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Common reads > The House That Jack Built by Graham Masterton

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message 1: by Werner (last edited Feb 28, 2010 03:36PM) (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Through the month of March, Always will be leading those who want to take part in a discussion, on this thread, of The House That Jack Built (1996) by Graham Masterton. I won't be able to join in reading it, because of other commitments; but I'll be following the comments with interest!

Masterton (b. 1946) is Scots-born, but now lives in England. A veteran author, he has over 40 novels and four collections of short fiction in the supernatural and "horror" field to his credit, having first made his mark with Manitou (1975). As a librarian, I've frequently run across favorable reviews of new works from his pen; one thing that has struck me about these is the sheer range and variety of the premises that he comes up with! He's probably one of the best-known and most popular writers in the field.

The House That Jack Built is a haunted house novel, and one that the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers characterized as "highly effective." According to that source, "Possession, ghostly warnings, poltergeist activity, and insanity all figure prominently." Enjoy! :-)

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Say What Werner????
I am Not a leader

message 3: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Oops! Sorry, about that, Always! (I did mention, in one of my messages last month, that I'd list you as the discussion leader if you didn't object --but I realize now that, with a busy life and a lot of demands on your attention, that line would have been easy to overlook.)

Actually, a book discussion doesn't need a designated leader --we never had one in any of our common read discussions before. So, you're off the hook! We'll just count on you (and others who read the book with you) to post your reactions, comments and questions from time to time, as the month progresses. :-)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

It's cool, I took a Chill Pill & Feel Much Better Now :)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 16 comments I've requested this from the library - they'll have to either purchase it or inter-library loan it - we'll see what happens :-)

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, unfortunately the book has been out for a few years & isn't that easy to come by.. Unless you're a BiG fan of Masterton..
This is my 1st :)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 16 comments I haven't read a book by Masterton yet either

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Not sure if anyone else has began reading 'The House that Jack Built' but I have only cruised thru the first 50 pages & his writing style is different from what I'm use to.. He's very flowery in his descriptions & a bit into soap opera writing????
Any one else care to venture on his style, since I really am afraid to give anything away..

message 9: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Unfortunately, I've never read any of Masterton's work, so don't have any insight on his style. Always, have you read much of Poe's fiction, or any of the early modern pulp works by writers like Lovecraft, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, or C. L. Moore? If you have, how would you compare what you've read by Masterton so far? From your description above, it sounds like he might be into the strand of genre tradition that's sometimes called (affectionately, or snidely :-)) "purple prose."

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, Purple Prose is a Great Description for it.. However, it's seems like such easy reading, I'll just keep going..
It has been a LONG time since I've read Poe or Lovecraft. And you know what they say; if you don't use it, you lose it..

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Is any-1 else reading this book? I'm taking my time

message 12: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments I just got it this morning and have finished chapter one. I read this sort of book for story, not writing, and I've only read one other of his books, but I will say he isn't the best writer, stylistically. Not bad at all, though. I am confused by your descriptions of flowery and soap-opera. He reads as straight genre to me.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll totally agree that he's not the best writer.. And I think there's area where he repeats himself..
As for chap-1... Is that even possible?

message 14: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments Is what even possible?

message 15: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments Oh, you mean what happens to him? It seems pretty close to what would happen in such um...circumstances. Any doctors out there?

message 16: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments Ok. I think I see what you mean. His metaphors often don't work at all. The sun moving across the ceiling like a row of dancing dollies is a bit silly, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't bring to mind what the sun actually looked like in this instance.

message 17: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments And sometimes they do work, for me anyway: "His bitterness was so strong that she could almost taste it, like a mouthful of pennies with a squeeze of lime." That reminds me of Raymond Chandler.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I never read Raymond Chandler but I'll take your word for it because the writing is something left to be desired. But I suppose it's a lesson in writing..
I suppose they are called 'Purple Prose' only because Werner looked it up & that's a pretty good description.. As you continue through the book, the prose won't bother you so much.... You have a bit of humor to look forward to... Let me know when you get there, that's about where I am..
This was fun Sandra :)

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Sandra wrote: "Oh, you mean what happens to him? It seems pretty close to what would happen in such um...circumstances. Any doctors out there?"

I just meant what the victimizer did to the victim.. I have no 1 to attempt it on (so 2 speak) so I don't know if it's possible

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I am really sick :)

message 21: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Well, Always, never having actually read Masterton, I don't know whether his style would fit in with the "purple prose" rubric or not --that was just a stab in the dark, since I know that's an established strand of tradition within the genre. (I've never read any review that placed him in --or out of-- that strand, though.) Just using a lot of metaphors, usually bad ones, is a different thing; that's characteristic of the old "hard-boiled" pulp detective writers like Chandler, as Sandra pointed out.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

If you mean Werner, that they have to be good? They're just plain weird, IMO

Well, here's a prose or whatever that has stuck in my
mind that I must share..
'Effie's thoughts went around & around in a carousel of prancing bewilderment & fleeting doubts' That's a good example from my side .... Sandra has her's...
It's so weird but fortunately, a very easy read

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

And if any-1 is interested, I'm in the end of June & it's getting kinda interesting.. But you have to read it to enjoy it :)

message 24: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1875 comments No, to write in the pulp noir detective style, the metaphors don't have to be good --in fact, more often they're not. :-) There just has to be lots of them. I don't know whether Masterton is writing in that mode or not, either, but you're kind of whetting my curiosity. If I didn't have 109 books on my to-read shelf already, more on my owned-not-read shelf, and a year's worth of reading commitments on schedule, I'd be tempted to pick up the book just to see for myself!

message 25: by Saytchyn (last edited Mar 08, 2010 08:55PM) (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments Well, yes, what happens in chapter one is possible.

message 26: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments No, Masterton doesn't use purple prose. But he does reach with his metaphor and simile, sometimes grabbing only air. He isn't noir. He's pretty straight-up horror, maybe attempting to write with a literary sensibility but not getting there. Still, I like it.

I would never lump Chandler with hard-boiled pulp. Chandler was a Master. His turns of phrase were tongue in cheek and so quotable, and he invented what later became a genre because it was so good, thousands of writers tried to imitate it.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm just not use to reading that type of writing.. I usually avoid it like the plague because it sort of distracts me from the story.. We could just go back and forth w/the metaphors to get a good laugh..
'The sky was filled with huge, creamy cumulus clouds, as if the whole of Georgia's cotton crop had been lifted up & carried north-east by the wind, on its way to Labador, or who knew where'
Gotta Love It :)

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I really don't need to know how you found out but don't worry, I won't bring it up again..
Thank You Though Sandra :)

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

And it's okay Werner, July is on its way, so yah never know what Ms. Claus might send you.....

message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Thanks for the warning, Always! (Say hi to the reindeer for me. :-))

Sandra, I don't use the terms "pulp" or "hard-boiled" disparagingly, just descriptively. (I actually belong to a fan group for pulp authors/literature here on Goodreads!) The noir tradition isn't my thing, on the whole, and I haven't read any of Chandler's work; but I don't doubt that he stood head and shoulders above his legions of imitators. And thanks for the helpful comments on Masterton's style!

message 31: by Saytchyn (new)

Saytchyn | 26 comments Werner, you're always so diplomatic and...nice! I appreciate it. I probably come across as crabby. I'm a pro at rubbing people the wrong way.

Always, is that quote in the book? Hilarious!

Masterton wrote one of my favorite books, Walkers, and I adore him for that, but he did get on my nerves in this one when he compared the plight of the unfortunately-married rich woman to slavery, with a quip by one of his characters' mothers that at least the slaves could run away or some such. Good lord.

message 32: by Werner (last edited Mar 10, 2010 05:36PM) (new)

Werner | 1875 comments Thanks, Sandra! (And you don't come across as one bit crabby.) :-)

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

If you're asking about message #27... Yup..

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 16 comments My library is going to purchase this book, so I'll be joining y'all sometime in the future :-)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 16 comments I'm surprised that there hasn't been more interest in this title. I just got my copy yesterday and started reading - it seems like a good, intriguing story so far. I read rather slow so I may be reading this for a while. Whenever I can, I like to get an audiobook to help me, but there wasn't an audiobook available through my libraries - not sure if there is one at all. Hopefully it keeps my interest - this is my first time reading Graham Masterton.

The House That Jack Built by Graham Masterton

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