Not many books read recently, I admit. I could blame the engulfing bliss of coding again, or my time spent enjoying the sunny outdoors, but let’s face it: it’s mostly Zelda’s fault. Still, I did enjoy some reading:

Mustaine: a life in metal (Dave Mustaine and Joe Layden, 2010)

For some reason, I keep reading autobiographies of rock stars, even though after Billy Idol, Peter Hook, Bruce Dickinson and Travis Barker, I know quite well what to expect: the account of a talented, hard-working, self-important artist spending their time having drug orgies, sex orgies, and fighting with their band mates1. About Mustaine’s, the only peculiarity I was expecting was a constant grudge against Metallica.

Well, the backcover features the typical sex-and-drugs rock star checklist, while the two words that open the book are “James Hetfield”. (I kid you not. The guys starts his own biography with someone else’s name.)

However, this book is still an entertaining and very easy read. I went through it in a couple of evenings; it’s well-written (I suspect thanks to Joe Layden), interesting, and strangely enough Mustaine really comes out as a guy sincerely tring to be nice and amend. There are still a few cheap shots and several cases of self-justifications, of course, but given Mustaine’s reputation, I was expecting a lot worse.

Dice Men: the origin story of Games Workshop (Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, 2023)

My childhood owes a lot to Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, be it through their Fighting Fantasy books or Talisman, for years my favorite board game[^2]. And I always say that the success stories (and drama!) of the first RPG companies of the late seventies are scaled-down versions of those in the tech industry. So, of course I had to read this account of the founding of Games Workshop.

My only issue with this book is its format: it’s too tall for my shelves. However, its size allows the inclusion of numerous documents in high quality: flyers, fanzine covers, gorgeous illustrations, and a lot of pictures. There is relatively little text, but tons of material. It’s a trip in time, back to the late seventies and early eighties, and it’s great.

The story of GW’s rise itself is rather typical: focused and organised people building a successful retail business. It sounds common enough, and yet, constrasts strongly with the amateurism and lack of focus that transpires from TSR’story, as told in Game Wizards or Of Dice and Men.

Sorayama, complete masterworks (Isabella Catalina and Hajime Sorayama, 2022)

I only recently became aware of this artist, and I wanted to fill this gap in my culture. I was expecting sexy robots with a retro sci-fi vibe; I wasn’t prepared for the photorealistic fetishistic porn. In retrospect, going with the complete works was not a great idea: believe it or not, you can have too much of close-ups of female genitalia.

And yet, it’s a shame because the excessive generosity of this book detracted me from the great things about Sorayama’s work: the flawless execution, the occasional humour, and the slight unease that his juxtapositions bring, be they of chrome and flesh, pleasure and pain, or pop culture and cultural heritage, among others. It’s a rich and thought-provoking corpus; it’s doesn’t lend itself well to binging. I’m glad to have this book as a reference, but next time, I’ll go see an exihibition instead.

  1. The exception being Bruce Dickinson, whose bio is the story of a talented, hard-working, self-important artist spending his time being a Renaissance man, flying planes, and politely disagreeing with Steve Harris. [^2]: I still own a first (French) edition, probably the most precious thing I’ll bequeath my son.