I had to think hard as to what the last Stephen King book I read was - and, I think I came to the conclusion that I never did actually read any of hisI had to think hard as to what the last Stephen King book I read was - and, I think I came to the conclusion that I never did actually read any of his books. Saw a bunch of movies based on them, but never read them.
So, this being my first foray into printed-word King, I didn't quite know what to expect. However, by the time I reached the end, I felt that what I had experienced was, well, very Stephen King-ish. Which I was perfectly fine with.
Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of 4 longish short stories, with the first one taking up well over a third, nearly half, of the book. I felt it (1922) went on a little long, but the remaining 3 stories were certainly enjoyable. Nothing horrific in the strictest sense of the word: no zombies, no things that jump out and bite you, no rabid dogs or terrorizing clowns (although the final story does namecheck Derry, which I thought was a nice wink to the reader) - just stories of ordinary people in somewhat extraordinary, and often unpleasant, situations.
Those kind of stories make for the some of the best stories, and I liked that King, in his afterward, reiterates that by saying that it's what he's always tried to do, which I can appreciate.
I can't say for sure whether I'll seek out any more collections of short stories from King, but, I'll at least having something to compare future readings from him to....more
When I first found out about Looking for Calvin and Hobbes (from a BoingBoing post), I knew instantly that it was something that I wanted to get my haWhen I first found out about Looking for Calvin and Hobbes (from a BoingBoing post), I knew instantly that it was something that I wanted to get my hands on. Consequently, I pre-ordered the book immediately, and waited over 4 months for it to reach me. I was in the middle of another book that I really wasn't in to, so it was easy for me to quit reading that (Desolation Road, FWIW), and start in on Looking for Calvin and Hobbes.
I approached the book much like I do cupcakes: I was really excited to dig in to it, but I was hesitant because I knew that I'd be done with it before I realized it. It was with that in mind that I began reading, telling myself that I'd pace myself, and enjoy the journey.
And enjoy the journey I did. Martell does a fine job bringing his quest to seek out the man behind Calvin and Hobbes to the pages of the book and before readers' eyes. A quest that, while it may not have gone *exactly* as he wanted it to, still ultimately yielded some incredible results.
Most everyone knows how Watterson pretty much swore off any publicity to an even higher degree after he finished the strip than when he was actually actively drawing it, but what I never really knew much about was how the strip came to be, and Martell gives ample background information on just how Calvin and Hobbes was shaped into the bad-ass comic strip it became. From Watterson's humble beginnings drawing one-off panels for his HS paper, or early (and relatively quick) career as a political cartoonist, looking back and the events leading up to the strip's publishing, and thinking about all that had to happen in order for it to take place, it's a miracle that Calvin and Hobbes even made it to the comics page. But man, what an impact it had on a wide range of people.
Martell also includes many tidbits from interviews he had with a multitude of Watterson's contemporaries, including the artists behind Outpost, Garfield, and a host of others (honestly, I just can't remember all of them!). It was amazing to hear just how many artists had so much respect for Watterson, and how the vast majority of his peers also felt like that they wished Watterson had been just a bit more acknowledging and receptive of their respect and praise. Ultimately though, it becomes apparent as Martell begins to piece together the enigma that is Bill Watterson, that that sort of "static" was really just superfluous to Watterson; he didn't need that to get by, and never set out to garner it in the first place. He was just "born with a pencil in his hand", to paraphrase an interview with someone close to Bill (no spoilers!), and cartooning was what he loved, and he did that - for 10 years, until he decided it wasn't for him anymore, at which point he moved on, and shied away from even coming in contact with anything that reminded him of that.
So, I came away from my reading of this book with a new found respect for Bill Watterson, a respect that I know I didn't have or realize I could have when I was consuming every single Calvin and Hobbes strip and book collection I could get my hands on when I was younger. I got a better sense of why Watterson shunned licensing and merchandising offers, turned down movie deals, and hardly flinched when big names came to him wanting to collaborate. I got a better sense of how Watterson's childhood and formative years (what little is known about them, that is; needless to say, Martell put on his sleuthing hat to ferret out as much as he could) played into what he did with his life after Calvin and Hobbes. And, I got a better sense of what not only his peers, but those closest to him (friends, editor, etc.) had to say about the man who gave us Calvinball, the Transmogrifier, Spaceman Spiff, and countless other morsels of comic-y goodness. I also have respect for Martell, for tackling such a mysterious subject as Bill Watterson, and allowing the reader to live vicariously through him during his journey.
All in all, this book was a wonderful experience, albeit a quick one, that I never felt like was bogged down with filler one bit.
I picked up Ariel for about $1 at a local Half Price Books, along with Desolation Road, after hearing about both of them via Cory Doctorow of BoingBoiI picked up Ariel for about $1 at a local Half Price Books, along with Desolation Road, after hearing about both of them via Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing.
I was really excited to give fiction another go, and I knew that of the two, Ariel sounded more appealing to me. So, I tackled Desolation Road first, and failed. I got about 160 pages in, and just couldn't do it. So, I took a bit of a break from fiction, read two non-fiction books, and then decided to try my hand at Ariel.
It went a lot better.
Ariel follows the adventures of a young loner named Pete Garey, and his unicorn-cum-Familiar Ariel. The setup of the novel is that one day, nearly everything stops working - electricity, machinery (anything more than a simple machine), technology, cars; all of it, just, stops. And, magic starts working, and magical creatures (your gryphons, manticores, unicorns, et al) start roaming the earth.
Simply put, it's an adventure novel with both sci-fi and fantasy elements. And as Roger Zelazny says on the back cover, it's "a damned good yarn." I 100% agree.
Throughout the book, I really came to love and appreciate the relationship that Pete shares with Ariel - it's unlike nearly anything I've ever thought about or read, and it makes for some truly effective emotional drama, in addition to the already tense journey they make together across a rather post-apocalyptic-like America.
All that being said, I'd recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a fun, interesting, and thrilling read....more
The Eyeball Killer came recommended to me via this very website, by way of a friend of mine. The author of the book, John Matthews, is her brother-in-The Eyeball Killer came recommended to me via this very website, by way of a friend of mine. The author of the book, John Matthews, is her brother-in-law, and she offered to loan me her copy of the book to read. It sounded like an interesting read, given other true crime books that I've read in the past, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.
I'd like to first touch on two things about the physical book itself that I found...interesting: one, the cover made me immediately think of a super-stylized, over-the-top episode of A Current Affair (appropriate, given that the book advertises that this case was featured on an episode of it); that is, it got my attention, no doubt. And two, the print in the book was comparitively larger than any other book I've read. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but, I was just aware of it. This subsequently made the book much quicker to read, which isn't bad either.
All that aside, the book was a lot better than I thought it'd be, and was paced well enough that it held my attention throughout. What's interesting is that it's written by one of the two main police officers that brought this case to the attention of the city of Dallas. The fact that it took place in and around Dallas also intrigued me, since I grew up around Dallas, and was familiar with or had hear of many of the areas mentioned in the book. Those two things coupled with the rather lurid and gruesome subject matter (a serial killer who kills prostitutes and cuts out their eyes) made for a fun, late-night-televisionish read.