Again with the vanishing act, I know, I know…
1. Just a short while ago I’d mentioned that I was feeling pressure to complete my self-imposed Goodreads challenge. I’d go through my backlog and purposely pick shorter books, and read them a bit quicker than I’d prefer, just to stay ahead of the pace. As it currently stands, though, I’ve finished 29 of 35, and so I think I’m in pretty good shape. The last 5 books I’ve read since the last time I wrote this down:
- A Doubter’s Almanac, Ethan Canin. Some phenomenally good writing here tracing the generational lines of a tortured mathematical genius, though I must admit that this Goodreads comment is spot on: “Deliver me from art about troubled men whose genius is used as an excuse for them to be assholes.”
- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith. Very good prose, but the plot ran out of steam for me and I had trouble staying engaged with it.
- The Fisherman, John Langan. Picked this up (among several others) on the advice of Unwinnable’s EIC Stu Horvath, and I’m very glad I did; this is a really well-written bit of cosmic horror that I couldn’t put down.
- The Fugitives, Christopher Sorrentino. This is, according to my GoogleDoc, the second-least-enjoyable book I’ve finished this year. (The least-enjoyable book that I finished would be China Mieville’s This Census Taker, which was short enough for me to finish but long enough for me to swear off his books for the rest of my life. I also attempted to read Girl On The Train but gave up about a third of the way into it.) Anyway, there’s some marvelous writing here, but there’s also a ton of bullshit, and the final third is so confusing and messy and aggravating that I found myself incredibly relieved when I finished it.
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this. This ought to be essential reading for literally every person on the planet.
I’m currently reading Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, also from that Unwinnable list, and it’s certainly doing the same sorts of things to my brain that Stranger Things did, though I suspect this is going to not have as happy an ending.
2. I am very close to finishing Double Fine’s VHS homage to Metroidvania, Headlander, and I’m torn between really loving the hell out of it and also wanting to break my controller in half during some of the boss battles. Double Fine games are a tough thing for me to objectively critique; my love for Tim Schafer’s early work blinds me a bit, and so I’m willing to overlook a lot of issues. A lot of recent DF games are marvelously clever and beautiful and charming and whimsical, but they don’t necessarily play all that well? Headlander, on the other hand, is possibly the most game-y game they’ve made since Psychonauts, where the emphasis is very much on the actual gameplay and less on the writing. Of course, the writing remains very good, and the game’s audio/visual aesthetic is top-notch, as always; it’s just that this is (for the most part) actually, legitimately fun to play. (Except for some of the boss battles, which… aaaaaaaaaaaaa)
3. So, yeah; I’m still in somewhat of a cocooning phase, though I’m starting to feel better. It’s going to remain somewhat quiet around here, though, as the day job has installed some rather heavy-duty internet firewall stuff, and so I don’t really know how much I can get away with (and it’s a line that I’m not particularly willing to cross at this point in time). I’ll do my best to keep a somewhat regular presence here, of course.