Dear Mr Worldwide. You have a new fan.
That, as they say, is that. For now.
The not worst book of all time, Apocalypse: the trilogy in a million pieces, has been re-released to an unsuspecting pubic in the form of a better (and shorter) Kindle version. It is called Apocalypse Revisited, and can be found here.
Still following the adventures of Dark Chocolate and Anyway around the galaxy, Apocalypse Revisited also follows the alien Withnoname and the evil twins Kazoo and Zooka, but dispenses with a heap of unnecessary plot lines and boring bits. A few spelling mistakes are also fixed.
It is better, and at US$3.99 much cheaper, than the paperback, and yours for only US$3.99 plus the cost of whatever device you can read it on. (I’m going to download it to my iPad so I can get some royalties. Er, maybe not.)
If anyone is interested…
That is all. For the moment.
Pet Shop Boys have released Elysium, their best album since 2009’s Yes, which was their best album since 1996’s Bilingual, their best album since 1993’s Very, their very best album. I first listened to it here at Popjustice. You can too. I then downloaded it and paid with money. You can too. But to tell you some things you may not know …
The Picture of Dorian Gray has always been, for me, a disappointing novel. Oscar Wilde is one of my favourites, and his importance should not be under-estimated, but there is a distinct dearth of great works from the man. (There are reasons or excuses for this, and he did die young, I know, I know. Still, what has he left behind for us to enjoy? The equivalent of a few tweets compared to PG Wodehouse, Henry James, Tara Moss.) Dorian Gray was the one novel, and there were gems of brilliance set in a flawed, malleable ring of barbed wire. For every glorious page or passage there was an equal and opposite piece of shit elsewhere. Exaggeration? Maybe, but for years I haven’t been able to look at the book on the shelf without that mixed, bitter and slightly heartbroken feeling usually reserved for love letters from old girlfriends. Yes we had some good times, but it ended badly and you took too much time out of my life reading you twice when I could have been reading other, younger, books or just hooking up for yet another one night stand with the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.
But that feeling of disappointment is no more. Thanks to Nicholas Frankel, who has brought us an “uncensored” version of Wilde’s original manuscript, it’s an enjoyable and cohesive read. It’s a lot shorter, at 13 chapters instead of 20. The crap’s been left out, frankly.
Much has been made of the inclusions and the restoration of the romance between Dorian, Basil and Lord Henry. But for me what makes it work is the absence of extraneous chapters involving James Vane, opium dens and whatnot, not to mention a few tedious social set pieces. I’m the first to bitch about Wilde not having written enough great works to deserve his overblown reputation, but in the case of Dorian Gray, less is more. It’s a better read for the exclusions. And, yes, having the romance more explicit and excised passages restored does add to the enjoyment.
So I can stop bitching. At least a little bit. Thanks to Frankel, finally, 120 years later, Oscar Wilde has published a decent novel.
Today I finished reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. I’d review it, except the first rule of Fight Club is … you know.
I also recently (three days ago) finished P.G. Wodehouse’s Money For Nothing. It is a lot like the Dire Straits song except set before the MTV era. Okay, it’s really nothing at all like the Dire Straits song. Set in the English countryside during the war (The Great War, I’m guessing) it’s all about how the landed gentry have problems when one conspires to defraud his insurance company and double-cross some American (of course) swindlers. The plot is all rather boring, but it is full of lovely, light and fluffy prose, and lush descriptions right from the first paragraph with flies “doing deep-breathing exercises on the hot window-sills”. Compared to this, Fight Club is a punch in the face. Mind you, compared to The Soul Of A Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey by Muhammad Ali and daughter, Fight Club is a punch in the face.
There I go again, not talking about Fight Club.
Also recently finished was Victor Cha’s The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, which was, er, heavy going. It was a kind of reaction to this policy, politically and physically heavy tome that I opted for Wodehousian light and sunshine. Cha’s account/history/argument suffers a bit from being rushed, and a bit of repetition, and possibly being rushed to get out quickly after the death of Kim Jong-il, and also a bit of repetition. There is a good, broad account of North Korean political history, an interesting insider’s perspective of the Six-Party Talks and what went on from an American perspective, but it does suffer from occasionally being too partisan. Thoroughly researched and with an academic’s eye for detail and sources, Cha adds personal encounters and interesting observations. But it’s a bit of a slog and one can’t finish it without thinking it could have done with a better edit. Not for beginners, for that try The Aquariums of Pyongyang, Nothing to Envy (okay, I haven’t finished that one myself) or Michael Breen’s most-definitely-unauthorised biography of Kim Jong-il. Or this.
Also fun lately was The Hunger Games. But you don’t need me to tell you that it’s a mishmash of everything from Lord of the Flies to Romeo and Juliet.