Friday, November 28, 2008

Too old to have imaginary friends, too young to live without 'em.

That was my last nightshift for the year, and that was the last 7wishes.

It was in its death throes in IV, but I wanted to complete the set, so to speak. One round of madness for every madness inducing shift of the year. I could go on - no shortage of ideas here - but they're getting same-same, and I'm twatty enough, and in love with the dream enough, to not want stagnation to go any deeper.

Also...That's 36 short stories written and posted, 39 if you count the ones I discarded, 41 if you count the CYOAs, 42 if you count that sleep story. 42 short stories written in less than a year.

Pardon me, but that's fucking insane. Not a "wow, look at me, I'm on fiiiire!" insanity either. That's a purely "that's just plain ridiculous," insanity. And I'm daft enough to wonder why I didn't finish my novel this year. I'm giving over the writing room in my brain to the novel now. I need to finish it before I get eaten by a shark or thrown in front of a train, because if I die without finishing this thing, I will come back as a very irate ghost. Which, you know, I'd rather avoid.

But mostly I have to let them go as I'm letting a lot of the year go.

The first stories hatched on a very bad night. They were a feverish exercise in distraction, something to fixate on, to calm down and come down and give me enough space to remember how to breathe. Some of them I told to amuse myself, some of them to say things I didn't know how to say, but all of them were created because I didn't know how else to deal with grief, rage, fury, despair and horror.

I don't think they belong to me any more. Posting them turned them into something else, as defined by you. I think you turned them into something better than their origins.

I couldn't see any wonder in the world or myself, so I wrote wonder into all the places I needed it to be. I don't need to anymore. It doesn't matter how much I enjoy writing them, or how much I enjoy having you read them - these stories came from a terrible place, and I can't get there any more, and I hope I never have to again.

Thank you Russell, Chris, Mike, Jaime, Colin, Jeff, Terry, Nadine, Matt, Yunyu, Kirsten, Ben, Sander, Laurie, Scott, the Mysterious ~, Larry, Gillian, Barry, Stuart, Falkman, Timblynod, (holy moly there are a lot of you), Cory, Gareth, Libbette, Matthew, Gigi, Nautiloid, Ross, Selena, DS, Arthur Miller, Steve, Dave, and any one else I missed for all your wonderful comments, special thanks to Andy for saying "please don't delete them", and thanks to everyone and anyone who spent some minutes of their lives in reading.

I hope you all found something worth finding.

I did.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

/end nightshift

Arthur Miller's hilarious CYOA has come to a conclusion, alas, alack, and woe. More misery to you if you weren't following it as it unfolded, but not all is lost! You can go and peruse the posts and enjoy the accordian music at your leisure. <3

Mike has engaged in chinese whispers with the current batch of 7wishes, and is putting his own spin on my titles. It's trés nifty, and he's developed a coherent story line which has brought out several "hey, cool!" moments. Looking forward to the last two, indeedy. <3

Jaime drew Florence;

Aww! Lookit da snuffly bear! Isn't she pretty? I love the eyelashes. And don't I look like a cranky bitch? TOO RIGHT I DO. EXCELLENT CAPTURE THAR. <3

Saturday, November 22, 2008

for it to be bleeding obvious

They trial the Chronoemotive Emphasis Field Generator in Melbourne over the space of a week. With society more and more saturated in entertainment media, the younger generations knowing almost nothing else and showing escalating signs of a fundamental inability to deal with life as it is, some bright spark came up with the idea of enforcing dramatic timing on the universe at large. Wouldn’t everything be more meaningful and exhilarating if the world fell into slow motion just as you were turning around, and you know for certain the reason it is doing that is something momentus is coming up on your shoulder – your ex-boyfriend, the most beautiful woman in the world, a speeding bus, just to name some examples.

It’s a stupid idea. Despite huge protests and intense lobbying, the generator is switched on.

My life is condensed into a brief montage of getting read for work, going to work, sitting at work, going home, sitting at home, going to bed, on repeat. All the curious quirks of my routine dismissed and the trivial but important details of my unseen life cut out from the timeline.

When the generator is turned off, I stumble off balance, and dare not move for the disorientation of my time sloshing about and making me nauseous. I’m half way to the train station. I don’t remember walking this far. I don’t even remember leaving my flat. Those were irrelevant details cut and edited from my week as being boring and unnecessary.

It isn’t the nicest realisation I’ve come to.

Crap, what day is it? Am I even going to work? Maybe I’m not going to the station, maybe I’m going to the shops for- what? I don’t know. I wasn’t present for all the meals I ate during the week. I don’t know what’s in my fridge.

At work they’re all atwitter. From one I hear of a near-miss in the car, how her vision became close and jerky with claustrophobia, until suddenly everything pulled out and she knew, from the sudden wind up and how swiftly everything about her moved, what was going to happen, and slammed on her brakes. The motorcycle sliced through the intersection without a sideways glance.

From another I hear of stress and pressure, how everything zipped about like bees on cocaine, and she couldn’t keep up or understand what they were saying and nothing was in her control, until a friend walked over with a cup of coffee and a smile, and the chaos was reeled in and the world resumed its normal pace.

Everyone has a story. I zip my mouth shut.

They’re quick to announce the results of the trial – that the field operates only as the person affected allows it to. That is; if you live firm in the assumption, that you and anything that happens to you is important, centre of the bloody universe important, then the scale of chronoemotive emphasis operates at a high ratio, working its way into smaller and smaller details and thus giving fine and dramatic highlights to your daily life.

If you don’t consider yourself, your actions, your impact on the world to be relevant, then the generator tends to overlook the minutiae and condense the narrative of your life down to the larger earthquakes, with one cramped montage filling the time between such occurrences.

Clearly not designed to benefit the insecure and introverted.

We give your life meaning, the ads on TV and the posters in the stations pronounce.

No, you took away the ability to give myself meaning, I counter, but no one is listening.

The next trial is a month long. Even my visits back home, catch up with friends and violent invisible emotional meltdowns are relegated to the montage, the long, drawn-out, painful montage showcasing my pointlessness.

I am granted one moment of ‘meaning’, and find myself standing on the corner of Spencer Street, waiting for the lights and watching a tram swing around the tracks. Half a glimpse of a blurred face in the window, and a jolt of recognition. The lights change, the crowds around me walk and I stay on the corner, watching the tram pull away, already doubting my eyes. Then I’m gone again, back in the montage.

This time, when they turn it off, I’m standing in front of my own door, keys in the lock. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. The sudden snap of true time returned to me is like off milk and rotten eggs and sledgehammers. I fall over, dizzy to the point of vomiting, and so pathetically grateful to be going through every horrible second of every agonising minute, in order of appearance.

Instead of changing my opinion of my life and role in the world, the generator cements it. Here is proof of my irrelevance. Can’t argue with that.

Later that day I receive a rare phone call. Where are you, she asks, curt.

I’m suppose to be somewhere? I’m lying on the floor, still recovering, marvelling at the seconds filing by neatly.

Yes, we’re going on the ferris wheel, remember? We organised it last week over dinner? You know, when everything went slow-mo at dessert and Chau came over and introduced himself. You do remember Chau, right?

I don’t remember Chau. I don’t remember dinner at all, but I don’t tell her that. I don’t feel well, I say, and it isn’t a lie. She’s hangs up, shrugging my condition off with indifference. Apparently Chau is with her.

Then that dinner, whatever it was, was deemed meaningless too? By who? I wouldn’t have thought so, but then again-

After some further fine tuning, they announce the trials a success. While there are some people adversely affected by the field, response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially regarding the number of soulmates discovered due to slow motion cues kicking in. The date for permanent activation is set.

The day before the generator is to be turned on for the last time, I pack my bags.

“I can’t live like this,” I say.

“What will you do?”

“I don’t know.” I don’t want to leave Melbourne. My friends are here, my family is here, and I love this city, but they will mean nothing if I cannot reach the through that enforced montage of pointlessness.

“Where will you go?”

“Somewhere where I can find meaning, I suppose.”

“Where’s that?”

The generator is turned on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Toothbrush, One Set of Keys, and Undies Drying in the Lounge

You know, I wanted to write a thoughtful, in depth post on all the teething problems involved in learning to live alone, but that isn't to be. The year being as it is, there's too much interference from the rest of my life for me to tease out that which is relevant.

Did living alone make it harder to deal with everything? Would I have coped better if I'd been back home and putting on a brave face? I can only ever fool myself if I'm fooling someone else in the process.

Did living alone keep me from falling apart any further? Maybe being able to collapse as soon as the door locked behind me and just be a fucking wreck without fear of discovery was the only way I could retain any ability to carry on.

I don't know, and I suspect it doesn't matter.

Learning to pass through each day without acknowledgement was hardest, and something I've only just mastered. I don't think I need much attention, but I'm insecure enough to need my existence validated in some form or other. All these little things that go on within my walls, my private earthquakes and rainbows, my mundane little accomplishments and failures, they're all unseen. When I get home, there's no one about so that I can debrief and offload the day. There's nothing in any of these things that is important, meaningful or lasting, and yet the fact that no one knows of them but me raises some faint moth flutter of panic, that if no one knows of them it is because they are not worth knowing (and they're not), and it's only a short skip, hop and jump on a bad day without the strength to fight off bad habits and I've reached the conclusion that this is because I don't matter.

This was hardest living in the city, without any sign of life to be seen out my window, and no means of contacting anyone, anywhen. Having a window with a view, here, has given me more peace of mind that I would have credited. It's better than TV. Any time of day I can look out, and yep, the world is still there, carrying on just fine without me.

Finally getting an internet connection killed off the tear gas blanket of isolation in one night. Marvelous thing, the intrawebz. Made for introverts who're more comfortable with the written word, made for people who keep very strange hours. All I need do is check my email in the morning and hey presto! My existence is validated. I can carry on with the rest of the day.

And as a result, loneliness billowed like a mushroom cloud. It isn't that surprising, really. It's always easier to be alone when you are alone. The internet is not being alone; it's a niggling itch that there are all these other people with whom you have contact, but they're not here. To lift wholesale from this article on the pitfalls of twitter (and the internet as a social medium);
…I think it's worth a critical look as opposed to an automatic connected-is-always-implicitly-good response. UCSF neurobiologist Thomas Lewis claims that if we're not careful, we can trick a part of our brain into thinking that we're having a real social interaction--something crucial and ancient for human survival--when we actually aren't. This leads to a stressful (but subconscious) cognitive dissonance, where we're getting some of what the brain thinks it needs, but not enough to fill that whatever-ineffable-thing-is-scientists-still-haven't-completely-nailed-but-might-be-smell. He didn't make this claim about Twitter... I attended his talk at The Conference on World Affairs, and he was addressing e-mail, chat, and even television (brain recognizes it's looking at "people", and feels it must be having a social connection (GOOD), but yet it knows something's missing (BAD).

Dr. Lewis cited a ton of studies which I didn't write down, so you can take this with a grain of salt. Plus, I'm extending his issues from e-mail and chat to Twitter. But part of the reasons he talks about are that our brain has evolved an innate ability to interpret body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc. so the brain expects these channels of information and becomes distressed when the social interaction appears to be there, but these innate, legacy-brain pieces are missing.

Again, this doesn't mean that it's not worth it and highly valuable for people TO stay connected to far-flung family and friends, I'm just saying that it's worth a look at whether that might be lulling some folks into a false sense of "I'm connected" at the expense of real-life connections.

It felt like eating a chips to slake my thirst; didn't matter how much I consumed, I was still thirsty, and getting more so by the day.

I can't say I've increased my actual face-to-face socialness much – for all I talk of needing other people (I do), I still have no social stamina to speak of. It doesn't matter how much I enjoy a person's company, there's nothing in the world that gives as much relief as saying "goodbye". I'm not made to be company. I'm no good at being me.

If I've learned anything, it hasn't been new lessons at all. I've merely rediscovered that I am at my best, my most calm and happiest when in pure solitude. Turn off the computer so the internet can't reach me. Turn off my phone. Stop looking for something that can't be found online. Sit and look out my window at the birds, the loading truck, the passing trains, and not be myself at all. When there is nothing present that requires the entity of "Tessa" to manifest, I can almost taste love.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have bet on my weaknesses when it came to choosing between living alone and going into a share house. Being good at being alone just means that when I do need company, I need company so intensely I'm afraid to ask for it, because the denial will be too much. I can manufacture the Great Wall of Tessa when I’m surrounded by friends and family, I can make my own space in my mind, I can find solitude in all situations.

I can't make company to save my life. Not being able to wander into the kitchen for an inane two minute chat about milk has caused me more trouble than you can imagine.

It's been a year now. I don't know if living alone is good for me, but I’m good at it, and more importantly, I love it.

Here's to being a grown up hermit crab.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One egg.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A shooting star!

Or a drunk and very lost firefly.

Or I'm drunk and seeing dancing lights.

In any case, it was a partial second of delight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's raining, and everything is beautiful.


Jeff sent me a couple of spare copies of his tie-in novel Predator: South China Sea. It has pirates in it. And giant crocodiles (fuck yeah!). Plus rockstars and russian spies and bears (who aren't bears). And did I mention the giant crocodile? (Fuck yeah!)

I read the first draft and things have been shuffled about since then, so it's quite possible there is a snake in the book now. Somewhere. Probably not being as badass and suicidal as the snake on the cover is being, but you know, being a snake in a Predator book nonetheless. There's also a giant crocodile (fuck yeah!) in it, did I mention that?

For a first draft it was already a good tight action story. I know tie-ins are generally poo-pooed as being less than great reading (which, in my experience, is a reputation well earned), but Jeff hasn't used that as an excuse to slack off. The original Predator film is excellent (if you disagree, well, we can't be BFF), and this novel follows in that fine most oarsum tradition of 80s action flicks, heeeeeeeeell yes. I had great fun with it, cheesy action and all.

Also, it's totally my biography. Word for word. Y'all thought I was in Japan for a few weeks last year, when actually I was off being tough and scary and stuff. That's the power of names; let the wrong one in, and it will take over the book, kickin' butt and takin' names (but not giant crocodile(fuck yeah!)'s name (or butt)).

Same game as last time; give me a compelling reason to give you a copy, and I'm still not allergic to international postage. I'll leave this up till next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There are thirteen (13) bees in my bathroom. I counted.

And I just realised that I've sprayed my toothbrush with insecticide.

for history! for science!

I feel pretty today. It's bloody fantastic. Why don't I do this every day? Have to make a record of it while it is still true.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CYOA infection spread

Arthur Miller is mad and is going ahead with his own choose your own adventure, kicking off tomorrow. Wheeeeeeeee! Cannae wait to be on the other side of the writing. Good luck with your exam, sir.

Now I'm to bed before I look at the clock and find 4 hours missing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 11:12 this whole waking up tired thing is getting pretty old. #
  • 11:13 muttergrumblerhubarbrhubarbrhubarb... #
  • 11:13 suppose i should put some pants on and get going... #
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When I started talking to people, they'd nod, look up, and their whole face would change. Whatever I was saying was overridden with "are you alright?"

Yes. Actually, I am.

I've felt pretty good the last couple of weeks. Solid. Not unraveling. Not crazy. Good enough to make a statement about being good and not fear that the World probably has my blog on an RSS feed and will take that revelation as a challenge and do its best to render that very statement invalid.

Which triggers this reaction in people, this sudden and sincere concern, followed by a second question as clearly I'm giving off some horrible vibe that cannot be reassured away with a simple "yeah".

Very few people actually asked that when I wasn't alright. I'm pretty sure I'm not horrendously ugly right now. Methinks I'm so good at camouflaging my state of mind that I broadcast that which is not; ergo, now I'm okay, people are convinced I'm SERIOUSLY NOT WELL.

Maybe I should start wearing make up or something. Maybe that'd help.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 11:54 @tmofee nope, just walking home at midnight. (Orion is the saucepan down here.) #
  • 13:48 @serifs gogogogogo #
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I thought that one might make it to the window frame, but the sky twisted and wrenched and tore it and breathed it in. Are you seeing the violence in this sunny day? This last big one isn't going to make it either. The sky is ravenous.

I'm going outside.
There are three more, sailing by. The sky inhales them before they cross the first window pane. As I type I'm watching one, two, disappear.
There's one tiny scrap of cloud up in the big clear sky. It's small and lonely and fat, like a cloud drawn in a child's picture. The wind carries it fast, and it stretches, and it isn't fat at all, but bunched up, now reaching out like an animal in gallop, and even as I watch the sky breathes it in and it's gone.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 23:40 There's Orion, falling head first to the horizon. #
  • 23:43 I spooked a black cat, and it ran across my path. Doomed, right? #
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Friday, November 07, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 13:20 @goblindegook you can't reveal such things without then posting said artwork and allowing the internet to for its own opinion on the matter. #
  • 14:17 Wild and woolly day, 17 minutes till the train comes. #
  • 23:51 This room is my room no longer. #
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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Dave inserted some line breaks and made exquisite poetry of my noodle cooking instructions. As far as instructions went, they didn't really work, which is clearly because they were a poem in disguise. Only a highly-tuned poet whisperer could tame the beast.

The WWF sent me a postcard that was so excited about the pledge to protect and preserve the forests in Sumatra there were more exclamation marks than full stops. It's my favourite piece of charity mail I've received. It just reeks of glee. "If you pass a tree today, give it a hug, and tell it that its cousins in Sumatra are safe, at last."

(I didn't hug a tree, but I did tell the big gum out the front of my building the good news.)

Someone at work gave me a giant jelly frog (safely contained from overtaking the world in a plastic wrapper) and an old school lollypop of strawberry and yoghurt, wrapped in wax paper. I'm quite taken with the sort of 'lolly classification' on the side there. I has a masticable!

I could hold out no more, and bought the Lonely Planet Tibet Guide. I can't not go. Managed to find a tour that does what I want and goes to (most of) the places I want to go and is listed in Australia dollars and thus won't suddenly get expensive the next time the economy has a hissy fit. Those of you with keen eyes may note a couple of sections have been taped up - they're the areas I'm not going. I don't want to know what I'm missing.

Is anyone else's heart just breaking over the Phoenix Mars Lander being swallowed by a martian winter and loosing the sun and turning its heaters off and freezing up and barely whispering to the passing trackers and dying all alone in the dark on another planet? I love those tweets, such a happy little robot, so excited to be scooping dirt around! The lander is guest-blogging on Gizmodo. Momento mori.

Also; I hate sleep.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 17:26 @sorola heh, that's standard dream fare for me. #
  • 17:54 Don't fuck with me, washing machine. I've only had three hours sleep, and I have a hammer. #
  • 18:18 Thank you, washing machine. I'm glad we see eye to eye on this matter. #
  • 18:21 Ice cream, banana and strawberries for dinner second night in a row. Internet has exploded. Winding up the hermit engine shutting down comp- #
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 12:32 @hellofeast I lol'd that tweet and stuck a star on it. #
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lustrous, bright, soft and nutrient

I was after soba noodles, but my local supermarket had none, so I picked these up instead, hoping they were a rought equvalent (they're not, they're for soup, not cold and dry). When I was prepping them I read the instructions on the back, and thought I would share them with you. 'cause they're pretty special.

I'm not sure what 'souted' is, and just cooked them the normal way I cook every and any sort of noodle. I particularly like the 'specialty' ribbon wrapped around each bunch. Could easily replace the word with 'caution', or 'toxic material'.

They're really nice noodles, by the way.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Aight, after this I promise not to blog again tonight.*

I subscribe to a daily cartoon at Harold's Planet, and I must share this one with you.

*unless something important comes up. Like a spider, or chocolate ice cream, or something.

The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross

buy - author site

I picked this up at worldcon in LA when I was pilfering the Golden Gryphon table for Fords and Macleods and Vandermeers and this got thrown in my bootay pile as an afterthought. What with the books I'd actually sought out, I figured if it was keeping such fine company in the press, then it'd be to my taste too. Had vague memories of it being recommended.

Three years later, got around to picking it up from the shelf, discovered that, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, I had no idea what it was about or what I was getting myself into.

I actually kinda like that.

At any rate, sys admin versus elder god wasn't quite what I was anticipating. Nor was the prose style. In fact, it shat me to goddamn tears. Bob, being Mr Protagonist, has a singularly irritating voice that raised in me the urge to innocently ask him stupid tech support questions just to see if I could make a vein throb in his forehead. Then feed him decaf. It's a tone that never abated. I know a writer shouldn't assume the reader has knowledge of the subject at hand, but then going on to assume the reader is therefore a dumbass and needs to be spoken to in patronisingly small words isn't cool. I dun like being talked down to, and man, Bob talks a lot. Actually, he explains a lot. It isn't so much a story as a big series of explanations and recaps and summaries, whether it be of some techo-magic gadget's functions or what is going on, right now, on this page. OR NOT ON THIS PAGE, as kept occurring, all the stuff happened off page and the reader only learns everything after the fact in Bob's many debriefing sessions, and augh! Frustrating!

And yet utterly addictive to the point where I was making quick dips into the book at work, between reports. So, irritating in that just can't leave you alone and am kinda in love with you way.

Bob is an agent for a super duper secret government department which exists to prevent the world from being over run by Bad Horrible Things From Other Places as well as keep the public in the dark about these Bad Horrible Things and in turn clean up any instances of accidental Bad Horrible Things that spring up from this enforced ignorance. It's a familiar set up, so I won't go into details about the particulars in The Atrocity Archive or The Concrete Jungle, as that would just smudge the joy of wading through all of Bob's oh-my-god-i'm-so-hard-done-by-and-everyone-is-stupid narration, which is, yes, a joy. Really.

I don't know if I'd venture into any of Stross's other work, as this wasn't quite to my taste, but I'd be lying if I said I'd avoid any further Bobish stories.

Verdict: Light-hearted tongue-in-cheek fun, with a side order of frustrating. Entertaining stuff at the least.

The Unblemished - Conrad Williams

buy - author site


No, wait-


THAT WAS SCARY. THAT WAS GROSS. THAT WAS VERY UNSETTLING. All served on a 'this story is exceptionally well written and you can't stop reading it' platter. Williams is a stylist, and shows this off with careful and precise control. He does Very Bad Things and isn't the slightest bit coy about it. It's very clear what is happening, here on this page, just as it's very clear what is in my fridge - these things just are. When he throws away lines full of gore and bodies, it is not left to my imagination, I know exactly what he means, and he's made sure of it.


This is an end of the world due to uprising of unknown and hidden monster population. In the afterword Williams mentions that The Unblemished had to "be a London tale", and not something that starts in some small rural town somewhere, and he's right. There's no other way and no other setting this story could have unfolded in and still retained that sharp edge of authenticity. That a major city wouldn't notice the butchery going on within its confines until it was far, far too late is something I don't just believe, I know. Melbourne isn't even a smidgeon of London's size, but from my job I'm well aware how much can go on before any one notices something out of the ordinary. Monster apocalypse, if the monsters are on the sly and quick to learn how to camouflage themselves? Piece of cake. Probably already happening. DON'T AGREE WITH ME ON THAT LAST POINT. Which adds a huge chunk of latent fear to the whole book.

The book isn't without its hitches. While it is well balanced, there are moments of 'erm, I dunno what just happened' which never cleared themselves up. I'm still not sure exactly what occurred between Manser and Gyorsi and the fire, or how Gyorsi became Ray (actually, I just figured that out, but then why keep that face? Sarah recognised him later). And I might be touching on a cliché hiccough, but all the random females encountered were young and descriptions dwelled on how delectable they were more than any other type of person. The older asian woman with the headphones got two sentences of acknowledgment, the girl on the same train a couple of paragraphs. NPC guys didn't fare much better.

Towards the end the narrative seemed in danger of unraveling, just as the fabric of society had already done, but never actually fell apart. It ended the only way the world can end, and I was so relieved to have lived through it and be able to close the damn cover and get away from the fug of fear and horror and desperation. Yes, this book actually scared the shit out of me. I read it on the train, which was a mistake (I actually did that with London Revenant as well, which is an even worse book to read on the train late at night). I read it when I couldn't sleep, home alone after midnight, which was an enORmous mistake, as it scared the sleep right out of me, and couldn't keep from opening my eyes every few seconds because I had to be sure, you know, really sure that there was no one else in the room. About to eat me.



Verdict: I loved this book. I was addicted to this book. I was terrified of this book. Fuckin' OARSUM. Coming at the end of the world from a very unique angle. You read this. Yes.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

buy - author site

I don't remember when I first heard of this book, back in university I think. It's been recommended so many times over the years, it has always existed in my sphere of knowledge. It's lived on my bookshelves for about a year, and yet, when I selected it and opened to the first page, I discovered that I had no idea what the book was about and absolutely no expectations of my own, other than it be extraordinary.

Expectation met and exceeded.

If like me, you intend to read the book but like me have no idea what it is about and want to keep it that way, stop reading this, go out and read the book. Yes? Yes. Now be gone with you.

It documents the rise and fall of one family, and in doing so the rise and fall of the town of Macondo, and in doing so the passage of history, and in doing so the tricks of memory, and in doing so we end up where we started. It's full of strange and strong characters, and strange and ordinary miracles, little mysteries, big mysteries, and in truth, the wonders never cease. I read on, and on, wondering how the Buendía family would cope with this new hardship, this tragedy, this scandal, this surprise, as the narrative unfolds the way every day life unfolds; without reason, logic or neatness. There is no respite, because there never is, and while all things change, nothing really changes.

I did have some trouble with the names, as the family follows that fine tradition of naming their children after their forebears, and I lost track of all the José Arcadios and Aurelianos as more and more turned up with each generation, and tramped over the history of the last. Eventually, I gave up trying to keep them in order, which seemed appropriate as they barely kept themselves in order.

While the men dominate the world, it was the affairs of the women and the women themselves I loved the most. Although the family ends when the story ends, for me the true end came about with the death of Ursula. As Matriarch, she was the centre of the family for over a century, and thus the centre of the world. While her husband and sons and grandsons and great-grandsons fight wars, fall in and out of marriage, and closet themselves away in an attempt to unravel the secret of the gypsy's manuscript, she holds the universe together with all the strength and determination and thoroughness you'd expect of such a pioneer. In the last years of her life, with her sight gone and her touch with reality tenuous, she is granted perhaps the most clarity of them all. The insights she gains are those that come only from living so long, and through so much.

And, ah, Amaranta. I love you most of all.

I would comment on the theme of solitude, as it weaves in and out of the narrative, between characters, but I think the book has already said it all, and elegantly.

It is apparent, as the final sentence takes the family from existence and the town from the map that the manuscript that ensnared various men over the century is the very same book we are reading. Having read it, having taken on the knowledge it contains, we cannot unread it. The family is ended, the town gone, I cannot undo that.

Such is fiction.

Verdict: classics become classics because they earn the title, and continue to earn the title even as new stories are hatched every day. This is wonderful, and full of wonder.


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
It's beautifully written, with absolutely lush characters and some balance issues. It isn't really "the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay" so much as "the self-absorbed wanderings of kavalier with a guest appearances by clay", which grated my nerves. I sympathised and admired and occasionally envied Kavalier; I liked Clay. I don't believe there is much to be gained from writing up a report on a book it took me 8 months to read, regardless of exactly why it took 8 months. It isn't the book's fault I had "issues", but it remains the book I put down and didn't enjoy enough to pick up again for more than half a year.

Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (Part 2) - Hideyuki Kikuchi (trans. Kevin Leahy)
I don't even remember when I read part one, but it was a looong time ago. The intervening months were no obstacle to picking the story up again. I've a feel for these narratives now, it might look like a huge and complicated cast of characters, but the actual events unfolding are straight forward. This volume in the series has the distinction of containing the first real female character. While she is seventeen (THERE IS NO OTHER AGE FOR YOUNG WOMEN), she isn't staggeringly beautiful, or depressingly in-your-face tough but weak in all the wrong cliches, not constantly throwing herself at D, not ridiculously helpess, not a mere cardboard cut out to be The Girl. And not, thank all writing deities, just a sex thang being raped or under constant threat of rape. Su-In is possibly the first real character in the whole series, and I really liked her. It bodes well for future volumes.

D is, as always, D. Without personality. Kickin' butt and takin' names and making everyone hot in the pants.

Animal Farm - George Orwell
I'd never read this before. No idea why. Just because? I wanted to, but it didn't seem right, going out and buying a new one and Mum and Dad's copy was who knows where in all the books in the house. I pounced on this twenty-something year old copy that Paul was getting rid of, and the book-fetishist in me had a tizzy fit because it's the same design as my version of 1984. They match! They can hold hands and get the same hair cut and look good together!

At any rate, I almost didn't need to read it, having absorbed the story and its lessons via osmosis over the years. I don't feel I've much to add to the discussion regarding the story, so I shall refrain. It's a classic, hefty but tight little book, and utterly depressing. I took great delight in stirring Mum up by reminding her that BOXER DIIIIIIIIIIES.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

But only because I want

By the way, I'm sober now. And I still love you.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 23:09 5 sodding minutes to extract archive. #
  • 23:09 50 sodding minutes to install patch. #
  • 23:10 Think I'll go eat worms. #
  • 23:21 @MattStaggs YES (for a given definition of 'yes'). #
  • 23:34 askldjf;laskdjfa;lskdjf;alsfui;awoijva;isjfasd curses! foiled again! *escapes with a flashy whirl of cape* #
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