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A collection of the first fifteen issues of Hate comic. What we have is a chronicle of life in 1990s Seattle from the perspective of Buddy, a twenty-something drop-out. Fans of the graphic novel genre will have their top tens, and while for some Peter Bagge's work might not appear in their ten, Hate comic will still feature somewhere on their recommended reading list. Robert Crumb and Matt Groening are both big fans of Bagge's work.
My own introduction to Buddy Bradley, the anti-hero of the stories, was through Bagge's later book "Buddy does Jersey" which is set after the events that take place in Seattle. Although it took some time to appreciate Bagge's claustrophobic and cartoonish artwork, I quickly found myself engrossed in the work, following the trials and tribulations of Buddy (his girlfriend and the rest of his family). And, it's true, I found it difficult to warm to any of the characters. In fact I almost give up on the book but I'm glad I didn't. Sticking with the book paid off and I ended up thoroughly enjoying the read. Afterwards, I didn't hesitate to order the first collection, Buddy does Seattle.
How does the Buddy in Seattle compare to Buddy in Jersey? The artwork in the former is a little different, still claustrophobic but then so are the lives of the characters depicted. Buddy is the same, likeable in the end because he comes across as a real person (despite the cartoonish rendering).
In common with, I think, many other graphic novel fans, Peter Bagge's work does not have a place in my top ten but I have no hesitation in recommending Buddy does Seattle to fans of the genre.
When I go on a city break I like my hotel to be slap bang in the middle of the city. I don't want to be finishing my meal in a restaurant or walking along with my wife enjoying what's left of the evening and find myself nagged by a feeling of unease. This unease is usually brought on by the thought of not being able to find my way back to our hotel. I want to relax and enjoy my time in the city, not thinking 'don't we have to cross the street here, walk behind the abandoned market area, go down that alley and it's on the right, or the left, by the shop with the blue shutters?' There are no such problems with the Hotel Mercure.
Walk out the front door and turn right, you're five minutes walk away from the market place. Right outside the hotel are a parade of shops, ideal for gifts or to buy drinks and snacks. There are also many restaurants to choose from, (including a McDonalds if traditional goulash isn't your thing). All of the major sites are within walking distance of the hotel. The river is only a ten minute walk away. The added advantage of having your hotel in a central location is that it is easy to plan your day so that you can return in the early evening to put away any shopping and change for dinner.
The hotel itself is very clean, tidy and professional. I got the impression that they get a lot of business customers staying there and the hotel gives off this vibe. The staff can be a bit abrupt but not rude. I would class them as polite and professional rather than warm and friendly. The rooms are comfortable and clean, nothing to get excited about but you're in Budapest to see the city not the inside of a hotel room.
Budapest is not cheap; don't expect to save any money. Food and drink prices are on a par with London. Anything you buy in the hotel will be no exception to this rule. The price of the room was very reasonable and the location made exploring Budapest much easier. I would definitely use the Mercure again.
George Orwell's 1984 is, at best, a mediocre read. While many trumpet it as the definitive dystopian novel it is in fact a rather soulless copy of "We" the 1921 classic by Yevgeny Zamyatin. That Orwell wrote his work after reading the Russian's effort is uncontroversial; so too is the fact that Orwell used "We" as the model for this own work 1984, he admits this much himself. How much Orwell owes Zamyatin in terms of ideas, plot structure, and so on is up for debate. I have made my position clear; I believe there are enough similarities in 1984 to consider it a copy of "We" (rather than a significantly original work) and will review it as such.
Any critique of 1984 must be a critique of something that is a copy of something else. I will mention that Orwell is not alone in using Zamyatin's work. Aldous Huxley has been accused of basing his "Brave New World" on "We" however he claims to have been inspired by H. G. Wells; the writer Zamyatin claims inspired him. Ayn Rand's "Anthem" has similarities with "We" but contains significant differences. Let me be clear, I have nothing against writers seeking and finding inspiration from others, this is to be expected. What I don't like is when the extent of the similarities between one book and another piece of work is so great that one book becomes a copy of the other. What we have with 1984 and "We" are two very similar books, with very similar main characters, and very similar events (Winston Smith meets Julia, D-503 meets I-330, their relationship is forbidden but they find a way, Smith's life is directed by the telescreen, D-503's by the table, 1984 has Big Brother, "We" has the Benefactor, and I could go on but I don't want to spoil the plot of either book).
Is, for all my claims of it being merely a copy, 1984 a book worth reading? Given what I've just written it may surprise you to read that I'm going to say yes. Firstly, 1984 is a culturally significant book and should be read as such. There are so many cultural references to the work and its author that ideas have entered the language (phrases like, 'Big Brother is watching you' and references to an 'Orwellian nightmare'). Secondly, 1984 is more accessible than "We" particularly for younger readers. Orwell's dystopia is easier to understand and visualize than Zamyatin's.