I certainly enjoyed this book. I am a hound for anthologies, most of the work in here had a very "British horror" sensibility to it, which while enjoyI certainly enjoyed this book. I am a hound for anthologies, most of the work in here had a very "British horror" sensibility to it, which while enjoyable is a little more softcore than what I prefer. There are two or three real gems in here that appealed to my taste for exploitation, taboo, and violence. However I have to say that the rest of the book is certainly compiled from a great amount of high quality stories, written by competent authors. Certainly more competent than I as you can infer from my punctuation. Happy reading!...more
**spoiler alert** The following is a book review of Denis Johnson’s novel “the Stars at Noon.” “The Stars at Noon” is a vivid contrast to the first boo**spoiler alert** The following is a book review of Denis Johnson’s novel “the Stars at Noon.” “The Stars at Noon” is a vivid contrast to the first book I reviewed which was Andre Dubus’s “Meditation from a Movable Chair”. While Dubus’ memoirs were optimistic despite his suffering the Stars at Noon is one of the single most pessimistic works of literature I have ever read. “The Stars at Noon” is the fictional first person narration of a former American journalist trapped in Nicaragua prostituting herself to fulfill emotional need and to make money to fuel her alcoholism. She meets an Englishman who works for an oil company and is being pursued by the Costa Rican OIJ for a reason that is never really embellished upon. “The Stars at Noon” is a love story in some aspects, and in some ways it is an international adventure story, but I think the primary purpose of the novel is to revel in human squalor. I am not sure if Johnson’s motivation was to illuminate the horrors of third world countries to a more privileged readership, or if a military controlled environment was simply the best way to pack as much degradation into one book as possible. Much of the story reads like a 1970s exploitation movie, the pacing is languid, but in a pleasantly torturous way. The description is very fluid and really establishes the setting as though one were viewing it off of a 16mm film reel, the little details such as the way that Johnson describes someone’s sweaty shirt are really what make the book feel real. And finally everyone suffers, everyone engages in less than pleasant sex acts, and everyone is threatened by death and poverty at all sides. The narrator is an interesting character she recites poetry, coolly describes atrocity and turning tricks, and then moments later raves against the universe. Throughout the book she uses the extended metaphor that Nicaragua is hell and its citizens are the damned. Johnson is a Romantic in how he uses the environment to reflect the emotions of the characters, his descriptions of the stifling hot environment and the steaming jungles greatly add to what pleasure the reader can derive from the book. The dialogue in “the Stars at Noon” is well written and the language barriers that the main characters encounter is an interesting plot device. Unfortunately despite how superbly written “the Stars at Noon” is, and how many evocative images it presents the reader the story of the book comes across as nothing more than a vehicle to show human misery. The lovers make illogical decisions throughout the work such as fleeing for the Costa Rican border despite the fact that the Englishman is wanted in Costa Rica. At the end of the book the narrator sells the Englishman to the CIA and OIJ and receives U.S currency for her betrayal. Throughout the whole book the narrator had been talking about getting back to the U.S and even though she has the money to get a flight she simply goes back to drinking and prostituting herself. All in all “the Stars at Noon” is an interesting book, Denis Johnson’s technique is superb and one can see how books like this one established a market for later writers such as Chuck Palahniuk to come into. However the character motivations really detract from the experience of the reading, and I would not recommend this book unless you enjoy really grim stories that have no catharsis. ...more
I first read "the Lost" a couple of years ago after reading "Off-Season", and I have to say that I really enjoy Ketchum's work. Although I most oftenI first read "the Lost" a couple of years ago after reading "Off-Season", and I have to say that I really enjoy Ketchum's work. Although I most often read supernatural horror Ketchum's work is so visceral that each page seems to be soaked in blood and adrenaline. "The Lost" reads like an exploitation flick in prose. It is about a sociopathic young man named Ray who does a horrible thing in the beginning of the novel that sets the rest of the story into motion. Ketchum's voice is matter-of-fact, but the narration is not stilted. His descriptions create almost photographic images for the reader to hold on to. Additionally the dialogue is top-notch. Ray deals, and does drugs, dresses like a greaser, and shoots people, you hate him, but love to read about the carnage that centers around him. This novel might not win any awards for moralizing, but there is enough nudity and violence to appease gore-hounds like me. ...more
I read the uncut version and I found it a regrettable choice to make, I should have read the cut version. As entertainment this book can be a good ti I read the uncut version and I found it a regrettable choice to make, I should have read the cut version. As entertainment this book can be a good time if you don't mind terribly disappointing endings. I don't actively dislike King, but along with some other of his novels such as "Gerald's Game" I disliked "the Stand". If you are a die-hard and need to see every appearance of Randal Flagg put to paper, then you will like this book. If you want to be scared, or you want to read something that has any dramatic unity and isn't just bloated self-important garbage, then don't read this book. King creates a good setting, and good characters and then let's them loose into the world where they walk around with their thumbs up their butts for 900 pages. This book is ripe with anti-climaxes in addition to its pathetic excuse of an ending. Finally I know this was the seventies, but I'm not really sure of what King is trying to say about race. I found the scene where the black militants wore loin cloths and executed white people to be particularly offensive, if he had written that in this decade the media would have jumped down his throat....more
I love Hunter S. Thompson, and I love gonzo journalism. In "Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas" Thompson's voice is just as polished as ever, his descriptiI love Hunter S. Thompson, and I love gonzo journalism. In "Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas" Thompson's voice is just as polished as ever, his description, and sentence structure are things I have at times attempted to emulate (along with his lifestyle). Drugs and debauchery are always entertaining in my opinion, however this is certainly one of Thompson's weaker works. It is barely two hundred pages and yet it still manages to ramble without point or unity (amphetamine will do that to you). The beginning of the book is strong and rises high and like any drug trip after it peaks everything falls apart. Chapter 9 is a nightmare containing only transcribed dialogue and after that things just feel weak. It seems as if Thompson lost his heart for the work and just brought it to a hasty conclusion. Hunter S. Thompson is a truly great writer, and the perfect rebel with a typewriter. However if you are going to introduce yourself to his work for the first time I recommend reading something else by him....more
This is a review of Andre Dubus “Meditations from a Movable Chair”. In this book Dubus writes a genre that has become a rarity amongst modern popular This is a review of Andre Dubus “Meditations from a Movable Chair”. In this book Dubus writes a genre that has become a rarity amongst modern popular literature. “Meditations from a Movable Chair” is a fantastic book and serves as a landmark in everything that represents creative nonfiction. This collection of short stories acts as part of the extensive memoirs of Andre Dubus. The title of the book references how after having been crippled in an accident Dubus writes from a wheel chair. I enjoyed this book greatly, Dubus has an extremely smooth narrative voice. His sentences are usually short, and descriptive, but they never read as terse or stilted. This book exudes elegance. Every sentence is so well constructed that each story reads like it is a dance, and every sentence is a step in the performance. Each story is very beautiful, Dubus is gifted with fantastic insight and optimism despite his sadness from the accident. Dubus’ narration reveals a high moral code, from his work it is obvious that he respects the rights and happiness of other living people. Reading it, I came to believe that the entire premise of “Meditations from a Movable Chair” is that: “Humanism conquers adversity.”
“Meditations from a Movable Chair” contains many romantic images of nature. Effortlessly these images stir the reader with their beauty. Using imagery this way, Dubus’ creates a setting that is almost tangibly realistic. Ranging from childhood to adulthood Dubs’ memoirs are all windows into human nature. I found that whenever I was reading a story that I have had similar experiences. Or if I did not have first hand knowledge I could empathize with each story as if I had. Dubus appeals to all of the most basic human experiences. Throughout the book Dubus speaks of the writing process often. His wisdom and experience encourages me personally as a writer. The sense of enlightenment that I get from each short story drives me to write something new. Dubus writes with great compassion. When I read his reflections on his father, so warm were they; I felt as if he were speaking of my father. Coming from a Catholic upbringing Dubus writes often of spirituality in “Meditations from a Movable Chair”. As a modern Catholic, a voice of tolerance and love is apparent in Dubus’ musings. His views on God’s love and human oneness are universal in their message. Writing with great word economy Dubus’ prose is reminiscent of Ernest Hemmingway. One of the stories in this book is even dedicated to Hemmingway. However, unlike Hemmingway Dubus’ work is mostly peaceful and optimistic. A lot of the conflict in “Meditations from a Movable Chair” is from the difficulties Dubus’ encounters being crippled. Anything, but melodramatic Dubus’ experiences living in a wheel-chair arouse compassion in the reader, but not pity. I had an aunt who passed away recently who required a wheel-chair to be mobile. Dubus’ meditations helped me better understand her life. A quick and interesting read with a lot of depth, I would highly recommend “Meditations from a Movable Chair” to any reader of any age. Sometimes it is a sad book, but overall the joy of living is apparent on every page. ...more
This collaboration between Del Toro, and Hogan is a formidable first novel in the planned trilogy.In an age of overly romantic sugary sweet teenage blThis collaboration between Del Toro, and Hogan is a formidable first novel in the planned trilogy.In an age of overly romantic sugary sweet teenage bloodsuckers "the Strain" goes completely against the grain.
The vampires in this book are caused by sentient entities that pass their essence (and infection) to new hosts through black worm-kike parasites. And these vampires are badass!
The physiology of Del Toro's and Hogan's vampires deviate and adhere to classic vampire archetypes at the same time. I don't want to give too much away though.
Del Toro and Hogan also understand that all good vampires need a good vampire hunter. Setrakian, the Holocaust survivor first encountered the undead scourge during the second World War.
Now days he owns a Pawn Shop where he secretly prepares a defense against the fiends.
"The Strain" truly delivers, setting the story in New York City provides realistic grounding for a monster that is typically considered a resident of the "Old World".
The characters are heroic, but not so much that the novel feels like a hack and slash fantasy.
However it is apparent when authors trade off the writing torch. Hogan writes the intrigue and realistic sections, while Del Toro writes the fight scenes and most the vampire scenes.
At parts the book reads like someone who's primary language is Spanish at other times English. The grammar changes drastically. I am no saying that Del Toro has a lacking vocabulary or is not able to write well. However the syntax, pace, and meter changes are quite abrupt sometimes.
All in all "the Strain" is a great novel that gives me hope in the future of vampire mythology.
Robert E. Howard has done more for the adventure genre than most other authors. His characters are absolutely larger than life, the fight scenes so t Robert E. Howard has done more for the adventure genre than most other authors. His characters are absolutely larger than life, the fight scenes so that I feel like I am engaged in combat myself when i read them.
Compared to Howard's other famous characters Conan and Kull, Solomon Kane is my favorite. With Kane, Howard established a long enduring heroic archetype. The mysterious cloaked and hatted hero who has severe features and speaks little.
Solomon Kane slashes and shoots through hordes of undead, magic-users, bat-creatures, pirates, pagan, and bandits in this collection. And never once does he betray his moral code, as bizarre as it may be.
His dire nature as the "Puritan Swordsman" actually really endears him to the reader. And nothing gets my adrenaline going like reading about a devout man trading blows with a gibbering ghost.
Unfortunately like many of Howard's contemporaries, including Lovecraft, the ugly face of 1920's prejudice is apparent in some of the stories in this book. There is no overt malice in these instances, however it is obvious that Howard (incorrectly) felt that Africa was primitive and less genetically diverse.
If you can overlook that some of Kane's most exciting adventures occur in the Cradle of the World.
Finally the whole collection is really enhanced by Gary Gianni's amazing ink illustrations. Every single picture causes such visual pleasure that you should be sitting when you view them. Or else you might get knocked off your feet.
Growing up reading Robert Howard really inspired me to feel adventurous, to appreciate mystery, and to adhere to my code no matter what the masses might think.
I highly recommend this book for anybody who likes adventure or short stories.
Earth Abides is a work of science fiction literature of high caliber. The story follows a few surviving humans on Earth after an extinction event wip Earth Abides is a work of science fiction literature of high caliber. The story follows a few surviving humans on Earth after an extinction event wipes out most the world's population.
I will first mention the bad, because the good far outweighs it. I read this book for my Science Fiction Literature class, and some of my classmates had some complaints about it. The most common of these were complaints about the main character being indecisive and unheroic. Displeasure over the 3rd person limited POV for being too cold and analytical, and lack of action.
However I find that these complaints short change a good book that has very few failings. I think that language of the book might be considered dispassionate or formal, but every passage is teaming with honesty. Much of the books content deals with speculation on what human, animal, and plant ecology would be like after an extinction even. The book also presents many sociological theories that were unheard of during 1949. Even though it is not a character driven narrative a lot of the imagery that George Stewart uses is beautiful, and at times touching.
I think that while writing this book Stewart used Aristotle's concept of an "Action Idea" to decide what characters would be included in the story. Stewart doesn't go for drama he just looks to complete the action. Some readers might not like this, but I enjoyed it and while reading "Earth Abides" I felt the loss of society very acutely.
George Stewart also displays an adept mastery of symbolism in "Earth Abides", essentially any plant or animal life mentioned symbolizes something, mentions of technology and architecture, but most importantly is the symbol of the hammer. If you read this book for the first time bring a writing utensil and underline every mention of the word hammer.
All in all "Earth Abides" is a great read whether for school, enlightenment, or pleasure. George Stewart asks a lot of questions, and you might not like some of the answers he provides. But at least he tries to answer them.
You can buy Lovecraft's complete works through Barne's and Noble's for 12 dollars! Don't buy a more expensive edition.
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe a
You can buy Lovecraft's complete works through Barne's and Noble's for 12 dollars! Don't buy a more expensive edition.
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and a few "weird fiction" H.P Lovecraft created a body of work that would turn out to be one of the most influential in the horror genre if not popular fiction. Throughout his extensive collection of short stories Lovecraft creates cerebral tales of terror that contain both subtle and graphic horror (The Horror at Red Hook).
These stories are an absolute must for any horror or pulp fan. Most often the narrator of his stories is a middle-upper class white who is well educated. This creates an interesting bias, but it also creates an excuse for the main protagonist to be digging through dusty tomes of magic rites as they are so often found doing.
Although Lovecraft's work does not read formulaic there are certain elements that tie most of his stories together. Amongst these themes are the search for forbidden knowledge, and the fragility of the human psyche. Another theme is that cosmic or otherwise incomprehensible entities often times shatter the psyches of fragile humans who find forbidden knowledge.
Lovecraft's stories have a logical narrative, but other than the stories with Randolph Carter there is very little human drama or character development.
Even in the 1920's Lovecraft knew his market however and his stories are chock-full of the genre's money-maker... monsters! These monsters are cool! Really, really cool! In such stories as "the Shunned House" (vampire), and "Under the Pyramids" (the Sphinx) Lovecraft twists classical monsters into his own strange vision.
More often than not these stories have creatures that first appeared in these pages and have appeared in many more since then. Lovecraft created a template for a form of creature than can be described mildly as having an aberrant anatomy/physiology. Usually these creatures are either space aliens, extra-dimensional beings, or creatures spawned in the world of dreams.
Lovecraft's abominations are very surreal, the human senses can comprehend them in a sane state of mind. It is usually through contact with forbidden lore, or forbidden science that the helpless antagonists first get a taste of what exists beyond. After having received a taste the characters become obsessed by the energy or beings, a common theme dating back to Medieval mythology.
H.P Lovecraft never trade-marked any of his creatures and he encouraged his friends to use any of his entities by name or appearance in their personal writing. Since then many have written about Lovecraft's characters. Some of Lovecraft's fans organized pantheons and mythologies for the more powerful and godlike beasts after Lovecraft's death. These entities such as Cthulhu, Azathoth, and Nyarlathotep have made appearances in everything from Stephen King stories to the cartoon South Park.
I love this book, I am sure that many people are familiar with the fantastic film "Hellraiser" that was based off of this novella. For those who have I love this book, I am sure that many people are familiar with the fantastic film "Hellraiser" that was based off of this novella. For those who have not read the book, but have seen "Hellraiser" you will find that "the Hellbound Heart" performs the seemingly impossible task of being scarier than the movie. For those of you who are not familiar with the cenobites or Clive Barker at all, I would still highly recommend this book.
"The Hellbound Heart" does something that very few violent and sinister stories accomplish, it manages to be both horrifying and dramatically complex. Clive Barker was an accomplished playwright before he branched into the worlds of Hollywood and popular fiction. While reading "the Hellbound Heart" the narrative arc suggests that Barker was familiar with Lajos Egri's "the Art of Dramatic Writing". A premise that can be described as "pleasure seeking leads to suffering" is backed by complex characters who conflict with each other in a way that provides near perfect dramatic unity.
The events that occur during "the Hellbound Heart" begin with pleasure seeker Frank committing the tragic deed of solving a puzzle box that is supposed to summon other-worldly beings who offer sensation like no other. The creatures, mutilated humanoid abominations called Cenobites whisk Frank away to a strange world where they perform tortures on him that have fetishistic overtones.
The story then moves on to Frank's brother Rory and his wife Julia moving into the family house. This is the same house in which Frank had solved the puzzle box in the attic.
Julia had an affair with Frank, and one day while she is the attic daydreaming of Frank, Rory has an accident in which he cuts his hand. Rory who is squeamish approaches Julia in the attic so that she will bandage his hand, while he is in the attic some of Rory's blood splashes onto the floor boards.
Frank's essence absorbs the blood from the floor and gives Frank enough energy to contact Julia in the attic later on. Julia seduces and kills a man in the attic so that the blood brings Frank back to our world, but as a skinless monstrosity.
Desperate to have her lover back Julia starts finding more victims so that she can further revive Frank. Meanwhile Rory's friend Kirsty begins to suspect that Julia is cheating on Rory, little does she know the true extent of what is going on in the house.
This books is really short, only slightly more than a hundred pages. I have read it four or five times over the years and it never ceases to be a source of entertainment and inspiration for me. "The Hellbound Heart" is one hell of a scary story, it is filled monsters, violence, and S&M, and Gothic undertones. Barker provides a lot of realistic grounding over a short number of pages, so the reader does not disbelief some of the morbid surrealistic images presented throughout.
All of the characters are well fleshed out, and have personality, yet at the same time Barker does not bombard us with senseless detail. We know everything that drives the characters, but we don't know whether they like grilled cheese or not. The horror starts off with a heavy theatrical hook in the beginning of the story, but then the normal world is instituted again. The normalcy has a crack in it though, and the terror leaks through this crack as the narrative continues building suspense up to incredible new heights.
As a writer "the Hellbound Heart" deserves critical observation. I have mentioned time and again the dramatic unity of the book so I will not mention it again. However Clive Barker's writing is outstanding, I believe that he is one of the modern greats.
His imagery is simple and not bogged down with adjectives and this makes it extremely effective. This use of imagery makes outlandish events such as the summoning of the cenobites believable. There are no whir-pools of shrieking black energy appearing from nowhere as doorways for the cenobites. No the approach of inter-dimensional beings... the sweet smell of vanilla... the sound of bells ringing with no apparent source.
Barker also is very economic with his words, and that makes "the Hellbound Heart". The cenobites themselves are also very inspirational, they reach right into the core of what revolts humanity and have become a horror icon by doing so.
In conclusion I would recommend "the Hellbound Heart" to anyone who enjoys sophisticated story and can stomach the profuse gore.