Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer [Book]

Death Machines of DeathAll machines suddenly come to life for some reason and go on a rampage to kill every human being on the planet. It’s kind of like that movieMaximum Overdrive, only ten time as fucking brutal!

Welcome to the Big Old Gaylord Opryland Resort! Do you lack the energy to get a date? Are you batshit insane and looking for a cure? Are you a pants-shitting senior who wants to stop being old? Do you hate Stephen King? Then, this weekend, there’s a seminar for you! Sure, there’s a comet flying through space bringing all machinery to life and killing everybody, but don’t worry about that! Here, have a sandwich! Visit our many attractions! See our massive convention center (of death), our beautiful atrium (of death), and our arcade (of death)! Ignore the massive senior citizen orgy. Don’t talk to the kid in the wheelchair. We guarantee the elevator will not transform you into a cyborg. Mr. Coffee isn’t trying to kill you. And there is absolutely nothing suspicious going on in the basement. (Don’t go down there though, seriously).

Take a load off, have a good time, and prepare to die!

Death Machines of Death is an apocalyptic horror comedy by Vince Kramer that just so happens to be a million times better than anything you’ve ever read before. And if you think for one minute that those boring literary classics like The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick are better than this, then you’re fucking stupid!

VINCEKRAMER.WORDPRESS.COM

 

What the hell really needs to be said about this book?  The motherfucker is called Death Machines of Death!!!  How cool is that shit right there?  With a title likes this, there is absolutely no chance in hell that this isn’t going to be fantastic, which is most definitely is.  I don’t know if I have literally laughed out loud whilst reading a book like I did when I was reading this one.  It is hilarious, it is gruesome, it is just so much fun!  It’s like Maximum Overdrive for the rest of us, the ones who veer towards the absurdity over the thrills.  And I truly believe that if Vince Kramer had decided to veer from is incredibly unique style of bizarro narrative, it really would have been pretty boring.  But, with Vince Kramer behind the keypad, boredom is something you will never have to worry about.

Vince KramerI have not quite entirely explored the world of Bizarro fiction, but I do find it absolutely intriguing.  Of all the titles I have noticed, it seems to be an absolutely fascinating take on the world of fantasy and science fiction.  And in my own personal opinion, makes it not so god damned boring.  In Kramer’s work alone, there is no reasoning and explanations for such bizarre shit to happen such as a gaggle of masturbating senior citizens or bowie knife swindling Jesus.  It just happens!  And it is awesome!  Say what you will about this strange style of writing, but even Stephen King could never hold my attention this well.  Just have some fun with this shit people!

Loyal readers of TWS may remember Vince Kramer from a Guest Wreckers feature we posted last year about Pornographic Action Figure Erotica (Noobs- please report here, and get on our level, maggots).  And just as he can do with toys, Vince uses his words the make the obscure and deranged just a shitload of fun.  Last year I also introduced myself to his work with his debut novel Gigantic Death Worm, which I also highly recommend.  Both of Kramer’s books are short in nature, but cram packed with excitement and hilarity.  To put it simply, Vince Kramer creates some of the tastiest junk food for the brain you will ever taste.

Pick up your own copy of Death Machines of Death at AMAZON.  And while you are there, find Gigantic Death Worm.  Get them both because, once you finish one, you are definitely going to be begging for more, you truly sick son of a bitch.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #13. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

Joyland by Stephen King [Book]

Joyland by Stephen KingAfter realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”

STEPHENKING.COM

 

 

I just need to say first off, that Joyland shouldn’t really be classified as a “thriller” or “suspense” novel.  This is simply because there was absolutely nothing thrilling or suspenseful about it.  The books acts mainly as a sort of How To guide to working at a third rate amusement park during the 1970’s.  I also have to say that this is probably the worst book by Stephen King I have ever read.  But, as I have said before about the likes of Palahniuk, it was still pretty good (remember the sex pizza reference?  yeah, it’s like that).  It’s not that book is bad, just a sort of jumbled mindfuck that seems to take the easy way out at so many moments.

The novel’s main focus is advertised as being about a ghost of girl that was murdered and now haunts a (Surprise!) haunted house ride at this busted ass amusement park these days.  Yet, the damn ghost was hardly explained in the first act of the book, mentioned even less in the second, and had it’s story concluded in a bullshit manner in the third.  Oh, okay, so the boy can read minds, so that obviously means he can be the one to set the ghost free?  Sure, whatever, let’s get back to the kid losing his virginity.  That is my only real gripe is that this was suppose to be a suspense novel.  Which I really shouldn’t mind because I generally don’t like suspense or thriller or horror as genres for reading, although I seem to have dug into more of them lately.  I also feel the same for books centered around cops, with the exception of the Fletch series and Bukowski’s last novel Pulp.  But, Stephen King is, well, the Stephen King of horror and suspense.  Although he is also the genius behind such wonderful stories that are only mentally horrifying like The Green Mile and Rita Haworth and the Shawshank Redemption (these are prison based books, prison guards don’t count as cops), and he seemed to have sort of mashed together these two styles of writing.  Which is shame because it is suppose to be a book about a goddamn ghost!

Stephen KingBut, although the book is only 15% ghosts and 85% coming of age in the 70’s, the best parts where the unnecessary ones.  And much like all of Stephen King’s work, it is so damn easy to become mentally invested in the well being of the characters.  I found myself wishing nothing but the best for the main character, and absolutely horrified when I discovered that is own hero was actually the legendary woman slayer who killed the girl 4 years earlier inside the Haunted House ride.  I was actually furious at this fact.  The dude I thought could have only been played by Matthew McConaughey if a film adaptation where to be made (the lead would go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in case you were wondering, but in the era of Brick, not that piece of shit Looper), was the bad guy?  Leave it to King to perfectly ruin our interpretations of heroes and assholes.  So in this respect, King did alright.  King can write the shit out of a character, this is just a fact.  Hell, it is a widely know fact that he wrote some many books under the influence of drugs and alcohol that he doesn’t even remember writing them.  Yet is is still impeccable at character development, and in the case of those few novels, able to scare the shit out of you.  Now that’s punk rock, if you ask me.

Go ahead and read this book.  I definitely recommend the audiobook.  Michael Kelly does a bang up job on this one.  Just take heed that you shouldn’t really be looking to get yourself scared, it’s not going to happen.  And understand that this may very well be the most forgettable works by the legendary Stephen King you will ever read.  And that even at King’s worst, he’s still probably a better writer than you.  Enjoy!

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #12.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Blaze by Richard Bachman [Book]

Blaze by Richard BachmanOnce upon a time, a fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 (“cancer of the pseudonym”), but this last gripping Bachman novel resurfaced after being hidden away for decades an unforgettable crime story tinged with sadness and suspense. Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there’s only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze’s partner in crime is dead. Or is he? – GOODREADS.COM

I can’t tell you rightfully how long it has been since I read a book from Stephen King.  I can tell you that I spent a whole lot of time between the ages of 8-18 living in the worlds he created.  Whether it was digging into his books, or watching the many film adaptations, he was a huge inspiration to me.  I can remember watching Maximum Overdrive or The Shining with my Grandma in the late hours, loving the sensational amount of fear I was feeling.  I remember reading his short story Apt Pupil in my sophomore year of high school during Sustained Silent Reading time and becoming so damn entranced that I hadn’t noticed that the bell had rung, and I was going to miss my next class.  Funny how the god damn teacher didn’t say a word, but that’s probably a whole other story.

There is a reason Stephen King might very well be the most famous writer in modern American history.  He is a writer that anybody can get into, and almost everybody has.  He released work as feverishly as Woody Allen makes films, and he has a natural ability to be able to turn everything he sees into a story.  And he has been doing it for over 40 years.  One thing I could never understand, because I never really cared to Google it anyway, is why a man with the name Stephen King would use a pseudonym like Richard Bachman.  Your name has King in it!  King!  This should be wore like a god damned badge of honor, not as a hidden little secret from the world.  But no matter, a guy with such immense talent as this can call himself Archibald Big Nuts Johnson III and it will still create some amazing work.

The story behind Blaze is that it was written in the early 70’s by “Richard Bachman”, and found by Stephen King about 30 years later.  King updated and touched up the book a bit, and finally released this treasure to the world.  I have heard a lot of talk about Stephen King simply slinging out bullshit just because he knows it will sell if it has his name on it.  Sort of like Quentin Tarantino does on shitty kung fu movies, except King puts more effort into his work rather than just throwing money at the RZA and says Go!  And as I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read much of King since high school (holy shit that was a long time ago!) so I don’t really know what he is up to these days.  Blaze is obviously a 40 year old novel written in a very different time, only slightly reinvented.  And unlike to so many “never before seen” type of works we see being reinvented by wealthy writers lately, this is a fucking brilliant piece of literature.

Richard BachmanIn the books introduction, written by Stephen King, it is clearly stated that this was an early piece of work for him, and that it is highly influenced by John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  This was a very wonderful revelation to come to know before reading the book.  This is because anybody who went to junior high school will instantly understand the reference, even if King had said nothing at all.  Blaze is obviously Lenny.  And hell, the George character in this book is incredibly similar to the George character in Of Mice and Men.  Instead of a “wabbit”, this book has an actual baby named Joe.  And the same sentiments towards this big Oaf become amazingly clear, and you find yourself rooting for the “bad guy”.  Yes, the similarities are obvious and clear.  Yet the story has an original freshness that is undeniable.  I think it is just a sort of American spirit that many of us have.  We want to root for the little guy (or the giant dope) and see them prosper, although we know in the end that many books are a reflection of the real world, and it probably isn’t going to work out in the end.  Yet we routinely show our inner support for a book’s antagonist even though we know we will only be let down.  And Blaze is a good one for this type of set up.  I was sure this silly fuck head was going to get away with it, right up until the very end.

I was honestly surprised at how much I got into this story.  There is nothing starkly complex about it, which I can appreciate.  Aside from our beloved Oaf hearing the voice of his recently deceased friend, there is no sense of science fiction in this work, which is how I have always preferred King’s work.  There really is nothing to take away from this book that we haven’t already taken from other stories.  I am not ashamed to say that I am cashing this book in as just another beautiful number to the already astonishingly impressive library of Stephen King.

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #11.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Jaws by Peter Benchley [Book]

Jaws by Peter BenchleyJaws is the tale of a marriage on the edge of failure. Chief Brody, head of the Amity police, is married to Ellen. They’ve three kids. He’s a native of the area; one of the poor boys who spent his days on the beaches while the rich folks came down to vacation from the big cities. She’s from one of those big cities, from one of those rich families, and since she married Chief Brody she’s been an outsider amongst the natives and outsider amongst the tourists. She belongs nowhere and feels herself wasting away in the tiny beach town, and she pines for what once was.

Jaws is the tale of shady land speculation, organized crime and local governmental corruption, wherein another poor local boy “makes good,” becomes Mayor, becomes one of the “nouveau riche,” then winds up putting lives at risk to save his own skin and pay his bad debts.

Oh yeah … Jaws is also the tale of a killer shark that starts eating swimmers off the coast of Amity. Chief Brody, Matt Hooper and Quint (the infamous modern Ahab captured so wonderfully by Robert Shaw in Spielberg’s movie, although he only shows up in the book in the last eighty pages after one brief half page cameo early on) go out and try to save the people and Amity’s economy by catching the greatest of great white sharks. It all feels like an afterthought, a tacked on third act of a book that never knew what it wanted to be, and the total lack of closure as the novel ends is pretty disappointing.

Once again, the movie proves to be better than the book. Much, much better.

GOODREADS.COM  – written by author of Existence CostsBrad Simkulet

Brad Simkulet

Brad Simkulet

First things first, until now I had never heard of Brad Simkulet.  But I must say that I desperately want to now.  As I was scouring the internet for a brief plot summary of this book, I became seriously aggravated, as one could expect when you are trying to find the summary of the book that birthed the original “Summer Blockbuster” movie of the same title 40 years ago.  But Mr. Simkulet absolutely hit the nail on the head, and just about said everything I wanted to say about the book in the comments section of Goodreads.com.  And in even greater honesty, I don’t think I could truly put anything in to words (although you know I will try) that works as great as Brad’s compelling comments were.  So if you were to stop reading right now, and just go check out Brad Simkulet’s account on Goodreads, or look in to his own novel Existence Costs, I would not be upset.  It is exactly what I would do after reading this paragraph of assertion of dumbassery.

The primary reason I feel as though I am not the right person to be doing this review is based around and ideal I would have never thought about before.  You see, I have never watched the film Jaws.  (pause for gasps) Yes, I’ve never laid eyes on the original blockbuster.  It’s not as though I am some sort of anti-commericialism hipster who absolutely will NOT enjoy a massive hit film that cost as much to make as a third world country earns in cocaine or human trafficking profits.  I do like them.  Well, not most of them.  I’m actually straining to really think of one, but I know I am not against them.  Well, Django Unchained cost $100 million to make, does that count?  No matter, I am straying off topic.  This is the first time that not seeing a movie has impacted my reading of a book before.  Going in to this book was estranged to me because I knew the basic plot, as I have at least a partially function brain and have heard of the infamous man eating shark.

What I was indeed most curious about was how much the characters in this book would matter.  Though I have not seen the film, I could only imagine that the only character any movie goer might give a shit about is the 3 ton shark that is eating sexy bikini legs off (as the movie poster might suggest).  But this was a novel.  The characters had to matter at least a bit more, right?  And as it turns out, they really did!  As much as Mr. Simkulet jests in the quoted text above, this book was really about the people.  The descriptions he makes are absolutely true, and I would not be surprised if they make no sense to anyone reading this review, who has only watched the film.  I know the names of Brodie and Quint are the same as in the film.  I only know this because the infamous filmmaker Kevin Smith named his two main characters in Mallrats after these two.  I’m dead serious about that.  Anyway, I really don’t see it as too of a cry away to imagine that so many of the story lines in this novel where probably highly omitted or erased altogether in attempt to keep the pace of the film moving in the right direction, and to keep the thriller elements alive and ready.  And this is one book-to-film adaptation I believe was done correctly, simply based on reading the actual novel, and hearing what film critics have written about the film.

Peter BenchleyI know I must watch the film adaptation of Jaws someday, and I am sure I will stumble upon it involuntarily.  But, I am glad I read this book, even if there hadn’t been a world famous film adaptation.  It really was a good story.  Although, if it hadn’t fasted around the idea of a giant shark coming around and eating everybody, it could make a very serious and thriving tale of a dying beach community, and the people who populate these summer destinations year in and year out.  The ones who serve you at the seafood joints.  The arcade vendors.  The fishermen guides, etc.  This concept was a blunder for me that I was really getting in to.  So much so that I could give a shit less when they sot out after the big fish, which I hear is a major part of the film.  But, I guess that is just the damn dirty hipster in me who just can’t seem to appreciate a good bit of junk food for the brain with a John Williams score.

I do recommend for people who truly enjoyed the film, to check out the book, and maybe get a new point of view of all the thing Benchley wanted to (but probably didn’t do well) say in this novel.  It’s not exactly Gone With the Wind, a beautiful book with an even more beautiful adaptation, but it could give you a nice new perspective when you pop in your favorite summer blockbuster film again.  Hell, at least you would be reading.  And that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #10.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman [Book]

PaddleYourOwnCanoe by Nick OffermanGrowing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman—who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson?  Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in woodworking—he runs his own woodshop—Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois—�I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield”—to his theater days in Chicago, beginnings as a carpenter/actor and the hilarious and magnificent seduction of his now-wife Megan Mullally.   It also offers hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, style, religion, woodworking, and outdoor recreation, among many other savory entrees.

A mix of amusing anecdotes, opinionated lessons and rants, sprinkled with offbeat gaiety, Paddle Your Own Canoe will not only tickle readers pink but may also rouse them to put down their smart phones, study a few sycamore leaves, and maybe even hand craft (and paddle) their own canoes.

GOODREADS.COM

I absolutely must start this thing with an obviously needed disclaimer:

This is a book by actor Nick Offerman who portrays Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.  This is NOT  a book written by the fictional character Ron Swanson who is portrayed by actor Nick Offerman on NBC’s Parks and Recreations.  Although the two characters are very similar in nature, it is Nick Offerman who has put a bit of his real self into the character that is Ron Swanson.  Both are absolutely wonderful people.  The only difference being that one is completely made up, and the other is one of the finest character actors and all around men to have ever graced this unworthy earth.  So there you have it.

With all that being said, I must also disclaim that I absolutely recommend choosing the option of the audiobook version of this brilliant memoir over a physical copy.  I rarely recommend this, but I can already say pretty surely that you are all going to be trying to hear Offerman’s rustic and manly voice in your head anyway, and you are probably going to screw it up.  Also, the audiobook also includes additions that you will not find in the physical copy of the book.  Go ahead and read both.  That’s what I did, and I enjoyed them both so god damned much.  Alright, enough with the disclaimers, let’s dig in to this thing.

Nick OffermanThis book.  This intriguing bit of guidance/memoir/humorist wit/so many different things…..was downright fucking brilliant.  Seriously.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so much inspiration, education, and down right bemusement since I learned about how lady parts worked in the 7th grade. It was incredible to listen to this amazing man’s man discuss everything from the joys of woodworking, the struggles of being a theatre kid in the 90’s in the Windy City, or just how wonderful a little thing like marijuana can actually turn out to be.  I, like the rest of you will or do, was consistently thinking about Ron Swanson the entire time I was reading this book.  Hell, we are only human, this is bound to happen.  But, to my utter delight, there were an equal amount of things that were rightfully unique and different front he Swanson persona that Offerman has created, as well as so many great things that were similar.  Which only even further highlights the genius of this man who has created a messiah of manliness on television who actually does mirror a bit of the manliness that he portrays in his everyday living.  A beautiful fucking combination if you ask this humble reader.

There is a shit ton of sage like advice to be found in this book, and almost all of it should not be taken lightly.  Offerman pulls no punches when he tells us his most sincere thoughts on anything from being an atheist to following our dreams whilst having something else to fall back on, and never taking yourself so damn serious that you forget that life is a short hot mess that we are forced to endure and make the best of no matter how many times we get kicked in the ass and knocked to the proverbial or physical ground.  This god damned man’s words are some of the most inspiring collection of vowels and consonants I have heard in such a long time.  Even when he is simply telling you a story, he is giving you some amazing advice on how to achieve the ultimate goal of having an absolutely “delicious life”.  He also managed to transfix me into the Chicago theatre world, which I had never really known or cared about, made me long for a time and place that I never knew about, but wanted to know just so damn bad!  And, oh by the way, the man was a break dancer?  I know this was outed on late night TV a while ago, but I didn’t see this unit after reading about it.  Sorry for spoiling such a surprise, but you should definitely YouTube that shit ASAP.  He still has it!

megan-mullally-and-nick-offerman-the-2011_3648831What is definitely most intriguing about this book are the thousands of words dedicated to Offerman’s love for his wife Megan Mullally.  I will admit that felt sort of silly for the fact that I had no idea that he was married to the chick from Will & Grace.  Of course, I am not as in touch with the YouTube and the P&R fan base as I should be, so I just took it as a nice surprise from a gentle giant.  I didn’t care, and still don’t, that his wife was sort of a big deal in the 90’s and when he first met her.  In fact, I loved hearing him talk about how much he loved the woman who was is soul mate in the chapters prior to his all out love bathing with words he did.  I now presume that most readers were already supposed to know who she was whilst listening to Nick speak so highly of this wonderful woman.  I am actually sort of glad I didn’t, because I still only really know anything about her based on how he describes her.  And he does this in such a wonderful way.  I can only wish that I could ponder up about 15 percent of the praise in writing for my own wife that he does in this book.  He is a lucky man, and she is a lucky gal.  And yes, I feel the same way about my own relationship.  I would have never known until reading this book, but there could be a case that Offerman’s career only exists because of his marriage to the Emmy Award nominated actress.  But this is such a horse shit idea that Offerman doesn’t even try to debate out, yet clearly shows how this is definitely said horse shit.  I guess the fact that I knew Nick Offerman by name and not is lovely wife at first reading is a good indication of how wrong this idealism would be.  So, I am happy that it isn’t a big deal.  I am just happy that these two wonderful people have found each other and continue to spread their joy to us all.

Overall, I’m not sure I will be able to find a better book that this one in the coming year, or the other years to follow.  This was about as perfect of  a book as we will ever know.  It is filled with wonderful stories with an incredible range of topics.  There is advice that definitely should be taken (although I am not sure I have the patience for woodwork) and so many different trends of life to take heed of.  Basically, if you love Ron Swanson, you are absolutely going to adore Nick Offerman.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #9.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger [Book]

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

Franny and Zooey is composed of two sections, which were originally published in the New Yorker magazine as two separate short stories. The first story or section, “Franny,” was published in the New Yorker in January 1955. In “Franny,” Franny Glass meets her boyfriend Lane Coutell for a football weekend at his college. They do not get to join many of the festivities, though, because during their first lunch together, Franny begins to have a breakdown. She tells Lane that she is sick of the phoniness at school and of the egotism of the faculty. She has quit the play she was in because she is embarrassed about what she feels to be acting fake. As she gets worked up, she reveals that she has become interested in the “Jesus prayer,” a continuous prayer meant to cleanse one’s spirit. Lane mostly brushes off Franny’s concerns until she faints on the way to the bathroom. As he is helping to revive her, she begins to speak the prayer.

“Zooey” basically picks up where “Franny” left off. First, though, the narrator names himself. The man claiming to be the author of the story is Buddy Glass, one of Franny and Zooey’s older brothers. The story resumes. It is the Monday after the weekend Franny’s breakdown started, and Zooey is at home in New York City. In his conversation with his mother, Bessie Glass, it is revealed that Franny is now at home, sleeping and crying on the living room sofa. Bessie wants Zooey to talk to Franny, which he eventually does. The two of them have a long theological and personal discussion. We learn that the two of them have basically been raised on a blend of different religions, taught to them by their older brothers Buddy and Seymour. Over the course of this long discussion, Zooey helps Franny sort out her spiritual and personal beliefs, allowing her, by the end, to find peace.

 

***

First off, I have to say…I did it!  I finally read this classic piece of literature from Salinger.  This book has been on my reading list for a couple of decades.  Like most of us out there, I read Catcher in the Rye in middle school.  It wasn’t required reading in my school, but it was just something that I was drawn to as I know it it had a strong message about teenage angst and the pressures of growing up.  Well, growing up rich and insecure that I guess.  Plus it was featured heavily in a Mel Gibson movie I really loved way back then when Mel Gibson didn’t suck.  No matter, I had been meaning to read Franny and Zooey for a very long time, and I have to say that I was not upset.  It is rare for me to think that a book was ever “just long enough”, but in the case of this wonderful little book, I still came away from it wishing it was just a bit longer.

I have never really been fascinated with the idealisms of Zen Buddhism and the likes.  More so I have been fascinated with other people’s fascination with eastern religions.  Therefore it is was an absolute delight to get to find out Salinger’s interpretation of the whole damn thing.  Though not an entirely prevalent theme of the book, it was always there.  Buddhism mixed with a bit of self-realization and social narcissism.  Although Salinger published so little works, it is widely known that he wrote in a very metaphorical sense, and Franny and Zooey is definitely not a book that strays from these ways of being.  Salinger wasn’t a great writer in a lyrical sense, like Flaubert who has a “cameo” in this book, but more of a technical writer who had something daring to say, and managed to say it in a sort of secret code.  And this is exactly how the Buddha man made his way into this text.  The entire Glass family seems to be the sort of group of folks who, even when terrible things happen to them, seem to have it all together, but are all dead inside.  And only when a character like Franny starts to realize this notion does the world around her, as grey as it seems, starts to find her ridiculous and incorrigible, because deep inside they know she is ride.  And to that I say, Namaste motherfuckers.

The character of Zooey is easily the most fascinating creature among these pages (Note:  I actually read a physical copy of this!  Not an audiobook, though I still whole-heartedly defend the magic of audiobooks).  Never seeming to truly get over the death of his brother, Zooey’s evident despair acts as a major theme of the book, or at least a very important character trait in the young man.  I do know that there is probably very little to “give away” about this story, as a classic piece of literature like this has had spoilers from millions of different angles for the last 60 years, but I dare tell you fine readers that Salinger said everything we need to know about the declination of society when he wrote the character of Zooey.

As this is a classic story, and all that is to be said about Salinger and this novel has already been said, I want to take this soap box and stand in a different direction.  For anybody who has read Salinger’s work in the last few years….do you think of Wes Anderson?  Salinger’s influence on a film like The Royal Tenenbaums seems bloody obvious to me now.  This is not to say that Anderson isn’t a truly amazing and original artist himself, as he is obviously one of the most intriguing writers and filmmakers of this day and age.  I would dare say that he is the Felini of the now with is quirky and weird depictions of modern society.  But, in reading this book, and looking back on Catcher in the Rye, it seems as though the two have the same story to tell.  That society as a whole is desperately sinking in to a hole of despair and unintelligable declination.  And boy what a bit of fun it can all be!  While Anderson resorts to comedy as a way of depicting tragedy, Salinger simply kept it simple, and stuff with being one tragic and desolate motherfucker.  And hot damn both of these men are brilliant in their own rights.

It may be the whole “rich people have problems too” sort of mindset that they both work with that makes their work so interesting.  While stories of the poor are interesting in their own right, at times in literature, when you strip a character of all monetary concerns, you can truly get to know the inner nature of a person.  This is obviously the case when it comes to this amazing little piece of literature.  There is no doubt that people will be reading Salinger for years to come, he’s just that damn important.  And I dare say that Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey should be required reading for everyone to learn from before the reach the age of 22.  How do we go about making this a law?  Let’s do that.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #8.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck [Book]

Hemingway's Girl by Erika RobuckIn Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match…and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.

When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation…even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths…and the possibility of losing everything she loves

GOODREADS.COM

So, I was basically duped into reading this book.  My wonderful wife was helping me with the process of borrowing digital e-books from our hometown local library on this little thing called the Internet, and she loaded a few suggestions for me.  There was yet another Palahniuk book I had yet to indulge in (review coming soon), A book that inspired a Jennifer Lawrence movie that is about killing kids, but not as a national sport, and then there was Hemingway’s Girl.  I could tell right away she was trying to tell me something.  The conversation went a little like this:

“It’s about Heminway.  You Love Hemingway.”

“Yeah, but it’s called Hemingway’s Girl.  Sounds like a chick book.”

“Well, you did just read The Help.”

“That’s different.”

“Well, it featured primarily women, and was probably in every woman’s book club a few years ago.”

Well shit.  I couldn’t fight this fact.  So that was when I decided that generalizations and categories do not matter, and if it is a good story, it is a just a good story, no matter who primarily reads it.  Also I realized I was just wrapping up Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, which was yet another woman empowerment themed novel, which I enjoyed at least a little bit.  So, I said to hell with it.  Yes, this might turn in to a romance novel, but at least it will be yet another collection of fictionalized encounters with one of the greatest writers of all time, and that has to be something worthy of a bit of one’s time, right?

And I dare say, it was definitely worth the time.  As one would expect, Hemingway was indeed not the focus of the book, rather than a very important character who, much like in his real life, could turn from antagonist to protagonist with one simple paragraph, or at least from one chapter to the next.  The focus on the story is based around the ultimate tomboy and family provider Mariella, who finally “makes it big” as a housekeeper for the hotshot writer and his snooty wife during Depression era Key West.  And of course, she falls in love with Hemingway, but not in a manner that you would expect.  As a straight male, even I could understand that Ole Papa had a charm that had to have been undeniably attractive.  For fucks sake, the man could dribble out beautiful poetry in yellow lettering in the snows of Idaho after draining a bottle of the Key’s finest rum better than almost anyone!  And after that, he would challenge you to a boxing match, beat you at your best, and then put his arm around you whilst placing a fine Cuban cigar in your mouth.  He was, as I have previously mentioned, a fine cocksman.  But I digress.

Our heroine Mariella eventually falls in love with another man who should have been the sort of brute that Key West had been accustomed to seeing in the post Great War era.  Soldiers and other service members still affected from the shit they had seen in France, long before we realized what Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome was, who revel in life’s wildest adventures of boozing, fighting, fucking, and building highways for the man.  But, her soon to be new beau was quite different.  While he managed to earn some extra wages by beating the shit out of others in the boxing ring, he would prove to be the kind hearted and genuinely a wonderful person, and, yes in a womanly fashioned, I eventually became a member of “Team Gavin”, if I were to move into teenage girl references of today.

Photo by Castch Photography.

Photo by Castch Photography.

This is what really got to me, and made me realize that I was truly becoming engage with this story for all the wrong reasons.  I was supposed to be rooting for Ernest!  I should have assumed that all I wanted was for Mariella to fall in love with Hemingway, eventually sleep with him, and feel damned grateful for the opportunity.  But alas, this story became so much more.  It is a story of love of course, but it is also highlighted in the idealism of friendship, and how we are all the same deep inside despite such minute matters as wealth or poverty.  The ability to care for one another in non sexual, non threatening ways is one of our finest human attributes that his not hardly embraced enough in this day and age.

Of course, in my now sick ways, I attributed Hemingway’s Girl, although a work of fiction, to be just another long winded example of how amazing Ernest Hemingway truly was.  I can’t help it.  I am quite the fanboy for this man who offed himself before my parent’s were even alive.  I found this book to be a prime example of how (probably) humble Hemingway could be as well as how attractive and brilliant his work was.  Of course as I mentioned previously, I wanted him to lose this round.  I wanted Gavin and Mariella to see their love flourish and become something beautiful.  And that is where I realize that I actually appreciated the wonderful prose and story telling of Erika Robuck.  Even with a handicap of having one of America’s greatest heroes as  main character, she still managed to pull of the impossible feat of writing a spectacular story without, even though it had, a well padded crutch to lean on.

In short, this is a great story, and is not primarily a romance novel.  Although I will admit that most romance novelists would probably make this claim, but I will it up to you to read Hemingway’s Girl and let me know what you think.  I just think it is a beautiful story, told beautifully as well, and as an added bonus, features a fictionalized version of one of the greatest writers of all time.  What more could you want?

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #7.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!