Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Capital Of Latecomers


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from GoodReads
Local folklore tells the story of an ancient people wandering through the desert, discovering an oasis-like paradise. But they stayed for too long, and when they returned home all their loved ones were dead. These people are forever known as the “latecomers.”
Now an exclusive compound providing residents with complete and utter privacy stands on the site where their village once was. Rhein, a thirty-year-old former darling of the art world, has lost his confidence and chosen the life of a recluse. When a body turns up in Rhein’s studio, he has no choice but to come out of his yearlong seclusion to prove his innocence. More deaths occur, and the evidence incriminating Rhein is so convincing he honestly doesn’t know what to believe. Working with his eccentric neighbors, all of whom are also hiding from their pasts, he finds that the path to the truth careens through tribal folklore and quantum physics, and nothing is as it seems.
This September Kindle First free for Amazon Prime Members book defies categorization. It's a mash-up of folklore, murder mystery, quantum physics, science fiction, a little romance, schizophrenia, and so on and so forth. One thing is for sure, I love it. It is a novel that has its lovers and haters. I belong to the former. Just look at the ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.

Recommended only for readers who like the strange tales of Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell.

Amazon ratings
GoodReads ratings

The book I rated 1-star, The Revenge Of Adam Defoe, has a very high average rating on Goodreads. They love it for the same reasons I didn't like it. O.o


Friday, September 11, 2015

Funny Girl

tags: dramedy, musical

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I'm currently reading Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby, a satire set in London in the 1960s about a former beauty queen who becomes a TV star. The title somehow reminds me of Barbara Streisand's Funny Girl which I have never seen before. The only movies on video of Barbara's I've seen are Yentl and Ben Stiller's Meet The Fockers. I also never listened nor owned a single Barbara Streisand song. Well, it's not entirely correct because just last week, I downloaded from the library her version of Paul Williams's Evergreen.

Although musicals are not my cup of tea, I actually liked this movie and of course the very young Barbara. She's funny, acts natural, and sings beautifully. The movie ends in a sad note but it's okay, I was entertained the whole 2 hours. The only actor I didn't like is Omar Sharif. He looked 10 years older than his actual age of 36. I also don't find him dashing nor handsome and he's not that great in the acting department either. And what's up with his hair, or is it a rug? I don't recall seeing any of this guy's movies. This is the first and most probably will be the last.

If you haven't seen the movie, I recommend watching it before it expires on Amazon streaming.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Philip K Dick


I'm currently on my PKD binge-reading and watching period, The Man in the High Castle being the latest. The novel is a 5-star fascinating, complex, and hard to categorize 274-page work of fiction. Readers usually add it to alternate history, science fiction, and book within a book genres.

from GoodReads
It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.
I love the novel and has become my PKD favorite along with VALIS Trilogy. It's a little different from his other works and very well written. It has to be read more than twice to fully appreciate.

Its adaptation - the pilot is streaming on Amazon - is one of the worst I've seen. The pilot is dumbed down and strayed too much from the story. The book within a book is changed to film within a film which is stupid. The performers and director are incompetent, as usual. I do not recommend the Amazon original series for serious PKD fans specially those who love this novel.  

Most, with a few exceptions, PKD's novels and short stories adapted to movie and TV screenplays are so far off from the stories, they're unrecognizable. Minority Report and Next are the two worst adaptations. It's so frustrating having high hopes for the visuals only to get annoyed by the script and the actors and directors who obviously haven't read the stories.

Below is a list of PKD screen adaptations I've watched. The star ratings are for the movies only; the more stars, the more faithful they are to the novels and short stories. My star ratings for the novels and stories are mostly 5, 4, and 3.

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A Scanner Darkly - A Scanner Darkly
Radio Free Albemuth - VALIS Trilogy - RFA rewritten and improved

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Impostor  - Impostor (short story)
Total Recall - We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (short story)

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Blade Runner (I love this movie but it is not a good adaptation of the book) - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (5 stars)
Paycheck - Paycheck (short story)

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Minority Report - The Minority Report
Goose Egg
Next - The Golden Man: Short Story
The Man In The High Castle - The Man in the High Castle

PKD Collected Stories

I recently got a 5-volume paperback set of PKD short stories. I already have several in my Kindle but many stories in these volumes are new to me. I started reading Volume 5 and The Pre-Persons caught my eye. It is a great read and surprised me as I didn't expect PKD as someone who would write a good argument against abortion. The story is really short, about 11 pages long, has an important message specially to pro-abortion crowd. The volume's Notes has this PKD quote regarding the short story. Nothing has changed; the pro-abortion groups were nasty then and even nastier now:
In this I incurred the absolute hate of Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I’ve ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn’t use the word people) who expressed opinions such as this …I am sorry to offend those who disagree with me about abortion on demand… But for the pre-person’s sake I am not sorry. I stand where I stand: “Hier steh Ich; Ich kann nicht anders,” as Martin Luther is supposed to have said.
You can read the entire short story here or the PDF copy here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Revenge Of Adam Defoe

26093192 revenge, "thriller"

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Book description from Amazon
Is the greatest revenge really served cold?
Dr. Yoav Walberg is one hell of a lucky guy. He is heir to a huge fortune, engaged to a beautiful woman and is soon to be appointed to a senior position in a prestigious hospital. However, when his best friends become jealous of his success, they plot a devilish and sophisticated scheme against him. Will he notice the deadly spider webs woven around him in time to avoid the bite that will bring about his inevitable death?
As fortune continues to play with him, after three miserable years, Dr. Walberg in tragic coincidence arrives in Tibet, where he has once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start his life from scratch.
After many years, he turned into the known and successful American businessman, Adam Defoe. Will Adam Defoe uncover the true story behind the attempt on his life?
Will he pity the responsible? The powers he must outwit are very dangerous, and he finds himself, once again, fighting for his life.
Hahaha, I am amazed at myself for reading this train wreck in its entirety. I chose the book for this month's Kindle lending program because of the glowing 5 star ratings/reviews. I'm wondering if I read the same book they did. Although I like revenge stories, this novel didn't deliver in its execution. The novel is really really really really painful to read. The author wrote it like it's a cheesy 80s movie/TV show script or storyboard without the drawings. It is beyond dreadful.

One of the tedious things I didn't particularly like is the author describing in detail the hair color/style/length, eye color, clothing color and style, of every character including those who don't have anything to do with the story and only appear once, for example, a waiter. And he does this throughout the friggin' book. He also is prone to describing the enormous luxurious houses - living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc. And he never forgets to remind the reader of Yoav's magnificent incredibly ripped body. Who writes like that? How did this get published on Amazon Kindle?

Note: The author did mention that this is one of his screenplays but if it is in a book format, he should have hired a competent editor to polish the text.

On to the story. Spoilers.