Thursday, June 14, 2012

Brief Thoughts Part 2

Here are a couple more short reviews on some things I wanted to discuss here, but couldn't come up with a full review.

My Loose Thread by Dennis Cooper

This was my introduction to Dennis Cooper, an author who I had heard many good things about but never got the chance to read until recently. The story is about a disturbed teenager named Larry. He's hired by a classmate to kill another boy in his class. After he murders the boy, he reads the notebook the boy wrote in all the time. It reveals a lot of things that Larry finds fascinating, disturbing and confusing about everyone around him.

The prose in this book is often rather awkward and I can see what Dennis Cooper was doing here. For the most part, I did feel like I was reading the thoughts of a disturbed teenage boy. This didn't always work for the dialogue, though. There were some conversations that felt awkward in completely unconvincing ways. There was also least one part involving Larry's psychiatrist that felt like contrived stupidity.

This said, I can see why this Dennis Cooper is as highly regarded as he is. I immediately forgave all of this book's faults upon reading the ending. A genuinely haunting moment that took me by surprise in how simple yet visceral it was. This book has me excited to read more of Cooper's work. I have his latest novel, The Marbled Swarm, on my shelf and I'm hoping to do a full review of that once I've read it.

Buy it here.

Crying Freeman story by Kazuo Koike, art by Ryoichi Ikegami

This manga was written by same person who wrote the story to the classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub. He also wrote Mad Bull 34, a classic of "so bad it's awesome" manga and anime. While I've only read parts of both manga, I'd still say this is something of a halfway point between the two extremes.

This is a martial arts/crime manga about an assassin codenamed Crying Freeman who is known for weeping for his murdered targets. Originally a humble Japanese potter, Yo was kidnapped by the Chinese mafia after witnessing one of their crimes. Instead of murdering him, they saw a lot of potential for a great assassin and brainwashed him into working for them. However, once he meets a woman he finds himself unable to kill, things start to turn in his favor.

Now, despite the dramatic set up in the beginning arcs, the stories become increasingly overblown and reliant on paranormal and science fiction elements in the latter parts. This was a little disappointing, it remained entertaining and engrossing throughout the entire series, but it became sillier towards the end and even more overloaded with sex and over the top fight scenes. It was fun, but it seemed like what could have been a good psychological story was traded for an entertaining kung fu series.

The art is excellent and remains so throughout the series. Hell, I'd say the art alone is worth the price of admission. If you're a manga fan, check this out.

Buy it here.

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