Replaced by a Phrase

“Someday she might replace whatever of her had gone away by some prosthetic device, a dress of a certain color, a phrase in a letter, another lover.” — Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

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Book review: “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon

If I were stuck in a deserted island, I’d want War and Peace, and this book. Why? Mainly because I could see reading this book for the rest of my life over and over again and still not catching it all.

If I had to describe it in one sentence, it should be: a man’s life is inexplicably tied to the fate of a rocket. In reality though, I’d have to go with: It’s like a disturbing wet dream after reading rocket user manuals in German.

Pynchon is one sick mo-fo. He’s also a freaking genius. I don’t know all he knows. Even if he tries to tell me, I don’t. The characters are goddamn paranoid someone’s after them and at first you think they’re crazy but somewhere down the line you get paranoid too. They think someone’s fucking with them. Well, after a while you’re pretty goddamned sure it’s Pynchon fucking with you.

There are what, over 400 characters? You follow someone down the street, into a club, have a few drinks, start playing his trombone, get sick, go to the bathroom, throw up, drop the fucking trombone into the toilet and have to jump in after it, but goddamn someone flushed the toilet on you and you have to swim FAST—-wait, how the hell did we get here?

Half the book you’re asking yourself that: how the hell did we get here? It all made sense unil I suddenly snap out of my trance and realize NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY FUCKING SENSE. Maybe I’m too dumb to get it, but then when it does make sense, maybe it’s cause he’s getting to you. There we go, paranoia again. The common theme.

Pynchon makes up songs in all is books. There’s always someone in the background singing something at some point. The man’s a genius. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want to live in his brain. This is for sure a very hard book to get into, but if and when you get into it, it’s hard to get out of.

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Book Review: “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks” by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs

A murder amongs the future Beats. If you love the Beat writers, this book is a must. It tells the story of this murder from their perspective, but also it tells the story of the Beats themselves, how they lived and what they were doing back in the beginning. The book alternates between Kerouac and Burrhoughs. It’s mainly slow, not mind-blowing, and a bit unemotional even when it finally gets to the intended plot very late in the book. But if only from a sociological perspective, I have to call this a must read for fans of the Beats.

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Book Review: “The Craft of Research” by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams

If you write research papers or any non-fiction, I highly recommend this book. It helps your organization and ability to present information critically. I’ve actually read it twice. Late in my grad school career I had a project I was working on with a professor and it just was not coming out right. I stepped back, revisited this book, and was able to take the exact same research I was already working with and present it in a much better way.  

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Book Review: “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse

I hate books that try to be deep and just fail. This is one of the few that actually succeed. One of my favorite books. It is one of those that has the potential to change your whole outlook on life.

We all seek peace and wisdom in life. This is the story of a young man who leaves everything in his search, follows the wrong path for a while, and in the end finds himself and his true life. A similar plot may be found in many a cheesy novel, but Hesse’s is inspiring.

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Book Review: “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

This book was actually pretty funny. It could have made it’s point in essay form, and it wouldn’t have been a long essay. The author, however, decided to make a story out of it. It was cheesy but okay. Should you read it? Not everyone needs to. Ultimately the one of the many attempted points that I kept with me was that conflict is not a bad thing. You need different opinions and to discuss them for a team to be stronger than the sum of the individuals. Then again, I was sort of forced to read this and wouldn’t read again if I didn’t have to.

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Book Review: “1933 Was A Bad Year” by John Fante

Its a very short book that can easily be read in a day. A good short story. Felt like something you’d read in a magazine. I won’t tell you what it’s about because I didn’t know when I read it and it worked out just fine. It wasn’t a happy read, it involves a famil going through a lot of hardships, but a good story nonetheless.

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