Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Golem and the Jinni

Some of you may know there is a special place in my heart for a jinni.  So, when I heard about this book I was like whaaaaat?  This is going to happen. Some categorize this book as fantasy.  It really reads more like a historical novel.  From the Jewish mystical tradition, a golem is a creature made out of clay, but this golem is a lady.  If I were made out of clay, the first thing I would do is get to the art supply store, get some potters' tools and scoop out for me, perfect six-pack abs.  Man, that would be sweet.

Ah, the jinni, where do I begin.  Some of you know I have a elaborate "puppet" that is a djinn.  I call him genie.  My genie, is fairly hilarious but this jinni is is not.  This jinni is good-looking and can make his own jewelry, and according to the book he is good in bed, so he'd be quite the catch.  If you could catch a mystical/mythical creature. My genie got me in trouble with my last job and this jinni has issues with his boss.  That makes sense, when you have a spiritual creature made out of fire, they don't exactly tow the company line.  I mean, they are not going to read Who Moved My Cheese.  Maybe he would read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Multiple Dimensioned Creatures.  Actually, I would read that. 

This book is quite good, and this first-time author really knows her religious myths without being pedantic. Heck, she should get an award for that alone.  She does a fine job of telling all the side character's back stories and still making those interesting in their own right.  The only problem is she has a hard time resolving their plots.  Like, oh yeah, that guy, who you devoted 70 pages to, he died, he did?  Yeah, one of the main characters killed him.  Oh.... WHAT? (no explanation)  Its like Virginia Woolfe and the Deadly Parenthenticals.  That sounds like a good name for a very nerdy band.  Very nerdy.  They could all wear cardigans with heavy rocks in the pockets.  Too soon?

Drinks:  This book is also really a love letter to NYC.  Why not read this with a Manhattan?  This drink is older than the turn of the century plot line and has more variations than a yelling goat YouTube mash-up.  Here's the traditional recipe:  2 oz of Rye whiskey, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, dash of Angostura bitters.  Pour these ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the cherry (if you can find real Maraschino cherries--they are wonderful).  A new variation for this book?  Replace the Angostura bitters with cinnamon bitters as Jinni is made out of fire. Call this Jinni's Manhattan. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Perdido Street Station

It takes some cojones to name your own genre.  China Mieville calls his work "weird fiction." Of course when you are a man named China, well you'd better grow some, because with that name I would imagine as a child he got a daily beat down.  Perdido Street Station is really steampunk fantasy.  Set in a the city of  New Crobuzon, well, its pretty wild.  Bird-men, frog-men, cactus-men, beetle-ladies, intelligent robots and scary monsters.  Oh, and humans too, some with cyborg attachments.  I don't think you even have to name this "weird fiction," I mean, we get it. 

Anyway, the book won more fantasy awards than you can shake a wand at and there is a reason. Its is pretty gritty and pretty weird.  But when you think about it, is New Crobuzon all that different than any city?  Modern artists literally chew and spit out works, scientists are poor and fat and the politicians are corrupt and converse with agents of the devil.  Now, Steampunk was kind of fad so hurry up and read this already before it becomes laughable. 

I have a "first world problem" with this book.  The book was written in 2003 right before the kindle thing blew up. There are very detailed descriptions of this city and trying to reference the map on a kindle is difficult.  I know, wah, wah, wah.  China Mieville has purposefully created New Crobuzon as a character so there are a lot of detailed descriptions. I just made up my own map in my mind so I'm pretty sure some of the characters went through a neighborhood called Rascal Flats.  There is a cactus dome full of cactus people. I call that cactus dome.  I know, real creative.  Hey, give me a break, this book is crazy enough on its own.    

Drinks: I recommend the Some Moth Cocktail.  You read that right, Moth.  Such a weird name.  Anyway, its from the Savoy Cocktail Book from the olden times:  2/3 Plymouth Gin, 1/3 French Vermouth and dash of Absinthe.  Add a pearl onion. (I probably won't add the pearl onion because I think that represents the moth's cocoon and that is just nasty). 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Electric Barracuda

Does anyone have an uncle that thinks he is hilarious when he farts in a leather chair?  Maybe? Well, this book does.  Think Dexter if told by your uncle with jokes, jokes and more (bad) jokes.  I call this genre joke noir.  Its kind of like the Jack Handy books but the jokes are not nearly as funny and it has an actual plot.  Electric Barracuda is intended to be a "thriller" of sorts.  Also, it is the reverse of most jokey books, the protagonist is the brilliant one and most of the other characters are idiots.  Here is the problem: at one point our main character, Serge Storms, raps.  Yeah, old-white-man-thinks-he-is-hilarious-rap.  Unforgivable.  To put the topping on this poop sandwich its all jokes about Florida.  It could not push more of my "I hate this" buttons.  Oh, wait, it does.  Some of the jokes are sexist, but not funny enough not to be offensive.  At least I didn't notice any racist jokes.  That is sad, the best thing I can say about this book is that it does not have any offensive racist jokes.  Also, it is fairly short. 

This book is really one of those either you love it or hate this type of thing. On Goodreads the people loved it!  (Don't trust Goodreads reviews).  THIS BOOK SUCKS EGGS. I almost forgot to tell you that it full of Florida facts--not jokes but like a Florida travel guide.  I hate Florida.  Wound, meet your new friend, salt.

You are not going to read this book.  Don't even read it for the novelty of reading a crappy book.  You should however drink this drink.  Florida is the sunshine state.  Why not drink Sunshine in a Glass?  1 1/2 oz Lillet, three dashes sunshine bitters, sparkling wine.  Build in a flute glass, top with sparkling wine and garnish with lemon or orange peel.  What are sunshine bitters?  Apparently some delicious concoction made out of saffron and cardamon.  This drink was created by Molly Wellman who has a new handcrafted cocktail book.  I see that the recipe for the cocktail and the bitters is her new book, which I am getting for Christmas (even if I buy it myself).  My friend Rob gave me the inspiration for using this recipe, including this awesome photo that includes a book no less.  Thank you Rob (who is by far the best non-professional cocktail maker I know).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Warded Man

Every time I saw this book lying around I started singing "This Charming Man" by The Smiths.  Apparently my warbling, overly loud Morrissey impression was disturbing the cats.  They kept looking over their shoulders and moving away at a fast trot.

In The Warded Man, Peter Brett's first novel, we are told the story of three children who overcome nasty childhoods to become successful but dysfunctional adults who battle demons.  That story seems familiar, maybe its based on the life story of Tom Cruise.

In this fantasy novel, the world had a small problem.  Every night, as soon as it gets dark, the earth's core chokes up demons derived from natural elements.  Think wood demons, wind demons, etc.. The demons will tear you to pieces and eat you on sight.  One way to protect yourself is by putting calligraphic symbols around you that create a magic net.  The one character said well, screw this, I'm just going to tattoo those symbols on my body and fight back even if I look like something you would see on TLC or in a bar in Portland.  Whatever.  It's an alternative lifestyle.  There is also a big boobed girl and a redheaded fiddler with half a hand.  The fiddler's music also repels demons. The boobs do not repel demons.  But they attract men who will protect those boobs, so it kind of works when you think about it. 

Its a decent fantasy novel, however, its not amazing.  It takes a long time to the good parts so you may want to skip it.  Fantasy readers are both simultaneously voracious and picky.  Like Hungry Owls.  Hungry Owls would make a good name for a Fantasy Book Club. Copyright pending.

Drinks: Drink with a glass of vintage port that is as dark as demon blood and as sweet as Morrissey's falsetto.