Tag Archives: lying

Book Review: The Satanic Witch

1 Apr

Tired Pervy Unenlightened 1960s Cliches

The Satanic Witch by Anton LaVey

Book cover of The Satanic Witch by Anton LaVeyI read this shortly after finishing The Satanic Bible because I was a teenage prat and still wanted to shock the people sat opposite me on public transport. For these purposes this book doesn’t work as well as The Satanic Bible. Though it still has the inverted pentacle on the cover, the friendly pink colour lowers the impact.

As for contents: Ha! Holy shit it’s terrible. The ‘magic’ referred to is all about seduction – this whole book is basically an egotistical straight man’s ideas for what women should do to pick up guys. It’s The Game but written for women in the less-slick 1960’s.

Its advice goes from the neanderthal: ‘don’t wash – pheromones are your body’s natural magic’ to atrocious deception based on cod-psychology. Apparently all men and women have a ‘demon’ self which is the opposite of their outer self, and it’s the ‘demon’ self you have to pitch yourself to. So if he’s macho on the outside he’s whimpering on the inside, and so as to not scare off the whimpering ‘demon self’ you’ve decided he has, you should make yourself as soft and gentle as possible, even perhaps giving yourself a softer, gentler-sounding name. If he seems really straight-laced perhaps affect an exotic accent to appeal to the opposite him.

Genius. What could go wrong? (Except for that little awkward patch when he realises you’re not Sabrina from Paris but Gertrude from Scunthorpe and he thinks you’re a derranged ’cause you’ve been lying about everything…)

The whole book is basically advice for a woman on how to get a one night stand. If she wants anything more she’s a bit screwed once all the deception comes out, surely?

(Also: if you’re a straight woman who wants some no-strings sex – correct me if I’m wrong – but isn’t that the kind of thing it’s incredibly easy to get? Try saying to a dude in a bar “would you like to have some no-strings sex?”)

As well as recommending lying wherever possible to get laid, LaVey is also apparently a big fan of gender binaries. He advises women should be as curvy and distinctively feminised as possible – don’t go for any of this unsexy jeans rubbish – and men should be butch. In this way each gender plays up their own ‘natural magic’ as much as possible.

So: be smelly, lie a lot, put on pantomime shows of gendered behaviours…You know, even reading this as an inept and slightly confused virgin – I still knew this was a load of bull.


Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader

26 Sep
Innocent when you dream: the Tom Waits Reader

Book cover for \’Innocent when you dream: the Tom Waits Reader\’

Book Review: Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader

Musical one-off and self-styled blues hobo shoots the breeze

Chances are if you’re willing to pick up and read this book, you already love Tom Waits and want to learn more about the man who evokes a subterranean bohemia with songs such as ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking (not me)’ and ‘Bad Liver and a Broken Heart.’ However, given that Waits has compared speaking to the press as ‘a bit like talking to a cop’ – it’s perhaps no great surprise that the autobiographical details are a little thin on the ground.

This book features pieces from CREEM, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, NME, Playboy, GQ, and The Onion to name but a few. The collection does two parallel things: on the one hand it charts the career of a pretty amazing musician, on the other hand – it sells the idea of Tom Waits – a slice of Americanski which the diner waitress probably dropped on the floor but still served up anyway.

Most of the articles begin with the palpable glee of the journalist rubbing their eager little hands together, trying to work out where to start describing this man. One writer in this collection described trying to keep up with Waits in conversation as like trying to go for a walk with someone who happens to be evading assassins. Most of the pieces end with the audience only a fraction wiser about what actually makes the man tick, but readers will have some pretty unlikely images, interesting facts and brilliant witticisms wandering around in their minds instead. “People who can’t cope with drugs turn to reality,” “Fire is just the sun unwinding itself from the wood,” “She’s a diamond in the rough that wants to stay coal,” – to name but three which have stuck with me.

By the end of this book, having read various interviews spanning thirty years – the only thing you have to go on to work out if any given story is true or not is the frequency with which Waits tells the story. Was he born in a taxicab? Has he met the Marlboro Man’s mother? Does he actually know all the regulars of the latest dive bar he’s invited the interviewer to? It’s impossible to tell what’s invented and what’s real, but what you miss in concrete fact is amply made up for in Waits’ enthusiasm, wit and oddball take on the world. Describing the world as he sees it: scenes of smokey bars, petty crooks, ‘warm beer and cold women.’

Waits is by turns tragic, dazzling, hilarious and often oddly tender – the beatnik spirit of Burroughs and Kerouac reborn, and still snarling at suburbia. The writers gathered for this collection are pretty damn good too – and there’s a very interesting key change when the interviewer is someone like Jim Jarmusch who Waits has frequently worked with.

The only downside I’d say to this book is that my attention seriously started to flag about two thirds in. It’s a lot of interviews going over the same territory – and even with a Class-A Bullshitter like Waits to navigate around the journalists’ questions – it’s inevitably going to drag at some point.

What Waits lets journalists in on is more of a character concept, and he does his best to keep him away from all nameable homelife facts such as anything about his wife, kids, where he lives – or even where he’s been in the seven year gap since his last album (“traffic school.”) That said, his character concept of the mad old blues hobo is pretty incredible, and well worth reading about.

Some absolute Beat beauts (if a little repetitive.) Welcome to his world. It won’t take you anywhere in particular, but it’s worth the ride.

Originally appeared on Goodreads.com