How well do you know your friends? If a hidden darkness dwelt in the mind of somebody close to you, somebody you've called a friend for decades, would...moreHow well do you know your friends? If a hidden darkness dwelt in the mind of somebody close to you, somebody you've called a friend for decades, would you recognize seemingly innocuous gaffs as indications of something more sinister? Or would you let it slide?
During the seventies, in a small Massachusetts town on the coast, five boys were close friends: Alan, Tommy, Rick, Donald, and Bernard. Nothing could have better until the day their leader, Tommy, was killed in an accident. The remaining boys stay friends as they grow into men, but none of them leave their home town, their hopes and dreams atrophying into banal lives. Alan abandons his true talents to marry his girlfriend and a rent-a-cop job; Rick throws away a football career with a fistfight and goes to jail; Donald gives up on a college degree and becomes an office drone with a drinking problem; and Bernard, the sad loser of the group, went off to join the Marines only to return a year later, discharged after a knee injury.
On the cusp of forty, Bernard, the flunky used car salesman, pathetically kills himself, but a final message to his three friends hints that he was never the man they thought he was: he claimed to be murderer and worse. This sets up the remaining friends for an exploration into darkness, Bernhard's and their own, as they struggle with their inner psychological demons and maybe, if Bernhard's claims are true, real demons.
Gifune writes a true horror story for this novel. There are supernatural elements, but they are held back for the most part, in the shadows, and maybe only existing in Alan's imagination. Only few dream sequences ring false, sticking out unnecessarily, as if Gifune briefly succumbed to common cinematic tropes of the genre before going forward.
The Bleeding Season is the opening volley for the Delirium Paperback Book Club; the following months will have a tough act to follow.(less)
In the introduction, the editor James Marrow relates a joke: “What's the difference between Europeans and Americans? Europeans think one hundred miles...moreIn the introduction, the editor James Marrow relates a joke: “What's the difference between Europeans and Americans? Europeans think one hundred miles is a long distance, and Americans thinks one hundred years is a long time.” This basically sets up the reader to question if there is a difference between European and American science fiction.
The stories selected for this anthology can give the reader cause to ponder. There are good stories here that don't seem to quite fit the standard American model; whether that will be appreciated or not depends a lot on what reader thinks about translations. Many readers may have plodded through slitted translations of classic works from the old Penguin edition and somewhat justifiably avoid foreign works. However, the stories from sixteen languages read smoothly enough for the most part and provide a wide array of ideas, images, and landscapes.
Only one story, “Athos Emfovos in the Temple of Sound” translated from modern Greek, failed to be interesting or captivating, but readers fond of music culture might think otherwise. A very solid anthology.(less)
Rather tame for the noir genre and the HHC line. Spillane has a tough guy reputation, but this novel was almost quaint in places. Nothing to arise eye...moreRather tame for the noir genre and the HHC line. Spillane has a tough guy reputation, but this novel was almost quaint in places. Nothing to arise eyebrows. The hero is a hard as nails ex-cop, but a little weak-kneed for his lost lady love, discovered alive after twenty years, amnesic and blind. Spillane died before finishing the book, but Max Allan Collins seamlessly completed the last three chapters.(less)
Over twenty years or so I've read Lolita twice and listened to it once before. Nabokov is truly a master of English prose, making it more vivid and ec...moreOver twenty years or so I've read Lolita twice and listened to it once before. Nabokov is truly a master of English prose, making it more vivid and ecstatic than much poetry. Though there really are no true “naughty” parts in the book, it can be shocking nonetheless. Jeremy Irons does well reading, though he skips the numbered chapter heads and read out abbreviations, e.g., Ramsdale for R.
I heard the author interviewed on the radio and saw him lecture in Seattle, so I came to this book knowing much of the premises, details, and conclusi...moreI heard the author interviewed on the radio and saw him lecture in Seattle, so I came to this book knowing much of the premises, details, and conclusions already in mind, but the very concept of the book is a wonder: What would happen to the word if the human species suddenly vanished, by whatever means plausible or implausible, and left a planet behind without us. The havoc and detritus of humans upon this world is devastating to read about; the chapter on plastic alone should be sufficient for readers to completely reject grocery bags for reusable cloth sacks. You'll also learn what nature exactly will do to your home in you're absence, the fate of the New York subways, and what future species might think about the heaps of our trash and other waste materials.(less)
If you like other Masterton novels you probably like this one too. It contains some signature trademarks that make him a dependable novelist. His take...moreIf you like other Masterton novels you probably like this one too. It contains some signature trademarks that make him a dependable novelist. His take on Windingo mythology is interesting but somewhat out of place. Here the monster is a two dimensional being having length and height but no width, so it becomes effectively invisible with turned edgewise. Yet Masterton doesn't run with the concept and I think he could have played with the two dimensional aspect to a greater extent than just making an invisible monster. The second problem is with another great idea left to languish. In the opening chapter, strangers break into a woman's house, tie her to a chair, and attempt to set her on fire as a witch. These men are takingback the children of fathers who are slighted after divorce. Now that is horror. But it is basically just a set up to get the woman to have an American Indian send the Windingo after them. Lots of great ideas in this book are lost behind the escape the monster story. Overall, it's an OK book, but Masterton could have done so much more with parts of it.(less)
I fondly remember Clive Barker's early short stories and novels from the '80s. However, somewhere along the way I stopped reading him. Mister B. Gone...moreI fondly remember Clive Barker's early short stories and novels from the '80s. However, somewhere along the way I stopped reading him. Mister B. Gone is supposedly a return to his horror roots. Although the book is about Hell, Demons, and the horrible things they can do to Humanity, the book could be more accurately described as dark fantasy. His underworld and demons require a heavy dose of Suspending Disbelief, much in the same way you would approach the Greek gods in works like the Iliad or the Odyssey. At times Barker's prose is a little weak, too reliant on simplistic short sentences, and rarely lets any sinister eloquence ripple though his words. There are a few gruesome scenes, but the narrator, Mister B., just can't seem to carry the book beyond a mere mundane dream of damnation. (less)
The anthology has it ups and downs. While the authors are mostly Los Angeles residents, some of them don't seem well versed in noir, and their inclusi...moreThe anthology has it ups and downs. While the authors are mostly Los Angeles residents, some of them don't seem well versed in noir, and their inclusion is more predicated on them being well established authors of the city. “Dangerous Days” by Emory Holmes II is a nasty tale of cops, ex-cons, drugs, guns, and a femme fatale. “Moroco Junction 90210” by Patt Morrison would have been a fine story for anthology of tame mysteries, but here it lacks the dark edge. “Fish” by Lienna Silver just don't much at all—not even flop about.(less)
Despite some flaws, I enjoyed Wicked Things. The prose was too simplistic for my tastes, but I enjoyed the slow build up from insurance investigation...moreDespite some flaws, I enjoyed Wicked Things. The prose was too simplistic for my tastes, but I enjoyed the slow build up from insurance investigation to, perhaps, something more sinister. There is a hint of the supernatural, kept firmly in check, on the seams of the story. Not every reader will like the approach, but it is a refreshing deviation from common supernatural extravaganzas. The end, too, is a bit odd.(less)