Brett's Books

The Beach

Sexy Sexy Times, Ahead

I Hope

The Beach
by Alex Garland

Thoughts Going In

Awards don't matter.

Being a Best Seller is meaningless.

And all the accolades on the front and back cover (not to mention four whole pages worth on the inside) are nothing but marketing.

What matters is that they made this book into a movie, so I recognized the name. And from what I can infer from the back jacket, I am expecting commentary on (let us just say) a wide variety of subjects, which is always a selling point. Thus, rather than my typical format, I will be commenting on such subjects as are brought to mind as I read this 'furiously intelligent', 'absorbing', and 'awesome piece of work'.

There is almost no way it will live up to the hype. But let us hope that it does.

Ideas to Riff On

As came to my mind, as I read The Beach, but not necessarily regarding thoughts or subjects contained within The Beach, itself.

Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is one of the greatest movies ever. The novel starts with an out-take synopsis. Personally, I'd shy away from lifting that much for copyright reasons. But then, I don't know how much is too much. Still, let's have a shout out. The movie Apocalypse Now totally rocks. Everybody should see this movie... twice... maybe three times. Me, I'm into it a half-dozen times, easy.

Coloring Books
There is a hand colored map, which features prominently in The Beach. I should, probably, stop indicating what (specifically) in the book has started me off on these Riffs and just go with them.

So, let's start over.

Take two.

I like the idea of coloring things. Now, I suck as an artist. But I've seen what others can do (and have done). And it is impressive.

I used to collect Dungeons & Dragons stuff. As in, I used to buy up other people's collections. I mean, I'd still buy it. But I think the market has surpassed my demand. Anyway, I came across a Monster Manual, once (and just the once), in which some of the black and white line drawings had been colored in. I'd like to do that, myself, someday. But I'm not talented... which is a lie in its own right. So what's true is that I don't (presently) have the skill to do it and I don't plan on spending the time to learn it. While speaking of the Monster Manual, I'd, also, like to track kills. If I had kept track, I would know how many Goblins and Orcs my characters had killed over the years.

In a similar vein, I like the idea of annotating maps (during a vacation) or in other ways marking up some document. Of course, this has the disadvantage in that the subsequent work is harder to distribute. Say, like, if I marked up a map, the original copyright holders of the map would (maybe, might, but probably would) have a problem with me posting the worked up map to the Web. So, I'd have to start with Open Source Material.

Here's the question: which nation has the hottest girls? Well, America, obviously. So, let's rank order the rest. I mean (to me), French sounds sexier than German. And being German sounds sexier than being British. Gads, Russian chicks are pretty low on the pole. While Chechnyans would be pretty high. I'll let you fill in the rest from there.

Frozen Peanut Butter, Bacon, & Banana Pancakes
I don't know if this was the original recipe or not. I do know that it is just the peanut butter that is frozen. And it is frozen so the peanut butter does not smear, but stays in chunks. Also, I think the Chinese lost a good deal of their Hog Herd (i.e. their pigs) very recently (in Real Time). So, I, maybe, should put in a supple of bacon. Can you tell? I'm hungry. And rather than eating Frozen Peanut Butter, Bacon, & Banana Pancakes I am having a salad. Oh, a decadent salad to be sure. But it will be no Frozen Peanut Butter, Bacon, & Banana Pancakes.


Such nonsense!

Also, I am very much enjoying these first few pages of the book.

There Is No Try
I like this philosophy. In some ways, it is subtle. And in others, it is painfully obvious. One does not try. One does. But clearly one does not have control over everything. So, one does what they can... and that's what they do. And one can hardly fail at that... doing what has been done, that is. So, perhaps, it seems like a rewording or a change in syntax. But really, it's a flat out switch to Outcome Independence: a concept which happens to work for me.

As a concrete example, you just read the section above and are now reading this one. It's hardly a try thing. And though one might say that they are trying to understand what I am saying. A reframing of that might be that one understands... something. And whether I meant that something or not is another matter entirely... and entirely beside the point.

And this is much like my relation to the book at hand. I read the words. I spin off on these Riffs. They are hardly what the author had in mind. But it's what I want. It is what I am doing.

As a further example, at this point in time, I need hardly try to write. I've been doing it for some time now, so I simply write. But I have yet to figure out how to control whether said writing (and I am talking of my writing, here) is good or bad (worthy my time or not). Sometimes the writing flows. Sometimes it does not. And I can talk of trying to pull it straight. But if the piece did not start that way no pulling (or trying) will help. On the other hand, I am at liberty to proof read any bit of writing one more time. And given enough edits, almost everything comes up smelling like roses.

Be... or not.

Keep on working at it... or not.

One hardly tries.

The Sick: Drugs, Sex, & Celaphopods
My friend Eddie Takosori wrote the above mentioned novel. It is one of my favorite stories. And as I read this tale, I cannot help but to wonder about the similarities. If there are too many, I will have to rethink my beliefs about Eddie, Celaphopods, and all the rest.
{In the end, the similarities were insignificant. So, I need not rethink a single thing.}
Early home video games were never much better than Pong. I mean, come to think of it, Pong was pretty good, mainly because it knew its limitations and never tried to exceed them. Atari, on the other hand, was always trying to push its limits. And I'm sure it succeeded in many ways. But it was always a poor substitute for the Arcade Games it was mimicking. And then, they taxed the Arcade Games out of existence. I think it was $50/month (per machine) in my neck of the woods, which was pretty close to the profit margin of most of them. So clearly, The Man was saying, 'That's what you get for corrupting our youth.' And after that, the only game in town was the In Home System. It brought on (as they say) The End of an Era.

A good lie starts with the truth. From there, the popular wisdom goes to keep it simple. But keeping it simple is a fool's game. What one needs to do is tell a story that is true to them, that happened to them, and only switch up a few small bits... it is those bits that make the lie, not everything else. For, everything else is true.

Shall I lie?

It is the same as telling a story?

Let us start with the truth. I travelled cross country dozens of times. I was going to say hundreds, but dozens is closer to the truth. I have gone from San Francisco to Chicago many-many times... in almost as many ways as a person can travel. Not via motorcycle. That is the biggest category one could safely exclude. Much of the (imaginable) remainder is fair game, from buses to trains to automobiles... with more than a few iterations of each in surprisingly different ways.

This is truth.

The lie would be that I transported cargo (guns, drugs, whatever). I never did (eh, maybe I'm lying). But I was accused of transporting cargo numerous times (and this is no lie). Let us say, that near as I can estimate, I've have about a hundred (so, 50-150, if you want the likely spread) conversations with Law Enforcement Officials in the Wild. And in those conversations, I've learned a lot... like what happens if they think you are carrying cargo... because I am a talkative guy (especially after travelling alone for days on end), so I asked them.

Anyway, I think I'm pretty close to the place in the story where Fiction overtakes Reality.

I would be amazingly surprised (and hat off impressed) if Alex Garland had never been to Thailand or (less impressively) seen pretty girls or talked to strangers.

Near Death Experiences
Travelling down a river, I met some friends (new friends, so strangers really) and proceeded to drink with them for the next few days. True story. All of this is. Towards evening, after a few more friends dropped by (or maybe, just the one), a drunken companion suggested swimming across the river, which was at least (at least) a quarter mile wide with a decent (meandering current). It could have been fun. But my host (a sage man, who probably felt responsible for me at that point) said it was a bad idea. It probably was. I half suspect (looking back) my swimming companion would have drowned me half-way across just for the fun of it. What do I know? In Story Land, that scene can play out almost any way one likes. But in my mind (back in The Read World), it only goes one way: Relief that I did not go for a swim that evening. Thank You, Sage Host!

On family vacations, me dad would play pinball; and so, I got to play pinball. He stopped playing when my skill eclipsed his by a wide margin. Maybe, it was no longer any fun. Maybe, it was always something to do with me and as I was now playing pinball and not playing pinball with him, the fun had worn off. Or maybe, it had always been something to do with me, to keep me occupied; and now that the pinball machines could do that by themselves, why bother... or mission accomplished.

Also, at some point my parents got divorced, so my father wasn't travelling with me any-more, any-where, any-why, any-when.

From thirteen on, I cannot remember staying with my father in a hotel... same room or not.

Finally (as a technicality), I have siblings, so most of the above could have been rewritten in the plural (us, we, and so forth). But that's about all you are going to get out of me regarding my siblings.

I was good at pinball... and when they arrived on the scene, video games. I did not care for Space Invaders, never got past the first dozen screens on Pac Man (Ms. Pac Man was either much better or I was much better at it, take your pick), and I doubt I ever cracked 100K on Asteroids. But I had my games. I was particularly good on the Beta version of Discs of Tron... before they deliberately made it worse so it would gobble coins faster.

Yay! Market Research!

My senior year in high school (and maybe junior), I played Centaur: 'Destroy Centaur'. I think I am spelling that wrong. This Centaur was half motorcycle, half something else, and only gave rides to bikini clad babes. I could (and routinely did) play this particular pinball game for hours (on end) on a single quarter. The first game of the day was the tricky one. If I got a few free games on that first quarter (a token, actually), I was set. Since there were so many ways to get free games (and free balls), by the end of the day, I'd always have max'ed the games out at 15. I even flipped the digits a time or two. I Destroyed Centaur. Oh, it was, also, a multi-ball game and on the machine I was playing, it was ridiculously easy to get a multi-ball going. Hit the first two center targets down in order (or simultaneously, I forget which, but I think it was an either/or situation) without hitting either of the last two targets and... Multi-Ball! Then, hit the last two targets in order and get another... Multi-Ball! So, with my first shot, I'd often get a Multi-Ball going.

This whole write-up isn't about me, though. At another arcade (not where Centaur was) and earlier in time (so, more like Freshman year than Junior or Senior), there was this other kid (about my age, maybe slightly older), who was much better at pinball than me. And if he got pissed at the machine, he would lift the pinball machine's front end off the ground and let it drop back down (over and over, again); and then, drain the free games off the machine, which one does by flipping the On/Off switch under the machine during a game (start four games, hit switch, start four games, hit switch, with the reset of the machine, including the ball going from start to finish, being the longest part).

Anyhow, this kid had quite the temper. I think I said 'Hello' to him once or twice. But we never talked and never became friends.

I can still remember him swearing, lifting the machine and dropping it (and dropping it, and dropping it); and then, draining the games.

Who knows why he got mad?
{Oh, I know.

Less than perfect play.

I got angry for the same reason.

And the purpose of this italicized aside?

To point out that all anger is self directed, caused by our own shortcomings.}
The games he liked and the ones I liked were often not the same. All of us specialized. As much as anything, it would have been difficult to get on a machine he liked... or conversely, one that I liked, as we'd each played our favorites so long (and so often).

And now, I can't play (pinball, video games, Kick the Can, or whatever) worth a darn. I haven't flicked a flipper in years. While at my prime, I played a few hours almost every day.

When I was but a young lad (somewhere in elementary school), I thought addiction was like a prison, a place that was hard to escape from. Well, I suppose it is a prison and it is hard to escape from, but not because of some sort of fence or wall. It's like an oasis and the rest of the world is a desert. And why would you ever leave an oasis for an endless desert?

The Occult
In my late teens, I was working on a Palmistry System. Just some custom, personalized thing. Different fingers had different meanings. Nothing impressive. Since blisters, callouses, and little cuts were what changed on my hands, I started including them. And then, when I cut myself or something, the injury became important (predictive). It didn't take long for me to decide I would be better off leaving the entire thing behind, lest I cut off my finger as some sort of subconscious warning. It likely makes little sense. Suffice to say, harbingers of doom often being the doom themselves: self-fulfilling prophecies and all that.

The Simple Life
I lived in a forest for a while, built a log cabin (or a very crappy lean-to), and did that whole Return to Nature (or Commune with Nature) thing. And fairly soon, I realized it was an exercise in futility, that I would have a better standard of living working a minimum wage job back in society and only vacationing on the land. Or put another way, if I had read while fishing by the side of the stream, spending three hours flipping through books, while waiting for supper to appear, I likely could have survived on around $10/week... the cost of rice, butter (or oil, oil would be the better choice), and a few other staples (rather than the $50/week I was spending on canned food and meat). Taking advantage of the local abundance and buying the remaining necessities would have been the easy life. Clearing a forest to put in a garden on second rate land that never yielded more than an insignificant taste (as it is hard to call a threadbare -- and we are talking about a literal bare-thread of a -- carrot anything more than a taste) was wasted effort. Like I said, I could have been fishing.

Good Books
I am enjoying The Beach. Sometimes when reading someone better than me (or with a different style), I get envious. But I am not envious of this author. Alex Garland is writing about what he knows... and twisting it into fiction. I do not know what he knows. Nor do I particularly want to. Nor does he have that something that I desire. I am a bit in awe of writers who spin endless similes... like a weaver at their loom, the words, intricate decorations... on the wholesale cloth of a tightly knit tale. Or something like that. It is not my thing. Nor is it Alex's thing. Don't get me wrong. I am not knocking Alex's writing. It is smooth and solid. It flows. But it's not poetry in motion: The sun hung low on the horizon like a bulldog's balls facing the raging heat... or whatever. Like I said, it is not my thing, either. But I must admit, when I run up against it, I am impressed. I am not running up against it in this book.

On the other hand, I know The Beach is a good book (I don't want to say story, as halfway in, I still feel like I am waiting for the story to begin), as I am thinking about books of my own, stories of my own... of starting a project.

In other news, if this were my story, I think I'd be bored with the pace. But then, what do you want from from a vacation, but time in the sun.
Time... endless time.

Time beating down on me... every second a hammer blow, a whispering explosion, the tick of the clock.

I ate wild mushrooms... once. I got myself a book, read up on the different types, looked through the classification schemes, and saw that it was too complicated for me. But there was a type of mushroom where I was living (in the Ozarks) that looked benign... in that the worst side-effect was an upset stomach... rather than death. But, you know, don't quote me on that. It was of the Class Coral (as in Coral Mushrooms). And in all truth, I do not know if any of these mushrooms are deadly or if the worst side effect is an upset stomach. What I do know is that they looked cool: like Sea Coral, as the name might suggest. And so, they were easy to spot. I picked one, spent a long time trying to confirm its species, broke off a piece, and if I remember correctly it oozed blue goop. So, it might have been a Blue Latex Coral Mushroom... but who knows (as a quick Internet Search did not reveal an image of what I remembered). It induced sweating and a heightened pulse. And to this day, I do not know if this was caused by the mushroom or my apprehension in eating said mushroom. Either way, I never bothered with wild mushrooms again.

High Risk. Low Reward.

Back in Arkansas (so clearly, this story is bringing up memories of my time there), I spent too much time doing stuff, when I should have been enjoying life. Collecting wood for a fire makes sense. Cutting down the forest (in retrospect) did not. I was just cutting down part of the forest, so I could plant some crops, make a clearing, and see the sky. I started to miss the sky. But as I've said before, I should have just made my way down the road (it couldn't have been more than a few miles) to the river. I wasted a lot of time doing stuff, when I should have been listening to the wind. I would suspect the same thing applies this very moment as I write (and you read) these words.

Chili Mac
I spent my time in Arkansas camping out. I owned the land. But I camped out. Almost every night, I made a fire. I like to brag about the fires I made completely out of Hickory Wood. I lived in an Oak/Hickory Forest. And meat slow cooked over a solid Hickory flame is incredible. But I survived on Chili Mac, mostly. I'd make an inch of spaghetti noodles, add a can of chili to the drained pasta, and to that add (lots of) mustard and (a little bit of) barbecue sauce. It's where and when I learned to appreciate mustard. Anyway, I'd eat a pot of Chili Mac for supper and have leftovers for breakfast (or Oatmeal and Raisins). I don't remember eating lunch much. But I probably feasted (or snacked) on peanut butter and crackers.

Oh, this is, also, the time in my life I started to enjoy warm cheese. I ate meat the first night (the night of my weekly food run), cheese the second day, and canned food for the rest of the week until I went back into town and bought another backpack full of food.

The Family Unit
Who knows the truth of these things? And who knows the distribution? The spread? But I would expect that if we went back to Caveman Times, we'd find groups of men topping out at 6-8 individuals... as in, however many could form tight interlinked friendships without segregating into cliques. So, my guess would be 6-8, as that's a popular number from Group Dynamics. Throw in twice as many females, because why not. And I am inclined to think a typical Caveman Family Unit consisted of:

   2-12 Men (with 2-4 being more normal)
   2-24 Women (with 2x the men being typical)
   3:1 Ratio of Children to Adults

It's pure conjecture, of course.

But I can see how this sort of organization would be stable until such a time as land became scarce and wars a common occurrence. At which time, the more the merrier (as historically, the side with more soldiers tends to win any battle). And from this dynamic, soon after, we have the birth of The City State.

The Blind Leading the Blind
I am trying to remember the scene in the book when I first had this feeling. I just had it again. It is not a crime. There are various ways around it. But it is as though the author has admitted that they do not know where the story is headed, that they expected to have had it figured out by now, but they do not. I think that's a direct quote. 'I expected to have it figured out by now.' But I can't find the passage. There are, also, a couple of metaphors... that call failure to mind.

In short, I question whether there is enough room left in the novel for it to be more than it is: a travelogue.

It is not a crime not to know the ending. Have I said that before? I think that I have. Yes, I have.

And there are ways around a lack of clarity. The listing format of this page is one way. I could not tell you the next entry. And it matters not what it is. This entry, on the other hand, is a meta-entry about writing, about authors not knowing where they are going. And while reading this book, I have had that feeling before.

One Thing
In addiction circles (not that I know much about addiction, but I have heard people talk), it is said that all one has to do is change one little thing (their addiction) and they change everything. Changing one's route to work likely won't change much, but the route one takes to work. But retiring changes everything. The whole day is different. And rather than chase money, one chases other things. And one either finds these other things (or finds them out of reach); and that, in turn, changes everything else, as well. One can't really say what little thing will change everything... nor stop it from happening once it does. It just happens. One hates the sound of the six o'clock alarm bell, waking one up for work, as it does. But as soon as the need for an alarm clock disappears (and I will note that I have little idea what day of the week it is, much less the time of day; but in this, I lie, as I know the time, as it matters; but not the day, as it does not) one sleeps in... or gets up the same as always... or hops out of bed at five o'clock bright and early, getting a jump on the day... or because they know they are going to be taking a nap in a few hours, anyway. This isn't (exactly) what I wanted to talk about. It is a more benign example. But when I say everything changes (or can change), I mean Everything. Every stone is turned over. Every foundation examined. It can be unsettling what is thrown away. After all, as Bobby McGee knew, 'Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.' And do you really want to be lost, adrift in The Void?

Magic in the Air
Arkansas was fun, an adventure. Hawaii was magical. Maybe, it's because there were no Indians left in the Ozarks... or none that I knew of. But Hawaiians still rule Hawaii... or have a commanding presence. And I started to think in terms of Gods and Spirits and the Vastness of the Universe... and how much more than mere pinpricks of light stars really are... or could be... and that sort of thing. The first stay in Hawaii (all three years of it) was magical. But you know what they say. You can never go back. I mean, I did. But during my first stay, I had a dream wherein Pele gave me my Hawaiian Name. And during my second, I did not... not even close.





Serious Spoilers
You Have Been Warned

I believe Alex Garland travelled extensively in Thailand. I do not believe he spent any time in a place resembling The Beach.
{One can argue this point, as there exist an island that comes close. But I think it misses when it comes to the important criteria: the facets that make The Story Book Beach unique.
Story Time Shortcomings

Nearing the End

Here's the bottom line. The end plot of the book (and I'll call it the end plot, as this plot line did not exist fifty pages ago) revolves around the solution to a problem that doesn't exist. That is to say, the problem has an easy solution: move on and leave The Beach behind.

I forget who said this, maybe Napoleon. But the gist was 'Peasants fall in love with their land and that is their downfall.' Yeah, the quote is way off base. And the more I think about it, the less likely it seems that Napoleon said it.

Still, The Beach is a Poor Man's Paradise.

Almost Done

The Beach is a wonderful travelogue. Alex Garland knows way more about Southeast Asia than I ever will. Unfortunately, when it comes to story time, I want the climax to escalate (to be built up to) over the course of the book... not for it to mysteriously appear out of the Ether in the final few chapters.

The Beach is not Sangri La Lost, for I do not believe Alex ever found it.


However, that doesn't mean it wasn't a marvellous travelogue.

Stupidest Ending Ever

The ending is for crap. Calling it idiotic would be a compliment.

Making It Better

First, let me acknowledge, the start of the book is wonderful. I like The Beach as a travelogue. Also, it has won awards. Gads knows why? Has sold boatloads of copies, which I am guessing is because it starts really smooth (and success builds upon success). And they made it into a movie. So, the book has a lot of good things going for it, reasons to call it a successful (if not great) piece of literature. And finally, The Beach was published by a major publishing house (Penguin Putnam Inc, my copy, anyway), which alone is further along the road to success than any of my works have ever gotten.

Still, the ending sucks turd-balls. And the plot is idiotic, presumably because it was put together as Alex went along. But then, I wasn't there. So, what do I know?

Well, one thing I am quite confident of (from moment to moment, even if it is not sequentially consistent in time) is my opinion. And in my opinion, The Beach could have been improved by more focus, by picking a plot (or theme) at the beginning and sticking to it. And if I were to rewrite The Beach (I wouldn't, I know nothing about Thailand, and am far more likely to do a Mountain River Camping Expedition, instead), here are of few of those improved plots, any of which (or all of which), I (or one) might use.

A Classic Circular Ghost Story
Our hero, Richard, learns of The Beach (the place, not the book) from a character named Mr Duck, who soon commits suicide (for reasons unknown). Not only would I like to know those reasons, if Richard morphed into Mr Duck (or was a younger version of Mr Duck from the get go), we have ourselves a Classic Circular Ghost Story (call it a CCGS... and no one will know what you are talking about). As an aside, I believe Mr Duck (of Daffy Duck fame) is ultimately named for (as in the inspiration in Real Life comes from) a tattoo of the cartoon character rather than the cartoon character. And since I am big on misdirection, if a tattoo was my inspiration, I'd change the nature of the tattoo (in question) completely and Mr Duck could have just as easily been called Big Momma (for a Love Momma Tattoo), The Anchor (I soon started to think of him as my Ball & Chain, for an Anchor Tattoo), or the Lion King (which was odd, seeing as how his tattoo was that of a Jaguar). Anyhow (in my rewrite), Mr Duck recruits Richard. Richard slowly morphs into Mr Duck as he founds a New Beach (you got to always push it out further away from civilization), where he acts like a douche and gets exiled from his own kingdom. And finally, he meets this new guy, fresh off the boat, who reminds him of himself, and the whole things starts off (in a circle) again, just as soon as Mr Duck works the magic and commits suicide.

The Land Fights Back
So, like, remember when I said You got to always push it out further? Adventure Travel is hardly that adventurous unless one is breaking new ground. But the ground itself (probably, but what do I know) has little desire to be broken. So, what happens when it fights back? When the cliff walls grow higher? And steeper? The entrance to the cove constricts? Until only a treacherous cave remains? And the sharks, and the monkeys, and finally, even the trees attack?
Seriously, 'What makes you think this island needs you, Haole?'

Commune from Hell
On a Deserted Island, a virtual Island Paradise, I imagine I would work (fishing, washing clothes, collecting water and firewood) for upwards of 1-2 hours a day in dribs and drabs. In The Beach, they were putting in some mighty long shifts, as directed by another. Um, it wouldn't happen in Real Life... not to me, anyway. I'd just go further down the road. But in the story, this is Paradise (capital P, Paradise), which it obviously is not. So, it would make more sense if we were talking about (or looking at) the Cult of TV (or Warner Brother's Cartoons), starring Daffy (as in Duck), Bugs (as in Bunny), and Sal... who I will just assume is a slaughterization of Sam (of Yosemite fame). And this trio of Cult Leaders runs The Beach with an Iron Fist. And truthfully, I would not be surprised if there was a bit of Human Sacrifice needed in order to keep the hostile forces of The Land (see previous The Land Fights Back entry) at bay. And the loss of all that power (so intoxicating) explains why Mr Duck is killing himself back at the beginning of this CCGS (Classic Circular Ghost Story, if you'll remember).


The Triple Play!

The Simple Truth
Or, you know, The Beach shines as a travelogue (not so much otherwise, as the above three possible plot point improvements may have been hinted at, but trust me, they were far from developed in The Beach). So, why not leave it as a travelogue?
And then, my time was up, I'd run out of money, and it was time to return to the Real World. But I just couldn't leave The Beach behind. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, lay in bed for hours, just thinking about what could have been. So, I started writing, as a form of therapy.

Full of Lies
Now, what Alex Garland did was take the truth and fill it full of lies. And this is what I expect from fiction. So, more power to him. On the other hand, his lies are not convincing (not to me, anyway). And so, they fail. But he's got a boatload of lies right at his fingertips. In Real Life, I will lay odds that Alex Garland is quite the daydreamer. Well, he could have overwritten his travelogue with his daydreams. This format has the advantage that it doesn't matter that the daydreams are idiotic, self-serving, and grandiose, as that is the nature of daydreams.

I once spent a canoe trip in the Great Northwest dreaming of a D&D character named Sante Dakota, who travelled similar (lake like) terrain in a magical world full of Wizards and Monsters. I outfitted him with a magical bow and a canoe that would morph into a teepee at the snap of his fingers (or the call of an owl, 'Hoo! Hoo!). And there might have been a dog or two in there, as well. But I don't really remember, as this was thirty years ago.

Roger! And Out!

I am done with The Beach. It's time to move on. Let us see if I can be bothered to start Alex's next book The Tesseract? And whether I read it in full (and thus, give it its own page) or give it the skip-skim treatment. After all, I am predisposed to believe it has no proper ending; and rather, meanders on without meaning until it putters out.

I would be happy to be wrong.

After all, I am, often, happiest when I am wrong.

The TesseracT

Low doesn't cover the depth of my expectations.

The TesseracT
by Alex Garland

Thoughts Going In

A little over a week ago, I nabbed The Beach and this title (The Tesseract) from a Library Free Stack. In the interim (so, this past week), I read The Beach. The Beach was a good read, not a great read, but a good read. It went quickly. I did not have any difficulty picking The Beach up or finding the time to read it. And since I had Alex Garland's second book right there, I thought 'Why not? I mean, the first was a pleasant reading experience... even if the ending was Abysmally Bad. So, let's give the second a go.'

Anyhow, this time, when (or if, but my money is on when, not if) it no longer appears Alex knows what he is doing or where he is going (as pleasant as the ride might be), I shall bail.

First Page Bail

Unfortunately, I could find the will to read this work. After reading a few of the reviews (with praise for The Tesseract being essentially equivalent to the previous praise for The Beach), I lost all hope.

I stopped reading at the end of the second paragraph. I did not get sixty words in. Yes, I counted them. It says nothing about The Tesseract, as I have not given it a fair break. What is says is that I am tired (mentally, it is the end of the day). And what carried me through the last quarter (fifth, sixth, or whatever) of The Beach was curiosity about the ending... and not so much the story.

Because, as I have said, the ending of The Beach sucked.

And now (it turns out), I have no goodwill left.

Besides, I have a stack (because they are free) of other contenders, so it is time to quietly put The Tesseract down, never to be touched again... until I walk it the few dozen yards to the Recycling Bin.

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And in the hallway (so, Real World Stuff, here), the smoke detector beeps endlessly, its battery low.

Squeep! Squeep! Squeep!

It would annoy me... if I had the energy. Lately, I have been finding it very difficult to find the energy... for almost... anything.

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