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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 02:54:55 AM EST) Reading, Me, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Black Dossier", "Fashion Beast", "Umbrella", "The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil". Links.


What I'm Reading
The Black Dossier by Alan Moore is a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen sequel, set in an alternate timeline after the regime of Orwell's 1984 has been overthrown. The comic narrative is interspersed with spoof documents from the black dossier.

Found it hard to get into this. The overall storyline is a bit of a perfunctory framing device, and I didn't find most of the texts that compelling. Might work better if you own the book and can keep dipping into it, but I got this copy from the library.

What I'm Reading 2
Fashion Beast is an odd project by Alan Moore. Originally it was a film script he wrote in the Eighties with Malcolm McClaren, a kind of Beauty and the Beast story set in the fashion industry in a dystopian world. The film was never made, but the story was recently adapted into a comic.

I actually enjoyed this a lot. The story is eighties-cheesy in some ways, but the characters are appealing and there are some nice mythic elements. Not a masterpiece but a decent story.

What I'm Reading 3
Umbrella by Will Self. Not an easy read: the whole novel is written as a stream of consciousness weaving together several stories, without any chapter or section breaks, the narrative switching mid-sentence. One story has an Awakenings-style doctor Busner reviving a group of mental patients in the Seventies. One of the patients is a suffragette and first world war munitions worker: other storylines concern her, and her brother's experiences in the trenches. Another story has the elderly Busner remembering his experiences in the present day.

While the stories are almost unremittingly bleak, with great hopes repeatedly dashed, I found this a very compelling book to read. It's not as heavy going as Ulysses, since it (as far as I can see) doesn't have as complicated an external network of references. However from the reviews I think people who are unfamiliar with London and British history and culture seem to be struggling more: it must be a lot more baffling to outsiders.

I found it very rewarding, I already think this will be one of my best books of the upcoming year. However, it's definitely grim and effortful to read, so I can't really recommend people to rush out and get it for a nice holiday read.

What I'm Reading 4
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil is another graphic novel that's got a lot of acclaim lately. It's a kind of parable set in the pathologically tidy and clean-shaven land of Here, a man finds himself growing a vast and unstoppable beard, which starts to introduce a note of chaos.

Very good book. The text is sparse but the drawings are very well done: pencil sketches lovingly detailing the impeccably neat landscape and people. Well worth reading.

Life
Have the baby at home now, he's doing fine. Seems to have decided he likes to sleep all day and party all night though.

Links
Socioeconomics. Where is the North South divide? Britain's austerity experiment. Subway fares bar chart.

Politics. London student protests. Exiting the vampire castle. We care about young women as symbols, not as people.

Articles. Žižek and the challenge for 21st Century Atheism.

Video. Wind.

Pics. Confiscated toys.

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Sun shines through the rain | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
It's odd to make... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:21:11 AM EST
New Age the canonical religion of capitalism when Protestant Christianity, particularly in some of the more zealous Baptist offshoots fulfils that role much more effectively.

I found Black Dossier by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:22:24 PM EST
to be a bit of a throwback. He's directly targeting the sort of adventure lit of the late 19th and early 20th century with the contrasting of this version of the British adventure-spy to Quatermain. Other than filling in some background on a couple of characters, he didn't move the overall story of the League until they arrived in the Blazing World and there he pulls the fun trick of talking directly while not doing so at the same time.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

Sun shines through the rain | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)