Showing posts with label CHOP IT UP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CHOP IT UP. Show all posts

Thursday, November 9, 2023

CHOP IT UP: They Shoot Horses, Don't They by

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) follows the story of an aspiring movie director named Robert. It also follows an aspiring actress (film extra) named Gloria. The story begins with Robert on trial for Gloria's murder, the circumstances of which revert back to when the two met each other outside of Paramount Studios. At the studio gates, both appeared hoping to run into someone who would give them access to their dreams and desires (though Gloria is trying to catch a bus up out of there). 

Nevertheless, where Robert is still ambitious and hopeful, Gloria is the exact opposite. She is overtly pessimistic, depressed, and downright bitter. Regardless, as an increased effort to be seen by the big wigs of Hollywood, the two enter a dancehall marathon. Surely "Hollywood" would be in the audience looking for new talent, right? Well, more or less. Within this dancehall marathon the story spirals, resulting in Gloria's murder by Robert. And it's her murder that doubles as the answer to the book title's question: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

I actually enjoyed the book. But not for the reason many might think. Yes, the book hosts subtle (and some cases, not so...) racial overtones, bigotry, sexism, and a host of other issues that cropped up from this book written in the 1930s. Most of that is to be expected for an American noir piece of its time. However, I think what might make many readers wince is the insistence of the character of Gloria's desire to be dead. 

And, yet, with her every utterance and aggressive behavior on display, I found her both fascinatingly relatable and—quite frankly—funny. She had a lot of gall because she spoke truth to other characters. She was just so abrasive. So pessimistic. So, what I've gathered that hit home to me: TIRED OF EVERYTHING. Or, as exemplified by the metaphor of the dancehall marathon, she was tired of spending her life in circles trying to find a way out. 

Meanwhile, Gloria saw through how many of the other characters laid into their facades, such as the two older ladies who interrupted the marathon to preach about the morality of the contestants. According to Gloria, in regards to these ladies' daughters (she assumed they had daughters):
…”That’s generally what happens to daughters of reformers,” Gloria said. “Sooner or later they all get laid and most of ‘em don’t know enough to keep from getting knocked up. You drive ‘em away from home with your goddam lectures on purity and decency, and you’re too busy meddling around to teach ‘em the facts of life—“
That was one of many examples of Gloria.

Anyway, love her or hate her. She was a character.

In the end, Gloria ruined Robert's life. But did she, really? The two had a choice. Gloria could have chosen to keep living. And Robert did not have to kill Gloria to set her free of her suffering. And, one could say, of his suffering from her insufferable presences and thirst for her own death as a release. In the end, Gloria won. As she corrupted and ruined his life and got the death that she wanted.

The funny thing about such final thoughts is that--like the dancehall marathon--the reader could go in circles about it. Still, I understood Gloria. I got it. She was hurt. Broken. Bitter. Tired. And just wanted out. It's depressing.

As someone who absolutely loved the character of Gloria, what can I say? Other than I feel like her sometimes myself. The shit just made sense, Gloria. It made sense. (And I'm leaving this on a fun note.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

CHOP IT UP: One Visit by George Veck


"In sleepy, rural North Wales, Frankie Gibbs, a recently laid off, aimless twenty-year-old on Universal Credit, wants nothing more than to keep his younger brother out of the care system. He single-handedly takes this upon himself while their alcoholic, cocaine-addict, single-parent father, Guy Gibbs, heaps misery on their lives through systematic abuse and his never-ending wild parties. After Guy is sent to prison, Frankie is coerced into opening his home to Justice, an acquaintance from his school days now turned drug dealer, while his own addiction and self0worth spiral beyond recognition."

Taking in the synopsis alerts the reader how One Visit is set to be a rather dark–and some might say–depressing read. Usually when a book such as One Visit crosses my path, I have to wonder what will be the resulting message in the work. So seeing how the book centers around the subjects of abuse and addiction, I end up asking myself a few things. One: how much of the story will center around the dark premise in itself, leaving an avalanche of despair by its end? Two: how much will center around the theme in hopes that a message of hope will result in its conclusion? Of course, I'll leave that up to you–the reader–to arrive to. Yet, while I found the ending fairly gratifying, it was the journey forward that was tough. From a technical standpoint.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

CHOP IT UP: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

"When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way..."

Oh, MAN! Check this out, I tried to read this book back some almost-decade ago when I was still in my urban fantasy reading bag. Back then, I couldn’t seem to get around the first chapter. Now–as of my writing this–I’ve read the book page for page successfully. And I have to say the delay wasn’t worth it. Though I have to admit it's one of those books I've been curious about since, and am now happy the experience is behind me. Still, the Kate Daniels series is certainly popular with at least ten books released since her story's 2007 debut. However, I don't feel any desire to go further than said debut, Magic Bites.

So what happened to me with Magic Bites?

For starters, the first 100 pages had it going on. There was a crime scene. Murders to investigate. A law enforcing institution of sorts that's geared toward investigating and solving paranormal/preternatural crimes. Then there's Kate, our local mercenary heroine. She steps on stage appearing as clear-headed and competent in bringing justice to a crime that has unfortunately resulted in the murder of her guardian. So, off the bat, she has a closeness and even deeper stakes in solving this case ("story" box checked). Furthermore, she came armed with a directive and motive as a character ("plot" box checked).

In those first 100 pages, Kate was doing the damned thing; researching, interviews, morgue visits, document gathering, deducing, analyzing, and determining her next angle/action. I was all in, thinking to myself how nice it was to see an urban fantasy character doing actual investigative and procedural work that made sense. No illogical and desperate conclusions. Not too much fumbling. But actual steps. Now I held my breathe a bit because I knew soon she would be swayed to have sexy time with a local vampire or pack leader, per urban fantasy tropes (especially given the book's 2007 publication)! Yet, it was undeniable how Kate in motion provided a level of groundedness to the story, as well as character.

Sadly, the bottom fell out somewhere around 100 pages...

That’s when all I can describe as an over-the-top freakshow extravaganza hijacked Kate's investigative journey, and Kate herself. Now you can take my use of the term "freakshow" as either good or bad when you consider how we're talking about urban fantasy books where werecreatures and vampires generally take center stage. Yet, for darn sure, this change in tone seen in Magic Bites made for a disappointing and unpleasant reading affair.

Monday, August 17, 2020

FauxCast ~ CHOP IT UP: Goldenboy by Michael Nava (Henry Rios Mystery #2)

Been a while, huh?  I read this book back in March–as a part of #MarchMysteryMadness–and recorded this soon after.  I guess I just held on to this recording as one proceeds to tackle other areas of one's life amid... well... we know what's going on these days.  With that said, this recording is completely unedited.  Normally I try to clean things up for you guys.  This time I'm trying to get my mojo back first.  LOL.  

Anyway, enjoy!   I also hope you're all well.  Staying safe and motivated.  And refusing to give up on whatever you're reaching to achieve.

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