Friday, March 28, 2014

Galveston, by Nic Pizzolatto

(hb; 2010)

From the inside flap:

"On the same day that Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he senses that his boss, a dangerous loan-sharking bar-owner, wants him dead.  Known 'without affection' to members of the boss's crew as 'Big Country' on account of his long hair, beard and cowboy boots, Roy is alert to the possibility that a routine assignment could be a deathtrap.  Which it is.  Yet what the would-be killers do to Roy Cady is not the same as what he does to them, which is to say that after a smoking spasm of violence, they are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.

"Before Roy makes his getaway, he realizes that there are two women in the apartment, one of them still breathing, and he sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that causes a fateful decision.  He takes her with him as he goes on a run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas - an action as ill-advised as it is inescapable.  The girl's name is Rocky, and she is too young, too tough, too sexy - and far too much trouble.  Roy, Rocky and her sister hide in the battered seascape of Galveston's country-western bars and fleabag hotels, a world of treacherous drifters, pickup trucks, and ashed-out hopes.  Any chance they will find safety there is soon lost.  Rocky is girl with quite a story to tell, one that will pursue and damage Roy for a very long time to come. . ."


Stark, raw and hauntingly beautiful with its Cormac McCarthy-esque prose, this dark and engrossing novel is one of my favorite reads this year (it's a relatively short list).  Its lead characters - Roy and Rocky - are especially relatable, with their often bleak, briefly hopeful lives, as they try to improve, escape their tragic and brutally violent circumstances.  This is not a work for the faint of heart or those who need lots of sunshine in their reading material.

Galveston is a stunning and effective novel that builds on a familiar pulp themes and storylines, updating them in nuanced ways - worth owning, this.


Janus Metz Pedersen is set to direct the resulting 2015 movie, its screenplay penned by author Nic Pizzolatto.

Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roy Cady.

When more information is easily available I'll update this post. =)

**One of Will Viharo's stories, People Bug Me, was published in Nightmare Illustrated magazine

One of Will Viharo's stories, People Bug Me, was published the fifth issue of Nightmare Illustrated.  This story is a fast-moving, entertaining mix of two 1957 films, The Sweet Smell of Success and I Was a Teenage Werewolf

The plot for People runs thusly: a post-Sweet/on-the-lam reporter, Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis' character in Sweet), is interviewing a small town shrink, Dr. Alfred Brandon (Whit Bissell's character in Teenage) for an article after Brandon has been attacked by one of his patients - a teenage "lycanthrope," according to Brandon, named Tony Rivers (Michael Landon's character in Teenage).  When the interview takes on sinister overtones, Falco - quippy and doubtful about his interview subject - tries to extricate himself from the obviously obsesssed Brandon, but it's too late. . .

This quick-blast, feels-like-a-real-Fifties-film tale made me wish I could see it on the big screen, even as a short.  There probably won't be a film version, but even if there isn't, there's this highly enjoyable sort-of sequel to read, penned by consistently excellent author Viharo.

Check this story - and this equally excellent magazine - out. 


I also especially enjoyed Viharo's recent "Flicks" column ("Cerebral Cinema") in the latest Bachelor Pad magazine (issue #27), in which he shows knowledgeable appreciation for select body-based horror and similar genre films (e.g., The Brain That Wouldn't Die, 1962; Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, 1974), many of which are my personal favorites.  This is a must-read for any fan of these genres, so if you're an adult reader and so inclined, pick this up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

(hb; 2005: loosely linked to American Gods)

From the inside flap:

"When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck.  Like calling Fat Charlie 'Fat Charlie.'  Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing 'gifts' his father bestowed - before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

"Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things.  Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew.  A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun. . . just like Dear Old Dad.  And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

"Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad.  He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god.  Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil.  Some said he could cheat even Death himself."


Anansi Boys is a good, entertaining (often in a laugh-out-loud way) urban fantasy with a light touch.  It probably helps that it has the feel of a Douglas Adams story and that Fat Charlie constantly made me think of Arthur Dent, the protagonist from Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  

Anansi is worth owning.  Check it out!


A BBC miniseries version was recently announced.  I'll update this when I have more information.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

All Those Moments, by Rutger Hauer with Patrick Quinlan

(hb; 2007: actor autobiography)

From the inside flap:

"He came to mainstream prominence as a machine more human than his creators in Blade Runner, terrified us as a hitchhiker bent on his own death and the death of anyone who got in his way in The Hitcher, and unforgettably portrayed a lonely king roaming the night as a wolf and pining for the love of a hawk during the day in Ladyhawke.

"Rutger Hauer has dazzled audiences for years with his creepy, inspiring, and villainous portrayals of everyone from a cold-blooded terrorist in Nighthawks to a blind martial arts master in Blind Fury, but his movie career was nothing compared to his real-life adventures of riding horses, sword fighting, and leaving home at fifteen to scrub decks on a freighter and explore the world.

"From poverty to working with a traveling theater troupe to his breakout European performance in Turkish Delight and working with legendary directors such as Paul Verhoeven (Robocop and Basic Instinct) and Ridley Scott (Alien and Gladiator), Hauer has collected All Those Moments here."


All Those Moments is a pleasant, breezy, thoughtful and relatively polite - compared to most autobiographies - book.  If you're looking for detailed film-by-film behind-the-scenes stories, you may be disappointed at how Hauer skirts over certain movies; if you're looking to read about his career highlights (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, Batman Begins) you'll probably enjoy this.  The book ends with selective "entries from [his] diaries," which are slightly more whimsical and off-the-cuff than the rest of this autobiography.  This is a good library or used copy read.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

(hb; 2011: first novel in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series)

From the inside flap:

"It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. . . As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-od Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.  As Jacob explores its abandoned bedroom and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar.  They may have been dangerous.  They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.  And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive."


This truly inspired - in the most complimentary sense of the phrase - and multimedia, not-quite-a-YA urban fantasy novel immediately immersed me in its time-looping, family-themed storyline and memorable characters.  (It's "not-quite-a-YA" work because of its dark-ish themes, several instances of strong profanity and brief instances of blood and WWII-era imagery.)  It's easily one of my favorite reads of late, and one that lends itself easily to cinematic form.

Great read, this - worth owning.

Followed by Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children.


The forthcoming film version, scheduled for a stateside July 2015 release, was announced recently.  Director Tim Burton has been "officially attached" to helm the project.  (I'll update this post when I can easily get more information.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Fate is My Pimp/Romance Takes a Raincheck, by Will Viharo

(pb; 1994, 1995, 2011: second and third novellas in the Vic Valentine series)

From the back cover:

"Fate is My Pimp picks up the torrid trail of Vic Valentine, Private Eye as he traverses the mean streets of San Francisco and beyond in search of a mobster's missing teenage daughter, encountering various voluptuous vixens, a female surf band, and a stalker leaving him mysterious musical messages, all while infiltrating an Elvis-theme commune for runaways, led by a deviously decadent Deacon Rivers.  Follow the further misadventures of this misguided misfit introduced in Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me as he continues looking for love in all the wrong places, and unfortunately for him - finding it.

"Romance Takes a Raincheck finds Vic back on the East Coast, tracking down a lead on his cop father's killer, visiting his mother in an asylum, and reuniting with his high school sweetheart, Dolly Duncan, now married to a doper dentist.  Nothing is what it seems, times and people have changed, and Vic is going to learn the hard way - again - that some bones, and boners, are best left buried."


Fate and Romance, like the first "Vic Valentine" book (Love Stories), are pop and cinematic nostalgic, with lots of clever dialogue, sex and desperation-soaked action.  Not only that, but there's a clear maturation in Valentine, the perpetually horny, prone-to-self-pity P.I., in these sequels: while he's still reeling here and there, he's less a victim than he was in Love - there's a sense that yeah, he could still get frakked over and die, but if it happens, it will more likely be the result of others' decisions and actions, not his.

What further differentiates Fate and Romance from their source book is their varied tones.  While Love had a neo-pulp surrealistic feel to it, Fate ups the mellow-gold wackiness, with its mood-swing characters, its strange groupings (the Elvis cult) and its over-the-top climax; Romance has an appropriate, directly stated East Coast break-your-bones gravitas. 

Both of these sequels are entertaining, memorable and darkly humorous in their lusty violence.  They're also worth owning. 

Followed by the third and fourth "Vic Valentine" novellas I Lost My Heart in Hollywood and Diary of a Dick (which, like Fate and Romance, have been published in one volume).

<em>The Freak</em> by Eleanor Robinson

(pb; 1980 ─ a.k.a. The Silverleaf Syndrome ) From the back cover “He was born monstrously deformed, a freak of nature. Possessed of ...