The Last Generation of Chainsmokers - Stephen Creagh Uys

Book Review by Jim Martin. Copyright © 2004 All Rights Reserved.

I am not from New York. I don't "get" it. I mean, Seinfeld was funny and everything, but I'm about a billion miles away from New York here in the frosty Canadian city of Calgary, and if there's one thing I get, it's that things there and things here are often very different.

I asked to review The Last Generation of Chain Smokers solely because it had a great name. I knew it was a tale of love-struck woe in New York, but the title was whimsical and sad all at the same time, and I wondered if the book would be able to match that tone all the way through. It did. This book had its dull moments, and I found that my image of the characters had to change quite substantially as the story progressed and the details of their lives were fleshed out a bit. But all that aside, it was exactly what I had expected… a fine, sometimes light and sometimes sad tale of love in the big apple.

It's that special kind of love that centers heavily on alcohol and the bird in the hand. It's that practical sort of love that we all wish we didn't have, but at least on some level can directly relate to. It's Kimberly and Crane, two very damaged souls holding hands in a landslide.

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Reflecting Fires - Thomas Claburn

Book Review by Jim Martin. Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved.

Let's get this out of the way first thing, okay? I know absolutely nothing about science fiction. That's not to say that I don't enjoy it as a genre. I own or have owned nearly every William Gibson book going. The thing is, I just don't read sci-fi books all that often. As such, I can't look at Reflecting Fires and tell you that it's a leader in its genre, or that it's a formulaic piece of puck. When Thomas Claburn asked me to review it, this was one of my biggest concerns. How can I give an objective opinion about this book without knowing how it stands up in comparison to its peers?

Then it hit me. Why in the hell does it matter if I don't know much about the genre? The majority of the readers here at 3A.M. aren't concerned about genre as much as they love to read good books. Given that perspective, I have all the ability in the world to review this book. I'm going to focus on how I felt reading it, not from the perspective of John Q. Sci-Fi Goober skipping third year engineering classes to play Magic: The Gathering in the cafeteria, but from the perspective of me, a guy who loves to read books of all different persuasions. Hopefully, that's just like you. I am particularly hopeful that you aren't planning on skipping class later to play Magic...

One of the things I really liked about Reflecting Fires was the overall struggle in the book. Really, this is a story about man battling machinery. More deeply than that, though, it's a story about how faith is battling science, and about how science is ultimately just another faith.

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Naked Lens: Beat Cinema - Jack Sargeant

Book Review by Richard Marshall. Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved.

One of our most necessary publishing outfits, Creation Books, continues to deliver the getaway vehicles: books that celebrate the instincts to conjure up an emergency and get you nailed to a gaudy pole, where an honest action is momentary and honest suffering is equal to it -- that is, equally long, equally obscure and equally infinite. They know what the crime is, know where it is, they're in on it, and will get you to safety in the aftermath -- or go down trying. These are books that matter.

Creation Books is that publishing house that works in the time of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart -- where all action takes place in a time that is always night, and where it's always "about midnight" in that night. All forms of suffering, madness and love are in their books. Poison is exhausted. Gestures are written like wind blowing on rubble. Gestures are what scholarship looks like when there's nothing like a body of agreement to stabilise interpretations, lives, experiences -- when things are happening but there's no one sure what it might all add up to. Where you might not wake up in the morning.

When the celebrated works of mainstream artists are derided, you're left having to decipher idiotic pictures, decorative lintels, theatre sets, fairground backdrops, popular prints, freakshows and terrorists -- and it's not an option, it has to be done, like I said before it's necessary. This is what the Creation outfit have set out to do. Their authors work out scholarly enemas of ecstasy, are writers who settle down and go about their cultural activity that's equivalent to planting warts on a face. The reissue of Sargeant's 1997 book, updated, revised and expanded, is a beautiful example of all this activity.

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Twisted Shadows - James Schmerer

Book Review by Skye Wentworth. Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Meet Lou Parker, a divorced, beer drinking, ex-cop, who comes out of retirement to wreak vengeance on the person responsible for his son's death. His son, who had followed in his father's footsteps and joined the New York Police Department, leaves behind a legacy of Swiss bank accounts, kilos of drugs, and worse -- he's being labeled a "dirty" cop.

Sounds like a good crime mystery? There's more. Hot on the trail, Lou reluctantly falls in love with his dead son's girlfriend and their volatile relationship threatens not only to hamper the case, but their own deadly battle for survival as well. This fast-paced crime novel has enough twists and turns, beer-guzzling wit, and sizzling romance to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat -- with your eyes glued to every page.

No stranger to the printed word, James Schmerer, a writer-producer-story consultant, has produced three prime-time television series and has been the executive story consultant on six others. Mr. Schmerer has written over 200 prime-time episodes (from The High Chaparral to MacGyver), soaps, animation and features. He teaches screenwriting at UCLA and gives screenwriting seminars around the country.

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