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Saturday, November 13, 2004
A Child's Night Dream, by Oliver Stone 
Oliver Stone records his own night dreams in this autobiographical novel written during separate periods of his life: as a child - a relatively younger 19 yr old Yale dropout, and then 30 years later after rediscovering the old manuscripts in a shoebox.

This debut has its moments: the horrifying scenes of his experience in Vietnam, ubiquitous love-hate relationship with his parents, raving madly of his love, lust and hatred, and his morbid fantasies and flirtations with death.

But it's much of an acquired taste. I would think that perhaps this book should be read like its title, having such lucidity and clarity in its flashbacks, deliriously dreamlike in narration, incoherent and repetitive. Yet everything seems so significant, so strong, so powerful, and so hideously ugly, that you'd be very much spelled into clawing your own scarred face away in the cursed mirror, spewing profanities and froth off your lips as the insanity of the steam-boiler memory drowns you in its nightmares.

Intense, verbose, and so horrifying real, this book captivated me throughout the procrastination of thesis-writing, although I'd admit that I could do with a couple of uppers after an entire chapter of him raving about death - I do feel like jumping off a ship myself right now.

But as well as they come by, I couldn't have written my dreams this well myself, nor shall I ever put myself into the shuddering task of ever doing so, and for this, if I ever wore them, I'll have my hats off for Oliver's attempt.

graceshu  # 8:16 AM


Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The force of belief. 
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I read this book, cover to cover, in 48 hours. I felt this compelling need to find out what happened next. Why? Mainly because the premise of the book was about gods, elder gods, pagan gods, techno gods. And things were coming to a head. The protaganist of the books is a character called Shadow. The book opens with Shadow about to be released from prison for the crime of assault and battery. His wife is waiting for his return. A few days before his release, he is told that his wife has died in a car accident. Returning home for the funeral, he meets a very strange man, who makes Shadow an offer of employment. An offer he realises that he has no option but to accept.

The book states that gods are driven by belief in people, and the more people believe in you, the more powerful a god you are. Hence, the older gods, such as those from the Greek and Roman pantheons, are waning, drifting along trying to survive in a strange country called America, were they were brought by their believers many ages ago. Many of the elder gods are barely surviving, ekeing out a living on the margins of society, impoverished, destitute and desperate. For times have changed, and many now only believe in science and technology and that mircale called the internet.

The new technology gods are all powerful, with resources available to them that the elder gods can only envy. The man, who first meets Shadow on a plane flight home, and then appears again in front of Shadow after Shadow took an unscheduled stop and left the plane in a hurry, is a member of the Norse gods. Their leader, Odin, the hanged one. Odin believes that a war is imminent between the elder and techno gods, and intends to travel the country gathering support from the surviving elder gods, for a showdown.

The book delves into European, Native American, Eastern and Oriental mythology, because of the belif that gods go wherever their followers bring them. It also states the belief that there are some places where power, and people and gods naturally gravitate, due to geographic influences. Very interesting, very readable, very entertaining...and thought provoking.

As a small aside, the idea that gods are as powerful as the number of people who believe in them, was one I first encountered in Terry Pratchett's "Small Gods" and "The Hogfather".

xXx  # 2:14 PM


Monday, November 08, 2004
Angels and Demons 
Bookcover Posted by Hello

It starts out by saying, "Before the Da Vinci Code was broken, the world lay at the mercy of Angels and Demons". Already notorious for his previous publications which has sent a storm in the religious world due to his personification and loose usage of facts to cast the Catholic Church as being a hypocritical organizations that only wishes to further it's power through the suppression of heretics and his use of liberal artistic license to omit or reconstruct certain facts to suit the book. Angels and Demons (A&D) is a prequel to his other book, featuring Robert Langdon as the protagonist. Receiving word about a murder of a scientist at CERN, he is called upon for his expertise in symbolism as he faces a murder of no ordinary measure. Confronted by the words "Illuminati" branded on the chest of the victim, he has to join forces with the dead man's daughter to prevent a disaster of grand scale. Soon the shadowy organization begins it's vengeance on the Catholic Church for what they deem as past transgressions, the suppression of science and the prosecution of those advocating it. On the eve of Conclave to elect the next Pope, the four main candidates are mysteriously missing and soon both Langdon and his lady companion have to figure out how to stop the murderer with the help of the deceased Pope's chamberlain. Can they get a step ahead of the assassin with an ancient clue to the rite of passage from the Brotherhood? Can they prevent the annihilation of the Catholic capital of Vatican City? Can they beat the conspirators at their own game? Brown lays his intrigues and puzzles thick, making this book hard to put down once started. Action comes fast paced and as it is a race against time, you'll be dragged along for the ride. Mixing certain facts with fictional writing, Brown constructs mysticism, mystery, the Church and some of the most modern technology into a great book, using real locations around Rome to set his storyline. Don't be embroiled in the battle of facts over fiction, take the book as it is, a fiction entwining true religious sites in Rome with the crafting of his imaginative fiction concerning religious myths and mystery and you'll enjoy every bit of it. Twists and turns will keep you guessing who the real villain is as was with Harry Potter. Ratings 5/5.

*Post edited by xXx for formatting.*

Kervin  # 4:10 PM