Book Review: Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1 by Fernando A. Flores (Advanced Readers Copy)

Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1

Pages: 128
Genre: Short Stories, Short Story Novella
Format: E-book

Here is another CCLap book, a story collection that will be added to the family of the CCLap books. Lately, either I’m reading too much or I’m reading too many books that fall into the same genre. I feel like everything is kind of stale. I enjoyed this book but not as much as I would.

What I do like about the book is the subject matter. It’s about rock music, and I usually love that type of stuff. I never really read too many books where rock bands are constantly referenced along with concerts and the passion of music. The only books I’ve read that contain the rock or metal music love are Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, the main character is a former rock musician and a YA novel called Beautiful City of the Dead by Leander Watts. I loved both of those books.

Most of the stories contain the typical rock star image, the booze, drugs, sex, the loud music, the rebellious attitude. To the point where I wondered if Flores was trying to make fun of the lifestyle or he was trying to send a message and say “Hey, this stuff can do bad things.” Sometimes the punk rock attitude was portrayed in such a way that it was almost a parody. The rock star life tends to be too romanticized while Flores seems to make it as gritty, sweaty, dirty, and dark as possible. The rock star life is portrayed as a bumpy, troubled road, most of the time everything successful falls apart. The lifestyle tends to bring down the art of composing music. Too much drugs and booze kills people and sometimes even music. So I do like Flores’ portrayal, it’s not cookies and milk, it’s chainsaws and nails…. By the way, Lots of musicians and artists are referenced in this book. You either know them or don’t, unless some of them are made up but I doubt it.  I also believe there is a small dash of magical realism?

Art is a journey, that’s what I feel like this book is about, art can change your life forever. It can heal you or break you, depending how you handle it. I liked the theme, the idea, it was touching and thought provoking. The passion of music, speaking out against corrupt and unjust politicians, isolation, being misunderstood, life sucks and then you die. That’s really a song, the guy screams “Life sucks and then you die,” it’s a song by one of those crazy death metal bands called Skinless. My brother used to like that band. Seriously though, it’s true. Death isn’t the main thing though, but the short story “The Swear Junction”, is about a rock musician’s experience with dying. I think that one is my favorite because it was so surreal it was nicely written.

The writing style is very simple and straight to the point, yet detailed, but not overwhelming. However, something is missing, I don’t know what it is. The pacing and everything is good, like a movie, but sometimes I wasn’t in love with the story. However, I had just finished reading a short story collection, Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño, this story cycle reminded me of that story collection.The obsession with art (music, literature, etc,) the unpredictable obstacles of life and fate. Life is unforgivable and sometimes cruel. 

                                                                Rating: 3/5

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Current Writing Soundtrack#1

I just wanted to write a little something to keep this blog company. The music is somewhat related to the novel I’m writing. Here are some words that somewhat categorize this story I’m writing: A near apocalypse, an extreme cult?, an 80s diner, isolation, war, and the voice inside our heads.

London Calling by The Clash

This album is kind of overrated but I love it. The music is just so feel-good. 

Colour Green by Sibylle Baier 

Here’s a somewhat unknown folk album similar to Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, etc.


Friday Reads #19

1. NW by Zadie Smith

So I wanted to read more Zadie Smith and I’m enjoying it. I love her writing for some reason. For some reason I can’t seem to find a good enough image for this book. I love the typography.

2. Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas by Fernando A. Flores 

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A nice, fun, little story collection. Another CCLap Center ARC, that I will be reviewing soon.

To Read Soon:

3. Somewhere In-Between by Donna Milner

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A book that I will read after the above two, I will be on a blog tour involving this book in late March. 

Book Review: Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño

Pages: 219
Genre: Contemporary, Spanish Literature, Short Stories
Format: Paperback

Here is another Bolaño book that I have borrowed from the library and it’s also another one that I have enjoyed. Like most of his books, all of the short stories contain the reading and writing obsession, the failed romantic relationships, the oddities of life, The poetry passion, the poetic but minamalistic prose, everything that makes a  Bolaño novel.

That doesn’t mean that the stories are stale though, they all have their own unique story. Ranging from murder to death, and the loss of a friend. In most of the stories, the reoccurring character, Arturo Belano appears under the name B. Although, I may be wrong, but that’s what I heard. The character that goes under the name B travels from Germany to France to Mexico and meets a whole cast of people who have lived rather diffucult or odd lives. In each story, I feel like the endings are either really sad and tragic or kind of blank, like all of these crazy things happened and then the character is just like “Welp, that was weird,” because life can be unpredictable and weird. 

Another reoccurring theme in this story collection is the violence and the utter darkness in Mexico at that time, like maybe the 1970s or 80s, I could be completely wrong. If anybody reads this horrible review, they are allowed to punch me. So this book can be pretty heavy with the dark stuff but at the same there is that dull, peaceful, yet maybe harrowing repetition of life where everything seems normal and dandy and the thing that makes you feel the least comfortable pops up out of nowhere and destroys your very soul. There were times while reading this book that I felt kind of bored, but I think that’s the point, because that’s just how life is. Life can be boring and to fill that boring gap people like  Bolaño or any of his readers fill that dull gap with reading and writing. Life can also be dangerous and painful, coincidental and surreal, and that we, as human beings, do anything to escape, by doing anything that gives us pleasure or happiness. 

Bolaño’s writing always seems to have this hazy feeling, but then drugs and alcohol seems to be a common thing that the characters enjoy, but sometimes he brings in this tiny dose of magical realism. It’s so minimal that you don’t even notice it at first and it gives the story the strangest feeling.

I feel like it’s really hard to talk about  Bolaño’s work, but I will continue to read him and then struggle to talk about it on this blog. It’s a stream of consciousness thing anyway, so of course  these posts won’t be coherent all the time. 

                                                                    Rating: 4/5
                                                                  

Reviews, Advanced Reader Copies, and Requests

Okay, I just want to bring something really important out here. I started this blog as a book journal and to talk about books that I like and read. For some reason, most of the books I have read haven’t been reviewed very often? How do I say, like I have never seen anyone else review any of them, maybe like one or two. What I’m trying to say is that this blog will not always be active. I am in college, it’s my 2nd semester of college, this is my first year. Yes, it is very difficult, especially the math. So the point of this blog post, is that I won’t be reading as quickly I used to, I won’t be writing that often, this blog is going to be on college mode. There will be crap loads of posts one week and there will be no posts at all. The Algebra is taking me over due to my refusal to do any of it. So yeah, those requested book reviews will take awhile, if I ignore one or two that means that I have too much on my hands. So don’t feel hurt, there are millions of bloggers out there. Thank you for your patience.

Book Review: The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover by Mark Leidner


Pages: 103
Genre: Poetry
Format: E-book

So one day I was on Twitter, nothing new, then Ken Baumann was like “Hey I have these Sator Press books on this torrent thing”, obviously he didn’t say it like that, but it’s along those lines. I found Ken’s Sator Press a while ago, maybe a month ago, and I found the works to be very interesting and made a “I want to read some of these,” note. The one that really caught my eye was The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover. I was attracted to the book cover, I wasn’t sure why though, it was pleasing to my eye but it wasn’t something crazy and colorful. Sometimes the simplicity of things tends to attract me more than the elaborate stuff, which is why  poetry is probably, in my eyes, one of the most valuable yet under appreciated art forms in the world. However, I don’t really read much poetry, so I sound like a hypocrite. The only books of poetry I have physically are Tao Lin’s you are a little happier than i am, and for some reason that book, in my opinion, was one of the most beautiful, twisted, and hilarious books I’ve ever read. I also have a book that contains a bunch of Robert Frost poems. Frost’s poems kind of bored me and I like Emily Dickinson. I also consider David Sylvian a poet, even though he’s really a musician, his recent music is all spoken word with weird jazz or ambient music. That’s all I can think of that’s on my shelf, I don’t know about my Mom’s books, I think there’s one or two. 

Okay so let’s talk about the book. Honestly, this will probably be the shortest review on this blog, because well, this is poetry. Poetry is not something that is easy for me to explain, I only feel it, not really comprehend it, I have a thought of what it means, but I feel it more than anything. The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover gave me this strange feeling of, I don’t know, I don’t want to say enlightenment, because that sounds stupid. When I read this book , I felt like Mark was in my iPad, reading this poetry out loud, and I felt like snapping my fingers, even though I can’t do that. I don’t know what it is, but these poems or aphorisms were very profound? I’ve never read aphorisms before. Some of them were criticizing Western society’s way of thinking, and it was all true, every word of it. Poetry tends to be more honest than Fiction. Some of them were talking about the magic of writing, how writing tends to be the most powerful way of expression, and for most people it’s true. These poems were the words of life, the poems that pop into people’s heads and they write them down on a napkin. These are the poems that writers think of but they never write them down. These poems are the thoughts that run through our heads at nighttime while we’re trying to sleep or when we take a shower and or thoughts flow down the drain with the water. I don’t know, this might be the crappiest review I have ever done, and I will probably have better thoughts, despite that I loved this little book. For now this is what I have, and it will be the only thoughts about this book that will be leaked out on this humble blog. 

                                                                     Rating: 5/5

And here I am with my crazy self, giving it a 5/5. I guess I really did feel it.