Friday, August 10, 2018

Freak Kingdom

Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism
by Timothy Denevi
Expected Pub: Oct 2018

Freak Kingdom chronicles a decade in the life of Hunter S. Thompson amidst one of the more tumultuous and tense periods of American history. For how often HST found himself in the middle of cross-country era-defining adventures, he may as well be the political speed freak version of Forrest Gump (and I would so watch that movie). Partying with the counterculture Hells Angels and Merry Pranksters, calling out police violence in Chicago, running for Sheriff in Aspen, covering the Chicano Rights movement in LA, and even finding himself at the Watergate hotel bar the night of the infamous break-in.

 As someone who used to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas every summer break in college, I'm definitely an easy target for this action-packed biography. Still, Denevi's portrayal of HST is well-researched, honest and pulls no punches. I think the spirit of the text is best captured by the book's blurb: "Hunter S. Thompson is often misremembered as a wise-cracking, drug-addled cartoon character. This book reclaims him for what he truly was: a fearless opponent of corruption and fascism, one who sacrificed his future well-being to fight against it, rewriting the rules of journalism and political satire in the process." I was genuinely sad when it was over, I want to watch the rest of history play out through lens of this sardonic madman.

 // I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Public Affairs -- but you can also pre-order through IndieBound or my friendly neighborhood indie Brazos Bookstore

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Mars Room

The Mars Room
by Rachel Kushner
Pub May 2018

Set in a Women's Correctional Facility, The Mars Room  is centered on Romy Hall, a woman serving two consecutive life sentences. The story follows a web of narratives to explore the sad realities of life for marginalized populations both in and out of the prison system.

I'm a bit torn in how to review this book as there is plenty that I feel the author executed very well: flipping between people's perspectives kept the pace of the plot interesting, flowing back and forth across timelines created full, complex inmate's histories. I typically enjoy dark, gritty reads and the deadened affect of the characters complemented the tone of the novel perfectly. All that said, upon finishing all I could think was "Wait, is that it?" This may be an unfortunate case of desensitization via pop culture, but I feel that this book didn't really contribute much to the conversation that has not already been explored (both well or flippantly) by "Orange is the New Black" or "Prison Break." Which isn't to say there can be only one... just that I don't quite understand the waves upon waves of accolades this book received. Or for that matter, the Man Booker nomination. I chewed through the novel over a a few plane trips during a vacation, so maybe I just wasn't in the right headspace.

// I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.