All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy’s work is always hard for me to explain why I like it so much. My only explanation is that it’s just so visceral. I think he writes about the basest part of the human condition. The emotions and mentality that makes us do the things we do. He writes about survival, his characters mostly live on the edge of society, the dark places where most of us don’t want to tread.

That being said All the Pretty Horses isn’t quite as dark and gritty as his previous works. It’s about a kid who seems to want to live a life that’s long past. He sets off to Mexico on horseback to find that life. He finds it and finds a girl to love, but in true McCarthy fashion it all falls apart and vicious violence ensues.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

As far as love stories go, this one is pretty dark. But make no mistake this is a love story. One that shows the darkest parts of being in love with someone. The dark things that come from selfishness and an emotional intelligence that’s below average are what you will see here. There’s no romance between Heathcliff and Catherine, just raw love that started when they were children.

Heathcliff being an orphan probably attached himself to Catherine pretty quickly and Catherine being kind of a brat never really thought of the power that attachment had over him. She basically thought of Heathcliff as toy to be discarded at first but then I think she realized that she loved Heathcliff after marrying Linton but it was too late to do anything about it.

When Catherine left Wuthering Heights all Heathcliff saw was someone taking away the one thing he loved and loved him, and not having anyone to teach him how to deal with his emotions how else could he react other than inflicting the same kind of pain on them as was inflicted on him? And to keep inflicting it even after you’ve destroyed the person, because once you go down that road it’s hard to do anything else.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

This is the first time I have read a Baldwin novel, I heard it was going to adapted into a movie and I was inspired to read it, if it’s being made into a movie it can’t be all bad, after all.

And it was fucking great.

At first, I thought it was going to be a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story, but it was much more than that. It was about family and the lengths the people who love you will go to protect you and ensure your happiness. Tish’s family’s dedication to her in the face of what they’re going through is admirable to say the least. And the love between Tish and Fonny is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. To have to endure separation when all you want to do is be with the person you love the most is frustrating.

Fonny’s family were the antithesis of the Rivers family, his mother and sisters saw him as something less than they were because he had spirit, so they belittled him. His father loved him, but for reasons I didn’t understand, he wouldn’t protect him from his mother and sisters.

My only issue was Fonny, he was overtly masculine and covertly sensitive, but after thinking on it, that is how men behave, even today.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

Rant is a very strange story, it takes place in a near future where a crash up derby game takes place on public streets and highways. Rant is one of the participants and Rant has a theory that if you crash hard enough you can send yourself to the past.

The book is written in a biographical format where the interviewer talks with friends and family of the person they’re writing about. Which I though was pretty cool.

Rant

Chuck Palahniuk

Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy

This is a brilliantly messed up book. Taking place also in Tennessee in the early 1900’s. Rinthy and Culla are brother and sister who have a baby together. You read that correctly. In his shame Culla takes the baby out to the woods to kill it but instead gives the baby away to a tinker, but tells Rinthy that he killed it. Rinthy finds out he didn’t and sets out to find her child and Culla goes after her.

This is, what I believe, McCarthy’s darkest book. The landscape described is always bleak and rainy and people Culla comes across are dark hearted and untrusting of him. Rinthy’s journey is a little more lighthearted, but she carries her darkness with her.

Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

First off, anyone else have multiple editions of the same book? No matter how much I try to convince myself that I don’t need it, if I see a copy of a book I already own with an interesting over or interesting extras, I will inevitably get it.

Secondly, I don’t read a lot of philosophy because honestly I don’t get it. It doesn’t stick with me. I enjoy reading it, I have a little notebook that I write down notes about what I think is going on but I’m usually wrong. It’s okay though. I have fun and I give myself point for attempting to try to understand what the hell these guys are talking about.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Friedrich Nietzche

Barnes and Noble Cover Art

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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I read the book in probably the early 2000’s, it was a little while after the movie was released. I had heard the movie was based on a book and I always try to read the book first so I can critique the movie. The book has remained in my top 5 since then. It’s an amazingly weird and sometimes funny cautionary tale of Isolation, absent father figures, and habitual consumerism.

What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women

Relating to the quote above, my father was in the house but he was very much absent from my life, it was my mother who raised me. Maybe that’s why n some base level there is something incredibly appealing to be able to fight someone just to fight, maybe because those of us who had no real male influences have no idea what masculinity is and fighting like that is equal to being a warrior.

Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

Charlie Ahser, Minty Fresh, and the rest of the Death Merchant gang are back to fight a new darkness trying to mess with the status quo.

I will smack that bitch up and take her bag of quarters. I will not be fucked with.

That’s Sophie, she’s 6 and is basically Death incarnate. She’s pissed that the tooth fairy forgot to pay her for a tooth.

This is such and funny book and the humor is, as always, laugh out loud funny. I had to stop after reading the above line because I kept thinking about it and would start to laugh all over again.

The characters in this book are so real, if you forget about all the supernatural stuff, they really leave an impression on you. Even Theb the Wise.

Secondhand Souls

Christopher Moore

The Electric Church by Jeff Somers

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I came across this book a few years ago, I was drawn to it be the cover which depicts a cybernetic Monk holding a big ass pistol. The new edition is something different though, which is a shame, it was a badass cover.

The Electric Church mixes the noir detective genre with science fiction and it is amazing, except the lead character is not a detective, he’s pretty much a criminal. It’s the first in a series, pitting Avery Cates up against these cyborg monks who are going around “converting” people to the Electric Church.

The idea that people will give up anything, including their free will for a chance at eternal life (or after life) is pretty obvious. And the plot is sort of generic BUT that’s okay because it’s the details and the noir vibe that make this book a good read. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

The Electric Church

Jeff Somers

Avery Cates

The above image is of the first three novels.

The One Inside by Sam Shepard

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Admittedly I’m not all that familiar with Sam Shepard’s work. I have seen him in a few movies and TV shows but I have never read or seen any of his written work. The One Inside, if I’m not mistaken, is his first novel.

It reads like a long dream sequence with several tangents and flashback and I think flash forwards though I’m still not sure. It’s about a man who has returned to his father’s home after he dies and meets his father’s young girlfriend and they begin what I can only describe as a crappy relationship. Neither the man nor the girl seem to be well liked and often dislike each other. They are both looking for companionship and comfort but neither know how to give it and it tragically ends.

Patti Smith writes the forward and describes the character as

a loner who doesn’t want to be alone

I think that’s why the book resonated with me as much as it did. After a time of being alone you obviously don’t want to be alone, but at the same time you become comfortable in the quiet and become unsure of how not to be alone. You answer to no one and no one answers to you, the responsibility of having someone around can become too much of a weight after a while and you start to crave the solitude you had before.

The One Inside

Sam Shepard