This short novel has all the elements of a John Carpenter movie, the environmental symbolism of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and the alienation ofThis short novel has all the elements of a John Carpenter movie, the environmental symbolism of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and the alienation of Octavia Butler's Xenogesis books. An intriguing read, which combines VanderMeer's trademark interest in sinister vegetation (remember those creepy mushrooms from Ambergris?) with the threat of an apocalyptic future so inhuman that it may not be possible to stop. I'm interested to see where this goes in the next two books, whether it will be a direct follow on or a new subject on similar themes. ...more
nope. just didn't do it for me. enjoyed the bits with the shinning kid (intentional typo...) but the divergent plot about the psychic baby just put menope. just didn't do it for me. enjoyed the bits with the shinning kid (intentional typo...) but the divergent plot about the psychic baby just put me right off.
actually I quite liked the introduction. Stephen king always writes best about himself. that's a good thing....more
Now that's how you write a book. I had two weeks where I did back to back "Bone" books - this and The Lovely Bones. This was much better.
Ree Dolly'sNow that's how you write a book. I had two weeks where I did back to back "Bone" books - this and The Lovely Bones. This was much better.
Ree Dolly's father has put their house up for his bond and disappeared. Ree has thirty days to find him, or face life in a cave in the cold Ozark winter with two boys and a drugged up mother.
The irony is, I read this book while locked out of my house, feeling sympathy for Ree's plight in my own adventures to get a spare key.
Woodrell bears comparison to Cormac McCarthy with his themes of brutal survival and violent rites of passage. He captures the patois of the redneck community and we fall in love with Ree Dolly's brutal determination to not let her family down. I highly recommend it if you enjoy sparse survival stories. ...more
For 6 months I lived in an apartment with a couple. It was the worst experience in rental history. I would come home at night and the guy would be looFor 6 months I lived in an apartment with a couple. It was the worst experience in rental history. I would come home at night and the guy would be looking up serial killers on the internet in the dark in the loungeroom. I would hurry to my room and hide.
Rosemary's Baby is about the apartment from hell. Literally. Most people know the ending to this one due to the movie, but the Satanists come across as almost comical Cathy Bates try-hards.
This book started strongly but it's dated a lot since the 70s. And I kinda laughed at the ending. Worth a read if you're interested in the history of horror, but there are better books from the same era. ...more
This is an important book full of insight into a terrible event. The Sarin attack on the subway in Tokyo is a significant event in Japanese history anThis is an important book full of insight into a terrible event. The Sarin attack on the subway in Tokyo is a significant event in Japanese history and the national consciousness. I like the way Murakami lets testimony tell the story, with only small intrusion from the author himself. It is riveting and repulsive at the same time; that this could happen is horrific enough, that emergency services were not set up to deal with it and the treatment of those afterwards is even worse. What struck me as a theme throughout this book is the fact that many of the people who were affected by the attack went to work as soon as possible, if not that day, as if it is a crime in Japanese society to miss a single day of work. It is well worth a read and an important non-fiction book. ...more
A bloody, spattery mess of a book with no clear direction and a laughable plot line. While the premise begins interestingly enough, the book derails wA bloody, spattery mess of a book with no clear direction and a laughable plot line. While the premise begins interestingly enough, the book derails when it alternates between the two narratives. I've never liked singing programs and now I know why. Readers expecting Carrie meets Idol will be disappointed. ...more
Normally I’d wait to finish a whole book to write a review of it, but at 750,000 words and over 100 stories, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories runs just short of the Bible. But even without reading the whole anthology, I can safely say The Weird is an excellent book.*
Edited by Ann and Jeff Vandemeer, The Weird is an essential anthology for anyone interested in the difficult to define genre of weird fiction. Weird fiction has gained a large amount of interest in the past few years, owing in part to bestselling writers like China Miéville and Neil Gaiman. What is the weird you ask? In the introduction, the VanderMeers refer to the Lovecraftian definition as:
"a story that has a supernatural element but does not fall into the category of traditional ghost story or Gothic tale…it represents the pursuit of some indefinable and perhaps maddeningly unreachable understanding of the world beyond the mundane"
For me, weird usually has one or more of the following elements:
1. A giant squid or other suitably large monsters with tentacles. 2. An inexplicable and indefinable sense of the sinister. 3. A meeting point of literature and the fantastic. 4. Subversion of traditional fantasy or science fiction tropes.
I’d like to elaborate a little on the third point, in that I don’t think strict fantasy or science fiction is illiterate junk, or that their writers are not interested in literature (my heart belongs to Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler). I find that weird fiction authors are often just as preoccupied with voice and language as they are the supernatural.
It’s more than an excellent collection, including works by Franz Kafka, Lord Dunsany, HP Lovecraft, Angela Carter, Stephen King and a stack of lesser-known authors waiting to be discovered. There’s also a variety of international weird, with authors like George Heym, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Haruki Murakami, Rabindranath Tagore, many of these stories with new translations.
The greatest compliment I can give the book is that it has reawakened my love of short stories. Not only that, but my decidedly anti-Fantasy husband has been converted to the weird (thanks to George R.R. Martin’s Sandkings). He’s reading more genre fiction than ever. This anthology has the power to change opinions about writing. Not many books can boast as much.
However, I do recommend getting the e-book version. At 2.7 pounds, this is one book best navigated electronically. It’s not the sort of collection you just throw in your handbag, unless you’re Mary Poppins. My one criticism is that on a Kindle Keyboard, the table of contents is not hyperlinked correctly.
The Weird won a well-deserved World Fantasy Award this year. The immense amount of work in compiling this tome sets a new standard for anthologies, one that will be difficult to match. Reading The Weird is like opening a chocolate box full of candied squid. There’s bound to be something in there you like, even if it tastes a little different.**
If you’re interested in finding out more about weird fiction, check out the excellent Weird Fiction Review.
* Small disclaimer, I write for Weird Fiction Review’s series of 101 Weird Authors. But I wouldn’t be involved with that project if I didn’t love the book.
** Did that make you squirm? I live in a country where peanut butter dried squid is the snack du jour at the cinema. ...more
I read this book because I really enjoyed In the Miso Soup. Couldn't get through this one. Somehow the urge to kill your baby is just not going to makI read this book because I really enjoyed In the Miso Soup. Couldn't get through this one. Somehow the urge to kill your baby is just not going to make you a sympathetic character. I don't mean I need to like the main character, but I need something that's going to interest me about his struggles.
Anyway, got a bit into it and just couldn't enjoy it. It doesn't have the same Tarantino flavour as his other books. ...more
You may come to this book from the countless movie adaptations of the story. None of them get it right. The ending of this book is like a punch to theYou may come to this book from the countless movie adaptations of the story. None of them get it right. The ending of this book is like a punch to the face. A classic horror novel that has influenced people like Stephen King. A must read for any genre fan. ...more
A father and son walk down a broken highway in an America scarred with devastation. The world is burnt, food is scarce and scavengers are plenty, lookA father and son walk down a broken highway in an America scarred with devastation. The world is burnt, food is scarce and scavengers are plenty, looking for new victims to feed their survival. The highway is called ‘The Road’, and it is the same name given to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The Road is a book that cannot be read without emotion. With the most austere language, McCarthy manages to convey meaning in a world where meaning is lost. Through the ashen wasteland, he whispers such prose that resounds as an echo in emptiness. He writes ‘All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain.’ And it is this pain that holds father and son together, and it is their pain that holds us to their eventual grace and beauty.
As the author of the Oscar winning No Country for Old Men, McCarthy is well known for his visions of the modern cowboy. Here he tackles similar ground – the loneliness and solitude of America – yet transposed to a post-apocalyptic world. There are still the same desperate characters, yet coupled with the urgency of survival, McCarthy pares down man to the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The Road has the atmosphere of a horror novel, yet in removing the typical supernatural elements, it hints those most capable of horror are our fellow men and women. It confronts us to our true fears, that if we were left with nothing, what would we do to survive? Would we still abide by a universal moral code, or would we excuse ourselves from morality in favor of survival?
It is almost impossible to review a book that is so well respected, and already well acknowledged as a contemporary classic. If you have read The Road, you have wept silently for its nameless heroes. If you have not read The Road, then you must, for you too will weep at its beauty.