The synopsis of this novel sounded like something right up my horror-reading alley, and it had potential to become a definite s brief plot etc: here.
The synopsis of this novel sounded like something right up my horror-reading alley, and it had potential to become a definite spine chiller had I not felt like I was reading a twisted Japanese version of the movie Poltergeist. Not only was this book a "been there, done that" sort of thing for me, but it moved at a snail's pace -- while some weird things happened, they did so sort of piecemeal, with a lot of space in between which for me only deadened any sort of creep factor I was looking for. Acknowledging that it did have its moments, these were not enough to make the sense of horror at all sustainable over the course of the novel. By the time the "last thirty pages" came along, which were supposed to have readers "holding your breath" according to the back cover blurb, I was just ready to be done and to leave the Kanos to their fate. I'll also say that there was a major opportunity to make this a stronger horror novel that was missed and if anyone wants to talk about it after reading, let me know. (view spoiler)[It has to do with the so-called "dark secret" alluded to on the dustjacket blurb (which actually, everyone except the Kanos' neighbors knew about already so it wasn't actually a secret at all - who writes this stuff?) and a certain memorial tablet and shrine that somehow forgot to be taken care of... (hide spoiler)]
Once again, I see that I'm the proverbial fish swimming upstream against the tide, since this book seems to be making horror readers everywhere happy people. I really, really wanted to like it, but the truth is that it just didn't wow me. I had decided to read a more modern horror story to prove to myself that I wasn't a one-trick pony taking pleasure only in vintage chills, but it just wasn't the right one for me. That doesn't mean it might not be someone else's cup of cha, but in this case, it just wasn't mine.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Does anyone in the US want this book? I just discovered that it's this month's selection of the Politics & Prose bookstore's signed first editionsDoes anyone in the US want this book? I just discovered that it's this month's selection of the Politics & Prose bookstore's signed first editions club, so I don't need two copies. I'll give it to you and pay postage. Let me know. ...more
First, before I say anything else, I have to offer a huge thanks to Anna for my copy and for keeping me in Snuggly's book-release email loop.
Simply pFirst, before I say anything else, I have to offer a huge thanks to Anna for my copy and for keeping me in Snuggly's book-release email loop.
Simply put, this book is beyond excellent. I'm still a relative newbie in the world of French, fin-de-siècle, and decadent literature, and a name that has kept popping up is Léon Bloy. So I was over the moon when Anna asked me if I wanted to read this book, a collection of 32 short stories which, in the words of Brian Stableford in the introduction to this volume, reflect Bloy's
"search for a particular naturalism of his own -- a naturalism which, not in spite of but because of its cruelty and its infusion with religious conviction, was markedly different in stripe from the Naturalism of Émile Zola." (xxiii)
Let me just say that if it's realism he was striving for, it shows in these tales in so many ways, especially in his interest in the more marginalized elements of society.
The Tarantulas' Parlor and Other Unkind Tales is a delightful blend of dark fiction, dark humor, savage storytelling and often outrageous observations; a majority of these little gems turns on the idea of exposing "someone who is not, or might not be, the person one supposes," an idea which is carried throughout the book. I will also say that some of these stories are wicked funny, subtle, laugh-out-loud worthy, and actually bringing forth a belly laugh in one case, "The Tarantula's Parlor." I also appreciate the way Stableford translated these tales -- there are a few instances where he'll leave a phrase or a word that doesn't fully translate well from its French context into English, and in footnotes he explains why. Personally, I find that a very smart way to handle translation issues that arise, and I do wish more translators would take the same sort of care in their work. And as an added bonus, each little tale begins with a dedication from Bloy to someone in his personal orbit, and Stableford gives the reader footnotes containing a brief background on the connection between the author and the person to whom the story is dedicated. It is a superb collection that serious readers do not want to miss.