The Writing of Martin Brennan


Hyperion

Prison always has been a good place for writers, killing, as it does, the twin demons of mobility and diversion

— Martin Silenus, Hyperion

Hyperion is like nothing I have ever read before. A sprawling sci-fi epic that is at the same time deeply personal and poetic, Dan Simmons has achieved a monumental feat of storytelling with the first novel in the Hyperion Cantos. My partner picked this up for me as a birthday present after she had read glowing recommendations for it online. I don’t often read sci-fi novels, mostly staying in the realm of literature, fantasy, and “Stephen King” (who I consider a genre onto himself), and it was initially difficult for me to get into, but about fifty pages in I was hooked.

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East of Eden

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

— Lee, East of Eden

THERE are a few books you may read in your life that change you in some profound way, or stun you with their beauty in a way that makes the book stick in your mind for a long time after you finish reading it. East of Eden was such a book for me. From the first few pages of reading Steinbeck’s introduction where he paints a portrait of the Salinas Valley I was hooked. Steinbeck is an author that held me in awe of the mastery of his craft, much in the same way that Cormac McCarthy did when I read Blood Meridian. It made me hope that if I could write something even a tenth as beautiful in my life, I would die happy.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget

— Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

A COLLECTION of well-crafted essays by Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem is like going through the looking glass and landing in 1960’s California. It is a time capsule, a love letter, and a history lesson rolled into one. Joan’s writing style is engaging, and it is obvious that she is an expert in her craft.

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Ozymandias

I MET a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Shining

What you got, son, I call it shinin on

— Dick Halloran, The Shining

I HAD been wanting to read The Shining for a long time, ever since I watched the Kubrick movie years ago. I was interested to see if the mood, tension, and the oppressive presence of the Overlook Hotel would be such a strong force in the novel. My expectations were both met and exceeded. The way King brings the Overlook to life through its bloody history and monstrous projections of long-dead ghosts sends chills down your spine. It feels less like a mountain resort, and more like a gateway to hell; a living, breathing thing that swallows up the unfortunate souls that visit there.

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2018 Reading List

EVEN though I always diverge from my reading list plans, I thought I’d still write a little post about I what I hope to get through in 2018. I’ll be writing essays for most of these as well, as I did last year.

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