mark monday's Reviews > To Wake the Dead

To Wake the Dead by Richard Laymon
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Jun 08, 11

bookshelves: horrortime

richard laymon, idiot savant, ladles out another another tasty helping of fast-paced horror, amusing & ridiculous banter, inexplicable character motivation, bloody mayhem, sexual torture, horny juveniles, and eye-rolling coincidence. this rich stew is chock-full of laugh-out-loud (or gasp-out-loud) moments that are berserk, bizarre, and often hilarious. why do i keep returning to his novels? they must be like crack to me. he is a terrible writer in so many ways, but a person cannot fault his expert ability with pacing or the overripe fecundity of his imagination. he's one of a kind.

this is a surprisingly ambitious novel in some ways, mainly in its structure. To Wake the Dead juggles multiple narratives that of course come together in the end - but those narrative strands are absorbingly different from each other. and there are a heck of a lot of them! a curator and her cop boyfriend deal with break-ins and murders at a museum while indulging themselves in romance and margaritas. a semi-mindless mummy snarls her way across various neighborhoods, ripping throats out and searching for babies. a mopey, rich blind girl sighs on the rooftop of her mansion, constantly dreaming of lovers appearing to comfort her. a horny high school teen is kidnapped and wakes to find himself in a room of cages, cages full of captives who must yield to complicated physical torture and sexual abuse each time the lights go off. three teen runaways flee to california and must deal with a range of predators, bickering the entire way. a repulsively-depicted drug addict and combo sexual predator/prey forms a crush on a gentleman who was kind to her. an egyptian emigre tries to figure out the mystery of the mummy while engaging in a series of sexual hijinks, one of which goes terribly awry. all of that, and then right in the middle of the book we get an old-fashioned, multiple-chapter flashback delivered quaintly through the journal of a young archaelogist finding a mummy's tomb. of course the journal graphically depicts a bit of wish fulfillment sex-with-twins, but hey that's richard laymon for you.

it is impossible to defend the author or the book. i usually feel like showering after reading one of his novels and i roll my eyes the entire time. it is an unclean sort of fun. but still, well, fun.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Maciek (new)

Maciek I wrote a comment but it went to comment limbo, so I'm writing another one. I still don't know how Laymon managed to get away with so much awfulness and ill logic in his books, but then maybe that was his appeal? Who needs logic when you have rumps?


message 2: by Trudi (new)

Trudi I am an unapologetic Laymon fan, I just love him, and for all the crazy reasons you describe above. In fact, I love how you describe his writing, I think you are spot on. I usually feel like showering too, after I read one of his books, but yet I still come back for more! I call him my greasy cheeseburger and fries :)


mark monday i am slowly moving towards unapologetic as well. i have a stack of laymon novels that i haven't read and it almost feels like i am hoarding them, like yummy poisonous little chocolates that i look forward to as a bad treat from time to time. and i don't even like chocolate!

maciek, i think the lack of logic may be a part of the appeal. but personally i think even more appealing is the crazy imagination and the fast & furious pacing.


message 4: by Maciek (new)

Maciek And the cannibals...gore...sex...gore...cannibals...rumps...sex...gore...yaaaa, there's something to the guy.


message 5: by Maciek (new)

Maciek Trudi, Laymon's not just a greasy cheeseburger, he's the whole grill!


mark monday rumps on a grill! laymon-time is cannibal time!


message 7: by Steve (new)

Steve Great review that captures how to approach this guy. I'm thinking about starting a Guilty Pleasures shelf. I read this book a while back. I liked it, but it's completely insane.


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