Review

4. I LOVED YOU MORE By Tom Spanbauer

I tried to look for that one article where I first read about I Loved You More. Couldn’t find it anywhere. I know it was either posted by or shared by LitReactor, and that’s yet another reason why I’m so glad I have LitReactor in my life. As soon as I saw that article, read the synopsis, I wanted to have the book.

Last time I fully enjoyed a book (and I mean fell in love with it to a point where I had to pause every few sentences because they’re so beautiful that they make you stop in your tracks,) was when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ve read many books after that, but none got close enough to have that place in my heart. Of course that was until I read I Loved You More. Tom Spanbauer, the Oscar Wilde of the twenty first century.

It’s a story of a man cast out of the world of men, falling into a complicated relationship that turned into an even more complicated love triangle, and cursed with a health crisis. The delicate and gritty reality of romance and grief, perfectly represented, poignant and palpable.

The book is impeccable, written in language so simple yet so rich and heavy. The vulnerability of it, how real it felt, the pain and joy and longing. You have to go where it hurts goes both ways for writer and reader. It’s not one of those books that go by without leaving its mark. It drew me in right from the beginning, and by the end I was crying.

5/5 easily.
I can’t recommend this enough. In fact, I’m going to look into getting the rest of his books. Seriously, no one writes like this guy.

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3. BLACK GUM By J David Osborne

First of all, let me just say the cover of this book is absolutely fucking sexy. It doesn’t just look good, it also feels good. When I first got the book, I kept touching it because it’s so soft and the print is prominent.

Anyway, book molestation aside, this is a pretty solid one. J David Osborne nails it once again, with his gritty, desiccated style, telling a story so engaging I finished it in two sittings (and that’s saying a lot as it takes me months to get through a book usually.)

Not to give away too much, this is about a man having the worst possible kind of rebound. A good man doing bad things in an act of desperation, ending up meeting the most complex, most interesting, and scariest kinds of people. It’s weird, sad, funny, and different. Imagine Mike Patton, but a book.

What I admire about it is that it respects the readers’ intelligence. There’s no tedious character introduction or in-depth description of scenes and atmosphere, because everything is already clearly established in the author’s head –it’s all raw and real, you’re right there where everything’s going on without the author boring you with minor, easily deducible details.

The only reason I’m giving it a 4.5 and not five stars is because the ending kind of fell flat. I was expecting some kind of climax but it felt so lukewarm that if there was one, I clearly missed it. Rounding it up to 5 on Goodreads though because 1) Holy shit, Danny Ames! and 2) This bit made me genuinely chuckle:

“What’s these teardrops mean?”
“Means I’m super sad.” –p.27

4.5/5

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2. PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT By Philip Roth

A journey into the life of Alexander Portnoy, peeking inside his head as he goes through the hilarious and yet tragic events of his life. Despite how aberrant the events were, I found them all too relatable. I believe whoever lived in a strict household, or an uptight culture that brainwashes its young, would easily relate to this. The protagonist diligently –beautifully, even– showed that no matter how big he got, how smart, and how respected, he was still too small. He was and always will be the dirty little kid his mother warned him of being, so much that he foreboded instant punishment or retribution for the tiniest of pleasures he sought.

Philip Roth is, to put it simply, a brilliant writer. His prose reminds me so much of Nabokov, except the dark humour is more abundant –he’s absolutely hilarious. The book even ends was a punchline, making it seem like the protagonist’s life, all his pains and tribulations, his dreams of salvation trying to find home as far away from his own as possible, all of this is just one sick joke. And how apt is that, considering it’s exactly what he had been thinking anyway.

If I were to describe this book in brief, I would say, imagine Gregor Samsa if he never turned into a cockroach, instead he’s living his whole life believing he is one monstrous vermin who one day will be exposed to the entire world. Portnoy is riddled with stifling insecurities, and yet he believes the world owes him something. He’s a narcissistic, envious, sanctimonious pervert, but I couldn’t help loving him.

Great book, highly recommended.
5/5

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Review

1. THE PRINCE By Niccolò Machiavelli

I went into this one expecting it to be difficult, because of its rich content and its being linguistically challenging (the translation I have is an archaic one) so I decided to use an audiobook to help me navigate through, and that was a big mistake. There was no audio version of my edition anywhere on LibriVox so I settled for a different one thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal. After spending the first half of this book in discord, not knowing whether to read or listen, I thought, fuck it, it can’t be that hard. I’ll grab my dictionary and read like an adult. Ironically though, I was happy the chapters were brief.

In this one, Machiavelli lays out instructions on how to be a successful (not necessarily a good) leader. Politics 101. A politician’s handbook.

Politics and history are two points which I consider to be my weakest -I’d chalk that up to where I come, and also my own laziness- and you can’t have one without the other. However, it wasn’t lost on me how much these rules and policies are still relevant now -although some of them may be as archaic as the book itself. It’s interesting and quite appalling that this has founded so much of our modern, and political philosophy, and even sociology.

The most important point that I have taken out of this is that being a ruler (or “principality” as he calls it) is a dirty game. And in order to win, you have to be dirty yourself. No matter how despicable the means and how devious your plans, it’s all a small price to pay. Pretty much Machiavellianism.

I didn’t think I would, but I actually enjoyed this book. It was kind of like a peek backstage, behind the curtains, seeing all the dirty work. Not going to comment on prose and construction because it’d be both superfluous and presumptuous; it’s a fucking classic.

4/5
Recommended

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Book Reviews

I’m currently taking a break from writing and focusing more on reading. I’ve realised that I don’t read enough, at least not as much as I want to, and reviewing is the new cool thing so there you go.

This year, I’ve set a goal to read 24 books. Not much, I know, but I’m trying to be realistic here. Anyway, I started this blog to keep track of the books I read and put all my reviews in one place for those interested to read them, so they wouldn’t have to go clicking through Goodreads. I’ll copy/paste the reviews on Goodreads as well, and Amazon if that’s where I got the book.

Let’s hope I actually reach my reading goals for this year! Not like there’s a shortage of books or time.

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