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....more
Based in part on an old Catalan legend, this novel is set in 1918 as the Spanish Influenza is raging across thelike a 4.5 or so. I hate star ratings.
Based in part on an old Catalan legend, this novel is set in 1918 as the Spanish Influenza is raging across the United States. The action takes place in the very small town of Incarnation, Texas, where a young boy has been left alone for various reasons and finds himself facing a legend come to life. He has seven nights to guess the real name of this horrific creature, the muladona; if he fails, the creature promises to drag him to down to hell. For seven nights the muladona visits and tells our young hero stories which contain seeds of information that the boy must somehow fit together to make the right guess. As time begin to winds down, well ... let's just say my stomach was in knots wondering if he'd make it.
Eric Stener Carlson dazzled me with his The St Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires, and now he's won me with this book as well. Muladona is original, fresh, and above all, it is a thinking person's horror novel, which I genuinely appreciate. It's not some slapdash book that's been thrown together -- au contraire -- it is very nicely constructed, well thought out and intelligently written. Don't miss this one -- mine is the hardcover copy, but there is an e-book available as well. Highly, highly recommended for readers who enjoy the work of excellent writers and for people who like their horror novels more on the cerebral side. This is a good one, folks.
just delightful -- the perfect antidote to all of the dark books I've been reading this month!
arc - my thanks to the algorithms and the good people atjust delightful -- the perfect antidote to all of the dark books I've been reading this month!
arc - my thanks to the algorithms and the good people at LT.
If you haven't read this book yet, go and get a copy. It's just plain delightful. My only regret is that I didn't listen to it, although I'm thinking I just might -- there are a few theatrical numbers here that would be more entertaining in stereo, that is, if they're actually set to music. If anyone knows whether this is so, please let me know.
As you might deduce from my use of the word delightful, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's satirical, it's funny in some spots, and a bit poignant here and there, but just enough so that it doesn't get sappy. Hag-Seed, is of course, one more offering from the Hogarth Shakespeare series, and this time around, Margaret Atwood takes on The Tempest. I think she's done a great job with it.
This novel follows the follies and foibles of Felix Phillips, the ousted artistic director of the Makeshiweg Festival who has been removed from his position as top dog by some conniving manipulation by his trusted assistant. Going into his own form of exile, he lays low, to reappear some years later as a teacher in a prison where certain inmates are allowed to attend a literacy course where they study different types of literature. Felix decides to not only teach them Shakespeare, but also to allow the inmates to put on plays based on the Bard's work. This time around it's The Tempest, which was the production he was going to put on at the time he got booted out of the festival. Some twelve years after being pushed out of Makeshiweg, Felix realizes that the play would be a great vehicle through which he can have his revenge on all of the people who had worked behind his back to depose him, since he's learned that they're coming to the prison to see the play before they decide to take away the funding for the literacy program.
So many people have written about this book, professional critics and casual reader people such as myself, so I won't go any further than that little appetite whetter of a synopsis. What I will say is that while I loved the central thematic idea here of different types of prisons, a lot of other things crop us here as well: loss and grief, redemption, and the healing power of art, to name only a few. It's a lovely book, funny and tragic at the same time, and a joy to read from beginning to end. I suppose it might have Shakespearean purists foaming at the mouth with indignance, but pish-posh on that. I loved it.
It's a fine book and you don't even need to be familiar with the play prior to reading the novel, since Atwood includes a lovely summary at the end. Highly, highly recommended....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.
The plain and simple fact is that I just loved this book; then again, I'm strangely attracted to unique and previousA million thanks yet again, Anna.
The plain and simple fact is that I just loved this book; then again, I'm strangely attracted to unique and previously-unknown (to me, anyway) tales written by Victorian women writers.
The back cover blurb of this book says that "there is nothing quite like the short stories of Lady Dilke in the annals of English literature," and although I can't rightly say that I'm familiar with the entire "annals of English literature," I can say that the stories inside this short book are delightfully different from anything I've ever read. This is one of the most strange and very best story collections I've ever experienced, heightened by the sort of dreamlike quality hovering around each and every tale. Don't let the fact that it's only a short 150 pages fool you -- this book is filled with some of the most complex tales I've ever encountered.
These stories in this book are highly allegorical, and most are downright disturbing when you stop to consider what you've just read. Some you'd swear were written during medieval times, and most all of them are filled with some sort of supernatural elements at play which differ from story to story.
I will say that the author's somewhat archaic language is not always easy to get through, and that if you think you can breeze through this book's short 150 pages in an hour or two and get the most out of it, you'd probably be wrong. It is, as I like to say, a thinking-person's book, one where I felt compelled to stop and consider what I'd just read after each story. And while I'm neither a true book reviewer nor even talented enough to come up with any sort of meaningful overall analysis of this collection, my casual-reader self knows exquisite work when I find it -- and this is definitely it.
I think the best way I can describe this book as a whole is to say that there's an ethereal quality at work here that sort of blankets the reader in a hazy atmosphere of unreality; the reward is in discerning the actual reality that is hidden beneath the surface. I don't often use the word "beautiful" to describe a book, but it actually fits in this case. Very highly recommended -- I live to find books like this one.
"Imaginary pleasure, Messieurs, as only this cloudy country's atmosphere of dreams and fog can produce!"
You know, sometimes you find a book that you"Imaginary pleasure, Messieurs, as only this cloudy country's atmosphere of dreams and fog can produce!"
You know, sometimes you find a book that you just fall in love with, and once again for me it's written by Jean Lorrain, of whom I've lately become a total fangirl, devotée, or whatever you want to call it. While fin-de siècle or decadent literature may not be everyone's idea of a great time, it is slowly becoming mine as I learn more about it and read more books written during this time period. Lorrain's books Nightmares Of An Ether Drinker and Monsieur De Phocas I've found to be absolutely brilliant, and now that brilliance continues in his Monsieur de Bougrelon, a stunning novel which anyone even remotely interested in this author needs to read. It is outlandish, darkly funny, definitely incorporating elements of decadence, and yet it is strangely poignant as one heads toward the end of the novel. It is a beautiful book and I am so grateful that yet another translation of Lorrain's writing has made its way into my reading orbit.
Thanks so much, people at Spurl, for making it happen.
for the full monty, you can click here to get to my reading journal.
Spellbinding - no. I grudgingly finished this for my book group and it reads like it's meant for teen girls. If you're in the US and you want my copy,Spellbinding - no. I grudgingly finished this for my book group and it reads like it's meant for teen girls. If you're in the US and you want my copy, I will gladly give it to you free and I'll pay postage. ...more
I absolutely love this small indie publisher, and Valancourt's done it again with Volume One of The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, which, as the dustjacket blurb says, is a "new collection of tales spanning two centuries of horror," and is a mix of stories that range from "frightening to horrific to weird to darkly funny." It is exactly as described, and given how much fun I had with this book, I can only imagine the great time James and Ryan must have had in choosing the stories that went into it. As an added bonus, at the beginning of each chapter there are informative notes about each story, the author, and the titles that Valancourt has published by each writer making an appearance in this book.
This book is tailor made for someone like me who thrives on vintage chills. Some of these stories I'd classify as true horror, some are more on the psychological side, there are ghostly tales, and one even made me laugh out loud. While I get that not everyone appreciates or shares my old-fashioned horror-reading sensibilities, and that horror is indeed in the eye of the beholder, for me this collection was just about perfect. I'm a VERY picky reader, so that says a lot.
Please bring out a Volume Two! I loved this book!!!!!!...more
I absolutely have to thank the publisher for my copy. I was on the edge of buying this book when I got the email, so tactually, like a 3.75 rounded up
I absolutely have to thank the publisher for my copy. I was on the edge of buying this book when I got the email, so thanks very, very much.
I didn't actually read this book in two days, so don't let the starting/ending dates fool you. I don't think you can read this book in that amount of time since there's a wealth of information to sift through here. There is a more expanded version of this post at my reading journal, so feel free to go long or to take the short road.
This is certainly one of the most informative books American history books I've read this year; quite frankly it was an eye opener. If someone had told me that Thomas Jefferson referred to the white underclass of his own time as "rubbish" I probably wouldn't have believed it, since he's revered as a founding father of this nation. But he actually did use that label, and he wasn't the only founding father or American politician to use that sort of term to describe the "wretched and landless poor" that have been part of our history and our culture since this country began. And that's just for starters. But that's the point here -- as the dustjacket blurb reveals, the author
"explodes our comforting myths about equality in the land of opportunity, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present poor white trash."
Just very briefly to summarize, Isenberg poses the following question in her book:
"How does a culture that prizes equality of opportunity explain, or indeed accommodate, its persistently marginalized people?,"
and it is this question, answered through an examination of an incredible array of source material, that is the focus of this study. As the dustjacket blurb notes, "white trash have always been near the center of major debates over the character of the American identity," and here she examines just how this has been the case over the last four hundred years. She does this by careful examination and analysis of several sources in contemporary politics, literature, scientific theory and various policies at different moments of America's history.
I will say that while it was very informative and I found myself going long stretches of time without being able to put the book down. This isn't a pop history for the masses sort of thing, and I would find myself repeatedly going to the back to read her notes, iPad at the ready.
I also happen to agree with many of the major points she makes here, most especially her statement that
"We are a country that imagines itself as democratic, and yet the majority has never cared much for equality... Heirs, pedigree, lineage: a pseudo-aristocracy of wealth still finds a way to assert its social power." (316)
This is a dominant theme that carries on throughout her work, and she does prove her point over and over again.
As fascinated as I was with much of what she has to say here, I do have some issues. My biggest problem here is when she says that "class has its own singular and powerful dynamic, apart from intersection with race." I'm not so sure I quite buy that statement as it pertains to class in America. Second, I didn't find the book to be an actual "400-year" history per se, since a large part of her focus is on the South at the expense of understanding the history of the poor white class in other regions in this country. It's tough to be fully comprehensive when writing a history spanning so much time, and given how intensely she makes her case for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, aside from a brief discussion dealing with a few modern presidents, a bit on the eugenics movement, and "white trash" in books and on television, there is little depth of discussion regarding the white underclass in the twentieth century.
Regardless of its flaws, though, I would certainly recommend it because it is a valuable study that really does debunk some of the myths about the idealized conception of white equality in America as well as the reality behind the American dream itself....more
Between September and October of 1912, all but a very few of the 1,098 African-American citizens (according to the 1910 census) liviIt's a 4.5 for me.
Between September and October of 1912, all but a very few of the 1,098 African-American citizens (according to the 1910 census) living in Forsyth County Georgia had been run out of the county. The idea of "sundown towns," or communities which purposefully excluded African-Americans from living there, is nothing new, but this book reveals that not only were these people driven out of the county, but also that a "deliberate and sustained campaign of terror" on the part of white residents kept African-Americans out until the last few years of the 20th century.
in September, 1912, three young African-Americans were accused of the rape and murder of a white girl. Just about a week or so earlier, the screams of another white woman had aroused people to the fact that she'd woken to find an African-American man in her bedroom. Four young men were arrested, and a black minister horsewhipped for casting aspersions on the woman's character. The second crime, however, unleashed a coordinated campaign to get rid of every black citizen in the county -- involving "night riders," threats, arson, and worse -- any kind of terror imaginable at the time was utilized here to run these people out of the county completely, including threats against the more upper/middle class white residents who had black household help. As time went on, white people just sort of laid claim to land previously owned by the former Forsyth residents so that soon any vestiges of what were African-American homes, farms, churches, etc. soon disappeared, and life went on in a now-all white Forsyth County, basically erasing the fact that black people had even lived there. Things were so white that even the once-in-a-while visit by other African-Americans to the county would result in threats, which often included loaded guns pointed at the faces of black chauffeurs of visitors. Scariest yet -- none of this changed at all until determined marchers in 1987 came to Forsyth county to hold demonstrations; even then law enforcement wasn't enough to control the white anger and hatred, and even afterwards when Forsyth made national news, things were very slow to change.
There's so much going on in this book and obviously I can't possibly say everything I want to say about it here. It's an incredibly difficult book to read and just damn scary because here it is 2016 and we're doing a backslide into this sort of intolerant, ugly and just downright frightening behavior yet again as white supremacy once again raises its head in this country. Just a few nit-picky things: not keen on the connection between the ouster of the Cherokees and the African-Americans -- this part needed a whole lot more, in-depth comparison to make it work for me. Secondly, even though Phillips did a great job in revealing how the president of the United States at the time reneged on campaign promises he used to gain the black vote leaving many African-Americans poor, without hope of jobs and often fired from the positions they held in Washington DC, I wouldn't have exactly labeled that as "racial cleansing" in the same sense he uses it regarding Forsyth County. But once again, the best part of this well-researched book lies in how he traces the sad history of events to give his readers an insight into "the process by which racial injustice is perpetuated" here in the United States.
Personally, I think everyone should read this book.
In a nutshell, the central focus of News of a Kidnapping is the story of ten abductions, the victims' experiences in captivity, and the4.5 rounded up
In a nutshell, the central focus of News of a Kidnapping is the story of ten abductions, the victims' experiences in captivity, and the families' efforts to get these people released, but to tell that story, the author places these kidnappings in the wider context of Colombia's troubled history of politics, narco trafficking and terrorism. It also follows how Pablo Escobar went from being host to "Politicians, industrialists, businesspeople, journalists..." at his Hacienda Nápoles to becoming "the biggest prey in our history." Of Escobar, Marquez writes that "The most unsettling and dangerous aspect of his personality was his total inability to distinguish between good and evil," which is shown here in terms of the wave of violence aimed at presidential candidates and other political officials, cops murdered for the bounty on their heads, and explosions in the streets that killed innocent victims.
For me, this book is anything but boring, as some people have said it is, and I read it perched on the proverbial edge of my chair as the victims' stories were recounted. It's downright harrowing to try to even imagine what these people went through, not knowing whether they're going to live or die at any given moment, and the author doesn't spare any pain or fear in the recounting. Also - if you're expecting the same type of magical realism and writing as in his One Hundred Years of Solitude, forget it -- it's not that kind of book.
In the spirit of coming to terms with reality, I bought this book but I am probably not going to ever read it, so if there's anyone in the US who woulIn the spirit of coming to terms with reality, I bought this book but I am probably not going to ever read it, so if there's anyone in the US who would like my copy (signed, no less!) just leave a comment and it's yours. Free and I'll even pay to get it to you. First one takes it. ...more