Galveston is a lightning-fast thriller with surprising emotional kick. Nic Pizzolatto has a knack for writing characters who make you love them, or atGalveston is a lightning-fast thriller with surprising emotional kick. Nic Pizzolatto has a knack for writing characters who make you love them, or at least respect them, despite their violence and desperation. They fear abandonment because they are the kind of people who abandon others. They will abandon you far sooner than you like; it's hard to close that final page and say goodbye to 'Big Country' Roy Cady and the teenaged girl he tries his best to save from herself. I'm surprised how much I miss the sun-bleached set piece that is 1987 Galveston, Texas, a sort of modern Hades with its ghostly oil platforms, broke-ass motels and the shades of people who died somewhere and haven't realized it yet. If I didn't enjoy 'True Detective' so thoroughly, I'd be sad Mr. Pizzolato's TV career is taking him away from writing novels. I'm eager to read another one. ...more
A super-sized Theseus takes on external and internal monsters within the vividly rendered walls of a mental institution in Queens. Always surprising,A super-sized Theseus takes on external and internal monsters within the vividly rendered walls of a mental institution in Queens. Always surprising, full of three-D characters, a little bit scary (for unexpected reasons) but even more poignant. Most importantly, Victor LaValle's prose is just plain fun. ...more
This is my favorite sort of book. Colson Whitehead gives us the definitive literary zombie apocalypse, weaving a macabre fairy tale that thrills withThis is my favorite sort of book. Colson Whitehead gives us the definitive literary zombie apocalypse, weaving a macabre fairy tale that thrills with story even as it asks larger questions. What is important to us? With whom do we share our truths? With what final pose will we memorialize our life, and in what place? Zone One beats out the bullet-into-skull percussion zombie fetishists crave, but does so in a bold rhythm; if the flashbacks accompanying the main narrative get muddy, this is a venal sin, easily expiated by the immersiveness of Whitehead's prose and the poetry of his foreshadowing. If the tone feels detached, our protagonist aloof, we do well to remember that this is the story of a broken man learning just how broken the world around him really is; a man who knows how to stash a go-bag. If we never precisely love 'Mark Spitz,' we like him well enough, and we'll follow his story to its end even though it's clear he's already shopping for the right moment to abandon us....more
I've never liked a narrator more than I like the charmingly ursine, regretfully violent, strangely wise Eli Sisters. He is as philosophical a hired kiI've never liked a narrator more than I like the charmingly ursine, regretfully violent, strangely wise Eli Sisters. He is as philosophical a hired killer as you are likely to find in the old west, and if you do not love him at least a little for his baffling loyalty to his dying, half-blind horse, something is wrong with your heart. His loyalty to his womanizing drunkard brother, Charley, is equally baffling, especially given Eli's dislike of killing and Charley's hair-trigger temper, but it's just not in Eli to turn his back on a companion. Patrick Dewitt has crafted a surprisingly moving and original tale that one might be tempted to call a morality play were the characters not so painfully, exquisitely real. I think I still smell Eli's mint-flavored tooth powder in the sink, and I'm sorry his visit is over....more
"Knock knock." "Who's there?" "The Rapture." "But you don't look like the Rapture. You're weirdly secular and you seem to have just taken people for no g"Knock knock." "Who's there?" "The Rapture." "But you don't look like the Rapture. You're weirdly secular and you seem to have just taken people for no good reason. Is Jesus coming? Is there about to be some kind of mega-apocalypse?" ***silence*** "What are we supposed to do now?" ***silence*** "I guess I'll...I guess I'll make dinner."
Interesting, right? I thought so, too. If you're looking for Sci Fi or epic disaster, this wry suburban drama might leave you wanting. If, on the other hand, you can handle tribulation, salvation and perdition in microcosm, locally, sometimes symbolically, this book may speak to you as much as it did to me. "The Lord moves in mysterious ways" and "The random events of this godless universe astonish and bewilder me" are equally valid takeaways here. This is a surprisingly deft book, an elephant that walks on rice paper....more
Why? This author created a truly creepy antagonist that acted on characters I cared about, and if that's not the bottom liI really enjoyed The Troop.
Why? This author created a truly creepy antagonist that acted on characters I cared about, and if that's not the bottom line in horror fiction, I don't know what is.
Did it scare me? No, but I'm a tough room.
Are the characters sympathetic? For me, yes. I understand the argument (well articulated in a deliciously damning review I link to below) that the five boys in the eponymous Boy Scout troop are archetypes, that they largely follow their marching orders and rarely surprise us the way real, live teenagers do...but, if they are tropes, they are sympathetic ones, and I wanted them to make it.
Two things the author has perfected here-his author superpowers, if you will-are pacing and the art of the "gross-out."
I'll deal with these in reverse order:
The Troop is a seriously (and literally) visceral book, a paean to the mortification of the flesh. It withholds no fluid, no aroma, no texture-I'm not particularly squeamish, but there were times when I thought 'Wow. Good thing I'm not squeamish.' Some of the more imaginative images (teeth that have mostly fallen out, but remain in place because the kid has braces) stayed with me, and that's as good a metric for imagery as any.
The real engine of this book is pacing. As an author, I understand the siren-song of backstory, the difficulty of establishing character, tone and a sense of place "on the run." A story, particularly a thriller, must run, and must take you with it. This one does. My 'to do' list got nearly as skinny as the characters in this book the day I finished it.
One last thought before I link you to a less sympathetic (but highly entertaining) review: The Troop has moments of pathos I won't soon forget. I'm a bit sentimental, I admit it, so the scene with the sea turtle? That got me.
This is the book that won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, beating out four other finalists, including my own first effort, Those Across tThis is the book that won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, beating out four other finalists, including my own first effort, Those Across the River. If only the rest of life's small disappointments seemed so just. Mine is a horror novel, and, I think, a good one-but this? Osama is a fable, an opium dream, a prose-poem, a meaningful contemplation on life's fragility and the absurdity of violence, containing perhaps the best articulation of Purgatory I have ever read. My favorite detail? "...a picture on the wall of former French President Saint-Exupéry against a blue background..." Lavie Tidhar has given us, among other things, an alternate Paris in which the author of The Little Prince became his nation's leader instead of dying in a plane crash. Just let the delicious contextual implications echo for a moment, and then seek out this exquisite, multi-layered book....more