News for November 2012

Kill your Friends by John Niven

I’m blasting the biggest UK hit that I could think of right now while writing this review and that is Calvin Harris. I know that he’s not exactly a pop/rock star by any means, he’s a producer/song writer/DJ thingy. But he’s from the UK and he collaborates with fellow british artists like Florence from Florence and the Machine.

I am specifying the choice of music because this is a book about the A&R world in the UK. A&R are the people who decides which bands and groups gets signed to become acts. There are a lot of specified details about the industry. And there is excruciating detail about three things, boilers (women), chang (cocaine) and money.

the book paints a very explicit picture, one of which we’ve always suspected through the portrayal of the bright glitz world, that there is a lot of anger, fuel, money, washed down by vodka, snorted through the nose, and a clear lack of talent.

apparently there is not just a lack of talent but actually no talent, but there is the will to “cultivate” talent for the masses, the peasants (as the protagonist refers to us lot, oh his name is Steven by the way), by throwing money at young girls willing to suck cock for a record deal. Yeah, basically that’s all there is to it.

Our protagonist and narrator; Steven, is an A&R scout we have no idea whether he’s good at his job or not. We do know that he doesn’t care about his job, he just cares about cocaine, sex, expensive things, expensive places and whether he’ll get a raise or not. We also know that he fucking hates everybody, according to him, pretty much everybody is a cunt and nobody is talented. Anyone who is hard working or interested in their job is a fucking idiot.

Caveat: this is an extremely vulgar book, steven is a racist, hateful, sexist bastard. he basically takes what’s valuable in any sense of the word and spits on it. He’s young and he hates the old, but anyone younger than him but more successful than him he hates with passion and he’s willing to prove it by killing them literally.

I learned a lot about the UK industry and how much money gets thrown at an artist before they make a single cent. I haven’t heard nearly as many horror stories about artists not making money in the US but stories like this in Asia are rampant. Young hopefuls willing to bet everything on a 13 year contract, something ridiculous like that. They do it because that’s how badly they want it, and they don’t get paid or get paid not enough…

i just realized i’m really bad at writing book reviews.

but i wanted to mention rihanna because lately there’s been a lot of negative press in regards to her 777 tour. More and more articles and pouring forth about how she’s a product, more so than ever. There was an article a while ago on New york Times ? New Yorker? New York – something, about how a hit song is made and how much money can be made from just one hit song, like a million bucks and how the song doesn’t need to have an original tune for it to be successful. The comparison was a Kelly Clarkson and a Beyonce hit, apparently it had the exact same melody and both went on to chart at number one.

I would link you to the article but i cannot find it…if i do i will update this entry

but i can’t dislike Rihanna, she’s sweet and kind of confused, the chris brown thing is the worst ever but other than that i think she’s likeable. I also like Britney, you can’t dislike Britney. I feel girls like this, they just aren’t calculating and they do dumb shit because they are naive, or at least that’s what i’d like to think. also my mom really really likes rihanna.

so would i recommend this book? if you can get past the swearing and there is SO much swearing and the indecent things that the protagonist does then it’s actually pretty funny and entertaining. The ending is slightly unsurprising but it was unsurprising to me because the bad ones always get what they want.

Posted: November 28th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS
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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

by Robin Sloan

first of all i really like the cover and over all design of the book.

the edition that i have (from the library) is the First Canadian edition which has a soft cover but apparently the first regular (US?) edition has a hard cover but i rather like the soft cover and edged pages. I call them edged pages because they don’t line up and that’s my favorite type of paper for novels…anyways

the book, is it good….

i was really excited about this book because from the premise alone it seemed really exciting.

it’s basically about this guy named Clay and because of the bad economy or whatever, he ends up working at a 24 hour bookstore, the grave yard shift. the book store is very peculiar and there aren’t many patrons other than a few peculiar customers that come in to check out books that he has never seen or heard of before. Because Clay is feeling entrepreneurial, he invests $10 of his own money and puts up a google ad (there is a lot of mention of google in this) and attracts one customer outside of their normal range. A google employee named Kat.
And then it turns out the book store isn’t just a book store, it’s some sort of occult with many secrets and they go on exciting adventures together in solving this mystery.

the book is pretty so self-aware, as in, it felt like it was written as a journal for himself than anything else. Himself being the main character, Clay. And it unnerved me in several places. For example, Clay tries to google something, a phrase not a string of random numbers, he doesn’t come up with any response. This actually probably does not happen ever. You’d get at least a page of results.

So that was slightly unbelievable, amongst many other factors, it was just unbelievable. Am I not imaginative enough to go along with the plot? No, that’s not it, there are just tidbits that are a bit too convenient for belief.

And clay tries to play off this sort of internet humor, that doesn’t translate as successfully into novel format as the author had intended. The last 50 pages of the book was exciting enough to keep you interested because otherwise it wasn’t as good as i thought it would be….

not dark enough, not funny enough, the characters aren’t likeable enough. the characters, they seem like surface-dwellers, they have a surface personality but anything beyond that, it was as empty as the search engine results as the book yielded.

for example, the main female character, Kat, she is the typical smart, ambitious girl that has cute freckles and a collection of interesting graphic t-shirts, or she has many of the same graphic t-shirts and her shirt says Bam and it is Red. And her reasoning of having the same t-shirt again and again is so that she doesn’t have to think of what to wear in the morning..ehhhh
what…the hell…

i don’t know, that’s the type of thing that made me feel like the character is shallow.

it’s a fun, quick read but slightly disappointing.

B-

Posted: November 24th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS
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margaret atwood lecture: writing the future

i’m all concerted out. i just went to way too many shows and didn’t enjoy enough of them in past few months. Even still, I skim through all of the emails that ticketmaster sends me in regards to up coming events in my area.

and something interested, it was a margaret atwood lecture called “Writing the Future”, writing and future are two things that are constantly on my mind. So yes, let’s go. I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my friend for Thursday Nov 22nd. I was excited and instantly ordered a few Margaret Atwood books on amazon. For one thing, despite my idea that im well read and an erudite in “literary” things, when in fact i’ve only read one Margaret Atwood book and it was Oryx and Crake, a mandatory reading for my grade 11 English class.

I can tell you that I liked it though, very much so.

excuse the instagram-ness of the photos, but honestly i think it adds authenticity.

The event was held at the Chan center, a hall that I’ve passed numerous times as it was located in my alma mater. I was supposed to graduate there, but you see, I just didn’t give enough of a damn to hear a lot of names to be read out loud and wear a black gown.

We arrived early, about an hour earlier than the event and decided to walk around the school. We returned to the hall about 15 minutes before the start time and found the center to be extremely busy and crowded. What? It sold out?

We had to scurry up two extra floors just to find seating. Blegh, they sold the tickets to high school students. by the way, they are reading jonothan safran foer in their class, Eating Animals of all the books. gag.

i sat next to one of them, after the usher told me to move twice, because i was leaving seats in between other people. it was really stupid as the row did not fill up. i really hate that, if it was that crowded obviously i’d move, but if there were no one around then what’s the freaking point?

okay my university was pissing me off still.

the event started promptly, this ain’t no kanye west concert. my friend joked whether we could get margaret atwood t-shirts after the show .i told him no, we probably couldn’t.

margaret atwood finally appeared after 20 minutes of random thanks of sponsors and programs. i had initially thought it was some sort of lecture tour. but no, it’s just sponsored by the university of british columbia and some other thing and well i didn’t pay attention so i couldn’t tell you what went on before she got on the stage.

margaret atwood is very tall, and she wore a red scarf and floor length black top and skirt. it was hard to see because i was so high up. here’s a shitty photo to compensate.

given the title of the lecture i was hoping there would be a lecture on writing and what writing means in an increasingly digital world but no no, she talked mostly about zombies for about an hour.

she’s funny though, very witty and the deadpan style of humor translates extremely well with her voice but i wished that she had talked about writing.

she ended the lecture with the idea that we must never lose hope for the future. because you know, even in case we become zombies even though we’re unlikely to become zombies.

then came the Q&A…
i think this could have went really well, if it weren’t a bunch of overzealous students asking specious questions about nothing….
Margaret Atwood had to ask what quite a few times because your dumbass questions didn’t make sense!!!!!!
only one person asked one question about writing and he was a douchebag about it.

anyways, after that i got a bunch of books signed, had to wait an hour though.

not a big deal but she looked so tired when it got to me. i almost felt bad that i brought so many books but then again since i already brought it i thought i’d follow through. she was nice about it but you could tell that the 3 hour time difference was not helping ….

anyways, it was fun and an unusual experience
i also ran into my grade 11 english teacher.. hehe ^^

Posted: November 23rd, 2012
Categories: Uncategorized
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