Yet Another Media Dump
I missed July, but this wasn't done. So hopefully I can get my average back and do two of these in August. We're doing yet another media dump. I need to find a new platform for this site as Typed.com is going away in the next year. I'm hoping to export the existing content and to lift it into place somewhere else.
Neil Gaiman has been my favorite writer since I stumbled on a copy of Death: The High Cost of living some time in middle school. It probably foretold my high school years of moping around listening to the cure and reading horror comic books, but Neil Gaiman is the reason I wanted to be a writer. (Ann Rice was when I knew I could be a reader, but that's a different story.)
His new book Norse Mythology has Neil in an almost academic mode, retelling the very Norse myth that informed his work. Considering the way that both Sandman and American Gods were woven from threads of disparate threads of myths from many cultures, it isn't hard to see Gaiman's affection for the stories of Gods and Goddesses.
In the introduction to Norse Mythology, Gaiman details the collection that inspired him as a writer when he was younger. And how he sought to draw from it, but not imitate it. This book is a rather slim collection of short stories detailing the Norse myths from creation to Ragnarok.
I will admit to being poisoned by pop culture and spent a lot of this book picturing Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins running around Asgard on their adventures. That said, the myths are told in an almost campfire sense. I think that I might grab it on audio book and give it a second try.
That isn't because I disliked the book. However, I come to Neil Gaiman books looking for a particular style. His sentences have this almost playful cadence to them. Where you can get completely lost in a story as it keeps pulling you along, and then you look up, and it's four in the morning.
Norse Mythology has a drier style, but these aren't Gaiman's stories. Some of the material has indeed found its way into his work. However, this isn't going to be as breezy as Ocean at the End of The Lane or as otherworldly as Neverwhere. It is still a fun read though, it's just an adjustment compared to his other books.
If you're a longtime Gaiman fan, I'm probably not going to sell you on it. You probably preordered it as I did. However, if you're just getting into the TV version of American Gods, this might be an excellent primer on Gaiman's views on mythology. If you want just a straight introduction to what a fantastic writer he is, I would go with Stardust or Neverwhere. (American Gods and Anansi Boys are both great books, but I am assuming you might want to avoid show spoilers.)
I followed that up with Gersh Kuntzman's Coup! an attempt at satirizing the Trump White House, and some Fan Fiction of Mike Pence taking over via the 25th Amendment. At 171 pages, this was a quick read, but still felt padded out.
Kuntzman had a brief brush with fame after writing a column for the Daily News where he said that firing an AR-15 was terrifying enough to give him PTSD. That might clue you into what angle Coup is coming from.
This is a pretty bland satire. Most of the characters are pretty well-worn versions of their worst qualities. Except for Pence who is basically a blank slate. Trump is essentially every bad impression of him.
There are moments that almost hit Mad Magazine levels of satire. Resting Ben Carson as a skeet shooting stoner who is as confused as the rest of us as to why he's run HUD is hilarious. As was turning Chuck Schumer into a pointless crusader, spending his time worrying about Tater Tots and Times Square while the rest of the government burns around him. Rachel Maddow self-combusting in a fit of self-righteousness was another nice touch.
The last third or so goes off the deep end. Moving from Satire to farce the whole thing becomes an exercise in absurdism. I'm not sure that was intentional, or if it was entertaining. I was glued to the slow motion train wreck of it all.
Coup is a Kindle only book, and less than five bucks. If you want to read some far left fan fiction, this might be your bag. However, the comedy isn't solid, and the absurdism isn't very amusing. If you're really still interested, you can read it online for free.