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by Terry Southern
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silly, amusing story sprawled pretty around 250 pages of sex, 8 April 2002
This review is from: Candy (Paperback)
I think Terry Southern must have sat down one day after having observed the exuberant financial success of some pointless artless meritless piece of gutter literature, realised it really is all about the sex and exploitation, and whipped this little sweaty gem up. And it is sex from cover to cover. You can open it randomly time and again, and be presented eternally with graphic (and usually, from someones point of view, horribly perverse) erotic discriptions spilling from one page to the next, occasionally suplimented by brief paragraphes dealing with characterisation or description of the enviornment which cannot be evoked in terms of gyrations, pantings, grunts, pantings, and so on. That's not to say this is a cheap book which only found an audience because some people who are afraid of heights pretend they are cultured enough to find porn between the covers of a hardback. It's funny, and outrageous, and clever, and interesting. It's just also very, very dirty.
The story follows the exploits of nubile heroine Candy Christian as she ambles through life convinced the plethora of lecherous conniving men (and women) trying to "get into her sweet little panties" are brilliant intellectuals, spiritual leaders, downtrodden innocents, and other people of worth and sincerity. Terry Southern can spin out some wonderfully silly (and sick) situations. In fact, after some carefull thought, I think the thing this reminds me most of are the fabulous furry freak brother comics - there's the same exagerated intelligent madness going on, and everything is caricatured and larger-than-life. Just think sex instead of dope, and you'll have a pretty good idea.
So, yeah, check it out... five minutes to read, and five stars if only it wasn't so repetitive. As one last pointer: if the only Terry Southern stuff you've read previously are some of his short stories, don't expect Candy to be an extended version. "Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes" (short stories) is superior in terms of quality of writing and bredth of ideas - but Candy is interesting, and very, very funny. And it's apparently Terry Southern's best known work, so evidently he was right when he seemed to have a moment of clarity and realise: sex sells, and absolute sex sells absolutely.

Bored of the Rings: a Parody of J. R. R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings
Bored of the Rings: a Parody of J. R. R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings
by Henry N. Beard
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon, I suppose, 7 Mar. 2002
First off, I should really say that I'm a big lotr fan (to the point of knowing some of the songs word for word, and thus, irredemable sadness), and so my first reaction when I learnt of the mere existance of this book was one of mute horror at such sacrilige. This quickly soured to violently vocal horror, and then gradualy to stunned denial, and eventually my psychological defence mechanisms kicked in, and all memory of the desicration was erased.
A few years later, a friend brought me the book for xmas, and I eventually relented and read it. And it's a fair enough read, albeit a very short and silly one. Some of the jokes and paradies (paradys? paridys? Anyone wanna teach me how to spell?) I thought were pretty spot-on (the Tim Benzedrine bit, for e.g., and a lot of the names in general) - on the other hand, I found the experiance as a whole to be pretty mundane. There were echos (pre-echos?) of Pratchett, but I think it was more akin to Robert Rankin - the characters /caricatures don't have the warmth of Pratchett's creations, and there's a certain detached nastiness which leaves a bad taste in your mouth. All in all, worth checking out, but don't expect a work of comic genius.

The Day of the Locust and the Dream Life of Balso Snell (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Day of the Locust and the Dream Life of Balso Snell (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Nathanael West
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £10.99

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disturbing but interestng, 29 Jan. 2002
These are the only Nathanael West stories I've read (I don't know what else he's written, or even how much of it there is), and while I found them entertaning and interesting, they are also quite dark and left a foul taste in my mouth. The first story seemed more serious, and pottered happily (or not so happily) along on the lines of manipulation and desire. In fact, it reminded me a little of "The Great Gatsby", but I've only read both that and this once apiece, so it could well be due to mere superficial similarities. It's not something I would read to escape from my own life when it all gets too much - I wouldn't like to fall into that world while I was feeling vaunerable or insecure! - but it's interesting to observe from a safe distance.
The second story, on the other hand, while still a little weird and dark, is much more frivolous and funny. It's lined with strands of fevered logic which are interesting to read and justify the word "dream" appearing in the title.
All in all a book I'm very glad I read, but one I was equally glad to finish in the knowledge that it was a world I didn't have to re-enter for a while.

Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger: The Gunslinger v. 1 (The Dark Tower)
Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger: The Gunslinger v. 1 (The Dark Tower)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars King trys to show us he doesn't completely despise trees, 29 Jan. 2002
Wow - a Stephen Kind book which didn't spell the end of a tree for every copy published! Against all the odds, you can actually describe this book as slim, and -shock, horror!- neither the writing nor the story suffer for it. In fact, I found the writing a lot more enjoyable than that in just about any other King book. Usually, his writing seems to obviously celebrate the story itself over the writing in which it is presented (which is fair enough, because his stories are usually imaginative and entertaining enough to make up for any flaws in the prose). This story doesn't get bogged down, and it has a dream-like quality to it which makes it more pogniant than usual. I don't know how the story progresses in the following volumes, but I'm looking forward to finding out (especially as I've been told that the story is in some way linked with Flag from "The Stand", Flag from "The Eyes Of The Dragon", and that magical old geezer from the first story in "Hearts In Atlantis", although I don't yet know how true this claim is). All in all, well worth a go (even for people who haven't got to grips with other Stephen King books), especially as its short enough to read without commiting yourself to an exercise in endurance.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and a joy to read, 29 Jan. 2002
I haven't yet read all of Jeanette Winterson's work, but I think after this I'm going to have to! The writing is absolutely perfect - in fact the style is so wonderfully performed that I could have carried on reading if the story had dissolved into nothing. It doesn't, of course - the story remains strong and compelling throughout - but it's the way the author can describe something quite mundane and inane in such a fresh, imaginative, funny, wonderfully weird and unique way that really made me love this book. If it had been written by a less skilful hand, the content of the story would still have been fascinating - as is, I think it turned out short of perfect by the width of a hair (and that's only because it wasn't long enough!).

Dungeons & Dragons [VHS] [2001]
Dungeons & Dragons [VHS] [2001]
Offered by stephensmith_426
Price: £9.90

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter mind-numbing, soul-destroying waste of time and money, 10 Jan. 2002
This is one of the worst mainstream movies made in recent years. Given the unimaginative, insultingly cliched nonsense that's come out over the last few months alone, that's actually quite a claim. It's two hours of purified drivel, filled with bad acting, shameless mugging, unfantastical fantasy, and, apparently, a script written by gerbils. (Not even gerbil intellectuals; in fact it could have been a hampster, or perhaps even a small vole). Jeremy Irons (or however this fallen man spells his name) shames himself utterly as an evil wizard, and that girl from American Beauty (the one who isn't Mera Survara) should DEFFIANTELY get herself a new agent.
The annoying thing is, this actually had quite a lot of potential - vast potential in fact, as the size of the dungeons and dragons universe(s) are so huge. There's so much literature (well, writing, at least) describing the worlds, characters, plots, adventures, and so on, there must have been SOMETHING half-decent out there already.
As it turned out, it would have been so much better even to have seen a live action version of Uni, Venger, Bobby,Dungeon Master et al. And while the effects weren't bad, it would have been so much cooler to see a CGI of that multi-coloured, multi-headed dragon-thing that was the real star of the (entirely unrelated) cartoon of the same name.
What a waste. What a terrible waste.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2015 3:54 PM GMT

The Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set)
The Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set)
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback

84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You probably need all you need to know about this, but..., 25 Oct. 2001
Everyone knows what this is about, right? Good, evil, epic, literature, fantasy, etc., etc., it's all there already in the fifty-odd other reviews already on this page, and I don't really need to add to it (I will anyway, of course, because its been my rather sad dream for the last fifteen years at least to write anything in any medium of any relevence to tLotR whatsoever). This has been my favourite novel for years, and might well be for the rest of my life - it's a fantasy book you don't feel sad for reading, and that alone should mark it out as valuble for its sheer rarity value. It's the defining work of fantasy (as the word has come to mean in terms of commercial writing, you know, elves, dwarves, dark lords, kings-in-waiting, that sort of thing), and has tempted more people to acts of blatent plagiarism than any other literary force before or since. Films and books aside, think of the multi-million pound wargaming and roleplaying industrys.
The point is that you read the book, and not only can you understand why it's been so extensively copied, but you also feel yourself the near-irresistable urge to launch off into your own rambling attempts at epic myths and even (god forbid) elvish poetry.
Anyway, like I said, everyone really knows about this already. But one more thing: the films are gonna start coming out soon, and however good or bad they are, they're gonna be absorbed into the collective unconscious pretty damn quickly. So if you haven't read the books yet DO SO NOW, before your impressions of the characters and events becomes irrevocably influenced by their portrayal on the screen. Remember, you're gonna see posters for this on every street corner, you're gonna see interviews with the cast and crew on every TV talk show, and you're gonna see trailers every time you go to the cinema - it's not something you can escape. All I'm saying is, experience it purely in your own head while you still have the's not gonna be as personal an experience as it is for much longer.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld Saga)
To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld Saga)
by Philip Jose Farmer
Edition: Paperback

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful idea, told with greater than adaquate skill, 25 Oct. 2001
This story is based on an idea so big it's not surprising it took four sequels and a further hundred or so characters to express it in its entirety. As a piece of science fiction, the science is believably presented (for the most part), cohesive, and intriguing, and the fiction is of a marvelously inventive calibre. In fact, it could be considered as bordering on science fantasy - the situations are certainly fantastic enough, and there's a lot of action. In fact, I found this to be the one real weak spot of the series as a whole - too much time has gone into describing various fight scenes (be it among makeshift aircraft, between proud boats, or simply good old fashioned fisticuffs) in blow-by-blow detail. Personally, I found this occasionally had the effect of making the story seem childish and the writing seem laboured.
The writing itself is not of an amazingly high quality, but it doesn't suffer at the expense of the ideas as much as in many other SF and F novels. It's not bad; it's just obviously not the focus of the story, that's all.
In any case, it would be worth putting up with far worse for the sheer pleasure of reading about Alice (In Wonderland)'s meeting with Mark Twain, or how King John might interact with Herman Goring.
All in all, a dazzeling and readable piece of inventive storytelling, well worth a littel time and money. But be warned: if you're gonna read one, you're pretty much commiting yourself to completing the entire series.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2011 3:14 AM BST

Long Voyage Back
Long Voyage Back
by Luke Rhinehart
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Dice Man, not even Whim, but certainly worth reading, 25 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Long Voyage Back (Paperback)
If you're expecting this book to be as thought-provoking, funny, and innivotive as The Dice Man, then you may well be dissapointed. That's not to say its not a good book; it is, a very good book, but its more similar in tone and content to John Wyndhams disaster/survivor books (e.g., Karaken Awakes or Day of the Triffids) than to Rhineharts other work. One aspect clearly binds this novel to the authors other fictions (or semi-fictions), however: the abundant inclusion of literary porn. Hey, I'm not saying that's wrong, I'm not saying its impairing, and I'm not even saying it's excessive, it's just most definately there - be warned and informed!

Enduring Love
Enduring Love
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First half is near-genius, the second merely excellent, 24 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Enduring Love (Paperback)
I'm gonna assume that by now you've probably got a fairly good handle on the plot, having scrolled through fifty-odd reviews already, and so I shall congratulate you on your dedication (or boredom) and not bore you further with a dedicated plot summary. In brief note form, I think:
-The science stuff is great! From what I can work out, it's pretty much accurate, as far as current beliefs run, but that's the whole point, isn't it? Whether you're a deeply religious science-hater, or an atheist who wants solid facts supported by extensive proof, it all comes down to faith in the end. It should make you question faith in cynical reason as much as faith in unreasoned feeling and intuition.
-The writing is also great! Not too dry (for something written from the point of view of someone with a scientific background, even if it is merely science-writing), certainly not over-the-top flowery, but descriptive and thoughtful.
-Good pace, good length. I read it over a couple of days, and didn't feel rushed. My only complaint is that around three-quaters of the way through I began to feel that the story wasn't shaping up to be quite as good as I'd hoped from the first chapter.
-Question: did anyone else note something Clarrisa said about half way through in reference to the handwriting on the letters from Jed, and think that maybe the story was going to go all Fight Club on us?
-Buy it.

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