Feb 26, 2009

Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

Gun, with Occasional Music

I just realized that Lethem writes books I enjoy. By which I mean I just looked up his past work and found out he also did Motherless Brooklyn, which I read a few years ago and suggested to several people. I didn't make that connection until now.

I like twisty, noir-ish mysteries and hardboiled investigators... I mean inquisitors. (Which, by the way, if you dig that style you should pick up a few by Kinky Friedman, because he does a great Chandler.) I like unsettling and amoral scientific processes applied willy nilly to a defenseless population. I like custom drugs, Demolition Man style prisons, and the idea of mainstream media broadcasting appropriate music rather than the facts of the day.

Well, no, most of that scares me shitless in real life, but you get me. On paper, that's solid gold. And Lethem bends and crafts it beautifully. I've found that a lot of authors, once they get a concept like "babyheads", feel compelled to lay the whole thing out right there. Really explain the background and the effects. Show it off like a new toy, "See? And then they did *this* and *this* happened," when the actual protagonist would have no reason to delve into that kind of exposition or may not even know that info at all. Lethem's better at just taking us along for the ride, letting the info slide in naturally as it comes up, not bothering to explain what can be guessed (musical news, for instance).

Basically, I'd like to thank my girlfriend for giving me this book, because now I want to hunt down everything else Lethem's written and see how it holds up.

final thought: And, regardless of genre or time period, the cops are still mostly dicks.

Feb 13, 2009

elbow to asshole

I watched Soylent Green last week. I'd seen most of it in bits and pieces, but never sat down to view the whole thing. I'm a fan of 70s-style-dystopian-futuristic aesthetic, so the look of the whole thing really won me over. I mean, no, the present does not look like they thought it would - unless you're the Polyphonic Spree - but baad guesses are often more fun than accurate forecasts.

Watching Heston carefully pick his way up and down staircases to avoid trampling on the people sleeping there was a simple but brilliant way to show just how crowded we'd become. One of those little film moments I love - understated, makes the point, doesn't whack you over the head.

The other detail I really dug was the "furniture". I mean, it's a miserable concept, but that's the kind of thing I like from dystopias like this. Sexual slavery and housekeeping all rolled into one, but the world is shitty enough to make that an attractive job.

My major complaint about SG? Heston! He was terrible! I have seldom seen such a good, well known movie with such a badly cast main actor. It was like watching a guy doing a community production of the movie somehow being inserted into the film itself. All that clenching and hamming.

Anyway, I wish I'd seen it on the big screen when it came out, not after a lifetime of hearing parodies of and references to the script and the twist. But I'm glad I finally saw it at all.