Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Books Read Lately

Conan: Road of Kings, by Roy Thomas, Mike Hawthorne and others

Spliced between Iron Shadows and Queen of the Black Coast we are given one of Dark Horse's non-Howardian tales and I was pleasantly surprised. Typically these spots have been the holes in the Dark Horse Conan line = Free Companions for example-but I enjoyed Road of Kings. Likely because of Roy Thomas who if anything only writes a more engaging Conan yarn now than he did back in the day, I cringed with a few of his original story arcs back in the Marvel day-but everything in RoK's feels close enough to the Hyboria of REH.
I know if you're interested, you're interested so I don't need to give away too much. The other thing with graphics-the art. Hawthorne is pretty good, perhaps I don't enjoy him as much as Giorello but he is an absolute master compared to the coming of Becky Cloonan stuff that I shudder to look at in QotBC. I loved the Doug Wheatley covers-awesome visceral action.

Three Uses of the Knife, by David Mamet

A very brief book on drama, I found this absolutely fascinating. Mamet's insights into how people work and why we tell stories were revelatory, I've already reread it. Granted I might not agree with everything he says but it no way halted my enjoyment. For example I do lean (but not 100% Anti-Stratfordian) but it doesn't make me bitter at enjoying Shakespeare, I love Shakespeare, I can read him without shouting the world is flat-so that was a strange tangent for me, I'm just not totally convinced that it really was a playwright and not one of the nobility, in any case.
Mamet talks about what we need drama for, how to make the second act stronger and the third fulfilling and as the title suggests what needs to be cut overall.

The Book of the Damned, by Charles Fort

I'm not actually done with this one just a very good portion in to the first of four-I own the collected works as pictured. But for a fantasist it is wonderfully inspiring truly weird food for the soul. So many bizarre ideas, the inspiration is reeling at what to do with this tale and that-so many possible creatures that are atypically missed even by weird fiction standards. This is truly a book to behold if you are jonesing for some ideas. And like John Keel, Fort is a truly entertaining investigator.

Tiger Scroll of the Koga Ninja, by Jay Sensei

This is one I have owned for ages, I read it years ago. But I reread quite often on any given topic if the mood takes me and for whatever reason I thought on ninja's. I'm inclined to think Jay Sensei is an utterly fake name, who knows how much of anything he has to say is true from a firsthand account, but regardless the book is interesting on a semi-historical level as well as technique level. Full of tales on how this ninja accomplished this or that, I looked at it as a good primer for the sake of fiction utilizing the ninja.

Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee

I've always enjoyed Bruce Lee movies and I have a couple of his books, recently watching a bio, I picked this up again and as always find his outlook and philosophy at once entertaining and bold. Like a modern day Musashi (Book of Five Rings) Lee spells out fighting techniques while also going over consequence on a spiritual level.
"There will never be a means to ends, only means. And I am means. I am what I started with, and when it is all over I will be all that is left of me."


Charles Gramlich said...

Did you ever read Karl Wagner's novel "Conan: The Road of Kings?" Not my favorite Conan pastiche but it was pretty good.

David J. West said...

I did Charles, I liked it alright. I guess I should have mentioned from the get-go that I knew this wasn't a graphic of that pastiche.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I really need to read 'Jeet Kune Do' one of these days.

David J. West said...

Cool Paul-you've already heard some of it in the "I Am Bruce Lee" biopic.