Book recommendations -

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True & Honest Fan
My favorites are Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Something Happened by Joseph Heller, and Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. Also highly recommended are The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon, Continental Drift by Russell Banks, and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
It's a pity Rushdie is such a shit human because he is a magnificent writer. One of the great magical realists of the 20th century.

His first work, Grimus received pretty scathing reviews when it debuted, but I think it's one of his best. If you like magical reality, then it's up your alley.

Another in my Pantheon of faves I recommend to anyone is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (the Diana Burgin, Katherine Tiernan O'Connor translation). It's an absolute masterpiece of satire, fantasy, and political criticism. It was variously censored and banned by the Soviets. It had some popularity in the west during the 1960s, but isn't widely read today. One of the greatest novels ever written, in my opinion.

Letters From the Earth by Mark Twain- parts of which that were also heavily censored and/or banned in its day. It's the most laugh out loud, caustic, moving, passionate, aching, thoughtful work ever compiled. It's everything genius that was Twain, and it's forever timeless.

I have more, but that's enough lit sperging from me for now.

Commander X
Been going over previous reads.

From Greg Kihn, of the Greg Kihn Band and songs like "The Breakup Song" and "Jeopardy", came his first novel, "Horror Show" a goofy horror story set in the world of B-movies.

1996: Alcoholic recluse Landis Woodley , considered by more than some as the worst director in America, sits in his decaying mansion in the Hollywood Hills. After a string of exploitation films, he was reduced to making "skin flicks, peep-show loops, and worse" but went too far even for the porn theaters, before retreating from the business. One day he demands $600 up front from young horror buff Clint Stockburn for an interview for Monster Magazine. Stockburn wants to know all about the scandal of Landis' most notorious feature, 1957's Cadaver which was set largely after hours in the L.A. morgue and was rumored to have featured real corpses wired to walk. Woodley still has a reel of outtakes, including the material the censor asked to be cut...

1957: Maverick independent filmmaker Woodley and his crew are preparing for their next feature as he puts the finishing touches his annual Halloween party/publicity event at his house. Everyone in the horror business will be there, including all of his crew of misfits, fringe-dwellers, aspiring wannabes, has-been actors and other losers. Including Phil 'The Great' Romaro, washed-up magician, Hoyt Lovejoy, swashbuckling film hero from the early days of 'talkies' now bumming around in Woodley pictures, low-rent leading lady Deborah DeLux, Buzzy Haller, alcoholic special effects man and Woodley's number one guy; Neil Bugmuir, an ex-Marine screenwriter who loves women as much as he loves wearing women's clothes, which the reason why only Woodley will hire him.

His two biggest "stars" are Jonathon Luboff, former matinee idol and horror movie leading man, now a seventy year old heroin addict who was discarded by the studio system despite having had leading roles in movies that earned millions in box office and Tad Kingston, failed rock and roll singer. Small timer with no discernible acting ability but the teenagers dig his extraordinary blond bouffant. His "star quality hair" earned him the lead teenager parts in Blood Ghouls Of Malibu, Hot Rod Monster, and Attack Of The Haunted Saucer .

They were both going nowhere fast. One a dying shooting star, on it's last crash through the atmosphere, destined to burn out long before it hit the ground, and the other a cheap skyrocket, hopelessly trying to compete with real celestial bodies.
People who have no careers end up working for Woodley, a hustler with ambitions based on his ability to really stretch a budget and make movies that are not art, but bring in kids in the theaters.

"...It’s because of the kinds of movies I make. They think it’s beneath them.”

“Beneath them?” Hoyt asked incredulously. “That’s a joke.”

“Until the money comes in,” Landis finished.

Hoyt belched quietly, his voice smooth and resonant, befitting a leading man. “Have you seen the shit they’re putting out this fall? Christ, Brazen Teenage Hussy and Carnival Girls ain’t exactly Gone with the Wind, if you know what I mean.”

Landis smiled. “Don’t blame them. They’re just doing what the stockholders tell them to do.”

“Making trash?”

Landis nodded.

“Well, hell, we can make better trash than that,” Hoyt said.

“It’s true,” Landis replied. “I don’t deny it. But someday …”

“Someday they’ll kiss your ass!” Neil exclaimed.

“Damn right,” Landis said. “Someday, they’ll let me do what I really want. Give me a nice big budget, some decent distribution, a professional set, and I’ll show those fuckers what I can do!”

Neil clapped. “Bravo!”

Landis raised his hands. “When that day comes I’m gonna stick it right back to ’em, where the sun don’t shine. Our job is to survive in the meantime. We’re all just paying our dues here. Eventually we’ll get the shot.

“I’m gonna earn respect at the only place they recognize, the box office. I’ll make the greedy fuckers notice me. You see, working down here, at the bottom of the food chain, is a wonderful opportunity. I can really get creative and show some smarts.

“That’s what this town is built on, people who make it up the ladder the hard way. I don’t mind. When they make it harder for me, it just makes me tougher. So … fuck RKM! I’m making the movie anyway, on my own. That’s when I got the idea to use the morgue.”
Meanwhile, among those invited to the party is Devila, Channel Two horror hostess. Her date is Albert Beaumond, founder and leader of the First Satanic Church of America. Beaumond is amused by Woodley and gang's antics, including the prank with the real working guillotine, but it's not much compared to what he wants to show off to Devila later; the artifact he pilfered from a tribe in remote Peru that he cannot wait to show off to everybody. He gets more than he bargained for.

Later, Cadaver is filming after hours at the L.A. morgue, thanks to the coroner who has been promised a bit part. It's Buzzy who figures out how to unlock the morgue drawers and decides a nasty looking John Doe will make for a great special effect...

A few years later, Kihn wrote a sequel with a lot of drive.

Big Rock Beat: A Wacky Zany Romp. 1967: After having been out of the directing business for awhile, a badly aged Woodley, forced to make a living writing up short stories for men's magazines and cheap private eye novels has been hired for a directing gig by his old producer Sol Kravitz. It's a dubious low-budget beach rock musical funded by a group of investors headed up by a Eddie Shackleford, sleazy producer and owner of indie label Shang-a-Lang Records. Beach bunnies, racing cars, drugs, monsters and musical acts provided by Shackleford. True, you couldn't shoot a TV show episode on the budget laid out for this movie which mostly exists as a showcase for the label's acts, but if anyone knows how to stretch a dollar, it's Woodley. He rounds up who is left of his old crew and gets to working.

A few kinks work their way into the production, such as Woodley's cousin Beau and his band getting swept up into it, or the producers ending up doing a deal for funding with a Mexican gangster called El Diabolo who insists on putting his sinister nephew in charge - the same nephew who's dating lead Yvette Love - and insists that a car be included in the film. It's "the Impresser", a custom rig with no markings and it's supposed to have been rebuilt from James Dean's silver Porsche 550 Spyder, the one Dean took his last ride in.
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True & Honest Fan
Any dystopian recommendations? (Apart from the usual classics, I want something fresh.)

Hazel Motes

"I can smell the sin on your breath"
Any dystopian recommendations? (Apart from the usual classics, I want something fresh.)
The Iron Heel by Jack London. About a socialist revolution written before any had happened. Violent as all Hell but London, though a socialist himself, knew how violent a revolution would have to be to come about. Orwell said that London understood these things unlike more "intellectual" socialists because he had sense of animal instinct.


True & Honest Fan
Revolt Against The Modern World by Julius Evola gets more timely as the days go by.

and no, it’s not because of Sargon or the other “political” e-celebs, nor is it because of Antifa.


Any dystopian recommendations? (Apart from the usual classics, I want something fresh.)
I'd like to recommend you one of the progenitors of cyberpunk. John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar is a piece of speculative fiction set in the far flung future of 2010.

Any one have any book recommendations specifically on the culture and/or society of Feudal Japan (that is before the Meiji era and not specifically dealing with historical events)?

Wild Card 3.5

I want to commit Persona 3.
Any one have any book recommendations specifically on the culture and/or society of Feudal Japan (that is before the Meiji era and not specifically dealing with historical events)?
First time on the Farms, so hopefully I'm marking all of this right to not take up too much space. Sorry if not in advance!
But in regards to your requesting of any pre-Meiji-era Japanese stories/literature:
Well, the obligatory first suggestion would be the well-renowned "Shōgun", by James Clavell. Probably one of the most popular books to ever be written that's set before and during the 1600s in Japan. Older, but still holds up to this day, and gives some interesting perspectives to the Battle of Sekigahara.

Another popular pick of that sort of fiction would be "47 Ronin", by John Allyn. Or alternatively, there's "The Tokaido Road", by Lucia St. Clair Robson, which is essentially just another take of the very same Japanese legend. I personally like "The Tokaido Road" just a little more, but both stand very well on their own.

But, if you want something from that era that's a little more different, I would highly suggest "The Tales of Otori", a series of five books (includes the actual trilogy, a one-off sequel, and then a prequel) written by Lian Hearn. They're classified as 'Fantasy', and take place in "a fictional world inspired by Feudal Japan", but still carries the same thematic ties, realistic societal structure, and appropriate culture to associate it with Sengoku era Japan. Plus the story is just all around interesting, always a plus.

"Taiko", by Eiji Yoshikawa, is another really good option, especially if you're into the inner-workings and nuances of war of the times. Kind of old (published in the 1960's, I think?), definitely more on the historical side, but I found it an interesting read.

Some of the more eh titles that relate to this category are things like "Sisters Of The Sword" series by Helen Hart (not too terrible or anything, just a bit on the basic side), "Death At The Crossroads" by Dale Furutani (great mystery story, tbh), the long as fuck "Sano Ichiro" series by Laura Joh Rowland if you get desperate enough (I only made it through a couple of them before I got bored, but that could just be me.) Other than that, there are quite a few different stories inspired by the 47 Ronin legend out there, some more interesting than others.

Oh, and there was a somewhat recent (as in, published in 2017) YA novel called "Flame In The Mist", by Renee Ahdieh, that's set in Feudal Japan. Haven't read it myself, but it has a lot of good reviews regarding both the prose and the choice in setting, so that could be something of interest for you.

And then, for just some general book suggestions for anyone else:
- "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski: By far one of the most unique books I've ever read, both in actual story and just overall formatting. Typically classified as horror, but does have some inkling of romance and funny hahas in there. Just all around interesting.
- "The Whalestoe Letters" by Mark Z. Danielewski: The sadly lesser-known companion novella/sequel to "House of Leaves". Mostly just contains some letters from one character to another to expand on the character development and aspects of the story. Not necessarily a *must-read*, but still an interesting companion piece.
- "Battle Royale" by Koushun Takami: A true and genuine classic. The closest thing to "The Perfect Dystopian Book" in existence (imo).
- "Overlord" by Kugane Maruyama: Series of light novels that inspired the anime, not just for the weebs. Great choice if you love a villain protagonist. Also takes great care to actually explain the MC's tactics and strategies in every battle.

Hmm. Maybe I should have also included looking for a sort of "who is who" or "encyclopedia" kind of book about what I described above. That is something a bit comprehensive that talks about say the difference between geishas and (...I just talked to my brother about the other type of courtesan/female entertainer), metsuke and other local officials, the sword hunts (though that's more historical I suppose), and so forth. Essentially a lot of the mundane things.

Kosher Dill

Potato Chips
True & Honest Fan
That is something a bit comprehensive that talks about say the difference between geishas and (...I just talked to my brother about the other type of courtesan/female entertainer)
It's a bit later than your target time period, but you might want to check out J. E. de Becker's "The Nightless City" for an account of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters written in 1899. It does have a fair amount of the local color and mundanities that you seem to be after.

EDIT: and if you can get a hold of it, how about:
徳川幕府刑事図譜本編 - or roughly, "Illustrated Catalogue of Crime in the Tokugawa Shogunate". Features illustrations of the gruesome punishments inflicted on criminals before the Meiji reforms.
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Bonjour, je suis Jelly Duvall
True & Honest Fan
Zadie Smith has good stuff. White Teeth was good.

I'm kinda wanting to read her two essays collections.

I also plan on reading:

You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again by Julia Phillip's
Jeffrey Toobins book on the Clinton scandal