I really like Saunders’ short stories, but was wary of the prospect of his new novel, till I read this and remembered how self-effacing he is about his writing and his process. See also: the Chekhov–Saunders Humanity Kit, a sort of web-based riff on Saunders’ short fiction MFA class at Syracuse. #link
The wry title makes things pretty clear: the book is about Kim Gordon, not the band that made her name, and rightly so.
For sure, Sonic Youth was an enormous part of her life, but she’s as multifaceted as any person, and she doesn’t shy away from her struggles in defining herself as an individual distinct from that all-consuming identity. Identity, image, marketing: between her unconventional adolescence, her complicated relationship with her older brother, and her adult life in the venn diagram of creative worlds, these concepts loom large, constantly intersecting and blurring lines. Gordon’s clear, candid writing cuts through a lot of it, unapologetic as she is about being an artist, a creator, a woman in a man’s world.
Pro wrestling is the background to what’s really a neo-noir pitting a retired grappler against real-world heels in the criminal underground. If these first five issues are anything to go by, Ringside will keep me gripped for a while to come.
I can’t get enough of these behind-the-curtain exposes of the politics of US television, and this one comes with the added dimension of being a clash of cultures, in a fashion, between the established but shopworn success story and the edgier underdog getting his due. Granted I think you’d have to be a fan of Conan – or the machinations of late night TV – to get behind the thrust of what Bill Carter has crafted here, but I am so it’s like catnip to me.
An initially engrossing report of the tawdry goings-on behind the curtain in the big-time pro wrestling business, Sex, Lies and Headlocks is let down by poor copyediting and shoddy fact-checking that undermines even those stories already widely known to be true (or true-ish, at least). Still, as it’s written with the brisk pace typical of experienced newspaper and magazine hands, it passes as pulpy dirt-dishing entertainment for wrestling fans with a suitable appetite.
It seems a bit unfair to review what’s essentially a reference guide to and prospectus for New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it would be just as unfair not to recognise the Voices of Wrestling crew for their tireless, quality work in assembling this multi-purpose yearbook, at once a ‘who’s who’ guide for newbies and a deep-dive nerd-out for hardcore fans.
It’s as exhaustive a report on NJPW as you’re gonna find, even if I think applying statistical analysis to wrestling is a bit much (adopts Kevin Nash voice You know this shit’s fake, right?). It only really loses marks for the formatting: a serif font at a standard size (swapping out to a different book requires resizing the text) would be easier to read.
“Now – I’m not down on wrestling fans, but fans don’t know what they want. They shouldn’t know. That’s not their job. Their job is to come and be entertained – and hopefully be tricked – so they’re elated with adrenaline rushing through their body.”
Now there’s a distinct whiff of bullshit from many of Gary Hart’s words in this memoir of his life and times as a wrestling manager in the territory days, and later in the Crockett/Turner NWA. It’s impossible to escape the notion that the reader is constantly being worked, as he contradicts himself from page to page as the circumstances demand.
But every now and then there’s a glimpse of wisdom that stands out for its crystal clarity. And it’s those, as well as the general entertainment value of reading Hart tell his stories no matter how much he might be kayfabing you, that make this worth seeking out for any dyed-in-the-wool wrestling fan.
Alright! This is great stuff, even if it's permissive of misheard word-manglings that annoy me so. But perhaps the bigger takeaway is that so much grammar pedantry seems to revolve around a general misapprehension of the concept of metaphors, or satire (take 'guesstimate', which I've always taken to be poking fun at the puffed-up, self-delusional business-world redefinition of a 'guess', whether educated or not, as an 'estimate', with all the mental labour rigour that implies.) #link
Worldbuilding Stack Exchange "is a question and answer site for writers/artists using science, geography and culture to construct imaginary worlds and settings." A golden resource for fiction writers/creators, here. #link