Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: Pygmy & Drive (by Chuck Palahniuk and James Sallis, respectively)

I'm going to try something new. I'm going to review two books I recently read.

I had some time off and finished two books last weekend. The first was Drive by James Sallis. (Read my short review on GoodReads here).
Drive Book Cover
Drive has gained some popularity ever since it was made into a major motion picture. I myself was a huge fan of the film, and immediately put the novel on my to-read list when I found out it existed. After doing some light research, I braced myself for the fact that the movie is a very loose adaptation of the book. In fact, many events in the movie are either very minor plot points in the book, or were made by combining the several loose plot points of the book into one cohesive narrative. To be blunt, the book is not the same as the movie.

Drive is about a young and unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who gets pulled into the criminal underworld as a getaway driver. The book is written from a third person perspective, which makes it a bit awkward whenever the narrator referrers to our unnamed hero as if his name is actually "Driver."  I've never read a noir book before, but Drive is written in a noir style that keeps things just interesting enough to pull you through to the end.
The pacing can loose you at times, especially in the beginning, but this is by no means a bad novel. That being said, the movie's story was much better, as it benefited from being more focused and streamlined. If you enjoyed the movie, you might want to pick this one up, especially since there's a sequel (called "Driven") that may get turned into a movie as well. Otherwise this isn't a must-read.

The second book I read was Pygmy, by Chuck Palahniuk. (Read my short review on GoodReads here).
Pygmy Book Cover
I am, and probably will always be, a fan and admirer of Chuck Palahniuk. He's one of my biggest influences as a writer, and for good reason. he knows how to write a compelling, albeit weird, story.

Pygmy did not disappoint.

Pygmy is about a boy born in an unnamed totalitarian country who was indoctrinated to hate the United States, and is sent there undercover as a foreign exchange student in order to carry out a terrorist attack. The first thing you'll notice when you open up Pygmy is that it's written entirely in broken English (sometimes known as "Engrish"), from Pygmy's perspective in the form of reports presumably sent to his homeland.
From the very beginning, Pygmy had me laughing out loud at his twisted (though sometimes enlightening) perspective of US culture. The book is, essentially, a creative way of showing us how ridiculous some of the things we do are. For example, when walking through the isles of a Wal-Mart, he says “All object printed: Love me. Look me. Million speaking objects,begging. Crown American consumer with power of king, to rescue choose and give home or abandon here for expire.”
As per Palahniuk's usual modus operandi, the book is full of wit, over-the-top events, and his signature choruses. This is a must-read for any fans of humorous fiction, though you ought to be warned that the content gets a bit graphic during chapter 2, though the worst of it ends there.

TL;DR - Drive was okay. Pygmy was awesome.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damnit, now, I have another book I have to read.