- First, I’m a big fan. Your new breed of neo-noir writing is a blast to read in both y- Hey, Charlie Huston. Can I ask you a question?
- Sure, Kemper.
- First, I’m a big fan. Your new breed of neo-noir writing is a blast to read in both your crime and horror novels.
- Thank you.
- No problem. I gotta admit that I thought the Joe Pitt character was probably one of your weaker creations for a while there, though.
- Why? You didn’t like the idea of a tough guy Vampyre getting caught up in various turf wars between rival clans in New York?
- No, I was good with that. I just have this pet peeve about writers doing supernatural characters. There's always a hero or anti-hero who is supposed to be a bad ass, but it seems like they always spend the majority of their books getting beaten to the point where they can barely function, but somehow prevail in the end. Harry Dresden and Sandman Slim, for example. And Joe Pitt is a poster boy for this. He’s supposed to be the rogue independent vampire that everyone is scared of, yet he seems to spend most of the books getting his ass handed to him, and even his vampire healing hasn’t prevented him from being maimed and half-crippled by now.
- You have a point, and I’m sorry to say that poor old Joe doesn’t fare much better in this book. So I assume you want to ask why I felt the need to inflict such misery on him?
- No, actually, after reading My Dead Body, I’m pleased with how you handled the whole thing. I didn’t realize that there was an arc to the whole story and that this one would be the final culmination of Joe’s saga. The fact that he’s a damaged mess makes sense in that context. Plus, I now realize that Joe wasn’t a miserable asshole just for the sake of being a miserable asshole. He’s a character like John Constantine or Rorschach from Watchmen. He’s the outsider who refuses to compromise no matter what it costs him and others.
- Oh, well I’m glad you feel better about that now, Kemper, but I thought you had a question?
- I do, Charlie Huston. My question is just why in the hell you are incapable of writing dialogue like every other goddamn writer in the known universe?
- Are you referring to the way I don’t use quotation marks or verbs like ‘said’ or ‘asked’?
- Yes, I am. I mean, you do some of the best and most realistic dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard, but this affectation of using a dash and then the dialogue with no clue as to who spoke it… Well, frankly, Charlie Huston, it’s kind of a pain in the ass. And it gets really bad when there are several people in a room talking, and then you have to get cute about letting us know who’s speaking by using the other person’s name. All this could have been avoided if you would just use some freaking quotation marks and a ‘I said’ every once in a while. Everyone else does it.
- Yes, but I’m a groundbreaking writer trying to perfect a new style of noir….
- Save it, Charlie Huston. It’s a cute little gimmick that was mildly amusing in the first book I read by you, but now it’s just a distraction. And it’s too bad because My Dead Body was a terrific book, but I shouldn’t have to create flow charts as I’m reading to try and keep track of who is speaking. I really don’t get it. Were your parents killed by quotation marks and you swore vengeance? Did the word ‘said’ steal a girlfriend from you once? You need to get it over it.
After watching the Swedish movie this book is based on, I thought it was an intensely creepy film and promptly got the book to check out the full storAfter watching the Swedish movie this book is based on, I thought it was an intensely creepy film and promptly got the book to check out the full story. I figured that the planned American film version would be a pale shadow of the original because there’s no way that a Hollywood movie studio is going to show that messed up tale in it’s original form to audiences in the U.S. Little did I know that even the Swedish producers didn’t have the collective nutsack to give us the full story on how goddamn twisted the book is.
Set in the early ‘80s, it features a 12 year old boy named Oskar whose alcoholic father and overprotective mother are divorced. Oskar is an outcast and is badly bullied by other kids in his class, and he’s developing a pretty good case of homicidal rage because of it. In fact, he’s well on his way to becoming the kind of guy who dances around his basement while screaming at his latest victim to put the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again.
Before Oskar completely turns into Buffalo Bill, he meets Eli, a deadly vampire who appears to be a 12 year old girl. Oskar and Eli strike up an unlikely friendship that’s almost a pre-adolescent romance, but things are going off the rails around them. Eli’s version of Renfield is a creepy pedophile who is jealous of their relationship and can’t be counted on to keep Eli supplied with fresh blood. When Eli’s need for food makes her sloppy, the results are victims and traces that threaten to reveal her. Juvenile delinquents, Swedish alcoholics, a strict cop, a jar of acid and a herd of cats all collide in a variety of terrible ways.
This is a gloriously gruesome and disturbing horror novel that would probably cause Stephanie Meyer to have a stroke if she ever even dared to hold a copy of it in her hackish little hands. Like the best horror novels, the gore and monsters aren’t the scary parts, it’s the way that the ’normal’ people treat each other that will really haunt you. ...more
Ever read a book and find yourself thinking, "This is pretty good, but it could have been face-melting awesome."? This is one of those books for me. IEver read a book and find yourself thinking, "This is pretty good, but it could have been face-melting awesome."? This is one of those books for me. I really liked it, but found myself picking some serious nits while reading it.
Stark was a magician (a real magician, not a sawing-a-woman-in-half kind) who was madly in love with his girlfriend Alice when he was betrayed by another magician named Mason and some others. Mason managed to send Stark to hell, but as a living person, not a dead soul.
11 years later, Stark learns that Alice has been murdered on Earth by Mason and his pals. Determined to get revenge, Stark breaks out of hell with a magical key that allows him to access almost any point in any dimension. His stay in hell has made him supernaturally tough with an extremely bad attitude, but he soon runs across various angels, demons, monsters, alchemists, magicians, Nazi skin-heads and porn shop owners that he has to deal with as he learns that there may be something much bigger than his revenge at stake.
This had a great concept with a lot of original ideas and some terrific action. Mixing magic with various weapons, including shotguns, makes for some awesome carnage when thing really get rolling.
However, for the first 250 pages or so, Stark just comes across as an unlikeable asshole who blunders about warning his enemies he's back and generally getting his ass kicked. (I've noticed a common factor among supernatural characters like Harry Dresden or Joe Pitt that three-quarters of the books seem to consist of them getting beaten to a pulp by various beasties and this book continues that trend.) The first half of this book consists mainly of Stark complaining about all the clothes he's ruined by getting repeatedly abused.
The author has a bad habit of having Stark do stupid things, that he acknowledges as stupid, just to advance the plot and it's just chalked up to him being 'impulsive'. Plus, there are some serious logic gaps. Stark can access any point in any dimesion with his supernatural key. Yet, he seems to prefer stealing cars. And when he needs to dispose of a body, he steals yet another car and thinks about how many chances he's taking as he drops the body in the La Brea tar pits. Why wouldn't he just use the key and take the body to Antartica or the middle of the Amazon and just dump it? It doesn't help that he uses the key about 5 seconds after dumping the body.
However, the ending redeemed this book a lot. When the action finally starts, it gets massive in scale and imaginative in how weapons and magic could be blended. Stark become a bad-ass anti-hero instead of a whining jerk, and the ending sets up a lot of possibilities. I hope future ones are more like the second half of the book and less like the first half.
Oh, and for you Donald Westlake fans, the main character's name is Stark and one of the bad guys is named Parker. Get it?
I don't think I'll be eating ribs in any barbecue joints in the near future after reading this.
Andy was killed in a car wreck along with his wife. ButI don't think I'll be eating ribs in any barbecue joints in the near future after reading this.
Andy was killed in a car wreck along with his wife. But like a small percentage of the population, he reanimates as a decaying zombie. He quickly learns that he has no civil rights. He has to live in his parent's wine cellar, and he isn't allowed to see or contact his daughter. It's against the law for him to do simple things like logging on to the Internet or go to the movies. He's harrassed and pelted with food by the living (Breathers) if he even tries to take a walk, and zombies are routinely attacked by thrill seekers and drunken frat boys.
Stuck in the basement drinking wine he can't really taste and watching television, his only other entertainment is his zombie support group where he meets the lovely (but very dead) Rita. Andy and his fellow zombies soon run across Ray, another one of the undead, who shows them the secret to reclaiming their lives and their dignity.
This was a terrific twist on a zombie story. I never thought I could feel sympathy for the living dead, but even as a Breather, I found Andy's story touching and sometimes heartbreaking. The black humor had me laughing out loud even as my skin crawled.
A very original concept with great writing. I've seen a lot of reviews compare it to Chuck Palahniuk novel, and I'd agree that there are some similarities to the best of Chuck P. However, I think that's selling S.G. Browne short. He's done something unique and creative here that's all his own.