Shades of Lehane and McCarthy, and as with some of McCarthy's work, GALVESTON, at times, requires a modicum of patience from the reader.
Still, this is...moreShades of Lehane and McCarthy, and as with some of McCarthy's work, GALVESTON, at times, requires a modicum of patience from the reader.
Still, this is an impeccably written, almost poetic tale about the destruction of self, and how an inherently corrupt nature can be a black hole for those you wish to protect. It's a smart mediation on the inescapability of human frailty, and the consequences of our actions, however small, on our lives and the lives of those we love.
I applaud Pizzolato's decision to circumvent noir convention and reader expectation, even while playing by its rules, something also in evidence on the superb (and equally grim) HBO series, TRUE DETECTIVE, which he created. And like that show, GALVESTON will hold greater appeal for those who like their noir to live up to its name.(less)
After the disappointing MOONLIGHT MILE, I approached LIVE BY NIGHT with managed expectations(still need to read THE GIVEN DAY), but was delighted to f...moreAfter the disappointing MOONLIGHT MILE, I approached LIVE BY NIGHT with managed expectations(still need to read THE GIVEN DAY), but was delighted to find it a return to form for Lehane, who has, over the past few years, become one of my favorite writers. Reading NIGHT, it's easy to see why Lehane served as a consultant on HBO's BOARDWALK EMPIRE; the book fairly drips with history and attention to detail, the meat of the story occurring during the Prohibition years. It's well-written, well-paced, thrilling, and moving all at once. He also manages to avoid most of the cliches that tend to arise in gangster stories, and when unavoidably they do appear, they seem appropriate rather than stale. Rather than glorifying a gangster's rise from petty thief to crimelord, he shows us the dangers, moral conflicts, and the unbearable costs of choosing to eschew the ordinary grind in favor of "living by night". When Lehane is on, he's on, and with LIVE BY NIGHT, he's at the top of his game.(less)
I'm a big fan of Stephen Jones' anthologies. In fact, I was weaned on them, and discovered many of the authors I still read today through his BEST NEW...moreI'm a big fan of Stephen Jones' anthologies. In fact, I was weaned on them, and discovered many of the authors I still read today through his BEST NEW HORROR series. This one, however, was curiously uneven. For a collection whose sole purpose (according to the intro by Jones) is to make horror horror again, there's a distinct absence of scares, or indeed, much horror at all. Standouts include "Ghosts With Teeth" by Peter Crowther, which, while not particularly original, manages under Crowther's always capable hand to be extremely well-developed and frightening, "Roots and All" by the always reliable Brian Hodge, "Getting it Wrong" by Ramsey Campbell, "The Man in the Ditch" by Lisa Tuttle, "Sad, Dark Thing" by Michael Marshall Smith", and "Last Words" by Richard Christian Matheson. Entries by some of the biggest names fall flat, especially King's "The Little Green God of Agony", which reads like a Tales from the Crypt story, which would have been more acceptable back in the Night Shift era, but just seems weak here. Dennis Etchison, perhaps one of the finest practitioners of the short form, delivers an uncharacteristically disappointing entry too with "Tell Me I'll See You Again", which aims to be poignant, but ultimately fails to be anything but confusing.
Overall, not a bad anthology, but far from the stellar volume I've come to expect from one of the best editors in the genre.(less)
I adore the Jack Taylor series, and Ken's staccato style in general, but this one was a little too hokey for me. Introducing the supernatural tends to...moreI adore the Jack Taylor series, and Ken's staccato style in general, but this one was a little too hokey for me. Introducing the supernatural tends to go either way in a primarily straight noir series (John Connolly does it well), but it was just jarring here.(less)
Anyone who goes into Jason Mott's THE RETURNED expecting zombies, or a story typical of that subgenre, will be sorely disappointed. Nor would I call i...moreAnyone who goes into Jason Mott's THE RETURNED expecting zombies, or a story typical of that subgenre, will be sorely disappointed. Nor would I call it a horror novel. What's here instead, is a beautifully told drama which just so happens to feature as characters people who've come back from the dead. There are no dodgy sci-fi explanations for this, no peculiarly colored comets or spilled barrels of mysterious chemicals--the dead just come back, and they do so looking exactly the same as the day they died. For the most part they are happy, although not oblivious to the strangeness of their return. But rather than focus entirely on The Returned (though I loved the short chapters which singled some of them out), Mott (rather wisely) chooses to focus on us instead, and how we might react should the ones we've loved and lost suddenly return willing to pick up as if no time has passed at all. And considering the vagaries of human emotion, it isn't long before conflict arises.
The RETURNED is a beautiful and tragic novel, a mediation on grief and loss and love. Well-plotted, exceptionally well-written, and moving to the point where I'm writing this through misty eyes, I can't recommend Mott's debut highly enough. A powerful and important piece of work.(less)
At times HOUSE OF LEAVES made my head (and my wrists) hurt, but I admit to enjoying the former sensation. The confusion and disorientation experienced...moreAt times HOUSE OF LEAVES made my head (and my wrists) hurt, but I admit to enjoying the former sensation. The confusion and disorientation experienced by the reader (and paralleled by the characters) seems essential in successfully traversing Danielewski's semiotic Rubic's Cube of a novel.
It's an interesting, quirky experiment in ergodic literature, and while I admit I did not find it completely successful as a story, there is plenty of meat to satisfy genre readers, assuming one can identify the genre at all. Is it (Lovecraftian/cosmic)horror? A love story? A satire? Or all three? Whatever the case, I'm glad I read it and for the most part enjoyed the experience, but it is not one I'm in any hurry to repeat. When you find yourself for the tenth time spinning the book around like a DJ at a rave in order to read the upside down or sideways text, it's easy to get distracted by the gimmick, even when the crazy layout serves a very obvious purpose.
And yet, despite my problems with the book, when the story worked, it did so fabulously. Danielewski is a remarkable (and remarkably intelligent - which might go some way toward explaining his compulsion for non-traditional narrative) writer, and the story, when indeed it works, is astonishing.
It's a tough book to recommend, and I doubt there will be much middle ground here among readers. You'll either laud it as a masterpiece, or loathe it as an overhyped, gimmicky, and frustrating exercise in self-indulgence. With this book, it's hard to argue against both verdicts, which only adds to its mystery. I would at least recommend giving it a try. As a reading experience, it's certainly an unusual one, and that in itself warrants a look.
I suspected, going into this, that the hype would ruin it for me, that my expectations would be so high it would inevitably fall flat. That was not th...moreI suspected, going into this, that the hype would ruin it for me, that my expectations would be so high it would inevitably fall flat. That was not the case. Flynn slyly (and often comically) disseminates the "institution" of marriage, cuts to pieces men and women and how one gender perceives the other, all under the banner of a twisted thriller. On the surface it seems like a missing persons case, a did-he-or-didn't-he? whodunnit, but that's merely the surface tension atop a deliciously toxic love story. Wonderfully wrought, funny, disturbing, impeccably written, and with a superbly (and appropriately) messed up ending, Gillian Flynn deserves all the praise that has been levied upon her.(less)
An amazing, heartbreaking, inspirational, and incredibly well-written novel. Like a cross between Richard Matheson's WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and Walton T...moreAn amazing, heartbreaking, inspirational, and incredibly well-written novel. Like a cross between Richard Matheson's WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and Walton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, WESTLAKE SOUL is nothing short of a masterpiece. Nothing more I could say would achieve anything other than ruining the impact. A wonderful piece of work by an author who has shot up to the top of my reading list by virtue of this singular triumph.(less)
By no means an easy read, but a magnificent one, McCarthy's epic western is like a madman's cocktail of McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE and Conrad's HEART OF...moreBy no means an easy read, but a magnificent one, McCarthy's epic western is like a madman's cocktail of McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE and Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS. De-romanticizes the Old West and with a merciless, horrifically brutal and existential eye, allows the reader a glimpse into an unspeakable Hell populated by savages on both sides of the plain. It also features a character--The Judge--who to my mind, deserves to be ranked among the greatest literary villains of all time. Other than some sections in which the proceedings are bogged down by laborious, extended passages of poetic description (beautiful as they are, they're too frequent and often too long), this is a masterpiece.(less)
A very original story about what it means to be so unremarkable that you literally fade out of everyday existence. Little brings his trademark strange...moreA very original story about what it means to be so unremarkable that you literally fade out of everyday existence. Little brings his trademark strangeness to the story by introducing an organization of The Ignored who, after inducting the main character, set out to do everything in their power to be noticed...including hideous acts of terrorism. An interesting novel, a little too drawn out perhaps, but enjoyable, and although Little's weakness tends to be his endings, this one was fine and appropriate. Not my favorite of Little's work though. That title still goes to THE POLICY.(less)
An old-fashioned tale told in an old-fashioned voice, there is no denying the talent behind this book. An intriguing setup finds four college friends...moreAn old-fashioned tale told in an old-fashioned voice, there is no denying the talent behind this book. An intriguing setup finds four college friends reunited for a trek through a dense forest in Norway. All goes well until their leader decides to take a shortcut through "virgin" territory, and soon they find themselves stalked by something monstrous and ancient. All the ingredients are here for an excellent horror novel, but while more than competently told, instances of long-windedness, repetition, and exhausting detail, reduce the impact to a noticeable, if not significant degree.
And while the third act shift which has alienated many readers didn't bother me at all (I found it made perfect sense in the context of the story), I did feel it could have come sooner to avoid incongruity.
Still, I have to recommend Adam Neville's novel. He's a good writer, the atmosphere is palpable (I found myself checking my fingers for pine sap and grass stains), the imagination on display is commendable, the horror truly bone-chilling. My proviso is that the book will clearly not be for everyone (it could have been cut by 80-100 pages and been twice the novel), and requires a great deal of patience. But for the patient, the payoff and indeed the many genuinely unsettling sequences along the way, make the journey well worth taking.