Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, by Eugene Mirman

(pb; 2009: humor book)


From the back cover:

"No one understands the complexities of modern life better than Eugene Mirman - claims Eugene Mirman - and anyone seeking guidance from the man who has lived through everything (except for the Great Depression, the Spanish-American War, and Jerry Lee Lewis's sex scandal) won't resist this charmingly hysterical guidebook.

" • Become Ultrapopular in High School (Without 'Putting Out' - Whatever That Is)

" • Discover Somewhere Between Four and Two Thousand Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety (Closer to Four)

" • Start a Band, Become an Artist, or Disappoint Your Parents By Getting a Reality Television Show"


Review:

Will is an offbeat, sometimes bizarre and dark, and consistently funny book - just like Mirman's stand-up comedy routines and his work on television (e.g., as "Gene" on the animated show Bob's Burgers). 

If you're not a fan of Mirman's output, know that he regularly riffs on subjects like politics, pop culture, religion and sex with fearless abandon - while he's nowhere near as focused and raw as Doug Stanhope, Bill Hicks or comedians of that ilk, he is still willing to go beyond the norm-pale for a (sometimes) dark punchline. 

For example:

• "There's even a common belief in many countries (mostly Japan and Nigeria) that cats write love poems to each other.  Silly foreigners - no they don't."

•"If you want to go on the street in your torn leather pants and hand a flyer to a slut, you go right ahead - that's metal.  Hiring a girl (even if it's Sigourney Weaver) to send e-mails to random people that mimic the marketing strategy of ringtone companies is not metal, and your band should be put to death (the obvious punishment for betraying the Devil-God of Metal - which on earth is manifested in the physical form of Scott Ian's goatee)."

•"Nobody likes it when a farmer punches a chicken (though punched chickens taste the best), but to insist that chickens have the right to avoid self-incrimination in court?  That's too much, Mr. Hippie.  Plus, drug-dealing chickens shouldn't have an easy way out - they f**ked up; they do the time.  If some chicken molests a little boy (even a bully), you're telling me it should have a fair trial?  F**k that.  Prison, Mr. Chicken."

Worth checking out, this.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Lords of Salem, by Rob Zombie with B.K. Evenson

(hb; 2013)


From the inside flap:

"Heidi Hawthorne is a thirty-seven-year-old FM radio DJ and a recovering drug addict.  Struggling with her newfound sobriety and creeping depression, Heidi suddenly receives an anonymous gift at the station - a mysteriously shaped wooden box branded with a strange symbol.  Inside the box is a promotional record for a band that identifies themselves as The Lords.  There is no other information.

"She decides to play it on the radio show as a joke, and the moment she does, horrible things begin to happen.  The strange music unleashes something evil in the town.  Soon enough, terrifying murders begin to happen all around Heidi.  Who are The Lords?  What do they want?

"Now, as old bloodlines are awakened and the bodies start to pile up, only one thing seems certain - all hell is about to break loose."


Review:

Lords is a compelling, entertaining read, with its engaging characters and its graphic, jubilant and orgiastic bloodshed.  While it's not the grimmest horror novel I've read, its unrepentant and unflinching unveiling of viscous, carnal violence makes many other like-genre books pale in comparison.

Zombie and Evenson weave elements of humor, Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby and the Norwegian black metal genre into this feels-like-a-Seventies-horror-flick novel, making it even more fun.

Worth owning, this.

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The film version is scheduled for theatrical release on April 19, 2013.  Co-author Rob Zombie scripted and directed the film.

Sheri Moon Zombie played Heidi Hawthorne.  Bruce Davison played Francis Matthias.  Jeff Daniel Phillips, billed as Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, played Herman Whitey Salvador.  Ken Foree played Herman Jackson.   Ernest Thomas played Chip Freakshow McDonald. 

Michael Berryman played Virgil Magnus.  Sid Haig played Dean Magnus.   Maria Conchita Alonso played Alice Matthias.  Dustin Quick played Masie Mather. 

Judy Geeson played Lacy Doyle. Patricia Quinn played Megan.  Dee Wallace played Sonny.  Meg Foster played Margaret Morgan.  Brandon Cruz played Ted Delta.  Torsten Voges played Count Gorgann.  Niko Posey played Cerina Hooten.  Lisa Marie played Priscilla Reed.

Maria Olsen played a "Dream Sequence Woman".  Diana Hart played another "Dream Sequence Woman".  Flo Lawrence played a "Witch".  Silvia Moore played another "Witch".

Barbara Crampton, in deleted scenes, played Virginia Cable.  Udo Kier, in deleted scenes, played Matthew Hopkins.  Camille Keaton, in deleted scenes, played Doris Von Fux.  Clint Howard, in deleted scenes, played Carlo Caravaggio. Richard Lynch, in deleted scenes, played Reverend John Hawthorne. 

Daniel Roebuck, in deleted scenes, played The Frankenstein Monster.  Christopher Knight, in deleted scenes, played Keith 'Lobster Joe' Williams.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Owl by Alvin G. Burstein

(pb; 2012: novelette)


Review:

When college professor Lou Meade is accosted by a talking owl - a familiar of the Greek deity Athena, "goddess of wisdom, the practical arts, and warfare, and the protectress of cities"* - it's the first moment in his new life phase, an era that will lead him further into the works of author C.S. Lewis and intellectual warfare against Eris, the wily Greek goddess of discord.

Burstein's writing is straightforward, episodic, smart and exciting in a dry-humored way, which serves this atypical, Lewisesque work well. 

Readers of Lewis and gentler, clean cut-to-it readers of fantasy would do well to own this 70-page "neo-Pagan Fantasy" (as Burstein subtitles this intriguing work).  Don't expect the epic bombast and graphic grimness of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, but do expect to be entertained in a cerebral, sometimes phantasmagorical manner.

Worth owning, this.  You can purchase it here.

[*The Free Dictionary.com]

#

Burstein's earlier, much-shorter work  - The crawfish boil - graced the Microstory A Week site on January 11, 2012.  If you haven't read this story, check it out!

Covenant by John Everson

(pb; 2004, 2008: first book in The Curburide Chronicles)


From the back cover:

"To the residents of the sleepy coastal town of Terrel, the cliffs of Terrel's Peak are a deadly place, an evil place where terrible things happen.  Like a series of mysterious teen suicides over the years, all on the same date.  Or other deaths, usually reported as accidents.  Could it be a coincidence?  Or is there more to it?  Reporter Joe Kieran is determined to find the truth.

"Kieran's search will lead him deep into the town's hidden past, a past filled with secrets and horror, and to the ruins of the old lighthouse atop the tragic cliffs.  He will uncover rumors and whispered legends - including the legend of the evil entity that lives and waits in the caves below Terrel's Peak."


Review:


This novel - winner of the Bram Stoker Award - has a familiar set-up (small coastal town horror, sacrifices disguised as suicides and accidents, outsider digging through town's dark past, etc.), but Everson's taut tale-telling, emotionally complex characters and the natural panache of his writing render any criticism of the set-up's familiarity moot. 

Everson clearly knows that he's using ideas that have provided the skeletons of many other horror novels, but like most above-average writers, he's toying with these (possible) clichés in a masterful, all-thrills way.

There are no wasted words in this burn-through read of a horror tale, a tale that has an ending that could either be a chilling finish or a natural set-up for a sequel. 

Worth owning, this.

Followed by Sacrifice.

#

Additional note: Covenant could also provide the basis for an excellent cult b-movie, if the right talent made it, e.g. the film version of Jack Ketchum's Offspring (sequel to Ketchum's Off Season).

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Terror, by Dan Simmons

(pb: 2007)


From the back cover:

"The men on board The H.M.S. Terror - part of the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition - are entering the second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, stranded on a nightmarish landscape of ice and desolation.  Endlessly cold, they struggle to survive with poisonous rations and a dwindling coal supply.  But their real enemy is even more terrifying.  There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror clawing to get in."


Review:

The Terror is an epic-sprawl tale, not only a supernatural horror work, but one of human and elemental horror and, ultimately, redemption for some.

Though this resounding novel does, on occasion, get chatty with its vivid details, it's still easily one of the best long-read novels (955 pages long) that I've encountered in a long while. 


Worth owning, this.

#

Set to air sometime in 2014, a television miniseries, based on the book, is being developed by AMC.  According to Fangoria and IMDb, David Kajganich is writing the screenplay.

(I'll update this review/movie notice when I have more time, and more information becomes available.)

Monday, March 04, 2013

**One of my erotic microstories, Corporate Roach Facility, 1999, was published last week

One of my erotic stream-of-consciousness microstories, Corporate Roach Facility, 1999 – c**krocked, was published in issue #5 of the online magazine, Pink Litter.

Corporate is a Sapphic fluff piece with darkish overtones, involving a scientist, a security guard, hentai, BDSM and an insectile soundtrack.


Check this story out, if you're a legal adult and so inclined!

<em>Phantom</em> by Jo Nesbø

(hb;  2011, 2012: ninth novel in the Inspector Harry Hole series. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett .) From the back cover...