The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Review

“If a four-letter man marries a five-letter woman, he was thinking, what number of letters would their children be?”

 

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The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is of Ernest Hemingway’s most celebrated short stories. It uses thematic elements better than almost any story I’ve ever found jealousy, fear, courage, and contempt are all present in this fine work. With his visceral simplicity, Hemingway examines what makes a man and the constraints of the individual from their social structure.

This story follows the titular character on his first safari. He is put in a dangerous situation and proves himself a coward. After facing the scorn of his guide and the fellow hunters, he resends whilst on another hunt. He rises to the occasion and grows as a person saving one of his peer’s life. His wife feels her power over him leaving and then kills him. The relationship between the guide, Wilson and Francis is examined in detail. The victim is painted as neither the wife nor Francis, but as the Francis.

The depths of the interpersonal relationships in this story are fabulous. The tangled net that is the Francis, his wife and Wilson shows the growth of the main character and the flaws of the others involved. The author poured himself into the story and it provides another example of the intensity with which Hemingway writes.

 

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“Macomber opened the breech of his rifle and saw had metal-cased bullets, shut the bolt and put the rifle on safety. He saw his hand was trembling”

 

 

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the recently revived Bored Shenanigans podcast. Our newest series “Story Time” is available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Old Man at the Bridge Review

“‘Did you leave the dove cage unlocked?’” I asked.
‘Yes.’
‘Then they’ll fly.’
‘Yes, certainly, they’ll fly.’”

 

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Old Man at the Bridge is one of shortest works by Ernest Hemingway. Originally published in 1938 in Ken Magazine and republished in the collection The First Forty Nine Stories.  Often noted for the economical use of character development and the overall theme of what constitutes duty.

Written during his coverage of the Spanish Civil War, it tells the story of an old man fleeing his home town during artillery fire. Upon seeing the old man laying on a bridge the author asks about his well being. The exasperated old man tells about how he was responsible for the taking care of the animals after the town is evacuated.  He feels guilty about abandoning his duties and fleeing the twelve kilometers that have left him in his current state. The author encourages him to relocate to where the buses can take him to safety and the man reluctantly contemplates this. In the end, the writer observes that the animals may have survived, but the old man probably will not.

Sad irony and humanizing the victims of war reverberate throughout this text. You can feel Hemingway’s empathy for the old man. He doesn’t wish poorly upon him, but he cannot help seeing the situation as it is. A dark, humorous tale of survival and duty. Hemingway signature candor carries a depressing story and forces the reader to think.

 

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“It was Easter Sunday and the fascists were advancing towards Ebro.”

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the recently revived Bored Shenanigans podcast. Our newest series “Story Time” is available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook. 

Reviewing The Watchmen

“Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense.”

 

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The Watchmen is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the comic book art form. Alan Moore writes and Dave Gibbons illustrates this dark and dynamic story following a group of retired superheroes. Taking place in an alternate time line, this story highlights and amplifies the cold war paranoia of America in the mid-eighties as World War Three seems to be growing ever closer. This comic examines the lives and moral struggles of a group of former superheroes when one of their own dies.

Full disclosure, I think this is one of the greatest books ever written. I have read it a number of times and find the somber subject matter fascinating. It is superheroes that are not the paragons of justice. It is masked heroes at their most human, their most selfish,most inconsiderate and most violent. It is a character study of those looked upon when the villains rise to challenge the helpless. This book has no clear cut protagonist, as it is written it show highlights the ambiguity that exists within us all.

Moore’s creation has been represented in a number other mediums. A 2009 Film, that was met with mixed reviews,a pretty stellar motion comic and a long rumored animated series and/or movie. This work has been universally praised as one of the greatest of all time. Gibbons’ art is highly regarded as it works so well with the ominous nature of the text. It blends and flows so well, it is marvelous. The Watchmen has the best implementation of the ‘story within a story’ concept I’ve ever read, with The Tales of The Black Freighter being smooth and easy to follow.

This book is well worth your time. Over and over again it is worth the effort. Even if you’re not a comic reader or if you weren’t wowed by Zach Snyder’s Film adaptation, I recommend it. This is truly one of the great pieces of American art. With a diverse cast of characters and a intriguing plot, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to give it a read.  See a sample of the graphic novel here or go here to watch the motion comic.

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“It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us.”

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the recently revived Bored Shenanigans podcast. Our newest series “Story Time” is available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook. 

 

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Reviewing The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Caleveras County

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Mark Twain is one of the most enjoyable writers to ever bless the art of literature. His unique wit and unmistakable style make some of the most fun reading. His use of language celebrates the everyman in a way that few other writers have been able to. Already being a fan, I knew I would enjoy this story. This is the story that put Mark Twain on the map. This is The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County.

The most relevant thing I can relay to any potential readers of this story is the substance is the least important part. This tale is all about the journey and far less about the destination. It follows the narrator, who is a western mining town for the first time. At the request of a friend, he meets a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. As opposed to giving the narrator the information he needs, Smiley weaves this overblown tale about a frog jumping contest.

The narrator suffers through the long winded tale of Smiley and interjects his opinions about it along the way. Presented in a clever way, Twain manages to capture the humor and suffering experienced when someone just won’t stop talking. Being a victim of your own courtesy can trap you in the wake of a windbag. The ending really makes this story and without ruining it, I must insist you take the time to read it. A short read, this provides a good escape and can easily be completed during a lunch break. I feel this is a great introduction to Mark Twain for new readers and a fantastic time killer for old fans. Enjoy this story here.

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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A Haunted House Review

“Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak.”

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Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House is the perfect holiday short story. Being the time of the year for warm fuzzies and loving family, this one will surprise you with the way the story flows. I believe that this work would fall into the realm of unconventional Christmas fiction. So if you are a Die Hard and A Nightmare Before Christmas as holiday material kind of person, I think this would be a good choice for you.

I thought this was an excellent jump off point to Virginia Woolf’s writing and if you find yourself enjoying this you will enjoy Mrs. Dalloway or The Waves. This work follows a narrator who resides in a haunted house in which two ghosts are searching for something. As the story progresses, the author discovers what the two spirits are looking for. The imagery used is both hauntingly playful and ends on an upbeat note.

Overall, this is a good way to spend thirty minutes. A quick paced, upbeat story that finds a way to both be eerie and uplifting. The author leaves the reader in an era of suspense throughout. In a world saturated by the same Christmas stories, I think this would be an excellent addition.  This is most certainly worth your time. Read it for free here.

“Death was the glass; death was between us;”

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

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Reviewing War Is a Racket

“Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket. 1) We must take the profit out of war. 2) We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war. 3) We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.”

 

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Major General Smedley Butler wrote this work in 1935 after retiring from the United States Marine Corps. It is an expansion of a speech of the same title. Butler, a career military officer served from 1898 until 1931. During his tenure, he received two Medals of Honor, A Marine Corps Brevet Star, an Order of the Black Star and twelve other awards or medals. He was highly praised during his career and upon retiring he became an outspoken critic of the military system.

I am so glad that I was turned onto this book. Having someone so decisively and drastically critique their entire profession is astounding. He examines the way in which the United States wages war and breaks it down into five easy to follow sections. His sarcastic demeanor really adds some personality to this work. His heart is truly in the pages of this book. He sees war as a crime that is paid for by innocents in lives lost and money taken, as the title suggests he compares the war system to organized crime. He is brutally critical of the ‘military-industrial complex’ in a enlightened and refreshing way.  These were some of the best fourteen pages I’ve ever set my eyes on.

This book should be read in every history class. While some of the solutions presented are not the most practical or realistic, it could open a dialogue that could lead to some true answers. I believe that Butler’s wit and candor would really push even the most staunch military supports to reexamine the way in which foreign entanglements are conducted. This work reached fame when published in the Reader’s Digest in the thirties. I would really like to see another major publication take a chance and reprint this. I hope that all my readers will take a minute to enjoy this, I’ve included a link to the PDF here.

 

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“In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.”

 

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Reviewing The Communist Manifesto

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“The proletarians have nothing to loose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

 

Of everything I’ve read in the Adult Book Reports, this is probably the most notorious. Whether it is looked at as gospel or heresy,this is the book that inspired both revolution and McCarthyism. This is one of those banned books that I’m sure the purchase of puts me on a government watch list. This is Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels most well-known work. This is The Communist Manifesto.

This book was very difficult for me to read objectively.  I am diametrically opposed to almost every idea held within it. I do not believe that private property, free markets, and minimal government are the evils presented in the text. After I was able to disconnect my own personal views with what was presented within the manifesto, I partially understood its appeal. To throw off the oppressive overlords and have working class unite against them. To give the power back to those who sell their labor to merely scratch by. To get away from the oppressive hierarchy and have an equal share. Written in a persuasive and almost motivational manner, this book really pushes its points home through the writing. Marx and Engels obviously are true believers in their dogma and it reverberates throughout the text. They genuinely want everyone to have an equal shot at the surrounding and feel by uniting the downtrodden, this will be achieved.

When originally distributed this was a pamphlet. It is also presented in a way to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The target audience is obviously the poor and uneducated who will tear down the oppressive hierarchy. Those who are underfoot by tyranny will see this as a guiding light and begin to establish the ideas within. Divided into four parts, it can be easily recounted to others and broken down into small blurbs. It is an amazing piece of propaganda on par with something from the Civil Defense Corps or radical religious material. It is a powerful, persuasive and incredibly well-written text. It pushed me to think and examine my own politics, but never in any real way to convert me. If anything, whilst reading this I often found myself questioning the purpose of the state at all. This was an interesting read, if only for its historical significance.  If you feel the need to read this, take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

“WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Hellboy: Makoma Review

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Typically these adult book reports revolve around a piece of classic literature. Typically they are a new author or long heralded book that I’ve never read. Typically they involve something with a reputation for literary greatness.  Other times, I just read a really good Hellboy storyline and feel the need to share it.

For those unfamiliar, Hellboy is a well-intentioned demon who works for the Burea of Paranormal Research and Defense and fights off dark forces. Written with the perfect mix of Lovecraftian horror, folklore, alternate history, and quick wit these stories are excellent. For the most part, each story arc is self-contained and very friendly to new readers. The creator, Mike Mignola has crafted a universe where anything is possible and will whisk you away at a moments notice.

Makoma, or A Tale Told By A Mummy In The New York Explorers’ Club On August 16, 1993. Is a two-part story in which Mike Mignola teams with comic legend Richard Corben. The artwork throughout this book is superb, but I feel that this particular arc shows everything Hellboy does well. It features a traditional fable and incorporates the humor and horror elements that are a staple of the series. The dueling elements of Hellboy’s destiny as a demonic tool in the apocalypse and his good intentions are prominently displayed in these comics.  The African folkloric theme was sublime and did an excellent job of immersing the reader into the narrative. An easy to follow and exciting story make this an extremely enjoyable read. I’ll admit that this is a bias review, I love Mignola’s work and Hellboy is one of my absolute characters in fiction. If you need a quick read or an introduction into the series I highly recommend this comic. I’ve included an Amazon Kindle link here where you can pick these up for a few dollars. This is money and time well spent, so I encourage you to give them a try.

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

The Island of Dr. Moreau Review

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“The crying sounded even louder out of doors. It was as if all the pain
in the world had found a voice”

 

 

H.G. Wells is a master of science fiction. His works helped define the genre and are still heralded as fantastic. His works have been adapted into every conceivable form of entertainment and his ideas presented are still used or improved upon. I’ve read his most well-known works like War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Time Machine and The First Men on the Moon.  Wells’ ability to commit such imaginative things to paper in a concise manner is pretty astounding.

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time. I’ve seen the abysmal 1996 movie and knew that the world had far more potential than presented in that film. This book was a highly entertaining read. From the very beginning the protagonist, Edward Prendick was easy to identify with. A man of science who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is thrust into a world filled with savage heresy that he cannot fully comprehend. Wells does a great job of building the anticipation for meeting the doctor. His reputation precedes him with a sense of electric tension. When finally seen, Doctor Moreau is every bit of mad genius you want him to be. His fanatic dedication to his craft is his all-consuming goal is awe inspiring. He quickly dismisses the pain he causes as a necessary evil to his overall goal.  The dichotomy between Prendick and Moreau is a vast chasm, revolving mostly around their ideals of science. Prendick is aghast at the barbarism he sees and not until the conclusion do you see how deeply he was impacted.

There are multiple parallels between this book and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The ideas of “playing god” and creatures versus creator is explored thoroughly. The reader explores this well thought out theme and it forces them to deeply reflect upon it. I admired the way that the author balanced these thoughts with a cohesive plot. As the reader, you sympathize with Moreau’s creatures. In the climactic final struggle, you find yourself fully rooting against the Doctor. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it. The end is depressing, but I feel that it benefits the overall story greatly. A relatively short read, this was well worth the four hours it took to finish.

 

 

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“I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world”

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Antigone Review

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Sophocles’ Antigone has sat, unread and ignored upon my bookshelf for at least four years. Written in 441 BC it continues the story of Oedipus Rex’s children. Seeing the next saga of the famous story always intrigued me and I couldn’t think of much more frightening and disturbing this Halloween season than being the child of such an infamous man.

I tried to understand and enjoy this story. I honestly tried.  Knowing the language gap would be a challenge I read the historical context and used a study guide to help me digest the contents of this play. I went into this one with genuine effort. I wanted to complete this book and feel like a smarter and more well rounded person. I wanted to know the continuation of the story and be able to discuss it in detail. I wanted to revel in the merits of ancient Greek writings. I was unable to do so.

This book took so much effort to complete. It was a slow, ponderous read and I felt more like I was reading it out of obligation than out of enjoyment. Without knowing what happened via summaries, I would have never been able to follow the plot through the text. Perhaps I lack the depth of intelligence to appreciate this particular work, but this was not something I can recommend. This just isn’t worth the investment of time or energy.

 

 

 

-My nails are broken, my fingers are bleeding, my arms are covered with the welts left by the paws of your guards—but I am a queen!-

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

1984 Review

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If you want a review of George Orwell’s 1984, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

The setting is of no consequence and the characters are irrelevant. Unless, of course the Party deems it to be.

In that case it would take place in London, England part of Oceania around the year of 1984 roughly 30 to 40 years after, what appears to be, a world wide revolution that followed an atomic war. A world that started diverged from our timeline near WWII. We follow the daily life of Winston Smith who’s job is to rewrite history, a younger girl, Julia, who’s rebellion is purely of self interest, a man of privilege and orthodoxy and both ally and adversary, O’Brien, and finally the true protagonist of the story, Big Brother, the omnipresent embodiment of the world in its totality. Or, if it was recast today, a blogger, a millennial in every hipster of the word, a priest (perhaps either Catholic or Scientology), and Steve Jobs.

People have said that Orwell was afraid of our privacy being taken away by force and had no idea that we would willfully give it away with things like Facebook and other social media sharing platforms or through voting and accepting security measures to “keep us safe” that forfeiting privacy and freedom But, I think, THAT was exactly how he thought it would happen. That they would be tricked and rewarded and scared into giving up what they hold dear and not just by their leaders but also by their friends that were duped as well.

For what I think of it as a book, for a deep subject it should be an easy read but that might be because it repeats it’s self a lot. So, if you don’t understand a concept you will have a second chance to wrap your head around it. But if I had do give any big criticism it is that when talk about Winston’s life as it does not relate directly to the rest of the world, it can drag a bit. Lucky, Orwell is more interested in the world than the characters and almost seems to have wanted to write something akin to Plato’s Republic but did not know how to do that so he did it in a more stranded novel form. Or maybe thought Winston, Julia, and O’Brien would be a guise in which the the message could exhibit itself to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an idea. I personally like the book within a book style of writing. Something about a fictional nonfiction book really appeals to me. It happens in the book version of Starship Troopers, and in a movie called the Confederate States of America (it is done as a BBC documentary about a the south winning the civil war)

This is part review and part analysis because I do tend to ramble on. So if you do not want that here is your jumping of point.


The world of 1984 would be described by us a totalitarian, but by O’Brien as the exact opposite, English Socialism, and by the writer of a book within this book, Emmanuel Goldstein, as Oligarchical Collectivism, which I personally think is the closest. The politics, morality, and economics of Oceania are the main interest of the story of 1984. So much so that it required there to be another books within it; the above mentioned manifesto of Goldstein. One thing to note is that everything in 1984 is unreliable. Winston’s memories of his childhood before the revolution, news broadcast, O’Brien’s speeches on Party doctrine, and Goldstein’s accounts of the rise of the Party and how it appears to function; there is not outside the Party. Even the Victory Gin is not gin; it is Saké! It is also conceivable that Oceania is not bigger than England and the rest of the world is carrying on in the usual manner, similar to the North Korea situation.

There are three levels of society: the Inner Party about 2% of the population, the Outer Party about 13%, and ’the proles’ about 85%. Only Party members have the constant monitoring by the telescreens (a TV that watches back) and the Inner Party are the only ones “permitted” to turn them off for brief moments. The Party views the proles as energy to run society at best or slaves at worst. But it is not the kind of slavery that has chains. Throughout the book it is said if there is any hope to bring down the Party and Big Brother it lies in the proles, but it is also pointed out that the proles are kept too busy or otherwise entertain and preoccupy to revolt. They just don’t want to because from their view nothing is wrong. They go to work and get paid, come home, read a book or go to the bar, go to sleep and do it all again the next day. They live. Sure the conditions are not that great to our modern day western standards, but its seams that they live about an average life for someone in say, the industrial revelation or, well, Europe in the early ’40.

It actually looks like, to me, that the prole are the most free and it is the Outer Party that is the most oppressed and the Inner Party is somewhere in between. If anything can be believed there is no Capital of Oceania, and other than Big Brother (who I doubt is real) there is no true leader, and there are no laws. But as this is a Dystopia, something is wrong with all this freedom. It is an Idea that is in charge. I think at one time the revolution was a good thing and meant a lot of good for the world, a lot like in Animal Farm , it got perverted and out of hand. I think there is not government at all. I think it is everyone collectively, out of an imagined fear made manifest, doing what they think they have been told to do. Like the Borg or ants they do what they do because of the Collectivism part. I think the early years of the Party were so effective that they did away with there own founders and laws and now the Party only exists to exist.

O’Brien said the Party is “interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power.” I don’t think that is true particularly because of what he says later “the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails?” it exist to exist and power is a byproduct. Your liver does not have high morals of keeping you alive and functions to do that; your lungs aren’t striving to impress your heart. They all are doing their own thing, oblivious to each other, and it happens to keep you alive. In the same way I think the various Ministries and organization do what they do because that is what they do. The Inner Party is no better off than the Outer Party in any meaningful way. And the proles care just as little about the Party members as the Party cares about them. If they are in hell, it is one of the Twilight Zone ironic hells of their own making.

I know this was long winded (this is actually the shorten version) and I apologies for that. Let’s just say that I am overcompensating for the fact that Cody does all the article and political ramblings on the website. I have more I could say, maybe there will be a tie-in segment in an upcoming episode?

I don’t know what all this says about me but I will leave you with a revelation that Winston had about the book he read that is both profound and one of the best and scariest things to think about when you read a book yourself or hear people talk about books they liked:

” The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.”

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Ryan S. Brewer is the co-host and editor of the Bored Shenanigans podcast (when he releases one) available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of Brewer’s Shitty Writing very sporadically here or as episode descriptions. Also he has nothing else to enjoy anywhere else, but you can find Cody’s poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or the Faceyspace.