This Is Not an Odd Book Discussion – Horking and enormous time sucks

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Dear readers, I came down with what can only be described as the plague. Mr Oddbooks brought home some conference crud and I watched a neighbor kid, and as we all know, kids are crawling with germs.   The neighbor kid’s germs morphed with the conference crud to create a supercrud.  My house may or may not be under a CDC tent.  So I haven’t been doing much but occasionally showing my ass in political communities and staring, stunned, at how much I really need to vacuum. I hope to have the “insane” and outsider literature discussion up on Friday, but given how things have been, it could be Friday, it could be three weeks from now.

Also, lots of people have been sending me books to read and I appreciate it. However, I am behind because of many reasons that have nothing to do with the plague but have everything to do with personal organization. So if you sent me a book and I said I would read it and discuss it, it will happen, in the fullness of time. The only exception would be if I began reading it and decided that even a crushingly horrible review would not be in your best interest. But that’s only happened once so I don’t see that happening.

In the mean time, let me share some links.

Here is the website of Gabriella Chana, a writer who thinks that she is genetically half Catherine the Great and half King David, who has a soul bond, or some such thing, to Brent Spiner, the dude who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Jesuits are keeping them apart, and she has a list of hot, Hollywood stars who want to marry her but all she can do is have mind sex with them. Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Jackman and Brent Spiner all long for her, evidently, but cannot marry her due to the Jesuits, though they somehow manage to leave awkward comments on her message board. Plan to devote hours to reading and reviewing Chana’s (aka Gail Chord) YouTube videos. I don’t know why George Clooney has yet to want to marry Chana, but I think it has something to do with the fact that he dates so much the Jesuits cannot keep him in cloned women that have babies to force him to marry them. Thanks to Ted the Romanian for this enormous time suck. Truly lunatic, so lunatic that I feel like it has to be a hoax but it probably isn’t.

Less involved but equally demented (though definitely not a hoax) is this site devoted to the theory that Stephen King killed John Lennon. There’s a book about it and you can be sure that I will be reading this book. Well, it’s actually a booklet, but it seems worth a read. I can only imagine that the reason that Stephen King has not sued the man behind this site is because the theory is so devoid of anything approaching reality that there was really no reason to shut him down. But I found it pretty interesting so you may, too.

Hopefully, this trend of being sick constantly is coming to an end and I can get stuff moving here. Clearly I am not a stoic who can work through such things. I’m pretty sure I would have been one of those people who died very young before antibiotics, vaccines and a modern infrastructure that supports the weak. Bear with me, please.

Population Zero by Wrath James White

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Population Zero

Author: Wrath James White

Type of Book: Fiction, novella, extreme horror

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: The extremity of the horror makes it odd by my calculations.

Availability: Published by Deadite Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:

Comments: For reasons that I have discussed in the past, I have been watching Wrath James White’s writing for a while. I was introduced to him via a collaboration that was so bad it remains in my top ten category for worst books I have ever read (Teratologist was the book, the sort of book wherein the protagonist’s name is spelled three different ways in one paragraph). So I sought out White’s web presence and his well-written, interesting blog did not mesh with the hot mess I had read so I gave him another chance. I next read Book of a Thousand Sins and saw that in some respects, my belief he was a far better writer than Teratologist presented him was justified. There were problems with that story collection, but White got enough right that I was heartened.

Population Zero is pretty much a vindication that my instincts were correct. All the issues that I saw in Book of a Thousand Sins were reconciled. Whereas characters might rant for pages on end in BoaTS,  in Population Zero the protagonist’s issues were woven into the plot and showed a character arc. White’s at times baroque writing style was a bit more restrained in this book and his characterization was excellent. The villain in Teratologist embodied Dean Venture when he declared, “I dare you to make less sense!” (Dean also had a terrible problem with his testicles, and the applicability of me telling you this will become clear as you read my discussion.)

There were some small problems in Population Zero that I am going to get out of the way before discussing all that was fabulous. First, the ending left much to be desired and that may just be my feeling on the matter. But the ending felt rushed and given the amount of energy others expended to get the protagonist to the end point, the ending felt wrong. Additionally, as the protagonist goes about his job, he delivers information that become obsolete with the Welfare Reform Act of 1996; tiny little points of social policy that I suspect only I would nitpick because they aren’t too glaring and because they flow well with the story White is telling. There are some small typos, as well. Someone tries to score “heroine” and a character “grinded” his teeth. They’re minor and not that intrusive, but they’re there.

(And it should be mentioned that if you are a social justice warrior, you will not like this book. The protagonist is very unsympathetic to the obese, to the poor trapped on a social treadmill of bad choices, and pregnancy in all forms. The protagonist is also a mentally disturbed, increasingly unhinged killer. In the past, when such a character had very unpleasant ideas, it was called characterization. In some quarters these days, it is a sign of a greater misogyny and class prejudice. I hardly think it so, but I have now given some of my more socially progressive readers clear warning that this book may not be to their tastes.)

2083 by Anders Behring Breivik, Part 4: All About ABB

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Now begins the last installment of my look at 2083.  If you’re just now joining the discussion, this is the fourth in the series.  You can click these links and go straight to Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Throughout the previous three looks at Anders Behring Breivik and Fjordman, I did my best to remain on topic with the text only.  I still will derive most of Part Four from the manifesto text, but I will also be using information from the news and other sources as I discuss what I think this text reveals about Breivik.   If one reads the text closely,  Breivik reveals a lot of answers to questions that are troubling people.   I also think the text reveals a lot about Breivik’s motives in a way that gives lie to the idea that stopping Islamic immigration and ending what he refers to as cultural Marxism were his only goals.

In Part Three I mostly discussed the things that Breivik planned and the things he actually did.   Because of the level of plagiarism that Breivik engages in throughout the manifesto, it is hard to look at his writing and know if the words are indeed his, but there are patterns that emerge, times when it seems like writing flows and when it seems like he is parroting ideology from others in an awkward manner.   When he writes from a place of experience or a place of emotion, it flows smoother and simply feels more real.  So I tell myself that there are times I know I am reading Breivik’s actual thoughts, as well as text that is not plagiarized.

I need to explain that I am looking at his manifesto the way I read any text.   I am looking at the whole of the document – how it is arranged, how the writing appears, what Breivik considers important, what he does not.  There is truth in this manifesto of lies.   You know how it is when a seasoned poker player can judge the hands of the other players at the table?  It is because the other players, even as they try to present a flat demeanor, have what are called “tells.”  A finger twitches, eyes dart to the left, someone unconsciously clears his throat.  And the experienced poker player knows.  Breivik’s manifesto is littered with tells.

While I hope I am not sounding too arrogant, I am a reasonably good “poker player.”   I’m no expert on literary construction.  But I fancy that because of my time in the trenches of odd books, strange books, bizarre books, and the people who naturally accompany such books, I have a pretty good grounding in the unusual mind.   I also had some excellent teachers and professors in my day who instilled in me a habit of engaging with words in a manner that, at times, makes reading very involved for me.  So I fancy that I enter into Part Four with some skills for analyzing text.

But at the same time, I will be engaging in psychological analysis of Breivik that should likely be taken with a grain of salt.  In a way, psychoanalyzing him will be no different than analyzing other literary characters because in its way, this manifesto is as much a piece of fiction as any novel.   I don’t need a psychological degree in order to discuss the mental state of Emma Bovary, Gregor Samsa, or Catherine Earnshaw.   But if I acknowledge that I am analyzing the text in the same way that I would a fictional novel, hopefully that will make it clear that this is just speculation.   Once the professional psychological reports come back,  I have no doubt large chunks of this entry will be proven completely off-base.  As you read this, please keep in mind I am doing my best to discuss Breivik in relation to what I think his manifesto tells me about him, with some news articles to bolster the opinions I posit. I could be very wrong.

And all that having been said, I think I’m right on more than I am wrong.  I wouldn’t have written all this out if I didn’t have some belief I was right.

So let’s look at the insight the manifesto text gives us into the mind of Breivik.  Let’s look at how his text arrangement and emphasis show his priorities.  Let’s talk about what some of his plagiarism really means.  Let’s look at how so much of what he writes contradicts itself.   Let’s see if some of the initial media responses to him are borne out in his manifesto. Let’s see if we can pin down the mind of a killer via the words that meant so much to him.