Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've realized how far behind in fresh content this blog has become in favor of links to pages of interest or excuses to post something, anything, and this is distressing. But you know how it is. Unactivity breeds complacency, which breeds all kinds of suck.

Anyway I realize I have been OD'ing you guys with musical suggestions and such, so I am relieving you (for now) with another semi-literate book review, and frankly this cannot wait, since I have just completed reading it, and as the protagonist Mike McGill says at the book's triumphant climax, "We win. We beyond win. We are made of win. My God, it's full of win. And so on." This book is full of win and it must be read by all. It is the salve to crap like Next and Contract. It is to jaded Palahniuk readers a shining light and a portal to the author's nexus of graphic novel goodness.

The book I am referring to, in case you are most probably wondering by now, is Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein. It was first released last year, but I didn't find it anywhere until recently, and if you find a hardcover copy please post it to me and we shall be the best of friends because I am shallow that way. I always feel hesitant about starting on a book about 300 pages long because I know that if it is a page-turner (what more stupid term is that? It doesn't turn itself, you know!) I won't be able to put it down, and must exercise great self control not to finish it in one go, which explains why I slept so late in college and went to class nearly an hour late in the mornings. And what do you know, this is exactly the case here, much to my dismay, because it only means I have to go and get more things to read. Thanks, literacy! Thanks a lot, dammit.

Anyway, CLV is about private investigator Mike McGill's cross-country quest to reclaim a book of extreme importance for the White House; a book which enables great power for whomever possesses it, because it contains amendments to the Constitution which are unknown and can give leverage to anyone with a political bend. I know, it doesn't make much sense to read that last sentence, much less to actually write it, so just take it from me that the power of said book takes a backseat to the character arc that McGill goes through from beginning to end. From the beginning of the book, we're given the stereotypical view of the middle-aged private eye, the guy who runs his business from a decrepit office building on the wrong side of town, down on his luck. In the words of Ellis, "a shit magnet" (and you were wondering when I'd start profaning in this post!). One day, when he wakes up in his chair, he finds Secret Service guys outside his building, and receives a visit from the White House Chief of Staff, an old man who habitually injects himself with heroin or whatever gives an edge, and is basically thrust into this assignment, with a new handheld computer and half a million dollars, and no clue where to begin.

I won't spoil the plot for you, but if you're into adventures involving investigation, the occasional roughhousing, and plenty of talk regarding the various perversities that dot the landscape of modern cosmopolitan America, this book is for you. I mean the perversity makes sense here, after all it's the guy who penned Transmetropolitan, for God's sake. We're talking about people who get off on multipartner relationships, giant bukkakke lizards (I know, right?) and injecting industrial grade sealant for the sake of a larger derrierre. Most of the time when it comes to off-putting subject matter, a lot of writers inject these elements just for the sake of grossing you out, but here it's just something that's there, a previously unknown element of people McGill didn't know existed. Over the course of the book, we see through the narrator's description of McGill's reactions to the modern world, a kind of unravelling, aided by his travelling companion Trix, a girl he meets at an adult theater and eventually falls for. We see him thrust into situations he wouldn't normally subject himself into, and applaud him for sticking to his principles throughout. By the time you reach the ending, you just know he earned whatever he got coming by sheer perseverance.

I know from the last paragraph this book sounds all kinds of weird, but trust me it is extremely entertaining. My only complaint is the fact that it was over too quickly. The emotions that go through Mike when it comes to his relationship with Trix, complex and convoluted though it may seem, resonates with you simply because Ellis is just that good of a writer to express the frustration of a guy who's been given shit for so long, to suddenly find love in someone too good to be true, and the ways in which guarding yourself puts a strain on the whole thing for both lovers. So yeah, this compact book has everything you need for a good time: emotion, action and the wit of one the best comic (and now mainstream novel) writers. Move over Gaiman. This is my kind of book. Full of win, indeed.

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