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Bloody Shambles

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Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade
Vladimir Nabokov, Brian Boyd
Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind
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Bob Franklin
The Erotic Potential of My Wife
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Jaclyn Moriarty
Winter's Bone
Daniel Woodrell
Progress: 99 %
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
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Richard Marsh
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Keri Smith
Ghosts - César Aira, Chris Andrews I'm about to pick my life up and start again, 2,000km away in the tropics. I want to take all of Aira's books with me to be the books I look back on as symbolic of this time. There's a warm, easygoing, daydreamy sensibility to the writing that I could happily bathe in. There's a pragmatism to the characters, and a sense of irony mixed with magical realism that could only be Latin American. Reading this was a lush, atmospheric, sensual and intellectual treat.All that aside, I've agonised over how to rate this book. As much as I loved the experience of reading Ghosts, there is a flaw that I just can't get past. The "analogies". Many times throughout the book, (including one instance that went for ten pages) Aira embarks on complex analogies that..... just don't work. I spent considerable effort rereading these, unsure if I was missing something or there was a translation issue, only to come to the conclusion that the analogies ARE actually underdeveloped and incomplete. Aira begins an analogy then jumps ahead ten steps and says, "See?", expecting the reader to easily see how he extrapolates to that point, then jumps to another analogy which is only partly complete when he jumps to the next vague analogy.....You see what I'm getting at. An analogy should draw you a complete mental picture of a concept. It should be an equation: x=a and y=b, and we know a+b=c, therefore x+y=c also. Aira's analogies read more like: x=a therefore c=y-[oh look, a zebra!]It's the assumption of the author, when he speaks to the reader, or when characters speak among themselves, that the logic is clear, concrete and irrefutable and that the other is not only following the logic but extrapolating for themselves. But it isn't. So towards the end of the book, I began to think of the analogies as if they were the vague musings of the characters themselves, rather than effort on behalf of the writer to impute something to the reader. This helped, as the reader can easily accept flaws on the part of a character in a novel, but those flaws are much harder to come to terms with when they are the fault of the author himself. It was at this point, I realised I was merely a character in Aira's book and disappeared in a puff of metafiction.Despite the flawed logic, even the analogies have a beauty to them. Take this one for example, from the middle of a ten page series of linking analogies about.... I don't even know what:But the Australians, what do the Australians do? How do they structure their landscape? For a start they postulate a primal builder, whose work they presume only to interpret: the mythical animal who was active in the “dreamtime,” that is, a primal era, beyond verification, as the name indicates. A time of sleep. The visible landscape is an effect of causes that are to be found in the dreamtime. For example, the snake that dragged itself over this plain creating these undulations, etc. etc. These curious Aborigines make sure their eyes are closed while events take place, which allows them to see places as records of events. But what they see is a kind of dream, and they wake into a reverie, since the real story (the snake, not the hills) happened while they were asleep.At the end of the day, I adore this book, flaws and all. Fuck it. I'm giving it 5 stars.