1. I’ve been continuing on my reading tear of late, and I’m sure it’s because I’m feeling pressured to make sure I hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge number for some stupid reason. And most of the books I’ve read lately are on the short side of things.
Since my last post, I’ve finished Emma Straub’s “Modern Lovers”, which I found somewhat disappointing, though I’ll admit that it may only be disappointing in that what I expected is not at all what I got. I should note that a lot of what I’m reading these days is stuff that I’ve picked in order to help me formulate some lyric ideas. And a book about middle-aged people who used to be in a band in college and reexamining their lives in light of their shared connection – well, that’s a topic that’s very much on my mind, both in terms of lyrics and just in general. “Modern Lovers” does not really focus on the stuff I’d hoped it would. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s without merit; it just means I was looking for something that simply wasn’t there.
Then I read Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War”, which Amazon had recently featured in a Kindle sale for $1.99 or something ridiculous, so I picked it up. It is known as a sci-fi classic, and apparently you can’t describe it without mentioning its commonalities to Vietnam, of which Haldeman was a veteran. To that end, it presents a unique perspective of the soldier’s point of view, which is certainly worth absorbing. I was a little put off by his more far-out ideas of sexuality and eugenics, though.
Last night I began Julian Barnes’ “The Sense of an Ending”, and I finished it this morning, and WOW, WOW, fucking WOW. I’ve read quite a few good books lately, but there’s a difference between reading a good book and reading a good book by a great writer, and Barnes is absolutely magnificent. I am also perhaps a little ashamed to admit that I related to the narrator far more than I was prepared to be? In any case, this was the rumination on nostalgia and loss and remembrance that I’d hoped “Modern Lovers” would be, and now I want to read everything else he’s written. I think I’d been aware of this specific book for a while, but it wasn’t until the reviews came out of his latest book, “The Noise of Time” – a (fictional?) book about Shostakovitch – that I started looking over the rest of his work.
2. I stared playing INSIDE last night, the latest 2.5D game from Playdead, makers of Limbo. You can’t talk about INSIDE without referencing Limbo, and I suppose that might be part of the point – they’re both very moody and atmospheric, and both feature a child running away from something horrible towards something unknown but also probably horrible, and all the while platforming and puzzling around dangerous obstacles. And both games are not afraid of showing the gruesome fate of an ill-timed or wrong-footed step. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and am hopeful I can finish it tonight. I don’t want to say anything else about it except that it is, so far, absolutely stunning. Remarkably articulate animation (helped out by finely-tuned controls), astounding sound design, and a very pleasing use of physics manipulation where necessary.