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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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.

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.