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paranoid theory of the week :: the reading list

this is actually an older post that i'm recycling, because it predates "paranoid theory of the week" and i think it would be of interest to those who are fans of these posts. the titles are all fiction, but some of them touch on real conspiracies and mysteries, while others just exhibit a style that will appeal to conspiracy buffs and reinforce that way of looking at the world. feel free to send along any suggestions as well.

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screw the davinci code, or any of those other pop fiction mysteries that have enjoyed a moment in the spotlight. if you, like me, enjoy a novel that fills you with the sense of creeping dread that comes only from the sensation that vast, powerful, alien forces are controlling your life and your destiny, here are a few choice fiction bits that you must check out!

charles palliser :: the quincunx :: the fastest eight hundred pages you will ever read. this story of inheritance in all its forms, set in nineteenth century england is remarkable not just because it is such a compulsive read, but because palliser manages to fold so many mysteries into the story under the guise of just one. the first time i read it, i thought that i had everything figured out, but subsequent readings have revealed more, once i was able to divert my attention from the main storyline. don't be fooled when it seems the answers are very obvious. it's often a ploy to distract you from something else. dickens may have mastered the art of the orphan's tale, but palliser manages to make it just a little more compelling.

thomas pynchon :: the crying of lot 49 :: i don't usually say i have a favourite book, but a lot of people who know me will say this is my favourite book and i do have a tattoo related to it, so it's safe to say that it's pretty high up in the pantheon. pynchon's boundless imagination always makes for a staggering read, and he always makes it seem like there is something holding all the threads together just over the horizon, but this is probably the best example of his world operating at once on levels hilarious and sinister.

umberto eco :: foucault's pendulum :: when i read "the davinci code"i immediately dubbed it "foucault's pendulum for dummies". this is the real history buff's tale of hidden codes and secret societies- in fact it deals in depth with some of the issues dan brown glazes over. because so much of the novel is so dense, it's easy to miss that much of it is dryly humourous, but it's impossible to miss the perfect human-ness of the ending, which haunts me after many years. you'll also want to check out eco's prague cemetery, which deals with the origins of many popular conspiracies.

franz kafka :: the trial :: truly, the only commentary here should be "duh". the prototype of all twentieth century angst- and paranoia-ridden classics. sure, someone probably forced you to read it in high school, but go back to it as an adult. it probably has more to share with you now.

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as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

eat the pain away?

nearly twenty years ago, an emergency room doctor took a look at the crushing muscle tension i was experiencing [they were clenched enough that a doctor at my regular clinic couldn't get a reflex reaction on my left side and thought i might be having a stroke] and told me she believed that i had fibromyalgia. a couple of weeks later, i went to see a family doctor that a coworker had recommended to me. when i told him what the other doctor had said, he snapped that i was being ridiculous, because, if i'd had fibromyalgia, "i wouldn't be able to move". after i moved to toronto, i got a new family doctor and told her what the other doctors had said. she said that she couldn't be sure, but it was better just to deal with any symptoms i had one at a time. then i came back to montreal and got a new family doctor, who didn't really buy into the whole idea of fibromyalgia and said there was no way to do any definitive test anyway. that doctor passed away, and my …

making faces :: chanel's velvet realm

who doesn't love velvet? i know when i was younger, i used to, as george costanza longed to, "drape myself in velvet" and although that phase passed with time, i still think that the plush fabric has to be one of the high points of human achievement, up there with interior heating, advanced medicine and vodka. so to me, it's no surprise that one of the most hotly anticipated launches in the cosmetic world is chanel's new "rouge allure velvet" lipstick line, because even the name immediately makes me want to put it on my lips.

on a more concrete level, chanel describes these lipsticks as "luminous matte", which is sort of like the holy grail for lipstick lovers. we all want those intense, come-hither film noir lips, the sort where young men and sunlight are lost and never heard from again, but historically [including during the making of those films], applying a matte lipstick felt sort of like colouring in your lips with an old crayon that had…