I just spent the last two days putting off high paying work to read WITHOUT WARNING, the latest novel by John Birmingham.  I’ve never reviewed a book before, so I am compelled to enact what I imagine a book reviewer would say, and this is it:

I experienced John Birmingham’s WITHOUT WARNING in the same manner I would have experienced a full glass of a good California zinfandel: it began strong in character, getting better with each taste and ended with a big finish, making me sad it was gone and leaving me wanting more.

No kidding. It was a really good read. The zinfandel analogy is spot on.  I highly recommend WITHOUT WARNING to the thousands of people who read this blog. Go out and buy it. I promise you won’t be able to put it down, and when you are forced by time and fate to do so, you will be scheming to find time to pick it up and continue.

Okay. I’ve done my book reviewer thing. Now it is time to get back to what I do a little better.

All of the characters – other than Fifi – were memorable. I especially enjoyed seeing the Rhino and a cameo by Murphy.  But the one character I enjoyed most – but didn’t quite get enough of – was Stavros. I LOVED that guy, and I believe he was more pivotal than would appear on first reading.

John Birmingham, where ever you are, please continue to develop this fine, Greek character (whom I suspect also has an Irish ancestry).

The guy on the left has an Irish last name.

As a matter of fact, please consider adding additional Greco-Irish characters, perhaps one that is an attorney with a small liver.  Yeah!  Wouldn’t that be great?  I mean, really, who doesn’t want to read about a character who is half Greek, half Irish – and is an attorney – who gets drunk really, really easily? And, while you’re at it, give him (has to be a guy) Attention Deficit Disorder. And flat feet.  Oh yeah, and he has to be bald.  I mean, that is a must, don’t you think – for verisimilitude and pathos?  Bald middle aged attorneys of Greek/Irish ancestry just reek of pathos. At least I hope that reek is pathos.

I am not a professional writer, but I can tell you that this is a very good idea.

The author of WITHOUT WARNING writing down my idea for possible future reference.

The author of WITHOUT WARNING writing down my idea for possible future reference.


And remember: the Wave eats people.



22 Responses to “REVIEW: WITHOUT WARNING by John Birmingham”

  1. My guess is that you are a bald, flat footed, smelly Irish and Greek lawyer with a drinking problem.


  2. JB looks a bit rough, one too many cases in the old Zin eh?


  3. Sounds like you have the JB bug my man…


  4. By the way have you read Flintheart’s comments about zinfandel wine??? He is definitely not a fan…


  5. Benot – Sir, you have gone too far. Even in the “wild west” of the internet, there are some things one does not say. For the record, I deny smelling bad. I smell rugged.

    chaz – I have no idea if that is really a photo of JB. Someone anonymously sent it to me with a note saying “this guy won’t leave me alone.” I imagine John as being much taller.

    Bob – I wouldn’t call it a bug. I just really enjoyed the book. In all honesty, I liked AOT better and am lobbying hard for a fourth installment.

    As for Flint and his opinions about zinfandel, I have great respect for Flint’s tastes, so I can only surmise that the zin he sampled was crap. If and when he visits I will introduce him to zin that isn’t crap.


  6. glad ya liked it Paul, are you lot always so far behind or WHAT…lol

    Um, Chaz, glad ya mentioned it, That high milage, dragged from the dumpster look, it wasn’t just me…


  7. Oh Paul you make me laugh.


  8. Most excellent review. I am a fan of this Stavros chap.

    And what type of Zin isn’t crap? I’ve never had crap Zin or good Zin, so I cannot judge either way.

    Natalie!! So great to see you! 😀


  9. Paul, I’ll take you up on that. People poured a lot of very indifferent Zin at me in Cali, starting with the squeak-sized bottle on the airplane in, and going downhill from there. I’ve heard folk speak in its defense, but so far, my experiences with it … well, they stopped about ten years ago. No sensible person keeps hurting himself deliberately, and in Australia at least, the stuff is still Infidel.

    And if JB looks rough in that photo… go back and read Felafel, and consider the man’s history. He’s lucky to be looking THAT good.


  10. You stink.


  11. Havock – Yeah we Seppo are late to the party, but only because we were kept out by the bouncer until after midnight. I bought that book as soon as I could, but couldn’t read it (gotta make a living) until just now.

    Natalie – I live to make you laugh dear, which means my life has been less than optimal lately. Where you been, girl?

    Jenn – Yeah! Stavros! We want more Stavros!

    Flint – You come and I will show you the best I know of. But I don’t expect yo to like it. As I explained to John (or tried to – I can’t remember due to advancing inebriation) I only hope you can appreciate it as a reflection of Californian character. There is depth to zin that takes some effort to appreciate. After that, go back to your cabs and merlots. See if I care.

    Benot – Stumpy, is that you? The time zone is all wrong, but I have a hunch that is you, possibly drunk and unable to sleep. Ordinarily, you are ebullient, but being drunk and tired could explain a more terse prose style.


  12. I could use a good book this weekend. Thanks for the hot tip Paul!!!



  13. Bobby – You’ll enjoy it.


  14. while in the States, I picked up 3 of Birmingham’s books. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to start reading them yet but they are next on my list!


  15. I liked it too. It covered the potential depth of it nicely without wading into it and getting stuck like quicksand.

    You smell funny?. Didn’t realise there was more than one way to sniff…


  16. The book is indeed worthwhile. I believe that by the time we get to the third one JB will have eclipsed the AOT series. Rumour has it that the jacket of the next book will have a promo label “Now with added Stavros!”.


  17. FYI PNB, the plural of Seppo is not Seppo but Seppos (or, to be correct in its usage, SEPPO’S.) Unless you are referring to a group of Finnish men all with the somewhat common first name Seppo. In which case it is exactly the same but delivered in a fairly ludicrous sing-song accent somewhat akin to the Swedish chef from the Muppets.

    I would say more but unfortunately the great Seppo media censorship conspiracy means whatever I say will end up being censOH SAY CAN YOU SEE, BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT…


  18. Ah, fine criticism my man. Loving that first para. heheheh


  19. Nice reviewing work there, Paul.

    I must go and do an Amazon review for it, I really have been slack. I think I would have always enjoyed it as I like John’s writing style, but I was surprised by how MUCH I enjoyed it. Particularly the female characters; some male writers disappoint me with their depictions of women but Birmo writes them fully-rounded. The fact they’re all kick-arse awesome types helps too, of course. 😉


  20. I was hopping a train home and that book cover was open and being read by two consecutive middle aged men as the train departed the station yesterday. It is grumpy old man’s birthday tomorrow so I might just toddle off to the bookstore and pick him a copy up for his bedtime reading. Half Greek, half Irish attorney huh….


  21. Doc, sure that shouldn’t be Seppoi?


  22. Ohhhhh, so that’s what that smell was.


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