"We got apples," I said to my husband, "and we saw--"
"Giants, Sally swung wildly on her father's arm, "Giants." She nodded.
"Giants?" my husband asked me, staring.
"There was a big giant party and they were cooking marshmallows," Sally said. She caught Jannie in a long ominous look. "Giant marshmallows." Her voiced dropped to a compelling whisper. "And the giants were all stamping around and the mother giant sat there and watched them, and then the mother giant said 'Wait till those other cars get out of the way and then we can go home.' And I had 97 apples. And then we came over the river and the mother giant went in and got drowned dead." There was a short, respectful silence.
Finally Laurie inquired of his father, "Who was Aristides the Just?"
"Friend of your mother's," my husband said absently.
Jackson is also delightfully tongue-in-cheek. Here she is checking into the hospital to give birth to her third child:
"Name?" the desk clerk said to me politely, her pencil poised.
"Name," I said vaguely. I remembered, and told her.
"Age?" she asked. "Sex? Occupation?"
"Writer," I said.
"I'll just put down housewife," she said. "Doctor? How many children?"
"Two," I said. "Up until now."
"Husband's name?" she said. "Address? Occupation?"
Three stories involving Narwhal and his friend Jellyfish teach us a little about their undersea world, while exploring friendship and the joys of imagThree stories involving Narwhal and his friend Jellyfish teach us a little about their undersea world, while exploring friendship and the joys of imagination. My favorite is the third story in which Narwhal and Jellyfish read a book that is entirely imagination. Soon the blank pages are filled with a superhero waffle, his sidekick strawberry, a sea monkey, and a giant robot. Who could ask for more? Adorable!...more
The four short novels that comprise Strange Weather share little other than economy of language and that they are all successful, solid entries intoThe four short novels that comprise Strange Weather share little other than economy of language and that they are all successful, solid entries into different genres. Most are contemporary (with the exception that Snapshot is primarily set in 1988), and most have elements, as the title suggests, of very strange weather indeed. If you've enjoyed Hill's other works, you will undoubtedly enjoy this one, too.
Snapshot [genre: horror mystery] 3 stars An economically short horror novel about a camera that steals memories, Snapshot is a heartfelt rumination on love, aging, memory, and what family really means. There's also a mystery embedded here, but don't expect solid answers in a story that involves fleeting glimpses of memory. (I'd give more stars, but I did not love the narrative voice and use of dialect. That's not to sell it short. Others may love it.)
Loaded [genre: contemporary thriller with elements of horror] 5 stars Speechless with awe at the power of this one. The relevance of this story in an age of gun violence, mass shooting, and escalating racism make it all the more powerful, and Hill has an exceptional gift for covering both sides of the dialog on those issues. The ending packs an almost apocalyptic punch.
Aloft [genre: weird science fiction/horror] 3 stars A lone skydiver finds himself plane-wrecked on an almost solid cloud that hides a Lovecraftian horror in a story about as far from Lovecraft as you can get, probably owing more to Doctor Who's "The Beast Below" than Lovecraft.
Rain: [genre: apocalyptic satire] 3 stars Hill says he wrote this as a spoof of his own end-of-the-world novel The Fireman, but for the first half I got a serious J.G. Ballard creatively-plausible/implausible-ways-to-end-the-world vibe. (See Ballard's The Drowned World, The Crystal World.) Completed after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, it also features national leaders who use "all the resources at their disposal to help the desperate: social media and Jesus" (344). Add to that, a bit of a mystery, wildly interesting characters, including an end-of-the-world cult next door, lots of action, and a wordplay-filled bleak ending, and it's Ballard via the Idiocracy. Or as some would say: Genius. ...more
In 1980, serial killer Rodney Alcala was convicted of the kidnapping, sexual assualt, and murder of 13-year-old Robin Simcoe. He is known today as theIn 1980, serial killer Rodney Alcala was convicted of the kidnapping, sexual assualt, and murder of 13-year-old Robin Simcoe. He is known today as the game show killer, not because his crimes had anything to do with game shows, but because in the middle of a 10 year crime spree, he appeared on (and won) The Dating Game. Luckily for the contestant who won a date with him, she was more astute at judging character than the young girls that Alcala usually preyed upon. In fact, she declined the date because she found him "creepy." She was very, very right.
The story may be interesting (albeit horrifying), but unfortunately, The Killing Game adds little or no insight into Alcala or his crimes. The writing style is terse and might, with a fair amount of editing, make an adequate podcast (maybe), but it does not translate to the page well. There are a couple lengthy asides that sound like they came straight from Wikipedia articles; in addition, there are lengthy awkward hard-to-follow descriptions of crime scenes that would be better served by simply telling us the killer arranged his victims' bodies in lewd or sexual positions. The emphasis Warren gives to exactly how the bodies were positioned makes this an extremely uncomfortable read, as if the author is himself or anticipates an audience that might be titillated by this type of information. (The horrific excerpt from his next book that appears at the back of this one seems to confirm this. It describes a brutal rape/murder in very exact detail. The writing in the excerpt is unedited and genuinely atrociously bad.)
I picked this up on a whim from the new book shelf at the public library, because I had recently heard of Alcala and wondered how he had managed to commit so many crimes and get away with them for so long (AND appear on a dating show AND win). This book didn't provide much insight. I am 100 percent sure there are better books out there on the subject than this badly written, inadequately researched mediocrity. I highly recommend reading anything else. ...more