Archive for May, 2015


flickerbook

I haven’t posted about my recent reads in a while. I’m stretching the definition of “recent” in this post but I will press on nonetheless.

It’s been so long that I have over twenty books I could write about. Below are just a few of the interesting ones:

Flicker – Theodore Roszak

Have you ever read a book that feels like it was written specifically for you? Flicker is that for me. Theodore Roszak must have wrote this book with me in mind. The story is about a young film student during the birth of grindhouse cinema who stumbles upon a forgotten horror director who may or may not be using his films to advance the sinister agenda of a centuries-old cult.

But there so is so much more going on! The whole thing is a sordid and dangerous journey into the underside of film history. Orson Welles shows up! The collecting and search for 35mm film prints is a huge part! There is so much for me to love in this book that I have to stop myself from giving any more away. I’ve already said to much.

It’s not just the subject matter, though. The book is written in dense but electrifying prose. Roszak is no slouch. His writing is very intelligent and full of the real knowledge of the type of story he is trying to tell.

Dare Me and The Fever – Megan Abbott

Speaking of electrifying prose, these two novels by Megan Abbott are full of it. Dare Me is the story of a group of high school cheerleaders whose world is turned upside down with the introduction of a new coach. The problem with the book is that the story for me went a little wayward two-thirds through and I lost interest in the characters. But the prose, my god, how great it was!

The Fever had writing that was just as good but the story remained interesting and had me hooked throughout. The young girls of a small town are stricken with strange seizures. The tension this causes starts to bring out everyone’s dark secrets. It’s a nuanced story but Abbott’s prose really sets the mood and had me shaking my head in amazement at times.

Doomed – Chuck Palahniuk

This sequel to Damned gave me the same feel as all of Palahniuk’s last few books: claustrophobia. It’s as if his prose keeps you distant from the story and the characters. The feeling I get while reading of his books only engages me in certain ways. Gut reactions mostly. But my brain is never engaged besides enjoying his turns of phrase. And more importantly, my heart is never engaged.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Here is a case of a book with a story that is so much fun that I didn’t care about writing itself. It wasn’t poorly written or anything, but definitely a level or three below any of the above authors. Still, this one had an engaging story that pulled whole story components from the pop culture of my childhood.

It’s about a virtual reality world with a hidden easter egg that will give the one who finds it control of one of the most important companies in the world. The creator of this world is a huge fan of 80’s pop culture and video games, so all of the hints he leaves are steeping in that trivia. It was all lots of fun.

I’m Not Sam – Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee

This one intrigued me from it’s plot summary: a woman wakes up and suddenly is someone else. She’s no longer the loving wife Samantha. She’s five years old and has never before seen this man that is supposed to be her husband. Ketchum and Mckee follow this story towards an interesting conclusion, but I don’t think it went far enough. I found it unfulfilling.

Black Hat Jack – Joe R. Lansdale

Landsdale is a pulpy, fast-paced and fun writer. His books read like great movies. His writing pops. This is a western tale about a black cowboy and his adventures with the titular legendary hero. There are tense gunfights, great characters and clever dialog. Lots of period flare and a very unique narrative voice.

The Tenants – Bernard Malamud

The lone tenant in a rundown Brooklyn apartment building in 1971 is trying to finish his novel. A black man (named Willie Spearmint!) starts squatting in a nearby room in the building to work on his own writing. The book examines issues of race, art, rivalry, love, sex, friendship.

Malamud is a good writer and he did something interesting in this book. He put different endings to the story at different points in the middle of the book. It’s an interesting experiment that is buoyed by the Willie Spearmint character, who is a joy to read about.

Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix

The book is presented like a weird piece of marketing material for an Ikea knockoff store. That part of the book is spot on. The story is about the strange goings on at the store once it closes down for the night. It’s a gimmicky book and a gimmicky story and Hendrix doesn’t quite have enough writing chops to pull it off. But is a well-produced!

On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan

Dry and British but full of real insight. The wedding night of a young couple has huge repercussions for the rest of their lives. It’s a rather sad story. The problem is that at less than 200 pages it felt a bit long. I think it would have worked better as a shorter piece. Still, I can see the draw of McEwan. I’m looking forward to reading some of his longer works.

From a Buick 8 and Under the Dome – Stephen King

Stephen King is a towering figure in the fiction world. And these two book show why. He is very readable, creates interesting characters and puts them in interesting situations. He is able to keep a lot of balls in the air at one time and have them come crashing down when the time is right.

From a Buick 8 is a more subtle and slow story but never boring. A country police station has a strange object in their tool shed. One that may or may not be from another world. Where did it come from? How do they handle it? It builds well to an ending that I quite liked.

Under The Dome is the story of a town inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by a strange invisible dome. There are tons of characters and tons of stories. Reading it was like consuming a big hearty home-cooked meal of Stephen King nostalgia. Satisfying, if not ground-breaking.

 


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