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Tim Lieder "Founder of Dybbuk Press" RSS Feed (New York, NY)
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High as the Horses' Bridles: A Novel
High as the Horses' Bridles: A Novel
by Scott Cheshire
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
64 used & new from $6.45

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not justify its own existence, August 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In bad movies about writers, there is always the scene where the writer is reading to an attentive audience - usually in a hall full of wealthy people instead of the basement of a bookstore (you know where writers usually read since that allows them to actually sell their book). The writer is always depicted as a fey creature of infinite status and popularity, deserving of the respect that is bestowed upon him from all corners. And then the writer gets up to read and the screenwriters know that they have to write something that sounds deep - but since these are guys who learned from Sid Field and write whacky one liners for action heroes to say when they shoot people, the passages from the GREAT NOVEL are always laughably idiotic and bland. Yet from The Words to Finding Forrester, that scene of the writer reading some of the most dismal pseudo-intellectual babble is irresistible.

This novel reminds me of that scene.

It's not an egregiously bad novel. Some of the passages are quite elegant. Unfortunately most of the writing is advertising itself as GOOD WRITING, such as the pages where the protagonist talks about how he had many fathers - the father of his youth, the father of his teenage years, etc. There's nothing wrong with this part. it's not interrupting the narrative and it isn't contradicting the rest of the book, but it really adds nothing. Instead of just getting to the relationship with the father in his present state (Alzheimer's - of course) the book just has to stop and go "ok, here's the theme."

Beyond the bloating from these passages, there's not much of a plot. Granted not every book needs to have a compelling plot and many plots are formulaic and they work just fine. But guy has to deal with Alzheimer's patient father while remember his past as a child preacher is Lifetime movie material. The child preacher passages aren't particularly compelling and they are too reminiscent of Go Tell it on the Mountain. Furthermore, the characters don't feel genuine. They appear like they were pulled out of a kit with several mix-and-match quirks in order to prop them up.

All in all, this is a well written waste of time. The author still has potential, but this book isn't it.


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is bright!, August 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Oh yes. It is bright. It hangs above my floors casting a brilliant light up on all asundry. I can totally sweep up all of the dust with that light shining over me. Yes, if you have a feeling for how the light should be, you should buy this.


The Accidental Husband
The Accidental Husband
DVD
Price: $7.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible script and bad casting., July 21, 2014
In another world, I would want to give points to allowing the heroine to do the flop sweat whacky comedy routine, but unfortunately there are many things that Uma Thurman can do. Whacky physical comedy is not among her skills. In every scene, she seems like an elegant and perfect actress trying to pretend to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The only bright spot to this casting choice is the fact that it means that Anna Faris is not doing her duty as the one bring spot in a terrible movie.

The rest of the movie is heavily trafficking on stereotypes that were dull when Frank Capra was shooting them out. You got the uptight British fiance and the working class joe, who is really the perfect one. There are also guest stars like Isabelle Rosselini stop by to tell the protagonist that the lunkhead is perfect for her.

I would rant for longer, but after a half hour, I couldn't watch anymore.


The River of Souls
The River of Souls
by Robert McCammon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.51
75 used & new from $15.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Different than his horror books., July 20, 2014
This review is from: The River of Souls (Hardcover)
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It's been a long time since I've read Robert McCammon. I remember his books as being some of the most bizarre horror novels I had ever read. There was always a feeling of a world off kilter and just wrong when reading his stories of vampires and psychics. This book is decidedly different than the horror books from the 80s. He's grown as a writer and there is a distinctive lighter touch. That can be a mixed blessing as there seems to be a casual tone at the beginning where the 18th century detective is dueling with combs and getting himself involved where he doesn't need to get involved.

however, once they are on the river, the book turns much grimmer indeed. It's not quite the freaky doom tone of the early books, but it's got a nice sinister atmosphere going and a shifting plot.


Interview with the Vampire
Interview with the Vampire
DVD
Price: $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a view but not a purchase, July 14, 2014
I remember being pleasantly surprised by this movie. It was the movie that exceeded low expectations. Tom Cruise was actually having fun in a role for once. Kristen Dunst made an interesting introduction as the child vampire. The creepy family dynamics were actually well preserved.

Unfortunately the movie does not deserve a second viewing. Certain aspects that can be forgiven in the first view are made ponderous the second time around. Even though Tom Cruise is having fun as Lestat and bringing a desperation for establishing a family to the table, Brad Pitt does not get much to work with. Louis is commonly referred to as the whiny character in the vampire saga (well before Memnoch whined for 500 pages, but that's a different matter). Christian Slater was still getting roles even though he's one of the laziest actors in Hollywood.

More importantly, the movie drags along. Only at the middle section where Lestat and Louis are trying to make a family does the thing pick up and even then, it feels like a lack of will on the part of the director who could only imply the homosexual subtext. The vampire theater scenes are fun but they go on too long as well.

Overall, this is a movie that worked well at one point but does not hold up.


Half a King (Shattered Sea)
Half a King (Shattered Sea)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.45
97 used & new from $8.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun twisty plot and great characters, July 8, 2014
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I had not read Joe Abercrombie until now but mostly I heard that he was "more hardcore than George RR Martin" and that his books were part of the "grimdark" movement. If this book is indicative of his output, I'm not certain if that reputation is warranted. This is a fun book that begins with a reluctant heir to the kingdom being groomed for a throne that he never wanted. The first fifty pages are mostly set up with the protagonist being introduced in the context of a warrior society. It's not terribly exciting.

However, when the first twist happens and the title character is forced to scramble for a return to power, the book becomes an exciting adventure with reversals and plot twists. Some of the plot twists are unbelievable but many of them have the ability to surprise in a realistic manner.

So definitely a fun book.


Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open (Icons)
Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open (Icons)
by Phoebe Hoban
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.14
57 used & new from $5.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Basic artist biography but pretty cool, July 1, 2014
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It seems like every artist has the same set of dynamics - an ability to alienate friends and family, multiple lovers, obsession with the art and a couple of scandalous stories in order to keep the reader going. Artist biographies are the behind the music of biographies. I found myself wondering just how much of this book was manipulating the facts of Lucian Freud's life in order to fit in with the pattern of a misanthropic but charismatic artist.

Consequently, the best material comes when Freud is in his 60s and making money at his art. At this point, the material about the lovers and the ex-friends (including Francis Bacon - a friendship that was very close but broke up for reasons that don't seem to be well known) fades away and it becomes a book about Lucian Freud, artist. At this point the writer shines by describing his art work and his process and his particular methodology which is in the fluorescent light school of realism.

This is a pretty light book, but it's definitely worth a read.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer  - The Complete Sixth Season (Slim Set)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Sixth Season (Slim Set)
DVD ~ Sarah Michelle Gellar
Price: $13.90
28 used & new from $7.48

3.0 out of 5 stars The most depressing season of Buffy - although that might not be a bad thing, June 30, 2014
When I first start watching this DVD set, I was actually surprised by just how depressing this season was. As soon as Buffy gets resurrected, she gets a look on her face like she doesn't want to be there and have anything to do with it - which I took to be a commentary on Sarah Michelle Gellar's attitude towards the show itself. And as the season progressed, everyone seemed to be falling into the worst After School Special imaginable. Suddenly magic isn't a great deus ex machina but an addiction for Willow. Buffy is unable to connect with anyone but Spike, mostly because her friends are incapable of understanding her. The few characters that aren't messed up are trying their hardest to get away from their sad friends.

And that musical episode - I think I was spoiled for it by dozen of sing-along events. Also, it's a little more difficult to overlook the fact that the episode ends with Buffy trying to kill herself.

But as I watched the entire season, I started to respect the season and what it was trying to do (on purpose or accidentally) which seems to be to depict clinical depression in all its uncomfortable aspects. I found the articles that linked the Trio to Buffy's depression and the ways that their attacks on her reflected her symptoms. And I was impressed by the way that there was no magic button to push that snapped everyone out of it. There were moments like Riley coming back and giving her a pep talk but for the most part, little by little the characters worked through their issues and found ways of coping with the misery.

And yeah, Xander and the broken yellow crayon gets to me every time.

This is a messy and uneven season, but it does find its bearing and leaves the viewer with great moments.


Andrew's Brain: A Novel
Andrew's Brain: A Novel
by E. L. Doctorow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.42
152 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to justify its existence, June 27, 2014
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This feels like the kind of book that you hear excerpts from in books and movies about writers. It has some interesting passages in the service of a story that is not really going anywhere. It's not an egregiously awful book, but like the works of Paul Auster, there is really not much going on in the book besides a few clever turns of phrase.

The main conceit of this book is that it's a rambling confession/therapy of a man with a lot of tragedy in his life including a dead baby and 9/11. He talks and makes references to old movies and operas. He has relationships. He feels bad.

200 pages later, nothing has really happened and you are left with the feeling of being on a very boring date that you wanted to end, but you just felt like if only you hung on for a little longer it might get interesting. Besides you didn't want to be rude.


The Last Illusion: A Novel
The Last Illusion: A Novel
by Porochista Khakpour
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
80 used & new from $11.94

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very slight book, June 23, 2014
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This book is based on a Persian epic and a tale about a great warrior who started his life as an outcast raised by birds.Unfortunately the book does not have much interest in using the mythology to maximum effect and instead gets into a great deal of bringing the mythology into a semi-realistic setting where Zal is kept in a bird cage by his crazy mother. When he is finally rescued and comes to the states, he takes up with a magician and a woman who also acts very birdlike without tragic.

Everyone is very tragic in this book and they have a great deal of fun being tragic. Also 9/11 is coming. The book pretty much keeps stating it and by the time the author messes around with 9/11 it feels anticlimatic.

Mostly this book reminded me of that Robert Pattinson movie that is all emo love story until the last shot which is of the protagonist sitting in the board room at the top of the WTC on September 11.


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