The Eye In the Pyramid (1975)

ImageWe begin the story with an investigation into a random bombing of a pet store and the disappearance of their owners. However, what follows is a trail that reads like a greatest hits package of all conspiracy theories with heavy doses of Sex Magick. Although this sounds like a fun story to dig into, be warned that it can be difficult or a confusing read. It is written with beatnik stream of consciousness style which transitions from locations, perspectives, and narrators without warning or pause in addition to breaking the fourth wall. By the end, this style goes from seeming experimental to becoming cleverly tied up. This book is a great reflection if this era’s writing style and culture. It’s also fun to read how this series has influenced people like Dan Brown or Grant Morrison and Video games like Assassin’s Creed.

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World War Z

ImageThis was Max Brooks first attempt at a full length fictional book, and it sadly shows. However, the fact that this book is composed of short interview narrations by many different characters in the World War Z world, the book reads very quickly. What Brooks lacks in his writing he more than makes up for in his detailed concepts of what would the human race do if they faced a zombie apocalypse. Brooks takes us behind the scenes and shows us the horrific reactions initiated by groups of people, different governments, and even pharmaceutical companies. This wasn’t a book that focused on the fear of oncoming zombie hordes rather it focused on the fear created by people making frightening decisions that had an effect on millions of people. My favorite section of the book would have to be Decimation.

Dune (1965)

ImageAlthough the book is heavy with political philosophy, the story is still a hero’s journey and flows wonderfully. Because each character has tremendous depth, it is often hard to figure out where their part in the story will lead them. Even if Frank Herbert tales you their fate, he still does a wonderful job of letting the character’s motives and inner turmoil twist around the emotions towards themselves and the people who fill their lives. Since I watched the movie and TV adaptations I was reluctant to finally read the book; however, because Herbert shows us multiple perspectives of the same scene, uses a unique take on prescience, and relies on inner monologues to push the characterization and plot, watching the story on the screen only revealed a sliver of the whole drama. It was also very interesting how the rising action, climax and the denouement were heavily Shakespearian influence, in particular Henry V and Hamlet. Overall, I found this to be one of my new favorite books and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the above comparisons.

Red Shirts (2012)

red shirtsAt first this starts off as an entertainingly funny and lite read, especially for any Trekkies out there. Every character is well defined and likable despite their red shirt status.  However, although it lacks hard science and pokes fun at the fact that it does, it dives through the fourth wall into existential philosophies. That isn’t to say that the book transitions into a heavy handed and dense literature. Instead, it’s more like what if Douglas Adams explained Nietzsche to Wesley Crusher while sipping romulan ale at Ten Forward.

SuperGods (2011)

supergodsNot only does Grant Morrison give the history and evolution of comic books, but also he gives the cultural relevance of each age of comic books. For example, he explains how the comic code forced the writers to protest with metaphorical style and leaned towards fantasy in a highly Freudian way. He always explains what significant events in society’s culture had influenced and re-created each age of comic book style and writing. The book is also peppered with Morrison’s autobiography which helps greatly ground the reader to the significance of comicbooks. Although there were parts of the book that dragged or had little significance, this book was highly informative and a must of any comic book reader who is interested in the author or the history of comics

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of the Pickup Artist

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Neil Strauss teaches lonely nerds how to successfully turn the pursuit of relationships into any other mundane, superficial, and meaningless activity. At one point he suggests that mechanical bullriding gave him a bigger thrill than chasing another lonely 10 model. However, there are some lessons buried beneath the bro high fives. Like Dave Navarro and Strauss pointed out in their book, Don’t Try this at Home, people can’t fix their social retardation with money, drugs, and sex. Most of these glorified players started off as lonely dungeon and dragon nerds who severely lacked social skills and desperately desired female companionship and affection, but they realized that the only bonding they found was with each other. For example, years after this book was released, Strauss’ long term girlfriend will make a public statement suggesting Strauss is incapable of getting it up without his bro support. In fact, each time these guys tried to pursue an actual relationship they ended up failing horribly. This was because they conquered and disavowed any emotional connection, especially to females. Their successful tricks and pick up lines became mechanized and repeated by each other to the point where their personalities blended together and were consciously copied. Their superficial egos would inflate with each conquest, but when reality popped their bubble, they became sniveling and suicidal wrecks. This is because most of them didn’t learn how to become a better person. They just successfully learned another activity that would distract the bros from themselves. It’s definitely not surprising that Neil Strauss would later hook up with the Entourage writer and create their own series.
When it comes to the narrative structure, this is consciously Strauss’ On the Road. It even has its own Dean Moriarty in the guise of Mystery, except the existential search for meaning might have eluded Strauss and his fellow cohorts. They know it’s there, but inevitably they are too high on themselves to actually see it. I have read and loved everything this guy has written, yet this was probably the least introspective biography self-help guide I have read. Of course, he made several points that a writer is too boring to brag about despite the fact he is a writer for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Playboy. It’s always interesting how narcissist can have such an inflated ego but lack any self-esteem. That may explain why the semi-autobiographies he helped write were far more interesting. Meanwhile, this came off as a midlife crisis in progress. The most interesting people in this whole book were Courtney Love followed closely by Tom Cruise. Who would have thought, huh?
Will this book help some lonely guys talk to girls and get dates? Absolutely. Will it help lonely guys stop being lonely? Absolutely not.