Great read, but I need to read it again now because I get the distinct feeling there was a significant amount of misdirection involved. Roll on SeasonGreat read, but I need to read it again now because I get the distinct feeling there was a significant amount of misdirection involved. Roll on Season 3!...more
**spoiler alert** I read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts in about a week, which is pretty much rocket-speed when you consider that I am no longe**spoiler alert** I read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts in about a week, which is pretty much rocket-speed when you consider that I am no longer a teenager who can spend two days behind a closed bedroom door, reading a novel over the course of one week-end.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS (depending on what you consider spoilers)
Having been raised Protestant (not zealously, but enough so that I went to church just about every Sunday morning, including Christmas morning BEFORE presents), and having had an acute anxiety disorder (for which I need to take medication every day) for the better part of 15 years, A Head Full of Ghosts struck a very close chord with me.
Tremblay plays off the psychological horror of being afflicted with a mental illness against the seductive power of religion as presenting an instant cure in return for unquestioning faith. The novel pits this tension within the context of familial relationships, the likes of which are, inevitably and inherently already imbued with their own complex set of tensions.
The previously-mentioned Protestantism (now entirely lapsed and well-buried), as well as my interests in psychology and the mind, has kindled in me a fascination with the concept of possession. A Head Full of Ghosts addresses this both subtly and horrifically, but the horror here is compounded by the novel's domestic setting, rendering it an all too real potential experience for all of us.
I don't generally read YA, and I suppose, because of the novel's "retelling" narrative framework, it can be labelled as such. This tactic renders the adult Meredith, who relates her childhood experiences to a journalist writing a book about the incident, to some degree an unreliable narrator. Does she correctly remember the events that took place when she was only 8 and her sister 14? Did she interpret them correctly at the time? This sense of uncertainty runs throughout A Head Full of Ghosts; at times, the novel is clearly about the breakdown of a family, yet there are instances where the uncanny creeps in and the reader is left to wonder - is there something more going on?
The novel also comments on how modern ideas about demonic possession has influenced our psychological response to such a notion. Tremblay addresses the relentless psychological power of religion as a means to an end, as well as the consequences of such blind trust without preaching to his reader, something that is not always easy, considering the subject matter.
If you are looking for an engaging read, and you have a penchant for the psychological and/or religious, I highly recommend A Head Full of Ghosts. Be prepared to come to your own conclusions, however; there are not always definitive answers, but this is an aspect of the novel that I believe renders it even more powerful, and certainly, more thought-provoking....more
“Knowledge comes at a price, my mother would have said, and often that price is our sense of well-being. Or our innocence. Or our ability to sleep wit“Knowledge comes at a price, my mother would have said, and often that price is our sense of well-being. Or our innocence. Or our ability to sleep without nightmares.”
“The Beginning of the Year Without Summer” – Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Monstrous
Beautiful Monsters. We love them, most recently evidenced by TV shows like Dexter and Hannibal. It’s the vicarious thrill of experiencing the human grotesque at a safe distance. To this end, I have noticed a trend in both television and horror films of late where two things are very obvious: (i) we are the monsters and (ii) we cannot escape the monsters.
This is a trend I'm happy to say is also beginning to infiltrate mainstream horror fiction and a significant number of stories in Ellen Datlow’s latest offering are either obviously such stories or can be read as such.
The stories included in The Monstrous are diverse enough to create a collection that will appeal to a number of literary tastes. Yet like many superior anthologies, together, they still provide readers with a cohesive whole. Some stories are quiet and catch you by surprise, such as Glen Hirshberg's "Miss I'll-Kept Runt", which begins innocuously with summer wind and Pudding Pops, but slowly and menacingly devolves into what must surely be a parent's worst nightmare come true. Not so quiet in its terror is "The Last, Clean, Bright Summer" by Livia Llewellyn. The title of the story should serve as a fair warning to anyone lulled into a false sense of security by the dulcet intimations that such a title might infer. Llewellyn’s story is ruthlessly brutal|, the resulting imagery shockingly intoxicating; like some horrific nightmare that cannot be escaped until it finally runs its course.
"A Natural History of Autumn" by Jeffrey Ford is a dreamlike narrative that evokes Hayao Miyazaki – strikingly surreal images and descriptions that deliver terror in the way otherness bleeds into what we view as our everyday reality. Many of the stories collected here subverts our ideas about what is ‘normal’ or ‘reality’, a tactic used to good effect to introduce the reader to the disconcertingly close relationship we have with the Other. This thing we think we know nothing about turns out to be something we know very well. A young child (flesh of our flesh), stories that we’ve known all our lives as myths but ended up being true (do we birth the monstrous?), abuse at the hands of those who are meant to protect us (nothing – and no-one is what it seems). In Caitlin R. Kiernan's "The Beginning of the Year Without Summer", nothing and everything matters. Our lives exist on a precipice, awaiting the next roll of the dice. And if the call is a bad one, we might just discover what we are truly capable of.
The 20 stories collected here do not set us apart from the notions of horror contain within. I hope this is a trend that continues. Perhaps it’s the result of a world becoming more self-aware (here’s hoping!); regardless, with The Monstrous, Ellen Datlow has once again delivered a collection of high-quality fiction that’s sure to please a wide variety of horror readers....more
Some of the most beautifully uncanny prose I have read this year. America's haunted past comes to life to sink its claws firmly into the present, remiSome of the most beautifully uncanny prose I have read this year. America's haunted past comes to life to sink its claws firmly into the present, reminding us that some things are too powerful to ever run away from. ...more
The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real is a good introduction to some of the more common threads of philosophy. The pop-culture references make it easy for the philosophical layman to get his or her head around tricky concepts like the nature of reality, fate and consciousness, whilst also addressing issues of ethics and morality within the construct of the film.
If you like the Matrix films and you are interested in dipping your toe in the philosophical pond, I'd definitely recommend The Matrix and Philosophy. ...more