Saturday, December 14, 2013

Some books I've read recently

A lot of my friends have been tagging people on Facebook and imploring them to list 10 books that changed their lives in some manner. There are a lot of stereotypical "greats" listed. In fact, a lot of those lists look the same. Maybe this is weird for me to feel, but I haven't done that list thing because I don't really think a book has changed my life in any way.

There are a lot of books that I love and I've gotten very emotional reading certain books, but none have moved me to the point where I would make that Facebook post about them. If I made that post, maybe it would just say "The ability to read books has changed my life."

Around the 2nd grade is when I remember first falling in love with reading. I have no idea how many books I've read in my life. I would imagine it's a lot. When I was in middle school, I didn't ride the school bus. I would walk down the street to the Ravenswood Public Library and wait for my mom to pick me up when she got off work. I would just sit around and read books. 

With all that said, here are a few small reviews of some books I've read recently. 

Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas  ... Some people were surprised I had never read this book. Written by "gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear" originally appeared broken up into installments in Rolling Stone magazine a year before being published as a book. 

This might not be a popular opinion, but I didn't like this book. Written very much in Thompson's style, a hybrid of fact and fiction, it's just too weird for me. I don't have that much experience with psychedelic drugs and I wasn't alive in the time period presented. 

You would think I would love a tale about a journalist trying to get his story. But I didn't. I haven't watched the movie yet. Maybe I'll like that. We'll see. 

Fight Club ... The debut novel from Chuck Palahniuk was made into a famous movie starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. I haven't seen that movie either. I had wanted to read the book for a long time. One thing stopping me was because the ending had been spoiled. 

The movie was very successful and was always hyped as having such a shocking twist that it was only a matter of time before I found out that twist. I went into the book knowing that twist and tried to let that help my reading, wondering "how do we get there?" "how does that affect the other characters?" I jumped into it and really enjoyed the book. A character study of the human mind and the drudgery of life. I could really sympathize with the lead character and I'm sure a lot of other people can as well. 

Tietam Brown ... Professional wrestler Mick Foley has found a successful second career as an author, writing a collection of autobiographies and children's books. He has written two novels and really didn't have a lot of success with them, so he hasn't written one in several years. Although, in one of his autobiographies, Foley hinted at maybe writing a future novel under a pseudonym. 

"Tietam Brown" follows the titular character, a teenager who suddenly moves in with his father after a lifetime of estrangement. Two words perfectly describe this novel: Dark. Twisted. For such a fun-loving man to write something so creepy and intense, it's almost hard to fathom. There were several moments that literally had my eyes open in shock. Murder. Suicide. Child abuse. Verbal abuse. Rape. There's enough crazy stuff there for everybody. Foley has said that there has been some interest into adapting "Tietam Brown" into a movie. I'd watch it. 

The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story ... Bob "Hardcore Holly" Howard was one of the longest-tenured members of the WWE roster until his release in 2008. Now in his early 50s and largely retired, the out-spoken hothead from Mobile, Alabama saw fit to release an autobiography.

If you're looking for the "dirt," and want to hear somebody "shoot," then this is the book for you. He is especially venomous toward Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Jeff Jarrett, to name a few. He is surprisingly loyal to Vince McMahon, noting that the WWE Chairman was always good to him and he was loyal in return.

A couple flaws with the book. First, he tells a little too much sometime. When discussing his own steroid usage over the years, he outs a couple other guys as users. On the subject of outing, he also reveals a fellow wrestler as being gay. It's really not his place to decide who knows how this guy lives his life. Holly also suffers from a case of thinking he's a bigger star than he really was. In all honesty, Holly was a good wrestler with a good character who was lucky to be featured during the hottest era in wrestling history.

Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling's Gay Superstar ... This isn't so much a wrestling autobiography as it is a tale of a man struggling with his sexuality. That's why I would definitely recommend this book for anybody who considers LGBT issues to be important to them.

Kanyon was a life-long wrestling fan who achieved a huge level of success, becoming a minor star in both World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. But, he felt like he had the ability to become a major star, which the decision makers of both companies did not agree.

Kanyon realized he was gay around 10-years-old and wasn't open about it until he was nearly 40. It took almost 30 years for this man to be comfortable with who he was. He almost seems paranoid at times about the backlash he would have received. Perhaps the public may not have been ready for a gay wrestler in the late 1990s, but it seemed odd when Kanyon recounted a conversation with wrestler Raven who confronted him saying, "Come on, I know you're gay. It's okay." and Kanyon still refusing to admit it to him.

Journalist Ryan Clark agreed to help Kanyon write this book around 2007. The book was finished in 2010, a month before Kanyon committed suicide. His history of mental illness, including a previous 2003 suicide attempt, are covered in the book. Wrestling Reality was released a year later, in 2011.

A flaw for wrestling fans, that casual fans won't care about, is that Ryan Clark isn't a wrestling fan. Some details are flawed, like when Kanyon talks about facing Booker T in 1995. Clark fills in the blanks to describe Booker T but in doing so describes 2008 Booker T, who was much different than the 1995 version. A similar instance occurs when describing the 1995 version of Eric Bischoff as the 2008 version.

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Those are a few of the books I've read recently. I finished Fear & Loathing on the airplane to California. I started Fight Club on that same plane to California and finished it on the flight back. The others were read here and there over the last month or so.

Speaking of books: 


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