Sunday, May 31, 2015

**One of my poems, Marker (asterisk edit), was published on the Leaves of Ink site

One of my verseworks, Marker (asterisk edit), was published on the Leaves of Ink site.

This mainstream poem lists the lingering after-effects of a too-brief love affair. It is the third piece in the loosely linked First Love series, following Beyond a fearful door and The long-ago dreamt.

(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.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

(hb; 1972: first book in the Elric series)

From the back cover:

"It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair that flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody....He is Elric, Emperor of Melniboné, cursed with a keen and cynical intelligence, schooled in the art of sorcery -- the hero of Michael Moorcock's remarkable epic of conflict and adventure at the dawn of human history."

Review:

Elric is a relatively (for the genre) short, word-lean and straightforward fantasy tale with an interesting and complex main protagonist (Elric, emperor of "Imrryr the Beautiful, the Dreaming City, capital of the Dragon Isle of Melniboné"). He is kind, philosophical and merciful, yet aloof, physically fragile and moody at other times -- he is, in a word, royalty, the 428th ruler of his land.

When Elric's cousin, the jealous and power-hungry Prince Yyrkoon, tries to usurp Elric's Ruby Throne and kidnap Elric's intended bride (and Yyrkoon's sister), Cymoril, the albino ruler pursues the incestuous- and war-minded villain across alternate worlds, catching  up with Yyrkoon in the seedy city Dhoz-Kam, where their conflict -- heavily driven and complicated by magick, as well as a demon named Arioch -- reaches a dangerous apex for not only them, but for all worlds.

This is a great set-up novel, with surrealistic and distinctive supernatural elements and beings, sequel-friendly situations and high, epic drama (without the word fat). All fantastic thriller, no filler, this -- a book worth owning.

Followed by The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.

Monday, May 25, 2015

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

(hb; 2015: nonfiction)

From the inside flap:

"When Freakanomics was first published, the authors started a blog --and they've kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. In When to Rob a Bank, they ask a host of typically off-center questions:

"Why don't flight attendants get tipped?

"If you were a terrorist, how would you attack?

"Why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?

"Over the past decade, Levitt and Dubner have published more than 8,000 blog posts on Freakanomics.com. Many of them, they freely admit, were rubbish. But now they've gone through and picked the best of the best. You'll discover what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut down on gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and yes, when to rob a bank. (Short answer: never; the ROI is terrible.) You'll also learn about Levitt and Dubner's own quirks and passions, from gambling and golf to backgammon and the abolition of the penny."


Review:

If you are a fan of Levitt and Dubner's earlier books, chances are you'll enjoy Rob, which updates past stories they have written about, as well as the usual blend of humor, politics, sports and social elements, especially the sometimes-regrettable quirks of human nature.

This is a good read, worth checking out from the library.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

**One of my poems, The long-ago dreamt, was published on the Leaves of Ink site

One of my verseworks, The long-ago dreamt, was published on the Leaves of Ink site.

This mainstream poem details a half-remembered, half-dreamt afternoon in a not-quite-a-lover's embrace. It is the second piece in the loosely linked First Love series, following Beyond a fearful door and preceding Marker (asterisk edit).

(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.)


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

(hb; 2015)

From the inside flap:

"Long-beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour ("The Last Illusion,"* Everville), investigator of all things supernatural, magical and malevolent, has been battling his own personal demons for years. When he happens upon a Lament Configuration -- a deeply intricate puzzle box that is rumored to open a doorway to Hell itself -- his own demons are replaced by the real thing as he finds himself caught in a terrifying game of cat and mouse that is bloody, disturbing and brilliantly complex."

(*Published in Barker's 1988 story anthology Cabal.)


Review:

Scarlet is a sexually explicit, ultra-gory, sometimes funny and over-the-top journeys-through-variable-Hells read that quickly susses out squeamish readers, making more room for gut-true horror fans. It harkens back to the sometimes-shocking (even within Barker's fictive-collective milieus) savagery of his early work, particularly his story collections (The Books of Blood, volumes One through Three; In the Flesh), which are now set in the crossover universe of The Hellbound Heart and Harry D'Amour-inclusive works (the stories "The Last Illusion" and "Lost Souls"; the novels The Great and Secret Show and Everville).

Some readers, used to Barker's epic-scale, ambitious works (the aforementioned The Great and Secret Show, Everville as well as Imajica), might be put off Scarlet's straightforward plot. In order to fully enjoy this book, it is best to appreciate it for what it is: one of the best horror writers of his generation having well-written, blunt fun with a mixed mythos (and their characters) he created over a thirty-year period.

Excellent read, this -- a great, unrepentant-in-its-harshness capper to the Engineer/Hell Priest/Pinhead and Harry D'Amour storylines. Like many of Barker's works, Scarlet is worth owning.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

**One of my erotic poems, The newest -- workweek blue, was published on the Pink Litter site

One of my erotic poems, The newest -- workweek blue, was published in the eighth issue of Pink Litter e-zine. It appears on page 35 (scroll down to read it).

This rock-sex-and-onanism versework sketches out the cop-a-hot-feel memories and solo desires of a young male wage slave who has little else going on his life. It is, as you probably guessed, a “for mature readers only” read.

(Again, big thanks to editor Misty Rampart for publishing the poem, which is set to appear in my 2016 follow-up book to Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems.)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Civil War by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and others

(hb; 2006, 2007, 2012: graphic novel, collecting issues #1 - 7 of the Civil War miniseries)

From the back cover:

"The Marvel Universe is changing. In the wake of a tragedy, Capitol Hill pushes the Super Hero Registration Act, requiring all costumed heroes to avail themselves before the government. Divided, the nation's greatest superheroes must each decide how to react -- a decision that will alter the course of their lives. . ."


Review:

Civil War is a good, full-of-splash-page action storyline, with some surprising choices made by key characters (whose ranks include the Young Avengers) and impressive, real-world issues pushing their way to the forefront of comic bookdom. Thoughtful, if relatively brief (considering the complexity of the superheroes' situations) work, worth owning.

#

This graphic novel is the basis for the in-progress/forthcoming Captain America: Civil War film, which is scheduled for stateside release on May 6, 2016. Its directors are Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Its screenwriters are Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

Chris Evans is playing "Steve Rogers/Captain America". Robert Downey Jr. is playing "Tony Stark/Iron Man". Scarlett Johansson is playing "Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow". Jeremy Renner is playing Clint Barton/Hawkeye. Don Cheadle is playing "James Rhodes/War Machine".

Elizabeth Olsen is playing "Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch". Paul Bettany is playing The Vision. Chadwick Boseman is playing "T'Challa/Black Panther". Paul Rudd is playing "Scott Lang/Ant-Man".

Sebastian Stan is playing "Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier". Anthony Mackie is playing "Sam Wilson/Falcon". Emily VanCamp is playing "Sharon Carter/Agent 13". William Hurt is playing General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross.

Frank Grillo is playing "Brock Rumlow/Crossbones". Daniel Brühl is playing Baron Zemo.



Friday, May 15, 2015

**One of my mainstream poems, Beyond a fearful door, was published on the Leaves of Ink site

Beyond a fearful door, one of my newer poems, was published on the Leaves of Ink site.

This verseworks charts the devastation -- and the beginnings of maturation -- that result from a California-themed romantic break-up. It is also a free-form piece that is loosely connected to two reworked (and soon to be published) poems The long-ago dreamt and Marker (asterisk edit), as well as the soon-to-be published story My First Love, in three confessional seasons.

(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.)




Monday, May 11, 2015

Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indriđason

(hb; 2014: thirteenth book in the Reykjavik Thriller series. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)

From the inside flap:

"As the book opens, Erlendur is a young officer assigned to traffic duties. He is not yet a detective. He works nights. Reykjavik's nights are full of car crashes, robberies, fights, drinking, and sometimes unexplained death.

"One night a homeless man Erlendur knows is found drowned. Few people care. Then a young woman on her way home from a club vanishes, and both cases go cold.

"But Erlendur's instincts tell him that the fates of these two victims are worth pursuing. He is inexorably drawn into a world where everyone is either in the dark or on the run."


Review:

Reykjavik is a crisp-prosed, engaging police procedural. There are plenty of twists, solid characters and effective mood-setting in this waste-no-words Reykjavik Thriller novel, a prequel to Jar City. This, like all the other books in this series, is worth your time. Check it out.

Followed by Into Oblivion.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

**One of my mainstream poems, Disparate voices, was republished on the Leaves of Ink site

Disparate voices, one of my older and thematically cobbled-together poems, was republished on the Leaves of Ink site yesterday.

The poem, which shows four different viewpoints and time periods, centers around a mentally ill woman and how her erratic behavior affects those around her.

(Many thanks to editor E.S. Wynn for republishing the poem, which also appeared in my 2014 single-author poetry anthology Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems.)

 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith


(hb; 2012: third novel in the Agent Leo Demidov trilogy)

From the  inside flap:

"Leo Demidov is no longer a member of Moscow's secret police. But when his wife, Raisa, and daughters Zoya and Elena are invited on a 'Peace Tour' to New York City, he is immediately suspicious.

"Forbidden to travel with his family and trapped on the other side of the world, Leo watches helplessly as event in New York unfold and those closest to his heart are pulled into a web of political conspiracy and betrayal - one that will end in tragedy.

"In the horrible aftermath, Leo demands only one thing: to investigate the killer who destroyed his family. His request is summarily denied. Crippled by grief and haunted by the need to find out exactly what happened on that night in New York, Leo takes matters into his own hands. It is a quest that will span decades, and take Leo around the world -- from Moscow, to the mountains of Soviet-controlled Afghanistan, to the backstreets of New York -- in pursuit of the man who knows the truth: Agent 6."


Review:

Agent 6 is, with its multi-decade span and character development, a flirting-with-Sergio-Leone-esque-epic* read. It is imbued with the style and tone of its source novel Child 44 (more drama work than actioner), showing how tragedy, as well as others' hatred and manipulative patriotism, lead Leo down a path that results in him winding up in the hell trap that is Afghanistan (circa 1980), where the Russian government is mired in an ill-advised conflict with a country that has consistently defeated other would-be invaders: Alexander the Great (in 330 BC), the Mongols (in 1219), the British (1839, 1878 and 1919).

Leo knows if he tries to escape his militaristic-prison post that his surviving family members will be arrested, tortured and possibly killed. However, the mysterious circumstances of a close-to-the-heart murder haunt his every waking moment -- a mystery that he must solve, or die trying.

Agent 6 is a hard-to-put down, timely and entertaining (in a Russian-harsh way) story, one that lives up to the excellence of its predecessor novels, while expanding on the historical and time-scale structures of those novels. Its ending, like the lives and outlooks of many of its Russian and American characters, is dark, but sports a tender, all-is-not-lost effect. This is worth owning, like Child 44 and The Secret Speech.

(*particularly Leone's 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America)

<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...