Tuesday, December 16, 2014

**My latest poetry anthology, Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems, was published today



I just published my second of two books this year - Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems, which mixes older previous published (and reworked) mainstream verses with quite a few newer works penned within the past two years.

The poems are, per my usual style, rough and tumble free verse works that detail a tumultuous youth dealing with my own fictionalized dumbassery and growing up, a journey infused with the loving, often raw elements of familial discontent, religion, sex, horror films, heavy metal, nature (read: animals) and living in northern California and eastern Washington state.  While these poems are mainstream, many of them would sport hard R-ratings if they were films subjected to the MPAA film board.

Like Welcome to Horrorsex County: microstories, published earlier this autumn, it's a personal milestone book - a way for me to officially bid farewell to one phase of my writing and move onto the next, whatever its final form takes.

 Feel free to click on the above links if you (or anyone you know) would be interested in picking up the aforementioned books. They cost $9 or less (+s/h) apiece, and thanks for the support!


 (back cover of Mondo febrifuge)


Monday, December 01, 2014

The Magnificent Wilf by Gordon R. Dickson


(pb; 1995)

From the back cover:

"When Earth is contacted by galactic civilization, our heroic couplet - diplomat Tom Parent, and his linguist wife, Lucy - prove  themselves to be just the pair to tour the galaxy representing Earth and learning the whys and wherefores of galactic civilization. There's only one tiny catch to this grand tour - on Tom and Lucy's performance hinges on our acceptance by the rest of the galaxy as a civilized world rather than as a ward of some more 'advanced' species. (You don't want Earth to become a galactic ward.) In the normal run of events this would be fine, because Tom and Lucy are the kind of folks any race might be proud to have represent them. The trouble is that while Tom is a regular fellow, Lucy is - or may be - a Wilf. And Magnificent or not, you know what that means. . ."


Review:

Magnificent is a clever, laugh-out-loud funny lark of a science fiction novel that builds on its episodic, character- and action-thrilling events. While the stakes are life-or-death high for Tom, Lucy, Rex (their dog) and this galaxy's alien races, Dickson maintains a frolicking feel throughout this superb and character-twisty work. This is one of my favorite reads in any genre, perhaps even an all-time favorite read. This is a book worth owning.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Feral by Berton Roueché


(pb; 1974, 1983: novella)

From the back cover:

"Jack and Amy's fear was turning to primal terror. Like cornered prey, they cowered in their house, the dark woods howling with shrieks out of hell. From every side. . . came the eyes. Hundreds and hundreds of fixed, glaring eyes gone wild with ravenous hunger. . .

"Jack and Amy had loved the isolation of their cedar-shingled home by the ocean. Far from their city, they had found the peace and quiet of unspoiled nature. Not a neighbor in sight.

"Now they were watching the death throes of the policeman sent out to rescue them. Watching, transfixed by horror, as the writhing mass of shredded human flesh sank screaming into a snarling frenzy of dripping teeth and claws."


Review:

Bland and predictable 124-page entry in the nature-gone-wild horror genre. Feral isn't badly written, but there's nothing in this novella that you haven't read before in better versions of this storyline. The characters are cardboard, the author's slow-build-into-terror runs too long and lengthwise, this should have been a short story.

Near the end, there are a few suspenseful moments, which made Feral an almost-worthwhile fast-moving afternoon read (I read it in forty-five minutes), but not quite. Don't even borrow this from the library.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Comeback by Richard Stark (a.k.a Donald E. Westlake)


(hb; 1997: seventeenth novel in the Parker series)

From the back cover:

"The heist went down while the people prayed. An angel walked with sagging shoulders - he was Parker's inside man, dressed in wings and robes and destined to be a problem. An hour later, Parker, [George] Liss, and [Ed] Mackey were out in the shimmering heat of a stadium parking lot with four duffel bags full of cash. Then the double cross began.

"Now the half-million-dollar robbery of a Christian crusade is drawing a crowd of cops, crooks and the evangelist's own unrelenting security man, a tough ex-Marine who trusts nobody and nothing. What began at a gathering of the faithful has moved into the realm of night. Here every move has a countermove, every man is on his own, and every lie leads to the deadliest moments of truth."


Review:

Comeback is an excellent, hard-to-set-down crime thriller with lots of action, plot twists, colorful characters and lean 'n' mean writing that is Stark's trademark style. Great series, all of the books in this series thus far are worth owning.

Followed by Backflash.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

**Peter Baltensperger's microstory All For The Pain was published in Black Heart Magazine

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced the Microstory A Week site in October 2012, has had another microstory published: All For The Pain, on the Black Heart Magazine site.

Pain details the emotions and sensations of a writer (Silas Connor) in the future and his struggles to deal with the burdens technological improvement has wrought upon him and those around him. Fans of Baltensperger's past works and speculative fiction should check out this gem of a microstory.

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*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge edited by Paul M. Sammon


(pb; 1995: horror anthology)


Overall review:

Excellent, gory horror anthology. Of course, in a work featuring twenty-eight stories, there are bound to be a few stories I don't care for, but that is due to personal preferences regarding writing tenses, overwriting and other (relatively minor) issues. If you're a horror/gore fan, get this collection.


Standout stories:

1.)  "Accident d'Amour" - Wildy Petoud: Excellent, witty, cut-to-it tale about a woman's literally sick vengeance against an ex-lover. Memorable, vivid.



2.)  "Impermanent Mercies" - Kathe Koja:  A callous photographer (Ellis) witnesses an accident involving a little boy (Andy) and his unlucky dog (True). Bizarre, disturbing (for animal lovers) and excellent work.



3.)  "One Flesh: A Cautionary Tale" - Robert Devereaux:  Multi-layered, horrific and laugh-out-loud clever story about the conjoined reincarnation of a son and father and all the tragedies that stem from it. Great work, with a chuckle-worthy finish.



4.)  "Rant" - Nancy A. Collins:  A divine white supremacist being with conspiratorial leanings tells the tale of his undoing. Darkly hilarious and chilling (his rhetoric is disturbingly media realistic) piece.



5.)  "Heels" - Lucy Taylor:  A shoe fetishist-turned-serial killer (Theo) meets a woman (Jules) whose sexual predilections impact his own. Blunt read with concise and masterful explanations for why Theo and Jules are the way they are.

The resulting film short was released stateside on August 2, 2014. Jeremy Jantz scripted and directed it. Brian Adrian Koch played Theo. Julia Angelo played Felicia.



6.)  "Scape-Goats" - Clive Barker:  Two couples on an island-crashed sailboat quickly recognize that there's something wrong about the rocky mass their boat is abutting.

Atmospheric, solid read with an interesting island backstory.


"Scape-Goats" also appeared in the single-author anthology Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Three.



7.)  "Cannibal Cats Come Out At Night" - Nancy Holder:  Two cannibals (Dwight and Angelo) who are also best friends approach a crossroads event which may undo their bond of amity. While the event itself isn't surprising, there is a well-foreshadowed twist to it, making this exemplary, fast-moving story even better.



8.)  "Embers" - Brian Hodge:  Entertaining, good read about an arsonist-for-hire (Mykel) whose reaction to a shocking, personal tragedy drives him to revenge.



9.)  "Xenophobia" - Poppy Z. Brite: Two Goths roaming through Chinatown find themselves working an unexpected, morbid job. Brite's deft writing keeps this dark-hued morality tale humorous and fresh.



10.)  "Calling Dr. Satan: An Interview with Anton Szandor LaVey"  - Jim Goad: Interesting, philosophical and provocative (in a productive way) conversation between Anton and Bianca LaVey and the author.



11.)  "Within You, Without You" - Paul M. Sammon:  A post-gig campfire hang-out with her favorite industrial-noise band (Detour) leads Reba down heady and dangerous by-ways.

The direction and ending of the story aren't surprising (nor are they meant to be). Sammon's worthwhile writing - with its theme-appropriate media-savvy references - renders the destination less important. This one is about experience.

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Please note that there are authors whose names are labelled at the bottom of this post but they are not actually mentioned in the review. This is because they have work published in this anthology but their work (in this instance), for one reason or another, didn't stand out for me. (This is not necessarily a criticism of their works.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille


(pb; 1928, 1977, 1987: erotic novella. Translated by Joachim Neugroschel.)


From the back cover:

"In 1928, Georges Bataille published under a pseudonym [Lord Auch] this first novel. . . [which] uncovers the dark side of the erotic by means of forbidden, obsessive fantasies of excess and sexual extremes. . . Story of the Eye finds parallels in Sade and Nietzsche and in the investigations of contemporary psychology; it also forecasts Bataille's own theories of ecstasy, death and transgression which he developed in later work."


Review:

Fearless, giddy, lust- and death-surreal 85-page novella that is one of the most vivid and cinematically visual works I have read in a long time. Obviously, those with sensitive and religious sensibilities and/or an aversion to violent writing should not even consider picking this book up. Excellent, landmark sex-and-death psychological work - worth owning, this.
Steve Isaak has published two hundred stories and poems, and is the author of three anthologies: Behind the wheel: selected poems, Shinjuku sex cheese holocaust: poems and the forthcoming Horrorsex County: stories (which are, or will be, available at Lulu and Amazon).