Friday, February 28, 2014

Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen by Al Jourgensen with Jon Wiederhorn

(hb; 2013: autobiography)

From the inside flap:

"The high octane, no-holds-barred memoir by the legendary godfather of industrial music and Ministry founder Al Jourgensen . . . is both ugly and captivating, revealing a character who has lived a hard life his way, without compromise.  Al Jourgensen, one of the most innovative and prolific artists to pick up a guitar, a mandolin, harmonica, or banjo, or to sit at a 90-channel SSI console, wanted to be a musician, yet became a rock star.  And fame and fortune almost killed him.  An IV drug abuser from the age of 15, Jourgensen delved deeper into heroin, cocaine and methadone and alcohol for 22 years before cleaning up, straightening out, and finding new reasons to live.

"During his career, Jourgensen has explored multiple avenues of electronic, industrial, metal, punk and even country music with Ministry, The Revolting Cocks, Lard, and others.  Along the way he engaged in all of the rock 'n' roll clichés regarding decadence and debauchery. . .  Despite his addiction and debauchery, he created seven seminal albums, including the hugely influential classics: 1988's The Land of Rape and Honey, 1989's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and 1992's platinum blockbuster Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & The Way to Suck Eggs. . ."


This is one of my all-time favorite rock biographies.  Jourgensen, with the help of co-author Wiederhorn, tells his life story in an unapologetic, no-bullcrap manner, with lots of raunchy verve, humor and self-aware observations (this latter element is something that many people seem to lack in their day-to-day lives).  This adds zing to this fast-moving book, which is one of the rawest, craziest autobiographies I've read.

There will likely be some tempest-in-tea-cup controversies regarding Ministry: Jourgensen not only dishes dirt about himself, but those around him - Robert Plant, Ice-T, William S. Burroughs, Henry Rollins, R. Kelly, Trent Reznor, Jello Biafra, Timothy Leary, and others, including his longtime bandmate Paul Barker.

There's lots to laugh at, lots to be horrified by and lots to admire here; if you're a fan of rock/music autobiographies, pick this up.  You may not want to hang around Jourgensen when he's in full-tilt crazy mode, but he tells smart - if especially dark - entertaining stories.

Ministry is worth owning if you're not easily offended and easily grossed out, a member of the Grammar Police, or expecting detailed explanations of where some of your (possibly) favorite songs came from.

The Delicious Torment: A Tale of Submission, by Alison Tyler

(pb; 2013: sequel to Dirty Secret Love: A Tale of Submission)


Equal parts heart and carnal explicit heat, this worthwhile sequel to Dark Secret Love not only matches the genre-transcendent excellence of its source novel, but raises the emotional and sexual bar of Samantha's erotic and loving journey.  Chock full of necessary mindfrak and revelations (minor and milestone) for its heroine, this dance of control and relative chaos makes for a standout read.  Worth owning, this - as is its source novel.

Friday, February 21, 2014

**Two of my poems were published in Stormcloud Poets: First Anthology

Two of my poems - advent and 415 vista reunion - were published in Stormcloud Poets: First Anthologyadvent  is about the aftermath of a friend's death; 415 vista reunion is about the joy of hanging out with another friend after a long time apart.

Thanks, once again, to editor/author E.S. Wynn (a.k.a. Earl S. Wynn) for including my work in his 136-page poetry collection - it's an honor to work with such an accomplished and inspiring word-conjurer. 

Stormclouds Poets: First Anthology purchase links are
here, for its various publishing formats - electronic and hard copy.

Joyride by Stephen Crye

(pb; 1983)

From the back cover

“Nine teenagers venture into All Saints Hill Cemetery one evening in search of a quiet place to get drunk, stoned, and naked. Watching from a tool shed is Cleats, the hideously scarred caretaker who thinks the cars contain his tormentors from six years ago. Cleats locks the gates, gathers his tools and goes hunting. Any poor soul straying too far from the party runs into the wrong end of a sickle, chainsaw, pick-axe, or icepick.”


Joyride is a slasher-flick book: its fast-moving, well-written scenes are cinematic, and visually splashy in gory and non-gory ways: many of the characters are unlikeable and lack nuance; it also has the tension, gratuitous sex and blunt violence one would expect from such a work.

One of the things that thrilled me about Joyride was that its killer, Robert Atchison (a.k.a. Cleats), was not always a psycho killer, as shown in the book’s flashback chapters. Atchison is a fully realized person with a (semi-)relatable motive for slaughtering these often-obnoxious and stupid adolescents.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I would recommend it to anyone who likes slasher movies.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Horror Hall of Fame: The Stoker Winners edited by Joe R. Lansdale

(hb; 2012: horror story anthology)

Overall review:

Good collection of thirteen classic horror-style stories, worth owning for its standout works.  I disliked a few of the stories in this book, but that's due to personal writing preferences on my part, not crappy writing on the part of the authors.  Check it out.

Standout stories:

1.)   "The Secret of Vinegar" - Robert Bloch:  Intriguing, exotic and mostly excellent tale about an infamous old-time Los Angeles cathouse.  I write "mostly excellent" because a Plot Convenient Stupid Moment [PCSM] and a predictable finish mar the work.  Still a standout story, though.

2.)  "Chatting with Anubis" - Harlan Ellison:  Entertaining, smart, sometimes funny piece about two paleoseismologists (Wang Zicai, Amy Guiterman) who, in the course of studying a possible archeological find along a fault line, experience a life-altering events.  One of my favorite pieces in this anthology.

3.)   "The Night They Missed the Horror Show" - Joe R. Lansdale:  Pitch bleak-humored, frak-PC-minded-readers story about two "bored" redneck racists who eschew a zombie movie, only to find themselves in increasingly nightmarish situations.  One of my favorite stories in this collection.

4.)   "The Box" - Jack Ketchum:  Clever concept, darkly humorous work.  Memorable read.

5.)   "Orange is for Anguish, Blue is for Insanity" - David Morrell:  One of my favorite stories in this collection.  A Postimpressionist artist's work and horrific life inspires madness in those whose research delves too deeply into them.  Effective-build, entertaining read, this, with an ending that's not surprising but not disappointing.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Right Hand Magic, by Nancy A. Collins

(pb; 2010: first novel in the Golgotham series)

From the back cover:

"Like most Manhattanites, aspiring artist Tate can't resist a good rental deal - even if it's in the city's strangest neighborhood, Golgotham.  For centuries werewolves, Valkyries, centaurs, and countless other creatures have crowded these streets, where no cab will venture.  Golgotham's most prominent citizens, though, are the Kymerians, a race of witches who provide humans with the charms they desire and the curses they fear.

"Tate's new landlord is a Kymerian sorcerer-for-hire named Hexe.  Despite being the son of Golgotham's Witch-Queen, Hexe is determined to build his own reputation without using dark Left Hand magic or his mother's connections.  As Tate is irresistibly drawn into Hexe's fascinating world, they both find that the right hand does not always know what the left hand is doing."


Right is a fast-paced, charming, clever, exotic and sometimes unpredictable urban fantasy - in a word, excellent.  Its intriguing character-, location- and event-rich storyline makes this set-up book a promising start of what looks to be a wild (in the core sense of the word) series, perhaps even a  genre high-bar one; given the overall excellence of Collins's past works, this seems likely.  Worth owning, this.

Caveat:  Readers expecting the dark edge of Collins's previous work - especially the Sonja Blue series - might be disappointed.  The Golgotham series, if it maintains the feel of this first book, will be considerably lighter - almost YA light - in tone.  If that doesn't sound like something you can get into, don't bother reading the series. . . or, if you really must read them despite your (potential) misgivings, borrow the books from the library or a friend. =)

Followed by Left Hand Magic.

<em>Dead Heat with the Reaper</em> by William E. Wallace

(pb; 2015: two-novella pulp collection) Overall review Dead Heat is a masterful collection of East Bay, California stories that are...