Left, HAL 9000.
Monolith on the right side.
Logic & magic.
This was Jennifer's pick for Eleven-Books Club-- I think this is her third pick, after Art Girls Are Easy & This Dark Endeavor-- but it was Rasheem who summed it up by saying "it's Forrest Gump. Yeah, yes it is; it is a story of a man with a fictionalized mental disability who just happens to fall ass over tea kettle into celebrity cameos & wink-to-the-camera adventures. Hits the nail pretty well on the head. It's also part of the macho cult of middlebrow litsnob fiction-- which does feel to me very West Coast, with your Bret Easton Ellises & Chuck Palahniuks, Beats on 'roids-- with a "he just gets these violent rages, it's not his fault!" protagonist who is a non-sexual creature & thus has to talk about masturbation & blow jobs & obsessing about trans people's genitalia for page after page. The novel acknowledges it at the end, with Zazi eviscerating Rio Bravo for the same reasons as a "pointless exercise in guyness." Good for her, & for her calling out Casablanca's mansplaining. I don't mean to sound so hard; I think the book is knowingly what it is...I just don't like it, self-aware or not. Still, it was an easy read, & entertaining enough to keep my occupied in Matt's lobby for a half an hour the other day.
My opinion I think was contrary to a lot of folks; particularly, with the screwball third act. See, for the reasons mentioned above, I didn't like the first two acts much; Rainman & then, like Scorsese's Hugo, it just became a self-important "dreamers who dream the dream" indulgence (& frankly that part bothered me least, because I don't mind pretension). That's why, when the curveball at the end started coming, I jumped on board. I thought that the focus on Judeo-Christian mythology's obsession with fathers killing sons was a really effective Sword of Damocles hanging over the novel, from the beginning, & bringing it back around to that is better than your average "religious" element in most stories. & for all that I might have derided the machismo, I think it got the "male relationship" between Vikar & Viking Man right on; they reminded me at times of me & kingtycoon. Toward the end of the discussion, I asked everyone who they would have tattooed on their shaved head; my answer was HAL 9000 & the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, & I stand by that. fatbutts hit it out of the park with Miss Piggy & Kermit, but I forget what everyone said-- if you remember, leave it in the comments!
Liz was in first, so we tried to talk about The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but like everyone else, she didn't really have a lot to say about it. Yep, sad that it almost willfully passed up any chance to have a female character, wasn't the worst otherwise, but wasn't so great, either. carmyarmyofme's husband works in film, so she had a close relationship to the behind the scenes elements of the book, & found that frustrating; she felt like she knew too much to suspend disbelief in those sections. fordmadoxfraud & Rasheem have a serious amount of celluloid under their belts, & they both liked it & engaged with it on a level that I don't think I was able to: I compared it to Among Others which really hit me because I had a personal relationship with a lot of the old school fantasy referenced in the book. I did take a few film classes in college with Ryan, so I picked up on a decent amount of the unspoken context. littlewashu & I hung out in Spare Oom, looking at some of my notes for the next Oubliette story arc, & gossiping about D&D 5e. I don't remember Beatrice's opinions on the book-- she came in at the end-- but we closed out the night talking about Black Twitter, which I always find fascinating.