowing review from Publishers Weekly, which poses a seemingly-important question: “Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque?” Since I’ve not read every novel ever written I can’t in all honesty answer the first question, nor can I the second as I’ve only […]

Review: Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It, by David Ewalt (2013)

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books / role-playing games

Musical Accompaniment: “Ready to Roll”, by Flashlight Brown I’m not entirely sure for which audience David Ewalt’s Of Dice and Men was written. Is the book intended to be picked up by absolute newcomers to the concept of Dungeons and Dragons, or tabletop roleplaying altogether? Is it supposed to be of interest to people who already play, but are interested in the story of the game’s creation? Or is it for readers interested in a memoir of a […]

Review: Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer (2014)

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books

Musical Accompaniment: “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue “If I showed you the roses, would you follow?” The twelfth expedition set out thirty years after the mysterious appearance of “Area X”. All women this time out, the unnamed explorers numbered among them a psychologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a biologist, our narrator. The Area, which once featured a coastal town, is now an Eden untouched by human industry, full […]

Late to the Party: The Slynx, by Tatyana Tolstaya (2000)

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books

Two hundred years after the great Blast, people still live around Moscow as best they can, they’re just a bit different now is all. Sure, there’s been some Consequences out there, but some of them are cool, like Nikita Ivanich’s ability to blow flames out of his mouth, or Head Saniturion Kudeyarov’s illuminating eye-beams. Not everyone is stuck with cockscombs growing out all over their body, or whatever the hell it is going on with that […]

Review: The Weirdness, by Jeremy P. Bushnell (2014)

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books

Billy Ridgeway’s not in the greatest shape at the moment by any stretch of the imagination. An aspiring author, he spends most of his time either making artisanal sandwiches for the better-off-than-he-is who frequent the shop he works at, or trying desperately to get his writing published. On the eve of his first launch party, after finally getting a story in at a small literary magazine, Billy wakes up to find a strange person in […]

Late to the Party: Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman (1992)

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books

I’d heard about Anno Dracula for a long time before actually getting my hands on it. When I was in high school, one of the big genres I liked to read was alternate history. I worked my way through Harry Turtledove’s work up to that point (Guns of the South and Ruled Britannia were especially good), devoured Philip K. Dick’s masterwork The Man in the High Castle, and found one of my favourite short stories of […]