Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Passing Of A Great Mind

Today the literary world mourns the passing of one of the greats, Norman Kingsley Mailer. Mailer was known for a great many works; he received the Pulitzer prize twice, the National Book Award once, and just two years ago was awarded the Medal For Distinguished Contributions To American Letters. Some of his many works include "The Naked And The Dead", his first big novel that launched his name throughout the American conscious, a tale of Mailer's experience in World War II; "An American Dream"; "Armies Of The Night";"Of A Fire On The Moon"; "Ancient Evenings"; "The Executioner's Song"; and his most recent, "The Castle In The Forest" a story of Adolf Hitler's childhood, as seen through the eyes of a demon.

Norman Mailer was 84 years old and died following a lung surgery in New York City. You will be missed, sir.

"There are two kinds of brave men: those who are brave by the grace of nature, and those who are brave by an act of will." - Norman Mailer (1923-2007)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Welcome To Sunny Orange County, CA

I just finished, last week, the "first" novel in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias" series, also know as the "Orange County Trilogy" or the "California Triptych". This is a series of books, each featuring the same character, in wildly different settings; each book looking at one possible future of California. The other two novels are "The Wild Shore" which recounts a California of 2047 after the ravages of nuclear war withe the USSR and "Pacific Edge", a 2065 vision of the possible sane reclamation of our world in a ecological utopia.

"The Gold Coast" however, takes place in 2027; a future all to likely and easy to imagine. It is a natural extension of where we are heading. The "autotopia" if you will, of mass commercial development, rampant consumerism and an endless sprawl of condos, freeways, and malls. A multi-level pavement paradise.

Jim McPherson, the main focus of the story, is a twenty something just drifting through his existence, feeling a undefinable ennui and discontentment with his life but blurring it with rampant drug use, mindless part time jobs, casual sex and his aberrant poetry. Jim's life is out of focus, living like a teenager, well into his adult life. His parents don't understand him and Jim's one sole focus is his passion for history; the past Orange County, with which he feel a quintessetail connect and longing.

In a unfocused attempt to bring some sanity and direction to his life, Jim joins his distant friend Arthur on a domestic terrorism plan, sabotaging the multiple aerospace companies and the "war machine" they feed. Via portable missile attacks on unmanned manufacturing plants the duo wrecks havoc and chaos over the defense industry, shaking the very foundation of Jim's life to the core. But when Jim finds out the true nature of Arthur and his missions, everything falls apart...

"The Gold Coast" is a insightful book on an already too eminent future. Dis-heartening in the extreme, Robinson warns us to watch our present in order to guide our tomorrows.

"The problem with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." - Paul Valery (1971-1945)

I'll definitely be reading the other two books in the series shortly, however right now, I'm in the middle of a Cormac McCarthy streak. Possibly even more bleak than "The Gold Coast". :-)