Short, pulpy fun. Effective, evocative writing, very vivid and visual. And a twist ending (which I'm not sure I totally understood LOL, but enjoyed neShort, pulpy fun. Effective, evocative writing, very vivid and visual. And a twist ending (which I'm not sure I totally understood LOL, but enjoyed nevertheless). Still, this little diddy is a definite recommended read that's available for FREE from your preferred book retailer. This flavourful free taste has only whetted my appetite for more Xane.
Ah shizzle. I'm going to be the party pooper on this one. It was okay. Love the premise but it just didn't bite me, at least not in any place where I like to be bitten.
Creepy undertones, exotic setting, with a familiar Twilight Zone / Night Gallery vibe. Should be all good things but it ultimately just doesn't deliver on the goods in a memorable way.
Since this one fizzled for me, I want to take the time to put a plug in for Tor shorts. They're offering some amazing, inventive prose for FREE, and the accompanying artwork for each story is sublime. I keep meaning to read more of these. Bookmark this page!
I am familiar with Richard Chizmar because A) I *love* Cemetery Dance Publications (which he founded) and B) Chizmar has launched a massive King re-read and you can follow his progress (not to mention fabulous guest posts) here at his blog Stephen King Revisited.
So in my Twitter feed this evening was a link to this short story. Who can resist a short story called "The Box"? Every time I see that title I give a little shudder and give in to a lot curiosity, because WHO DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!
I'll ALWAYS need to know what's in the mothereffing box. Yeah, curiosity. She's a real bitch.
So this story? It's gooooood. Pulpy good and creepy (if a little derivative and predictable). Still, at 15 pages, definitely worth a read. Go check it out now! Don't you want to know what's in the box too??? ...more
Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been longer. But brief King is rare King so I'm just gonna shut up and enjoy this little piece for what it is.
So what is it?
It's a moody little Western gem that sucks you in from its opening scene: a sheriff and a posse come to "collect" Jim Trusdale -- for lack of better phrasing, the village idiot (Constant Readers will also be reminded of John Coffey from The Green Mile). Jim has misplaced his beloved well-worn hat. Unfortunately for him it's been recovered near the dead body of a 10 year old girl who has also been robbed of her birthday silver dollar.
None of this looks good for simple Jim. In fact, it all adds up to a heaping mound of terrible. As one man observes: "You got bad luck all over...You’re painted in it."
Like King's best short stories, you won't be able to put this one down until you finish it. In just a few short pages he's able to create a remarkable amount of tension between the weary Sheriff who begins to have doubts about Jim's guilt, and the accused who has no meaningful way to defend himself against this horrible crime. The men share a potent intimacy in the closed confines of the holding cell (and a strip search scene that is brief but memorable).
And about that ending:
(view spoiler)[First of all, didn't see it coming. Maybe because I had John Coffey on the brain, I really thought this story was another version of "the innocent simpleton" being taken advantage of. So yes, silver dollar in the poop really surprised me O.O ....turns out Jim was guilty after all (unless someone planted that silver dollar afterwards; maybe?) (hide spoiler)]
First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of what we can only hope will become part of a much larger series that Courtney Summers will -- she better! -- continue to write.
My ebook edition displayed as 65 pages and I didn't even get that many since those 65 pages also included a sample of Summer's new novel All the Rage (which has no zombies, but I still want to read anyway because Summers is a great writer no matter what story she's telling).
So Please Remain Calm is a short, sweet taste of something terrifying and grueling. I remember This Is Not a Test as an epic, emotional The Breakfast Club meets Dawn of The Dead -- a bunch of high school archetypes, including the jock, the brain and the basket case -- are trapped in a high school with each other while outside the world is being ripped apart at the seams by flesh-hungry reanimates. Our narrator, Sloane, is the basket case. She was on the verge of suicide before the zombies came and now has to run for her life rather than commit to taking it. I remember Sloane as strong and sad and sympathetic.
Please Remain Calm is not her story -- this time it's Rhys who's speaking (the jock) and I barely remembered anything about him other than he is the one Sloane escapes with at the end of the first book. And that's exactly where this short story picks up. No time has passed at all. The two teenagers are on the run from the high school. To where, to what, we don't know because they don't know. They are moving panicked, blind. And then they get separated.
This is much more your traditional zombie story of unrelenting fear, fatigue, hunger, trying to find a safe place to close your eyes for more than ten minutes. I *loved* it. It's pulse-pounding and page-turning with great writing and for so few pages, great characterization. Summers can write a zombie chase/attack scene like nobody's business. Her zombies are fucking terrifying and I don't even care that they move fast. Usually that would bug me. But Summers makes it work. Boy does she ever.
Don't let the YA label fool you with this one; it's raw and violent and dark. It's going to take a bite out of you and leave you shaken and stirred. That I guarantee. Merle knows what I'm talking about, don't you Merle?
I'm not giving any stars here, only a warning: beware which edition of this collection you choose, for if you choose unwisely, you will be sorely ripp
I'm not giving any stars here, only a warning: beware which edition of this collection you choose, for if you choose unwisely, you will be sorely ripped off in more ways than one.
I chose unwisely. My edition is the 2010 "updated" version published by Harper Collins with new illustrations by Brett Helquist. To say that it's been sanitized for safe consumption is an understatement. The reason the original 1981 edition became an instant classic and a frequently challenged book in schools and libraries was for Stephen Gammell's ghoulish and nightmarish artwork.
I cry foul and bullshit. You don't mess with perfection and genius. Without Gammell's drawings, this collection loses its bloody, beating heart and is barely worth the paper it's printed on. Who thought this was a good idea? I'm incensed, especially for all the kids who might pick up this book expecting to have the bejeebers scared out of them and wind up merely bored or slightly amused. Unforgivable!
I was going to rant here about our ill-conceived, often hypocritical efforts to "protect" our children and censor their reading materials, but I'll save that for another day. Perhaps for when I write a real review for the real version of this book, the only one that counts, the only one that should be bought and gifted to any young person seeking his or her gateway drug into the realm of the macabre.