Now It Can Be Told:
"Dear Sir, poor sir, brave sir: You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next--and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine. Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines. You are pooped and demoralized. Why wouldn't you be? Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."
"And so on..."
These are the opening lines of a fictional novel which drives a fictional man of unwell mental health over the edge at the same time as Kurt Vonnegut himself steps into the schizophrenic imaginings of his own fictional world to speak to the fictional author of that fictional novel quoted above and offer him the one thing he's never known in his fictional existence, independence and freedom of will. Kurt Vonnegut is brilliant in a totally insane way, and Breakfast of Champion is totally insane. In a brilliant sort of way.
"The expression "Breakfast of Champions" is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc., for use on a breakfast cereal product. The use of the identical expression as the title for this book is not intended to indicate an association with or sponsorship by General Mills, nor is it intended to disparage their fine products."
Am I the only one who sorta never heard of this one?
After falling in love with the American epic and life achievement that is East of Eden, I was determined to sneak in some more Steinbeck before the end of the year. My schedule not permitting (I'm neck deep in a backlog of indie-steampunk to review right now), I was however able to absorb the audio book during a long drive to the Roller Coaster Capital of the world, Cedar Point in Ohio. Turns out, it's only three discs. But the reader was phenomenal so by all means, check it out.
Who says Sci-fi can't be wholesome family entertainment and still, ya know, good?
That book kicks ass. That’s what my friend said when he heard I’d finally finished it. And in many respects, it does. The novel is dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne. William Faulkner said he wished he’d written himself. It’s so infused with Shakespearian poeticism that you can’t tell when he’s quoting directly, indirectly, paraphrasing or inventing wholly new material. And of course as final evidence of it’s ass-kickingness, all the best parts of all the best Star Trek movies are lines from Moby Dick. Lines like this one (click the link to see for yourself…)
“Towards thee I roll, though all-destroying but unconquerable whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!”
Or This One from First Contact.
It might be the worst film. But it's the best book. Third in the James Bond collection by Ian Fleming, This is Moonraker.
Hey, have you checked out that movie The Martian with Matt Damon stranded on Mars? Well, the guy who wrote that also wrote a second book called Artemis. I read it. Now I'm reviewing it.
Hemingway is not for everyone, and most of the time, he's not even for me. But the guy won a Nobel Prize for literature, and single-handedly changed 20th century fiction writing, so he's doing something right. Islands in the Stream is exactly that something.
If you're white, you might remember that black, nerdy kid from the show Community who seemed funny named Donald Glover.
If you're a movie-buff you've seen him pop up in The Martian, Spider-Man Homecoming, or The Lazarus Effect.
If you're a kid, you might recognize his voice from Ultimate Spider-Man as Miles Morales or in the upcoming "live action" Lion King remake as Simba.
If you're a nerd you know he's playing Lando in the new Star Wars movie.
If you're trendy this last week you just saw his music video "This is America" all over the news (and if you're really cool, you already knew about him under his musical stage-name Childish Gambino years ago).
He also won awards as a writer on 30 Rock (yeah, that one, where Tina Fey hired him).
He also has stand-up comedy on Netflix.
But if you're black, you know him from Atlanta, his slick new indie-style TV show he stars in, writes, produces and sometimes even directs on FX about a couple guys in Atlanta coming up in the rap music scene and the real-life troubles and obstacles they encounter both staying around their neighborhood and trying to break out of it. But Atlanta is too good not to share with larger mainstream audiences, and as I discovered after binging both seasons in the last week, it may be about black people, but it's not just for them. Everyone should be watching it.
When two of your best friends recommend the same book in casual conversation within a week of each other, you gotta read it. If only to keep up with the conversation. Today I'm reviewing for my book-of-the-month of April: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, and to summarize my feelings, I think it should be re-titled: East of F!#@&ing Awesome.
In the 1950's Philip K Dick stumbled across the news that Eisenhower recommended people buy their own bomb shelters because they'd be more likely to take proper care of them. There were two problems with this for the paranoid, anti-establishment sci-fi author. It perpetuated a growing fear of Cold War catastrophe that no matter how nice your day was going, doom was hanging over your head. And it encouraged the consumer to buy his way out of every problem. These two ideas, consumerism and anxiety, formed the cornerstone of his short story, "Foster, You're Dead!" Which was recently adapted into a brilliant hour long episode of the anthology series, Electric Dreams available on Amazon Prime.