These stories present some high quality storytelling, with a great sense of place and people, the author manages to get you in a place, amidst struggl...moreThese stories present some high quality storytelling, with a great sense of place and people, the author manages to get you in a place, amidst struggles and different lives. The writing flows well and there is possible strains of a Mark Twain like humour in the social, travel and moral writings here. Excellent collection of short stories for reading, interesting encounters within the world that spins in and around Che Guevara and others.
Some of the eight stories briefly reviewed.
Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera A hostage situation of a scholar a man with no money and no one to pay up for is in a dilemma of mistaken identity, they think he is a soy but his binoculars and map are for spying on nature in his love for birds. Nicely done short story, excellent story material used, the setting, dark humour, and great writing style makes this a great story to read occurring during a revolution in Colombia.
" "I'm not a spy," Blair answered in his wired, earnest way."I'm an ornithologist. I study birds." "However," Alberto continued, "if they wanted to send a spy, they wouldn't send somebody who looked like a spy. So the fact that you don't look like a spy makes me think you're a spy." Blair considered. "And what if I did look like a spy?" "Then I'd think you were a spy."
"During the day Blair was free to wander around the compound; for all their talk of his being a spy, the rebels didn't seem to mind him watching their drills, though at night they put him in a storage hut and handcuffed him to a bare plank bed. His beard grew in a dull sienna color, and thanks to the high-starch, amoeba-enriched diet he began to drop weight from his already aerodynamic frame, a process helped along by the chronic giardia that felt like screws chewing through his gut. But these afflictions were mild compared to the awesome loneliness, and in the way of prisoners since the beginning of time he spent countless hours savoring the lost, now clarified sweetness of ordinary days. The people in his life seemed so precious to him— i love you all! he wanted to tell them, his parents and siblings, the biology department secretaries, his affable though self-absorbed and deeply flawed professors. He missed books, and long weekend runs with his buddies; he missed women so badly that he wanted to gnaw his arm. To keep his mind from rotting in this gulag-style sump he asked for one of his blank notebooks back. Alberto agreed, more to see what the gringo would do than out of humane impulse; within days Blair had extensive notes on counter-singing among ,Scaled Fruiteaters and agnostic displays in Wood-Rails, along with a detailed gloss on Haffer's theory of speciation."
"Blair was twelve when it first happened, on a trip to the zoo—he came on the aviary 's teeming mosh pit of cockatoos and macaws and Purple-naped Lories, and it was as if an electric arc had shot through him. And he'd felt it every time since, this jolt, the precision stab in the heart whenever he saw psittacidae —he kept expecting it to stop but it never did, the impossibly vivid colors like some primal force that stoked the warm liquid center of his soul."
Reve Haitien Days after Haitian coup a two chess players meet an deal is forged to use art in a bid to aid a revolution. Another great tale with a sense of place, people and grande struggles.
"He led Mason around the palace and into the hard neighbourhood known as Salomon, a dense, scumbled antheap of cinder block houses and packing-crate sheds, wobbly storefronts, markets, mewling beggars underfoot. Through the woodsmoke and dust and swirl of car exhaust the late sun took on an ocherous radiance, the red light washing over the grunged and pitted streets. Dunes of garbage filled out the open spaces, eruptions so rich in colourful filth that they achieved a kind of abstraction. With Mason half-trotting to keep up the mulatto cut along side streets and tight alleyways where Haitians tumbled at them from every side. A simmering roar came off the close packed houses, a vibration like a drumroll in his ears that blended with the slur of cars and bleating horns, the scraps of Latin music shredding the air. There was something powerful here, even exalted; Mason felt it whenever he was on the streets, a kind of spasm, a queasy, slightly strung-out thrill feeding off the sheer muscle of the place."
"On these nights the gunfire seemed diminished, a faint popping in their ears like a pressure change, though if the rounds were nearby the mulatto's eye would start twitching like a cornered mouse. He is a man, Mason thought, who's living on air and inspiration, holding himself together by the force of will. He was passionate about the art, equally passionate in his loathing for the people who'd ruined Haiti. You don't belong her, Mason wanted to tell him. You deserve a better place. But that was true of almost every Haitain he'd met."
The Good Ones Are Already Taken This tale deals with a solider returning back home from a war in Haiti to his wife with a strange case of a voodoo marriage.
Asian tiger A Texas man out in Burma working at a golf resort gets involved in high league dealer brokering while escorting and coaching his budding golfers of powerful positions in the world of business.
"Shwedagon: he'd never seen or even imagined anything like it, a sprawling, technicolor theme park of the soul, ten acres of temples and statues and gem-encrusted shrines surrounding the bell-shaped spire of the towering central zedL Sonny eyed the zedi's dazzling golden mass, its bowl base and tapering vertical flow, and after a while realized that he was looking at the world's largest, albeit upside-down, golf tee. An omen?Meanwhile his guide was intoning the Buddha's main tenets, telling Sonny that life is dukkha, all pain and illusion; that the cycle of thanthaya, death and rebirth, will continue as long as desire remains; and that through bhavana, meditation, one might achieve the proper karma for enlightenment and nirvana. Yes, Sonny thought, yes yes all true-he felt something swelling in him, a weepy and exhausted soulfulness, a surrender that felt like wisdoms first glimmerings, and coming down off the plinth he acknowledged the moment by passing money to every monk he saw."
"Oh. Oh" It wasn't so much a bribe as a, ah, gesture, a little goodwill grease for the wheels. It wasn't long before Sonny realized that a giant corporate ratfuck was happening out on the course. If you wanted to do business in Burma you had to cozy up to the generals, and the best place for that was the National's elegant links. Which put Sonny in a classic trickle-down position: over the next few days he received a case of Bordeaux from Singaporean financiers a carved elephant from Thai teakwood barons, a kangaroo-skin golf bag from Malaysian gem traders. ' So popular," said Tommy Ng in a voice like dry ice. "Two weeks in Mvanmar and look at all the wonderful friends you have." But Sonny was troubled —these people thought he could pimp for them? He was just the pro, a performing human whose job was to stun them with his mighty swing and tell colorful stories on the verandah after the round. They were all, generals included, relentless jock sniffers eager for inside information about their favourite pros. Did you ever play with Palmer? they'd ask him over drinks. Was Nicklaus really the best? Tell us about Tiger, is he as good as they say! If Sonny didn't have an actual personal anecdote he'd make one up, something dramatic or funny to make everybody feel good."
Brief Encounters with Che Guevara Starts with a southern man has an attraction for a woman connected with thee Che, he later finds himself in Bolivia as a removal guy where he meets and has discussion with a man who says he was the killer of Che. In his thirties he finds himself in Haiti and he's now married with children. And your taken in the narrative on to his forties when Fidel is in power and the grave of Che has been located. Interesting encounters within the world that spins in and around Che.
"School tradition required my parents to host receptions for the faculty several times a year, and it was at these gatherings —peeking with my sisters from the top of the stairs at first, then later as a fringe participant, serving punch with the help in my coat and tie —that I became aware of my attraction to Mona Broun. Mrs. Broun was a faculty wife, a trim, petite woman in her early thirties whom I confused for a time with the actress Natalie Wood. She had the same wholesome looks as the famous movie star, the same well-scrubbed, faintly exotic sex appeal, along with fawn-colored hair worn loose and soft, this at a time- the mid-sixties—when the women's hairdos, in the South at least, resembled heavily shellacked constructions of meringue. But it was her eyes that got our attention from the top of the stairs,intense brown eyes with rich, lustrous tones like shots of bourbon or maple syrup, framed by sharp, exaggeratedly arched eyebrows like the spines of enraged or terrified cats."(less)
The information contained within, the evidences and theories, may help us have a safer and more humane society in the future or it may not, but you wi...moreThe information contained within, the evidences and theories, may help us have a safer and more humane society in the future or it may not, but you will read some shocking facts found in piecing together the anatomy of violence. Have you ever wondered at the evil that men do and the theories why? Behind the fictional characters like Donald Draper of Mad Men, Norman Bates of Psycho, and Rambo of First Blood there is an unseen tapestry, of thinking and behaviour. Behind the shocking truths that hit our news reports of school shootings, mass murders, terrorism, news on violence and abuse there are darker truths that lurk in the anatomy of the offender and this book dissects and examines the flags of danger. The author tells you of the evidences found in researching the anatomy of violence. This work explains the shades of the brain, the behaviours displayed, the social and the home aspects that contribute to an evolution into violence, he does not blame and pass down the roots of violence to Cain and Abel in their act of killing of kin and then on being a born condition with no other possible ailments, but explains the roots of violence with more insidious and complex workings at work. With the simple imaging of the brain the hallmarks of a persons potential for violence could be documented. This reading may have you looking at people you recognise in society and in your home and thinking of ways they could be helped, this reading is a much needed essential work on a human stain that will never magically be wanded away but needs efforts by all the faces of humanity in its toil and struggle to be cured. Written with vast and great knowledge on the subject in an easy read terminology that everyone could understand, one that can could be used many times over for referencing particular conditions of behaviour. Evidences and theories pieced together giving plenty of food for thought on the anatomy of violence.
Excepts "The bright sunlight of my sisters radiant life was overshadowed by a particularly acute form of leukaemia. On September 18, Roma's life was snuffed out-perhaps mercifully-in just two weeks, although that's painfully long compared with the victims of most acts of violence. We all miss her, just as Clare does to this day. I have reflected a great deal on Roma, and her death has profoundly affected my thinking. The other cancer that bloodies the lives of so many other people-violence-is to me as much medical as the sickness that killed my sister. For me, Roma's death is a metaphor for how I think we need to treat violence. It requires more compassion, less retribution, and a new clinical perspective that I want to move you toward considering."
"Do violent offenders have abnormal functioning in terms of how they think, feel, and behave? Yes, they certainly do. Does this "dysfunction" have a biological basis? Is something not going right in their development? I have argued that crime germinates early in life from a neurodevelopment and genetic base. I've suggested that there is a heck of a lot that is just not working right in violent offenders. They are also impaired in how they perform in life-whether at school, at home, or at work. Violence certainly causes distress to others, and the offender himself is frequently in a distressed state. Repeated violent offending is a clinical disorder." (less)
The setting Tijuana, in this story its a place were people minded their own business if they valued their life.
There is one character Malone a driver...moreThe setting Tijuana, in this story its a place were people minded their own business if they valued their life.
There is one character Malone a driver of sorts that would get you across the border in the boot of his motor vehicle for a good price and he is about to handle goods that needs more than anyone else to be reunited with her estranged young daughter, she is on the run from some trouble aka Angel baby. Malone turns out to be a likeable character even though he is a bit of a shady one, you sometimes may spot him in knee-length Bermuda shorts, a tourist t-shirt from Cabo San Lucas, and flip-flops, a typical Gabacho all in the cause of blending in.
Jeronimo, a bad ass mexican is on his tail and needs to get her back. He has a shaved head, mahogany skin, tattoos covering both arms and boiling up out of the neck of his T-shirt.
So the scene is set and the events unfold in great pace the whole story has you hooked in anticipation and resolve, cleverly developed characters, spot on dialogue and action, this author has done a top notch job in telling this story a pulsating thriller that brings me back to tales like Savages by Don Winslow, Savage Season by Joe Lansdale, Point and Shoot by Duane, Donnybrook by Frank Bill and Carrion Birds by Urban Waite.
"A powerful man has enemies, a successful man breaks hearts, and the loser will always try to destroy the winners and drag them back down into the mud."
"She knew all his fears, all his weaknesses, and how to use them against him. And that's why we married her, he sees it now, the real reason: to keep his greatest enemy close."
A stranger in a strange town in a hot climate, amongst this takes place the arousing of senses with rich armours and colours, with poverty and corrupt...moreA stranger in a strange town in a hot climate, amongst this takes place the arousing of senses with rich armours and colours, with poverty and corruption to hinder the soul, children in vast array littering the streets with nothing to do and nobody to care, he is in search for a certain person a man and in this first person narrative the author pulls you in to these new surroundings, sights, and smells, you read on in this search with a kind of curiosity in who is this person he seeks. One minute it felt like a quite simple road and then the next it doesn't and more mystery unravels. Economical in words like of would say of Hemingway's writing of his encounters in Spain, with a rather clever working on identity tied into this journeying. The hotels he stays for only one night, the people he encounters, the scenery, the bugs and rodents all add to intrigue of this novella, a story that may have you musing over it for a time.(less)
My Review Humans, the divine comedy they represent, with all their delusions, with all their fictions, with all their religious beliefs, with all their sex, drugs and rock and roll, with all their technological advancement, with all their moral decline, with all their race and class differences, with all their love for money and fame, with all their lies and truths, with all their war and peace, with all their sense and sensibility, with all their sound and fury, with all their to have and have not, with all their disease and death, And so they continue on beating against the cycle of time, knowing all this, against their allotted time of sparse existence, they are a strange species, they still carry on and keep calm despite this, who in their right mind would want to be human?
I read the Humans by author Matt Haig and his telling of one non-human beating against the tide of humanity in all its pot holes and weakness, I must warn fellow Vonnadorians who are reading this that this book is very dangerous and polluting to our species, the poetry recommended by the character in this story likewise, it may be infectious on the mind and the intellect of our species. I was quite magically taken under the writers wing and seeing this human world experience in first person and it all read to be quite credible. I must admit he fooled me with his narrative, he captivated me i was very keen on this humanity, taken in by this unique character of whom he has you have an empathic feeling for, but believe you me this is a farce. Indeed even with all the weirdness and beauty of humanity portrayed in this story, we do not need anything from humans, we have much more, we have immortality, what you have before you is a lasting and very brave accounting of the ins and outs, warnings of what it is like to be human, so that we may never want or try to be a human.
My warning to Vonnadorians is..... (Excerpt from The Humans by Matt Haig) "Remember, during your mission, never to become influenced or corrupted. The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to, and placed it on the road to destruction. They have created a world of divisions and categories and have continually failed to see the similarities between themselves. They have developed technology at a rate too fast for human psychology to keep up with, and yet they still pursue advancement for advancement's sake, and for the pursuit of the money and fame they all crave so much. You must never fall into the humans trap. You must never look at an individual and fail to see their relation to the crimes of the whole, livery smiling human face hides the terrors they are all capable of and are all responsible for, however indirectly. You must never soften, or shrink from your task. Stay pure. Retain your logic. Do not let anyone interfere with the mathematical certainty of what needs to be done."
May this book remain in our libraries as a stark warning on the frailty and art of being human.
Excerpt "I was to be a married man. I was forty-three years old, the exact mid-point in a human life. I had a son. I was the professor who had just solved the most significant mathematic puzzle the humans had ever faced. I had, only three short hours ago, advanced the human race beyond anyone's imagining."
1854 London, Lord Palmerston in charge, under the cover of fog with a gas light as aid to see in the streets and the Hansom Cab as means of transport...more 1854 London, Lord Palmerston in charge, under the cover of fog with a gas light as aid to see in the streets and the Hansom Cab as means of transport, a macabre scene of death unfolds. David Morrell has created a story in a bygone time, a historical mystery that has truths meet together, facts in fiction. This is Edgar Allen Poe visits Dickens London kind of mystery.
Cholera was not the only insidious nature to visit the people but a wave of murders struck without reason. A past crime, the Ratcliffe Highway killings, may or may not have a connection, could a serial killer be emerging from the fog?
The English Opium-Eater in London, De Quincy. Opium and the alcoholic solution Laudanum, made from Opium, plays an important roll in the lives of the cast of characters including De Quincy who was a real character from history he wrote extensively on this topic and Murder as a fine art in particular. So when you are done reading this you may chase up on De Quincy and read more about this era, more about the Opium trade, the poor of London, and the Ratcliffe Highway killings. There was a great sense of place, time and intrigue in this story.
Truth in fiction handled so well with a Gothic mystery feel that has you captivated and kept reading from the first page.
"The color of Laudanum ruby. It is a liquid that consists of 90 percent alcohol and 10 percent opium. Its taste is bitter. A Swiss-German alchemist invented it in the 1500s when he discovered that opium dissolved more effectively in alcohol than in water. His version included crushed pearls and gold leaves. In the 1660s, an English physician refined the formula, removed impurities such as the crushed pearls and the gold leaves, and prescribed it as a medicine for headaches as well as stomach, bowel, and nervous disorders. By the Victorian era, laudanum was so widely used as a pain reducer that virtually every household owned a bottle. Considering that opium's derivatives include morphine and heroin, laudanum's reputation as a pain reducer was well founded. Toothache, gout, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, and cancer were only some of the ailments that laudanum manufacturers such as Batley's Sedative Solution, Mc Munn's Elixir, and Mother Bailey's Quieting Syrup claimed to alleviate. Women used laudanum to relieve menstrual cramps. Colicky babies were given it."
Welcome and congratulations on your new novel out now Murder as a Fine Art. What was the inspiration behind this new novel, when was seed planted for this, how long did it take to complete writing it?
The idea for Murder as a Fine Art came to me in 2009 when I watched a movie (Creation) about Charles Darwin’s nervous breakdown. His favorite daughter had died. His wife, a devote Christian, felt that he was damning his soul by writing On the Origin of Species. Grief and guilt made him physically ill, but the medical world of the time wasn’t capable of seeing the connection. Near the end of the film, a character comes to Darwin and says, “Charles, people such as De Quincey are saying that we can be influenced by thoughts and emotions that we don’t know we have.” That sure sounded like Freud, but the film is set in 1855, and Freud published in the 1890s. I wondered if the reference was to Thomas De Quincey, an author I studied in a long ago literature course about the 1800s. So I started reading De Quincey, and he did indeed anticipate Freud by a half century. He invented the word “subconscious.” He wrote several essays about the interpretation of dreams, again anticipating Freud. He inspired Edgar Allan Poe who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes. I fell into what I call a Victorian rabbit hole and decided to write a mystery thriller about De Quincey, placing him at the start of the detective tradition.
Tell me why do you choose to use the character De Quincey in your story?
In addition to being an innovator in theories about psychology, De Quincey was also an expert in murder. He was obsessed by a double set of mass murders that occurred in London’s east end in 1811. There were probably mass murders before then, but the lack of widespread communication meant that no one was aware of them. In 1811, though, the mail-coach system meant that London’s 52 newspapers could be carried throughout England in two days. The result was a national, paralyzing terror. De Quincey invented the true-crime genre in what’s called his Postscript to a sensational essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” For fifty harrowing pages, he portrayed the Ratcliffe Highway killer and his victims, building almost unendurable suspense. That installment of the essay was published in 1854, and my novel Murder as a Fine Art proposes that someone begins using the essay as a blueprint to recreate the original murders. Because of De Quincey’s obsession with the murders and because he was the first person to write about drug addiction in his notorious book, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, the police see him as the logical suspect. Thus he becomes both the hunted and the hunter as he sets out to find whoever is perverting his work.
Is there any truths in this historical fiction story, how much research did it take?
My goal was to make readers believe that they are in 1854 London, so the research was considerable, lasting two years. Going to that era is like going to Mars. I kept finding all sorts of strange details that Victorians took for granted but that we find weird. For example, how much did a middle- or upper-class woman’s clothes weigh? An astonishing 37 pounds, because they wore metal hoops under their dresses and those hoops needed to be covered by ten yards of ruffled satin.
Writing in the language of the olde English tongue how hard was it to write with this and about an environment away from your surroundings, how did you go about doing this?
The Victorian era didn’t use olde English. Their method of speaking, as evidenced in Dickens, was very much like ours, except that their constructions were perhaps more formal. It’s true that they used a lot of words that we no longer understand—dollymop, dipper, and dustman, for example, which referred to a prostitute, a pickpocket, and the man who came to houses and collected fireplace ashes for resale to brick factories. I read as many 1850s novels as I could find, and I amassed several shelves of books about Victorian culture.
Will you delve into bygone eras again in future works?
The reaction to Murder as a Fine Art has been so enthusiastic that my publisher asked me to writer another novel about Thomas De Quincey, so for a while longer, I’m going to be in 1850s London.
Planes, trains and automobiles..no.. Bicycles, Motorcycles and Cars..better… Raleigh, Triumph and 1938 Rolls Royce..even better… The Iconic mixed with dr...morePlanes, trains and automobiles..no.. Bicycles, Motorcycles and Cars..better… Raleigh, Triumph and 1938 Rolls Royce..even better… The Iconic mixed with dread with some good versus evil in the mix plus some creative storytelling crafted by the capable writing skill of Joe Hill. These vehicles of transport are his modus operandi in telling this strange tale involving Christmas with a twist, there is definitely no ‘Here’s Father Christmas!’ but there is certainly ‘Here’s Charlie Manx!’ He writes with interesting characters, it reads visceral and gives you vivid imagery in scenes. If there is one negative it is the length , a little more economising on the last half would have been a more tighter story. I liked the Joe Hill storytelling of Heart-Shaped Box, it had more real horror and a haunting feel. All his novels have great artwork and book titles. The publicity behind this has been top notch great book trailer, the publishers have handled this release successfully and Joe Hill is savvy with social media, he listens and connects with his readers and has a great following.