Wednesday, July 01, 2015

**One of my stories, My First Love, in three confessional parts, was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website

One of my mainstream stories, My  First Love, in three confessional parts, was published on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) website.

This briefly sexual, sometimes romantic, always blunt piece charts thirteen roller coaster years of a guy, as self-inflicted loss and eventual forgiveness evolves him from an emotional f**ktard into a somewhat responsible man.

My First Love is part of the loosely linked First Love series, which includes the poems Beyond a fearful door,  The long-ago dreamt and Marker (asterisk edit), published on the Leaves of Ink site last month.

My First Love will appear on the ERWA site until the end of August 2015.

Big thanks to Daddy X (ERWA) and  E.S. Wynn (Leaves) for publishing these works!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dexter Down Under by Jeff Lindsay, Dalibor Talajić and others

(pb; 2014: graphic novel, collecting issues #1 - 5 of the miniseries)

From the back cover:

"Dexter's in Australia -- and the hunter becomes the hunted!

"Dexter Morgan isn't just Miami's No. 1 forensic blood spatter expert -- he's also a serial killer who targets other serial killers. But when Dexter travels Down Under on the trail of a new murderer, he quickly learns that sharks aren't Australia's only deadly predator. Who is setting up illegal hunting safaris in the Outback, and they are targeting more than big game?

"Dexter investigates as only he can, but soon discovers that he isn't the hunter -- he's the prey. Now Dexter is trapped in a private preserve where humans are in the crosshairs. Will this one end with a bang? Under the hot Australian sun, Dexter's Dark Passenger is given free rein, blood will flow, and the guilty will not go unpunished."


Review:

Richard Connell's influential1924 story "The Most Dangerous Game" (also titled "The Hounds of Zaroff") + Dexter Morgan + Australia = Dexter Down Under. This is a fun Dexter side-story, written by the character's creator, Lindsay, and illustrated by Talajić. Part of the entertainment value of Down Under is seeing Dexter get bossed around by a Deb*-like, flirty Shawna Wiggs (a cop, with whom Dexter is being hunted, by a "rich bastard," Grigsby).

[*Deb, a.k.a Debra Morgan, Dexter's sister]

Talajić's computer-generated artwork didn't thrill me -- I prefer the older, hand-drawn style of comic bookdom -- but while his visual work is generic, it isn't entirely off-putting.

Down Under is a light, disposable read (when compared to the rest of the Dexter series), one worth checking out from the library if you are a Dexter completist.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Bottle & the Book by J.L. Martindale & Daniel McGinn

(pb; 2015: limited-release poetry chapbook with CD)

Overall review:

All the works in this thirteen-poem chapbook are worth reading -- and publishing. All of them have at least one line that impressed or interested me, though a few stood out (see below). Its accompanying CD, with selective readings by the book authors, further bring these poems to aural, emotion-imbued life: worth purchasing, this. You can buy it here.


Standout poems:

1.) "Sometimes I breathe" (particularly the first/page two version of it) - Martindale and McGinn: Intense, not-quite-a-call-and-response recurrent/evolving work whose stifling desperation alternates with different-trip realities and sensibilities. This poem is effective in its display of relational futility, deafness and blindness.


2.) "Let Us Rebel Against the Inevitable" - Martindale: Multi-sensory vivid, feel-like-you're-there work.


3.) "Every Time It Rains" - McGinn: Soothing, interesting rebuttal to the image-intensive "Rewrite My Sorrow" (written by Martindale).


4.) "I Pull You With the Weeds" - Martindale: Sharp, era-specific, sad and darkly funny versework. This, as of this writing, is my favorite poem in this chapbook.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Weird of the White Wolf by Michael Moorcock

(hb; 1977: third novel in the Elric series)

Review:

Warning: possible spoilers in this review (if you haven't read the first two Elric books).

The third book in the Elric series is divided into three directly linked parts. First I will describe the storylines of these works, then actually review them.

In the first story, "The Dreaming City," Elric (with the aid of Count Smiorgan Baldhead, who teamed with Elric in The Sailor in the Seas of Fate, and a fleet of Purple Town ships) lay siege to Imrryr, the capital city that Elric once ruled and lived in.

When Elric left Imrryr at the end of Elric of Melniboné, he installed his cousin, Prince Yyrkoon, on the Ruby Throne as a temporary ruler of the Dragon Isle of Melniboné (on which Imrryr is located). Elric's plan was that he would learn about the hostile Young Kingdom that surrounds the Melnibéans' home for a year, then return to Imrryr to resume ruling the Dragon Isle as its emperor. Not only that, he would marry his incredibly patient fiancée, Cymoril, and make her empress.

Since that time, Yyrkoon has grown bolder and (once again) power-hungry and declared Elric a traitor and an outlaw. Hence, Elric's assault on Imrryr, to retake his throne and his bride -- unaware of the cataclysmic tragedy that will result from his actions.

In the second tale, "While the Gods Laugh," Elric travels with Shaarilla "of the Dancing Mists, wingless daughter of a dead necromancer" to seek out the Dead Gods' Book, which may undo some of the tragedy from the first story ("The Dreaming City"). In order to do so, they must pass through The Silent Lands and its Marshes of the Mist, where they must battle an out-of-its-area Mist Giant (with its wormlike, fanged and amorphous body) and, later, the beak-jawed, taloned "devil dogs of Dharzi."

Joined by a sword-capable, friendly human, Moonglum (whom they met while putting down the devil dogs), they find the gem-encrusted, "throbbing" book -- and further grim-humored tragedy.

"The Singing Citadel" --  Elric and Moonglum, after battling a Pan Tangian trireme (sailing ship), wind up in Pan Tang, "an isle of sorcerers, fully human, who sought to emulate the old power of the Melniboné." There, the sensuous and crafty Queen Yishana (of Dhakos) convinces the ex-emperor and his friend to end the ongoing disappearance of Pan Tangian citizens. At the center of these strange disappearances is a distant tower of swirling light, whose sweet song draws its victims within it.

It is bad enough that Balo, fugitive divine "Jester to the Court of Chaos" (which includes Arioch, Elric's patron demon) rules this seemingly fatal abode, but there is another seemingly-minor-in-comparison complication: Queen Yishana's jealous lover and sorcerer, Theleb K'aarna, who would see the albino kinslayer's existence ended, even if it means the death of Queen Yishana.

What sets Weird apart from the two previous Elric books is its grimness. Prior to the events of "The Dreaming City," the corpse-pale regent had hope -- now he doesn't. What he has now (besides notoriety for being a "kinslayer") is a death-wish, if he can't get back what he lost. Once again, Moorcock keeps the prose clean and cut-to-it lean, with an impressive array of surrealistic monsters and supernatural beings that Elric must, through metal, wit and mettle, defeat.

As with Elric and Sailor, this is a superior, reader-hooking novel. Own it, already.

Followed by The Vanishing Tower.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Iron Man: War Machine by Len Kaminski, Kevin Hopgood and others

(pb; 1992, 1993, 2008: graphic novel, collecting Iron Man issues #280 - 291)

From the back cover:

"The death of Iron Man!?

"We've seen Tony Stark go down and get back up many times -- but from the grave?! When his longtime employer and friend seemingly loses his struggle to hold onto life, Jim Rhodes dons the new War Machine armor and shows the world what's black and white and fed up all over! Can even cutting-edge Stark-tech withstand Firepower, Atom Smasher and the Living Laser? And while Rhodes is filling Stark's boots, what's up witht he empty armor zipping around? Guest-starring the West Coast Avengers!


Review:

War Machine is a fun and solidly written read. Full of explosions-punctuated action, it may especially thrill fans of early Nineties multimedia, with its comic book-cheesy, post-bad-guy-knockout taglines uttered by Tony Stark and James Rhodes.

This is worth owning if you are a big fan of the characters or purchase it as a less-than-full-price find.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Before the Chop II: LA Weekly Articles 2013 - 2014 by Henry Rollins

(pb; 2015: nonfiction)

From the back cover:

"How do you sell a book like this? It's like offering someone gum that has previously been chewed. Almost all of the material in Before the Chop II  has been published in the LA Weekly. You can probably go online and find it at the best possible price. How dare the 'writer' go slouching towards the trough with the audacity to recycle mere 'content' and slap a price on it? It is a damn outrage is what is it is! The hubris is bristling, the nest feathering obvious and repellent, the self-delusion total. Self-absorbed, much? Running for Congress, perhaps?

". . . Well, maybe we could say that these are the pieces the way they were intended to be read? That all put together, make a handy resource for those who don't have time to read them as they stagger into existence every week. Yes!

"Let's go with that. These are the versions before they were sent to finishing school to be refined and taught to keep their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut. This is the raw and 'real' stuff, which also describes the artwork of a three year old. . ."


Review:

Like the first Before the Chop collection, the articles in this second volume read like tightly edited versions of Rollins' spoken word shows: blunt, provocative, smart, self-effacing, humorous and enthusiastic about stuff he likes (music, especially listening to vinyl; touring as often as possible; etc.).  Mixed in with Rollins' recollections - musical, personal and sometimes political - is a sense of upbeat wisdom regarding and stemming from restraint and knowing one's place in the world, which we share with others who disagree with us (as individuals).

This is an excellent read, one worth owning.

Monday, June 08, 2015

**One of my poems, Northward, (not so) thrilling, was published on the Leaves of Ink site

One of my mainstream poems, Northward, (not so) thrilling, was published on the Leaves of Ink site.

This autobiographical versework sketches out a long, dead-of-night and creepily tactile walk down a long road.

(Again, many thanks to editor E.S. Wynn for publishing the poems, which are set to appear in my 2016 follow-up book to Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems.)