Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

La Jetée: Ciné-roman (2008)

Author: Chris Marker | Designer: Bruce Mau | Page Count: 258

"Moments to remember are just like other moments.
They are only made memorable by the scars they leave."

Chris Marker's La Jetée (1962) was a short experimental film that was composed almost entirely of still images, with a V/O narration telling the story from a very specific POV. The stills used in the film's composition are reproduced here, with the relevant text accompanying each image. The text is in both French and English, as the original short film was a French production.

If you're familiar with the film, it's an odd experience having the voice of the narrator replaced by your own inner-narrator. The inflections are different. The pacing is different. The edit is different. Nevertheless, if you can immerse yourself fully in the experience, then it's equally as profound and equally as unsettling.

If you haven't viewed the film, I can't imagine how you'll feel about the book or even if it would have the same kind of emotional impact. I recommend a viewing before a reading, simply because you'd be assimilating the works in the order which they were revealed, but there may well be advantages in reversing the process that I'm not aware of and am now incapable of experiencing.

One thing I'm sure of is that once viewed the images become inseparable from the words, regardless if they're spoken or written.

5 photos from the future out of 5

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Heat Rises (2011)

Author: Richard Castle | Page Count: 305
"I catch an STD down here, I'll sue till I own the damn city."
Detective Heat starts in the freezing cold investigating the seemingly out of place death of a church pastor in a sex dungeon. What is at first possibly not even a murder will spiral into many conflicts, both political and mortal, that will push Nikki to her physical and mental limits and strain not just her, but her relationships with all those around her including would-be boyfriend Jameson Rook and her beloved police force.

The 3rd book in the Nikki Heat detective series starts off following the formula of the last books, but whether it is actually written better or I've just come to accept it, it felt quite different and less like reading a script from its tie-in show. The mystery was kicked up a notch and was actually mildly surprising, though at times felt less like nuanced mystery and more like just piling on with multiple scenarios playing out hoping the reader will just be overwhelmed with possibilities. This is tempered by the still likeable and relate-able characters. As they should be as they are just mirror images of the swell TV counterparts. Nikki Heat herself is also more interesting as the ordeal will actually force her into vulnerability which has been minimal in previous volumes even if it's clearly just paralleling the TV season on which it is based. But that is part of the joke, I suppose. Very Funny, Mr. Castle.

Good People Have Good Sex out of 5

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dandelion Wine (1957)

Author: Ray Bradbury | Page Count: 281

'He stood at the open window in the dark, took a deep breath and exhaled.
The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out.
He exhaled again and again and the stars began to vanish.'

Like much of Bradbury’s output, this one is about childhood, the magical time, but it’s also about the fading of that time, making it a bitter-sweet experience.  It captures the essence of what we all know and fear, that nostalgia for childhood can help you appreciate it more fully but can only be birthed posthumously.

It takes place over one summer in 1928, in the fictional Green Town, Illinois, a place Bradbury returns to in later books.  In that year, in that summer, Douglas Spaulding and his younger brother Tom live life to the fullest.  For Doug, the summer is his time.  Every day will bring something new.  Every day he'll fill to the brim with experiences; he’ll collect them and they’ll become a part of him.

He begins by helping pick the dandelions that are the primary ingredient of the titular wine.  The dandelion, with its ability to be considered weed or flower, to exist as a thing of contrasts, is at the heart of the novel; beyond that it's a metaphor that I won’t spoil.  The book is bursting with such metaphors, some of them overly-sentimental but they never overshadow the narrative.

It’s a novel but it’s made up of short stories that were written over a number of years.  They’re arranged in such a way that they become Doug’s story, the story of the people he knows, and of the people they know.
They're also records of the people Bradbury knows, or knew.  It's one of his most autobiographical works.  Douglas is his actual middle name.  The character in the novel is an amalgamation of his own boyhood memories, and his fanciful and fertile imagination.  Spaulding is his father's middle name.  Green Town is a pseudonym for his childhood home of Waukegan.
Knowing how personal it is enriches the work; it becomes two stories in one, with a little bit of magic in both.

5 bottles filled with sunshine out of 5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Pocket Book of Boosh (2009)

Author: Various (inc. Noel Fielding & Julian Barratt) | Page Count: 304

…prose so taught you can feel the veins.

If you liked The Mighty Boosh TV Series then you’ll like this.  Provided you like books.  And can read.  If you can’t read there are pictures.  It even has a comic book featuring Rudy and Spider.

The content is exactly the same as The Mighty Book of Boosh, which came first, and was bigger.  This one came second, and is smaller.  I shit you not.  That’s as complicated as it gets.

3 Ol’ Gregg watercolours out of 5