GUTS by Chuck Palahniuk

4 Oct

“Inhale.

Take in as much air as you can.”

Those are the opening words for a short story that I hear caused no less than 60 people to black out while the author read to the audience.

The topic of this story is quite, well for lack of better words, unconventional. It tells of general masturbation mishaps, the result of people looking for weird more intense ways to beat off, and focuses on the three young boys, the narrator being one of them.

It is a disturbingly graphic, and some will even say disgusting story. You find yourself simultaneously clenching your butt cheeks and covering your eyes with your hands but you’ll still continue reading through the slits in your fingers.

You can see what I’m up against.
You let go for a second, and you’re gutted.
You swim for the surface, for a breath, and you’re gutted.
You don’t swim, and you drown.
It’s a choice between being dead right now or a minute from right now.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and even found it funny in a twisted kind of way. I reread it twice in one sitting and I proceeded to disgust my friend with all the gory details. I could not suffer alone – after all, misery does love company.

I’ve watched fight club, the film adaptation of the book of the same title, written by Chuck, but GUTS is what has endeared him to me. I just want to read everything he has ever written. So help me God.

“Now you can take a good, deep breath.” I just did. 😉

Click here to read GUTS

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First Love and Other Sorrows by Harold Brodkey

3 Sep

The fluid and descriptive nature of this story makes you feel like it were you telling it, like it was from your memory – one can almost see every event, hear every sound, feel every emotion.

It tells a story from the point of view of a 16 year old St. Louis  ‘goldbrick’ (as Mackyz, the coach, calls our narrator), and how he began the dreadful process that is growing up in spring of that year – of his being born into affluence but losing that shortly after his father dies, of first true love and of first kisses, of being sixteen and all the insecurities that come with that time, and of family.

“…more than anything else in the world I wanted to be a success when I grew up. I did not know there was any other way of being lovable.”

You can relate to at least one character in the book – be it the mother and how she never did get over the ‘downgrading’ of her status, although it does not seem like they were poor even after; or the beautiful but restless 22-year old sister and the slew of boys all trooping to win her favour; or Preston, the ‘jaded’ yet vain best friend; or Joel, the douchey pretty boy; or Eleanor, who seems to be the narrator’s first true love; or even the narrator himself.

We never find out his name, but this does not matter because he could be any one of us, he could even be you.

*Picture by Lolo

A Cure For Lovesickness

2 Sep

I met a man two months ago in a bookstore on sales. I did not meet this man in person, although Lord knows I wish I did, I met him by way of a book he edited whose quirky title caught my fancy. Buying My Mistress’s Sparrow: Great love stories from Chekhov to Munro was closer to a fluke than an informed purchase. You see, I am not a fan of love stories and the mushiness that come with such but the title caught my attention – I love quirky things and this qualified as one in my opinion.

I only started reading this 600+ page collection of short stories yesterday and the enchanting way this man weaves words into sentences in the introduction alone is one of the reasons why I am in love with him. In his words:

“When it comes to love, there are a million theories to explain it. But when it comes to love stories, things are simpler. A love story can never be about full possession. The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims – those are lucky eventualities but they aren’t love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name”

In the introduction, he talks about the poet, Catullus’s love for someone forbidden, he explains what informed the selection of short stories contained in this book, he speaks of the wonder and inexplicable emotion that is love and the heartbreaks that almost assuredly follow, and he hints at why, despite all its obvious downsides, people still love. For the first time, I see love mentioned so many times in one place and I don’t feel nausea or the need to gorge out my eyeballs with anything available.

He says:

“We value love not because it is stronger than death but because it is weaker.

…The perishable nature of love is what gives love its profound importance in our lives.

…It is perhaps only in reading a love story (or in writing one) that we can simultaneously partake of the ecstasy and agony of being in love without paying a crippling emotional price.”

I’m reading this book expecting to get my heart broken with every story I read and yet I’ll love every single second of it. After all, passer pipiabat. Loosely translated – “Better a sparrow, living or dead, than no birdsong at all.”

I met a man on a warm July afternoon and I fell in love with him today. His name is Jeffrey Eugenides and through him, I found “a cure for lovesickness and an antidote to adultery”, it lies in falling in love. Get the book if you can, you might just find love too.

p.s. Also worthy of note: All proceeds from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead will go directly to fund the free youth writing programs offered by 826 Chicago. 826 Chicago is part of the network of seven writing centers across the United States affiliated with 826 National, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

p.p.s. I’ll be doing a review of most (if not all) of the stories in Jeffrey Eugenides’ My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro. I hope you enjoy this reviews as much as I am enjoying reading this book.

A Dumber Generation?

29 Mar

Today, the NECO Nov/Dec SSCE results went public and I can’t help but feel sad about it.

With news headlines like  NECO records another mass failure and Another mass failure as NECO releases results greeting me as I opened my newsfeed, one begins to wonder wonder: what is up with the Nigerian education system.

While some people want to attribute this new trend on the younger generation being unserious and less focused, what with distractions from technology and the media, I can’t help but ask: what are the teachers and parents doing? A child cannot have been a straight A student in his continuous assessment and just flunk woefully when final exams come.

Students should be monitored on a regular basis and helped where it seems they are lacking to prevent such appalling results which disgrace not just them and their families, but the nation too. Our education system really needs a reassessment.

Mini rant done.

Stumbling Into Grace By Lisa Harper

2 Feb

So, today I figured I’ll put up a review of Stumbling into Grace. Its a book on spiritual growth using real life experiences.  It reads like a conversation between good friends and Lisa Harper shares secrets and tips on the walk of faith and I like how it’s more like she is gisting with me than lecturing me. The use of modern terminologies to explain scripture also made me see things in a different, clearer light.

Although I read this book all at once at first, because it is that engaging, I will definitely be reading it over and over again; the next time, like a devotional. She has Group discussion and journal entry pages for every chapter for you to reflect on.

I will recommend this book for anyone, anyone at all. There is something in it for the old, the young, the good, the ‘bad’. As long as you are human, you’ll take something meaningful from it.

I review for BookSneeze®

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”