Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
One of my friends recently reminded about KV's most popular work, as titled above. Well, I took liberties to shorten the full title, which is Slaughterhouse-Five; or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death. Of course, you can find out why such a title was given to the novel, but you have to pay attention! This clues you in as to what type of author Vonnegut is. A GREAT ONE.
The novel follows Billy Pilgrim, who, by means of an accident, has become "unstuck in time," and can travel to different points in his life and experience them first-hand, second-handly. Lots of things ensue. One such thing is that he gets kidnapped by Tralfamadorians. These are aliens that can see in four dimensions (time included!). They can, like Billy, jump to different parts in their life at any time. So while they have a fatalistic view on life, they aren't sad about death because it isn't necessarily at the "end" of their life. Still with me?
Well, the sketch above is my imagining of how Tralfamadorians see humans. The book describes it as "a human millipede with a set of baby legs at one end and old person legs at the other."
This created a very interesting image in my head! I've remembered it from when I first read it, back in early high school. Fun!
"Feathers" Raymond Carver
While reading this
I found myself
in that kitchen
in a small house in the country.
A German woman with good teeth
consoling her very ugly baby
while their peacock rattles
it's feathers and
clatters across the linoleum.
I can almost smell the coffee brewing
as I take it all in.
You've guessed it: A handlebar mustache.
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
Somewhere in the thick of this novel, a theory is proposed as to how one might actually go about growing bicycle handlebars from one's face. It boils down to just how much said person rides his or her bicycle. I will not spoil the details of the theory; I must leave that for you to enjoy. I will, however, say that everyone in the novel seems to be obsessed with bikery (that is, all things bicycle-related). Sans our main character, and this makes him an enigma to the policemen!
This book is so surreal and inventive, I really wish it were longer. I'm about 4/5 of the way through it as of the moment of this post.
Two policemen, of titular reference, are lead characters in this novel (the third officer is supposedly always undercover and secreted away, but always watching). They bustle about the surreal county with the main character following them, not necessarily by choice. They dazzle and puzzle him with all sorts of strange theorems and devices and creations. They amaze and scare him, alternatively. He's in quite a pickle at the moment, just so you know. But I can't tell you what exactly it is.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This book is presented as a catalogue of letters from an experienced demon, Screwtape, to his inexperienced newbie-demon nephew, Wormwood. Screwtape offers sagely (devilishly sagely) advice to Wormwood and seeks to help him earn his keep in the underworld by properly tempting those oh-so-corruptible humans.
I need to mention that Wormwood is pretty inept. Sometimes he has the reverse effect of his intent. I don't need to mention that Screwtape is usually exasperated each time he opens a new letter. I tried to portray some exasperation in the sketch.
C.S. Lewis always takes a wonderfully thoughtful approach to religion and morality. Through the two demon's correspondence, one can see how to actually avoid unwanted temptations, and enjoy some laughs in the process. Good stuff!
This sketch was done with inkwash and a tiny, tiny bit of Micron pen. Then I just digitally converted it to a nice red hue. Hope you like it!
You know, instead of saying "That is old hat." Ahem...
My friend Lauren and I had agreed to each do a booksketch from Sombrero Fallout, a novel by Richard Brautigan. If you'll scroll down you can see her great entry. Here is my sketch; better late than never, right?
The sketch is based off of a section of the sombrero storyline, where the mayor, his cousin, and an unemployed man are debating about who will pick up the strange black sombrero that has just fallen out of the sky in front of them. The mayor's cousin sees this as his chance to gain politcal influence and cement his future as a leader. The mayor wants to keep his hold on his power, of course, so letting someone else pick it up would be a sign of weakness. The unemployed man sees this as his opportunity to impress someone enough to get a job.
All of them want to pick up the sombrero, but they also have doubts! Eventually the mayor's cousin touches it and finds that it is ice-cold. This freaks him out and things escalate and people start crying. And then all hell breaks loose. I won't spoil anything else that happens, but it is very, very memorable!
I'm laughing just thinking about it!
As of January, I've started to read The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien. I had heard of it a while back, but was unable to find any copies for a nice price online. More recently, it was mentioned in passing on a podcast to which I was listening (a podcast about LOST, of all things). So I searched for it online again and found a nice, cheapish copy.
When the reviews of this book said that it was whacky and out there, I believed them. And so far, I love it. I'm not very far into it at all, even. I'll give you a synopsis of what has happened so far (Oh and if you read this, don't read the foreword. It spoils the ending!):
A young man who grew up on a farm inherited the property from his parents. While he is away studying, a worker tends the land in his stead. Upon his return, the young man and the worker become best of friends. The worker eventually coerces (through means of poverty and anger) the young man to kill a rich hermit and steal his money. They do so, and the worker hides the money, and for a good while the young man sticks close to the worker to make sure he doesn't skip out with the money. Eventually, the worker says it is safe to withdraw the stash from its hiding place and lets the young man do it.
The money is hidden in the victim's empty, dark house, under the floorboards. Upon reaching a the hole for the cash box, a cough is heard. Everything freezes. A lamp lights up, revealing the dead old man sitting in a chair not four yards away, staring at him with "terrible eyes". After and endless silence, the young man strikes up a conversation with the "dead" man, in hopes of staying sane. The deceased, talking through bandages, answers in riddles.
And that's pretty much where I am. What the heck, right? The scene towards the end of my synopsis is what is pictured above. Really, it was one of the creepiest bits of literature I have ever read. But it is downright interesting too! The conversation they are having is hypnotizing!!! I'm excited to see what transpires next...
"In Watermelon Sugar" Richard Brautigan
Tigers used to exist in iDEATH.
They were elegant tigers.
With beautiful singing voices.
But they were tigers, nonetheless.
And so, they came upon a family having breakfast and
decided to eat the mother and father.
These tigers are civilized,
and don't eat children.
Instead, they assisted
the boy with his arithmetic.
Yet left him an orphan.
"It's a nice day," one of the tigers said.
"Yeah," the other tiger said. "Beautiful."
"We're awfully sorry we had to kill your parents and eat them.
Please try to understand. We tigers are not evil. This is just
a thing we have to do."
"All right," I said. "And thanks for helping me with my arithmetic."
"Think nothing of it."
The tigers left.