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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Sabres Of Infinity Review

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Do you want to play a game and read a book at the same time? Would you like to explore a fictional world that involves gunpowder and sorcery? Do you want something that is well written and original all at the same time? If so, Sabres of Infinity is the experience for you.

The creator, Paul Wong weaves a unique setting that has the player assume the role of a member of an aristocratic family who in deeply indebted. In order to relieve the debt, your family has sent the playable character to serve in the military. Through a series of options, you are allowed to chose the stats and characteristics of your character.

The story follows the character as they complete their training and interact with several of their peers. By selecting certain actions, your peers either become allies or rivals. After completing training and being assigned to active action you really get to see what an interesting setting the game provides.

The thing that really impressed me with this game was the writing. I found that I really began to care about the main character and his plight as he navigated the effects of battle. You find yourself dealing with hostile natives and questioning the motives of the war itself along with the manner in which your countrymen conduct themselves. It pushes the player to ask some deep questions whilst allowing you to immerse yourself in the character and the world presented.

I feel this game provides a great deal of replayability and I cannot wait to play it again and see what other options are available. I cannot wait to play the sequel Guns of Infinity and I feel that for the purchase price was well worth the price. All in all, this is worth the time and if you need a unique game with a great setting this is your choice. Check it out 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.

 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Carl Sagan Day with an Election

It is November 9th and that usually indicates the annual post of it being Carl Sagan Day. But in the light, or lack there of, of resent events and this years political landscape as a whole I am Canceling Carl Sagan Day do to a lack of critical thinking, rationality, and skepticism.

But here is a link to the first years, and here is a link to the second years

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

This is not just because of our new president elect but also because of all candidates that made it this far and, particularly, the way it was all handle by the public. Credulity abounded at all sides and when someone finally says the truth it is lost in the chants of rhetoric (which a great leader once said “judge a man by his action not his rhetoric”).

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Setting aside all policies, Trump would make statement the would challenge the most skilled of contortionist by putting his foot in his mouth while his head was up his ass and gazing at his own navel, patting himself on the back and shrugging all at once. But were, you or I to do that it would be a failing of character but for him it is quote “him telling it like it is” even though the numbers don’t support that. PolitiFact, love or hate them, has evaluated 331 claims by Trump. 70% were found mostly false, false, or pants on fire. Compared to Clinton’s 293 with 26% being some level of false or Obama’s over the course of 8years 596 also at 26% false. This is not an endorsement of them being better choices it is more condemning the lack of accountability or more aptly the wanting there to be and willingness to accept accountability on the claims he made. Johnson and Sanders were nailed to the wall for not being able to back up there more outlandish claims.

“We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

Scientific American got a list of 20 “refined by a group of scientific institutions representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers” and graded the 4 major candidates with 5 being the most points that could be award (one question was not graded because it was on immigration and they felt if was outside the scope of the magazine to pass judgment on that topic) for a total of 95 points. The scores are as follows Trump 07; Clinton 64; Johnson 30; Stein 44. Now it is not a requirement for a leader to also be phd in the sciences but in a complicated world of climate change, vaccine denialism, and growing reliance on the STEM field it should be a requirement to understand the scientific processes and hold respect for it.

“Those who seek power at any price detect a societal weakness, a fear that they can ride into office. It could be ethnic differences, as it was then [Alien and Sedition Acts], perhaps different amounts of melanin in the skin; different philosophies or religions; or maybe it’s drug use, violent crime, economic crisis, school prayer, or ‘desecrating’ (literally, making unholy) the flag. Whatever the problem, the quick fix is to shave a little freedom off the Bill of Rights.”

Everyone was wiped into a state where the prevailing moods were fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. They all wanted this. Everyone of them. And we all felt it. Trump wanted you to fear and hate foreigners. Clinton wanted it to be Trump. Johnson wanted you to fear government. Sanders the wealthy. Stein…. um… well…. I don’t know want she want… I did not pay that much attention to her… Lets just say it was novelty welcome mats she wants us to fear. It became an election about negatives and differences. No one wanted to lead they wanted to win. So reason had to take a back seat.

“Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don’t have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen — or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

Carl Sagan mainly stuck to science and skepticism in his writing and tried to inspire a sense of wonderment in the grand future we could have. But occasionally he would turn the themes of critical thinking towards politics and the best example I can think of is his book ‘Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark‘. (Which I have it on good authority if you google it followed by ‘pdf’ you can find it to read for free). Now, sadly I have not reread it recently so I can’t call this a full BS Adult Book Report but for this special purpose I should be fine. If you are going to read one book from Carl Sagan or on the topic of skepticism or science communication this is the one. In it he goes through how we know what we know in science and more importantly how to detect when someone is trying to deceive us with false science. It also talks about why people are willing to believe in weird things and how they get deceived and not in a negative way. A basic primer on skepticism. It, though prone to tangents at times, is not written for a science major or someone in the deep end of skeptic moment. It is for the beginner and has enough topics for you to find one of interest for you. But also, he takes the time to explain why all of it is important, not just personally, but to a nation and world as a whole and that is were the political and social studies comes from. In it he speaks highly of the Founding Fathers particularly Thomas Jefferson, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. He thinks leaders should be intelligent and the citizens should be even more so and I can’t disagree with that. He also thinks our freedom our constantly under the assault of be removed, either by those seeking power for powers sake or by those seeking to profit through tricking us, I also cant disagree with that. And his solution is simple and obvious after all of this: just be aware.

We have failed Carl Sagan. We are letting the candle burn out and the cold, unforgiving dark creep in. People are distrusting science and letting the comforting myths of old sink in. It is almost a joke but there are people in the first world that believe in a flat earth and there is no excuse for that. The “religion of nationalism” has taken holed were a political party is more important than political good. But there is time turn back. And we can’t predict the future. Maybe it is not as bad as it seems and we will have a great next 4 years. Only time will tell. Maybe it was all a ploy to shine a light on how easy it is to be deceived (please, please let it be that…..) I will leave with a few more quotes from Demon-Haunted World that I find appropriate but could not find a place for otherwise. 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…”

“When we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. They were well educated. Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history. They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility. They were fluent in the English language. They wrote their own speeches. They were realistic and practical, and at the same time motivated by high principles. They were not checking the pollsters on what to think this week. They knew what to think. They were comfortable with long-term thinking, planning even further ahead than the next election. They were self-sufficient, not requiring careers as politicians or lobbyists to make a living. They were able to bring out the best in us. They were interested in and, at least two of them, fluent in science. They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far future — not so much by establishing laws as by setting limits on what kinds of laws could be passed. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights have done remarkably well, constituting, despite human weaknesses, a machine able, more often than not, to correct its own trajectory.”

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. 

Bored Shenanigans Podcast – Episode 114


So, Hi! How have you been? It has been a while. Well, this is a month old so Orwell month is a thing again in it. Also a new hectic cake. Let us know how you like the podcast that goes with our blog website because it sure has been some time since we earned the “podcast” part of the domain name.
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Welcome to Bored Shenanigans.

Welcome to Episode 114: We have a podcast?

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.

 

 

Snow, Glass and Apples Review

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“Lies and half-truths fall like snow, covering the things that I remember, the things I saw. A landscape, unrecognizable after a snowfall; that is that she has made of my life.”

 

I love re-tellings of famous stories from a different points of view. In Snow, Glass and Apples Neil Gaiman takes Snow White and turns it on the side. He reimagines this fairy tale and tells it from the eyes of the wicked stepmother.

First and foremost, this story is a blast. The skillful reinterpretation of a well known fairy tale and changing the perspective in such a drastic way truly makes this worth reading. Sure you have your traditional elements like dwarves and apples, but there were several things I didn’t anticipate to happen, including necrophilia and vampirism. More than anything the twisted tone that the author takes this story in is breathtaking. Gaiman has stated that he wanted the reader “to think of this story as a virus. Once you’ve read it, you may never be able to read the original story in the same way again.” That feat was easily accomplished and I can not heap enough praise upon this.

This fresh look at well trod material is invigorating. Just go read this. It is worth every eerie moment and you can easily finish it within a lunch break. I highly recommend this as it excels at everything a short story should do well.

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“If I were wise I would not have tried to change what I saw.”

 

 

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.

Burmese Days Review

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“But the whole expedition -the very notion of wanting to rub shoulders with all those smelly natives -had impressed her badly. She was perfectly certain that that was not how white men ought to behave.”

 

Burmese Days was George Orwell’s first novel, published in 1934. Set in 1920s Burma it follows a timber merchant and the people that ripple in and out of his life. The motivations, while important are far less pertinent to this story than the interactions within it. This story does an excellent job showing what life was like for natives and Europeans living in imperialistic Burma.

The setting that Orwell builds here is fantastic. He goes to great pains to have the reader see what the interactions between the natives and the colonists are. It becomes clear that the colonists do not see the natives as equals, but rather tools and resources to be used to their own end. It also becomes clear as the novel progresses that Orwell loved Burma. His descriptions of the environment and the geography are so vibrant that it becomes clear that he truly loved it there.

The thing that I found most interesting in this novel was it’s ability to highlight the degrading British Empire. In this work it is obvious that years of rule by England have worn down the Burmese people. Corruption exists at a casual level as everyone is vying to gain a little bit more wealth or power. Though subtle and laced throughout, this theme shows early signs of what would become indicative of Orwell’s writing. He does a commendable job showing what a long period of rule from a far away state does to a group of people.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was simple to follow and while a bit dull in parts, the ability it had to keep the reader engaged. The infusion of Burmese culture never let you lose sight of the setting of the story and was tastefully sprinkled throughout. I read this book in about two days and found it to be worth the time spent. For those Orwell enthusiasts like myself, give Burmese Days a try.

 

“It is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life.”

 

 

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.

George Orwell Complete Poetry Review

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-…Nothing believing, nothing loving,
Not in joy nor in pain, not heeding the stream
Of precious life that flows within us,
But fighting, toiling as in a dream…-

 

I’ll be honest, this collection of poetry wasn’t what I expected. More accurately it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I desperately wanted left leaning, anti-totalitarian verse draped in social satire. I wanted elegant lines questioning the very intention of imperialism. I wanted first hand experiences of humanity falling into mob mentality. I really wanted to fall in love with this book.  I wanted to be as infatuated by this collection as I’ve become with Orwell’s essays and novels. I wanted this to be the shining gem of Orwell September. I wanted this to be something, it was never going to be.

For a little background, this collection was published in October of 2015 after being withheld for many years by Orwell’s estate. By the author’s own admittance, he never held much fondness for his poetry.  This book gathers some of his earliest writings from his youth  all the way to his later life. It does a commendable job of prefacing them, so the reader can more fully appreciate the events of Orwell’s life. From the standpoint of historical interest and curiosity’s sake, it is fun to see how much his style evolved, but that is about where the fun ends. The poetry just isn’t very good.  In the words of  Dione Venable, the editor of this collection, “Orwell wasn’t a wonderful poet, but in his poetry he’s gloomy, he’s funny, he’s happy, he’s sad, and in the last things he wrote, you feel his pain.” As you read through it, you see him experimenting with  various styles and rhyme schemes but few ever seem to really resonate.

Now that the negatives are out of the way, there are a few pieces in this collection that are quite good.  In particular I enjoyed Ironic Poem About Prostitution and As One Non Combatant to Another. The dark satire that reverberates in these works is familiar to the fans of his writing. They provide a glimmer of what I had hoped for when I found this book. Other than a few lines from a smattering of poems, this entire collection left me feeling a bit flat. It was eighty two pages of mediocrity. I appreciated seeing another side of such a highly exalted author. I enjoyed seeing small shades of his excellent novels in these poems. Unless you’ve read everything else he’s ever written or your inquisitive nature just can’t let this one go, I would suggest you just pass on it. Sadly, this is the first Orwell I’ve ever read that I can’t really recommend.

 

 

Pagan
So here are you, and here am I,
Where we may thank our gods to be;
Above the earth, beneath the sky,
Naked souls alive and free.
The autumn wind goes rustling by
And stirs the stubble at our feet;
Out of the west it whispering blows,
Stops to caress and onward goes,
Bringing its earthy odours sweet.
See with what pride the the setting sun
Kinglike in gold and purple dies,
And like a robe of rainbow spun
Tinges the earth with shades divine.
That mystic light is in your eyes
And ever in your heart will shine.

 

 

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.

Animal Farm Review

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With Orwell September in full swing, how could we neglect one of his most well known works?  This novella takes place on a rural English farm in which animals begin a revolution to overthrow their oppressive farmer. Deeply symbolic and easy to follow, it is simple to see why Animal Farm is so highly regarded.

This novel was mandatory reading when I was in high school. I didn’t really understand or care for it then. It seemed highly overrated and somewhat stupid. I recall making ignorant, snarky comparisons to the movie Babe. The allegorical use of animals to the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era that followed, didn’t do much for me. Looking back I feel this book was mostly presented as anti communist tome and the deeper issues inside it were outright ignored. I remember discussions about who each character represented, but it was taken with a misguided slant toward patriotism and not a study of political structure.

I feel one point my high school literature teacher missed was how good this book is at explaining how the state works to anyone. Written in a direct and easy to follow form, it does an commendable job of illustrating the cycle of tyranny. Showing the reader how honest, well meaning ideas are agreed upon and slowly manipulated by the powerful and intelligent over the less powerful and less intelligent. Good intentions are quickly forgotten when one group can gain at the expense of another. The social and political constructs in this book are so true to life that the reader is forced to draw parallels to the ones that surround them. 

Dystopian novels rarely show the decline and fall, instead you usually see society at the lowest form. Animal Farm takes great pains to highlight multiple instances in which you see the society breaking down. You feel the plight these animals suffer as more and more things are taken from them.Orwell pushes the reader to ask if the revolution was worth it, or if the animals were better off with the farmer in charge. It alludes to a multitude of political theories and schools of thought, plus highlights how many changes a charismatic leader can make.

This book is goddamn great, truly goddamn great. I rediscovered it a few years after high school and it has been one of my favorites since that time. You can read it in an afternoon  without trying too hard, but it is the sort of novel that stays with you. If you didn’t like it when it was a mandatory read, I believe it deserves another chance. With the upcoming election season be political, read some Orwell. I believe that you will truly enjoy the time spent. Animal Farm proves that while all books are equal, some are more equal than others.

 

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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 blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Shooting an Elephant Review

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George Orwell is a titan of literature. He has coined concepts and ideas that are so deeply embedded into popular consciousness we forget they haven’t always been there. Most of us know him as a novelist, but during his life his journalistic writing were his most well known. Around the Bored Shenanigans studio we are rabid Orwell fans and cite his works with far too much regularity. So for no particular reason we present, Orwell September. This month all of our Adult Book Reports will be reviews of Orwell works.

The first work I’m reading this month is one of his highest reviewed essays, Shooting an Elephant. This story follows an English police officer stationed in Burma who is called upon to shoot a mad elephant. While never directly stated, It is assumed the narrator is Orwell speaking from personal experience. That fact is disputed as no provable historical account of these events exist. In my opinion this is written with too much earnestness to be completely fictional.

On of my favorite things about George Orwell’s writing style is the sophisticated simplicity. If ever there was a master of doing more with less, it is him. In this essay, the events are neither complex nor cunning but with precision he shows the tension between the locals and the British occupiers. It forces the reader to examine the two clashing cultures and the results of the British Empire’s seizure of that area. It allows the reader to see the author’s true opinion of the totalitarian rule without ever directly saying it.

The climax of this essay is something to behold. It drives home the themes throughout in both a subtle and substantial way. It cleanly states the essay’s purpose whilst still forcing the reader to ask more questions. It using symbolism in all the best ways and ends with some stellar final lines of dialogue. I highly recommend this and clocking in at less that thirty minutes it is definitely worth your time.

 

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Check back next week as we sink our teeth into more George Orwell.

 

Read Shooting an Elephant free here.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Beautiful and the Damned Review

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel is a great read. It follows through the course of their relationship, from the joys of infatuation to the committed stages’ hardships. It uses the early 1900s cafe culture as an interesting backdrop and really allows the reader to see the complexity that exist with each character. Before I get rolling too deeply into this, one comparison must be made. This book is everything Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises wasn’t. As much as I love Hemingway, this story told a similar tale in a much more enjoyable and captivating way. Horrible to say, as I know these two authors had a deep dislike for one another.

This is my first exposure to Fitzgerald’s writings. He is much more well known for his masterwork, The Great Gatsby. While that novel does seem interesting, I found this recommendation on a list of most underrated books and I feel that is a fair estimate. If you are looking for a romantic comedy style story that could easily be adapted to a Meg Ryan movie, this isn’t what you want. If you are looking for a cynical and realistic portrayal of flawed and selfish people whose love for one another has to endure trials and upheaval, this is your book.

The author’s writing style is simple and beautiful.There are multiple quotable lines spread through the text I had a difficult time nailing down one. The tone is a strange poetic elegance I haven’t really encountered anywhere else. The way in which he so clearly and cleanly becomes the vessel through which his character’s speak is incredible. The effect that their environment of decadence and the social structure in which they reside becomes ever clearer as the novel progresses, but not distractingly so. The author balances the line of a morality tale and an enjoyable narrative in a way that is rarely seen, especially amongst current literature.

The major downside to this book is it really comes to a screeching halt near the middle, I actually took a few weeks to finish this one. I cared enough to return to it, something I rarely do when I abandon a book in the middle. I was grateful I finished it, because I got closure on the characters within. The committed reader could knock this out in a few days, but I think this is best kept as a bedside book. Something to enjoy a few chapters at a time over a longer duration otherwise it does become somewhat ponderous. Overall, I got a lot of entertainment out of this story. I really enjoyed Fitzgerald’s style of writing and think this is a good entry point into the man’s work. This was definitely worth the time spent.

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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 blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

The Killing Joke Review

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Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke is one of the best comics ever written. Simply put if you enjoy comics at all you need to read it. If you haven’t quickly abandon this review and find a copy of it. This book h highlights everything good about the medium of comics in the same way that Sin City and The Watchmen do. It is one of the definitive works ever put to page.

In the latest episode of Podcast, Brewer and I reviewed the newly released animated version. As good as that movie captures the comic, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is Alan Moore at his gritty best and the combination of Brian Bolland and John Higgins art is stellar. Telling an origin story for the enigmatic Joker and having him being a cunning and vicious is a bold choice. This is R rated Joker at his absolute best. Moore does an excellent job of blurring the line between the hero and the villain. He forces the reader to wonder how different these two really are and as stated in the narrative, all it takes is one bad day to change your life forever.

This book has been influential on a number of interpretations of Batman, everyone from Christopher Nolan, to Tim Burton and Mark Hamil citing how much they took from this comic. It is fairly obvious the critically acclaimed Arkham video games have taken many cues from it. From its’ examination of a well known character to its’ morbid subject matter, this is a fantastic comic. This book is worth all the hype, all the accolades and I imagine that it will perpetually be one of the essential Batman story arcs.

 

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Enjoy the full digital comic here.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Red Harvest Review

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How do you like your crime novels prepared? Hard boiled detectives? Corrupt public officials? Rival gangs gunning for control of a town, perhaps? If so, Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest does all those things and more. This detective story is so engrossing and the characters so interesting, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Goddamn, did I like this book.

This is my first journey into any of Hammett’s work and I was quite impressed. I don’t know the last time I enjoyed character dialogue as much as this. It was easy to follow, but still smart and witty in beautiful way. Crisp transitions allowed the plot to cruise along without any clutter or confusion and by doing so, it forced the reader to keep reading. I found myself having a difficult time leaving this book alone as I desperately wanted see how this story would end.

I really enjoyed having a protagonist with anonymity. The Continental Op is believable as a detective, I loved the intimate little details of each person encountered. It gives you a true feeling of who each character was. From crooked lawyers to roommates with breathing disorders, you start to know them the same way that the detective does.  Another thing I enjoyed was seeing how the violent environment wears on the prominent figure’s mental state. As the mystery begins to unravel and the detective gets closer to tying up his loose ends, you want to see how he will triumph over the turbulent town in which he is currently inhabiting.

Go read this book. It has an inventive and well thought out plot that is executed by good characters fueled with reasonable motives. This book is so very worth your time and energy. Though it doesn’t have the same name dropping appeal as The Maltese Falcon, I can’t imagine there being a much more enthralling example of this author’s writing style. This book was highly suggested to me by one of my readers and I must echo that sentimental with full gusto. Goddamn, did I like this book and I think you will too.

 

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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 blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Heart of Darkness Review

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Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a contemplative and brooding work set in the early 1900s. It follows Charles Marlow on his search for the infamous ivory trader known as Kurtz. As Marlow gets closer to finding Kurtz, his enigma grows exponentially.

It is almost impossible to discuss this novella without bringing up the controversy surrounding it. It is very of it’s time and portrays native Africans in less than a shining light. They are portrayed as savage, second class citizens who only exist to serve the white Europeans. I certainly see where this opinion comes from, yet I feel that it only adds to the brutality that bubbles under the surface of every single passage in this work. This is a morosely dense tale of a man losing touch with his humanity, so I think this work portrays a callous honesty rarely seen.

I’ve never experienced a book that does such a phenomenal job of pushing the reader’s yearning to meet a character. Conrad cannot be commended enough for the way he makes you want to meet Kurtz. His legend grows to a breaking point, then when you meet him you are not disappointed. Foreshadowing has never been more perfect than it is in this book. Kurtz steals the show and the cavalcade of insanity that surrounds him makes him both indescribably eerie and utterly fascinating.

All in all this work is very worth your time. It took me almost a week to read this book, but it is deals with such heavy subject matter breaks are very necessary. I don’t know how much re-readability there is in a novella like this, but I strongly believe that everyone should encounter this at least once. It is an enthralling tale that had been adapted multiple times to other forms of media. From films like Apocalypse Now to video games like Far Cry 2 and Spec Ops: The Line this story continues to show it has a timeless appeal that is easily adapted and still very entertaining.

 

 

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.

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro Review

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Sweet hell is this story depressing. If you’re in the mood for a light hearted romp filled with laughs and joy, look elsewhere. Even with saddening subject matter this short story by Ernest Hemingway is absolutely superb. The book follows Harry, a man dying of gangrene who is on safari with his wife. As death approaches he reflects on key moments in his life.

It is clear that the author sees himself through the protagonist’s eyes in this story. He has had a good life, but wonders deeply of the choices he has made in the past to deliver him to his current status. He highlights a series of regrets and decisions that are so specific, they must have deeply plagued Hemingway. By pouring so much of himself into the text, the author shows his own humanity. Though the lead character is permeated with flaws he is instantly relatable. His intentions are good, he just didn’t always show nobility in their execution.

My favorite part of this short story was the relationship between Harry and his wife, Helen. It shows how messy and chaotic long term love is. Though the time the reader spends with them is brief, it is apparent that their compassion for one another is genuine. No line of dialogue is wasted between these two, even when quarreling they still deeply care for one another. It shows the kind of bond that exists only in a long term, loving relationship.

Even if it is a downer, this is the best way I’ve spent a lunch break in quite some time. I was genuinely saddened when this was over, but the candor it showed at someone’s final moments was extremely powerful. It elicited tears from me and I have no shame in saying that. This might be the finest gem I’ve discovered during this series. I encourage you all to read this, I’ve attached a link to it here.

 

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.

 

Rip Van Winkle Review

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Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle is embedded deeply in the fabric of American culture. Along with Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, this character has been referenced in popular media for nearly two centuries. This story takes place during the time of the American Revolutionary War and follows a man after he drinks some home brewed liquor from a mysterious stranger and awakens eighteen years later.

The changes experienced by the protagonist during a relatively short period of time are cataclysmic. The status of the world he knew is spun out of control. He is forced to quickly try to understand the manner in which his surroundings had changed. In short order, he learns his wife had died, his friends are gone and his children are adults. Along with these revelations, he is also declared a traitor as he supports the government that he knew to be in power.

This story plays on your emotions and you see the drastic shift Van Winkle must digest. Though the evidence is there, he has difficulty accepting how different everything is. He has missed multiple family moments and memories, time forgot him. Van Winkle must also digest the stigma of his own reputation. Having just disappeared without explanation his family and neighbors assumed thought the worst of him for almost two decades.

The most enjoyable part of this story is easily the political implications. The average man, ignorant to current events unknowingly supporting the former regime is met with violent rebuke. The idea that in a few years, someone can shift from a loyal patriot to an enemy is fascinating. It further highlights the consequences of having missed so much in a short period of time. This forces the reader to capitalize on the time they have and not waste it. Irving does an excellent job pushing so much thought into such a short story. This is well worth your time clocking in at under thirty minutes, it is deserving of reading and continual adaptations.

 

 

 

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

 

White Fang Review

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Jack London’s White Fang is an excellent story. It tells the tale of a wolf born in the wild and follows his journey as he is domesticated during the Alaskan gold rush. It blends the savagery of the environment with the harshness of human nature. Seeing mankind from the eyes of the animal forces you to reevaluate your own actions.

The author is impeccable at capturing the spirit of such a unforgiving place. His own personal experiences while being in the Klondike come through in the text. His reverence and respect for the Alaskan territory and the culture reverberates with every page. He surrounds the reader with the bitter north area in a unique and very memorable way. By forcing you into this world, he makes you examine your own hardships and see the change in society as time has advanced. It provides a unique snapshot for a period in time where only the strong willed would survive.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about this story is that it is almost the inverse of his book, The Call of The Wild. This is a method I wish more authors would use. Seeing both sides of the journey from wild to domestic really allows the readers an opportunity to get context for both stories. This a particularly creative idea and it forces those who enjoyed these writing to revisit the other texts. It is such a fascinating world that is cultivated, I have a hard time comparing it to much else I’ve ever read. I truly enjoyed this book and I would love to explore other works by Jack London. With the fast read time and captivating content, this is very much worth your time.

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book here.Be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Being Earnest Review

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Oscar Wilde is a stellar wordsmith. I knew after reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, I wanted to read more of his works. This play satirizes Victorian England’s social norms by having two friends exchange lives and experiences under the pseudonym of Earnest. This play is praised for the comedy and trivial nature and has been brought to the stage many, many times. It is often considered to be Wilde’s masterwork.

This play doesn’t take itself very seriously, which makes it hard to complain too much about it. The language was easy to follow and fun. It did mindless things written in a compelling way. It was obvious through the text that the author enjoyed himself a great deal while writing this story. He truly enjoyed the characters, he created and wanted the reader/ viewer to do the same.

I wouldn’t categorize this as the greatest piece of literature I’ve ever read. It was mediocre in parts and felt a little flat, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a waste of time.  I didn’t regret the time I spent reading it. I realize this isn’t a heaping endorsement of praise, but it didn’t make me wish I had read something else. I appreciated it enough, but I don’t think my life would be incomplete by never reading it again.

I understand that reading a play isn’t the best way to get a feel for a story. Certain parts can be much more memorable by seeing a great actor or actress carry them out on stage. With that thought though, I’ve never seen King Lear as a play, but I’ve read that several times and have been entertained by it every time.  I would like to see this tale as it was intended to be viewed. Perhaps then I’ll come around on it, giving it a glowing endorsement. Until such time, “okay” is as good a review as I can give it.

If this is your introduction to Oscar Wilde, you can do better. If you’ve seen the play and need more of it, or just want a lighthearted and somewhat air-headed story written in a compelling way, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I would I would recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray or House of Pomegranates over this. Either way, only someone as talented as this author can make something so mundane, seem so interesting.

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book here.

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Catcher in the Rye

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I’ve tried with this series to look at things objectively and from a entertainment mindset. I am not able to do that with the following review and my bias is clearly shown. With that in mind I present you with my review of Catcher in the Rye.

J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is one of the only books I’ve ever vowed to never read again. Now I’ve read it twice. I’m a sadist. This book has to inspire more whiny emo band lyrics than any other source. It is dreadful. For those of you who weren’t forced to read this book in high school, it’s about Holden Caulfield and the days following his expulsion from a prep school. It is often praised as a love letter to New York City, showing the vibrant and colorful nature of the city. Holden is often referenced as a symbol of teenage rebellion and angst, capturing the feeling we all had in high school. This book has been banned multiple times for the language and its’ reference in several crimes.

I’ll start off with the positives, I love the style of writing Salinger implements here. The narrative, places you precisely where the protagonist is and allows the reader to see through their eyes and understand their handling of every situation. The author’s concise and well executed methods keep the book easy to navigate and allows the reader to quickly digest every instance.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, fuck Holden Caulfield. As a matter of fact, fuck anyone who claims this as a piece of art that shouldn’t be besmirched. This book is one of the most arduous and least enjoyable things I’ve ever read. If it is meant to be an indictment of adolescents or force you to hate all spoiled teenagers, job well done.

I cannot be alone in this, as a point of experiment, I had my wife try to read this book and she was done after about three chapters. It is a ponderous read, filled with self indulgent whimpers by the main character. He is a walking buzz kill, unhappy by every single aspect of his life and when presented with an opportunity to improve it he just complains all the more.

I hated this book. I found little enjoyment from it outside the narrative used the brevity in which I was able to complete it. What confounds me more that anything is how this book is held in such high esteem. The pedigree of excellence heaved upon this work blows my mind. Maybe I’m too dim witted to understand the implications inside it’s covers, but this goddamn book holds no enjoyment for me.

I cannot and will not recommend this book. If it were just a story I didn’t enjoy, I’d happily tell you. Literature is subjective, I understand that. The amount of universal praise this work finds itself in is misguided and I do not consider it a classic or even an enjoyable read. I almost find it offensive this book is held in the same regard as works of Hemingway and Chaucer. If you must read something I’d reach for the instructions on your toaster oven before cracking the cover on this drivel.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book here.

The Call of Cthulhu Review

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I don’t think I possess the ability to discuss literature without invoking the name of H.P. Lovecraft. I’m sure the term ‘classic’ isn’t always one attributed to pulp horror writers, but I’m pulling rank here.  Settle back as I present you, The Call of Cthulhu.

For the uninitiated, The Call of Cthulhu is a short story about a man named the inheritor of his uncle’s estate. While performing these duties he discovers his late uncle’s obsession with an ancient cult. This is easily Lovecraft’s most well known and highly regarded work, though his short stories have been adapted to multiple forms of media.

Before I get too deep into my passions for this book, I know from the get go you’ll either love or hate Lovecraft’s style of writing. It’s dark and complicated, a kind of sludgy gothic concentrate not for the faint of heart. He will build the atmosphere off the page and pile it up around you. It’s a bit inaccessible for some new Lovecraft readers.

Flaws noted, this is such a fantastic book. Call of Cthulhu is the story that began my love affair with Lovecraft’s work. I’ve read it multiple times and always gotten enjoyment from it. In my opinion, it is some of his finest writing. This book is worth the hype. It has inspired multiple adaptations and expansions to the myths, from tabletop RPG games to novellas to animated series. There is so much to enjoy in this story, it appeals to lovers of horror and mystery in all the best ways. I don’t really know of anything that compares to this tale, so for lovers of foreboding suspense  or for those who want a tale about ancient occults worshiping long forgotten gods, this is one for you.

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book here.

 

Ali Baba & The Forty Thieves Review

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Free e-books everywhere and which one to pick and read. Alas I have returned to the glowing pages of my kindle to find works of classic literature and see if they’re worth my time. This time, I dive into the world of folk tales with Ali Baba and The Forty thieves.

This book’s earliest written example is disputed, but the most well known example of it exists in  One Thousand and One Nights by European translators, Antoine Galland. The tale had been modified and manipulated somewhat, but in general the core stays the same.

Outside of the main character’s name and ‘open sesame’ I knew nothing of this book and before reading it, never gave it much thought. The concept is simple, Ali Baba is a poor woodcutter who finds a thieves’ cave of riches and his female slave helps him fend off the bandits. Easy enough, but I was entertained to no end by this book.

Morgiana, Ali Baba’s female slave steals the show here. I loved her from her first interactions with any of the characters. She is the strong, smart style of female character that would do Joss Wheaton proud. She continually saves Ali Baba though quick thinking and cunning. She made this book for me, hands down.

The lack of a moral compass is also refreshing in this tale. No real villain or hero is established, leaving the reader to choose the sides of right and wrong. It is just characters who react to one another. This book was a nice surprise to me and I can see how it continues to capture the minds and demand adaptations.

Overall, a fun read  with entertaining characters and well worth the hour it takes to complete this short story.

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Review

DRACULA (1958)

TITLE: DRACULA (1958) • PERS: LEE, CHRISTOPHER • YEAR: 1958 • DIR: FISHER, TERENCE • REF: DRA015CJ • CREDIT: [ THE KOBAL COLLECTION / HAMMER ]

Once again I delve into my kindle to find free classic literature. This time I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Did your English teacher lie to you? Is it worth your time to crack the cover open? Have the movies and tropes covered everything you need to know?.

We all know that vampires have gotten a lame reputation as of late. Still living in the sparkle light of the Twilight movies, it is almost hard to recall scary vampires. Going back to the source material of such an iconic creature really reinvigorates a such a well known subject. The story of Count Dracula has been told and retold in every form of media existing. From the iconic portrayal by Bella Lugosi, to the memorable Tomb of Dracula comic and even being the Belmont’s reason to exist in the Castlevania video game franchise. We are all familiar with Van Helsing, stakes through hearts, sleeping in coffins and Transylvania. Even with all of well knows of this tale, I’m just going to say it, Bram Stoker’s Dracula kicks ass.

If you are a fan of dark atmosphere that just builds on itself, this is your book. Stoker does an excellent job of making the Count out to be a predator whilst the reader is the prey lost in his jungle. The methods in which the preconceived notions Dracula are stripped away and he seems so otherworldly. The ambiance and state of fear and uneasiness amongst the characters as the Count manipulates those around them is breathtaking. As the reader you both dread and anticipate Dracula’s next move.

I can see why this book has continued to be adapted again and again.It entertains throughout, it drags a bit toward the end as Van Helsing pursues Dracula back to Transylvania, but that is a minor complaint in what is a great experience.
Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here.

Jekyll & Hyde Review

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We’ve all been told forever how classic the classics are. As a way to better myself I have decided to read some of these classics. Are they historically significant? You bet. Are they entertaining? We shall see. I understand that literature is subjective and somethings just really strike a chord with some people. That being said some things are just overrated. One of those things is Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

We all know this story. Well, we all know the pop culture synopsis of this story. The short version is a mild mannered professor has a mysterious connection to a dangerous man. That connection isn’t made clear until the reader discovers Jekyll and Hyde are the same person.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I wanted this book to captivate and intrigue me. This book did neither. It was a ponderous and boring read that only was mildly interesting. I assumed that both the duality of man and goo versus evil would be discussed at length. I expected to dive deep into the conflicted mind of a mad genius. I was wrong. More time was spent discussing what makes a gentleman, a gentleman and the importance of someone’s reputation in Victorian era England. It lacked suspense and any elements of horror. Outside of an interesting core concept, this book offers very little to keep the reader engaged. If you need some Robert Louis Stevenson in your life, go with Treasure Island and pass on this.

I feel this book is a victim of it’s own reputation. It was difficult for me to stay on task during this brief story and it felt like a conscious effort to keep reading. Any time a book feels like work, that is never a good sign. Overall, a pretty uninspired experience.

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here.