Friday, November 20, 2015

Nam by Mark Baker

(1981: nonfiction)

From the inside flap:

"Numerous people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand share their stories in this oral history. Men and women, officers and draftees, prowar and antiwar veterans, all give personal accounts of the bloodshed they witnessed, and the horrifying circumstances they survived."


This is a harsh, often gut-wrenching and compelling read. The stories that Baker's interviewees tell, without exception, are unputdownable, dark, violent and timely. I would not recommend this book for especially sensitive readers. For those readers who are otherwise inclined and interested in the intersecting subject matter (war, Vietnam, PTSD, etc.), this might be an excellent book to own.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Death-Coach by J.N. Williamson

(pb; 1981: first book in the Lamia Zacharius quadrilogy)

From the back cover:

"While the town of Thesaly slept, the sound of hoofbeats echoed in the night, an eerie, almost ominous sound that spoke of foreboding evil and terror. And out of the darkness it appeared, an ancient, intricately carved carriage powered by four gigantic black steeds.

"Looming just above the carriage, silhouetted by the moon, was the vampire Lamia Zacharius. Older than time, reeking of evil, tonight she took on the form of a bird. Spreading her wings wide to help shadow the driver's hideous face, she accompanied him on his midnight journey, thirsty for the taste of fresh human blood -- seeking out the next innocent victim to be taken by the Death-Coach."


Death-Coach is a fun, blast-through horror novel that mixes ancient Greek beliefs, vampirism, small-town-cult horror and science fiction-ish concepts into a gleefully B-movie-minded book that is just crying out be turned into a movie. This is worth owning, especially if you appreciate Eighties-style monster works.

Followed by Death-Angel.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Homecoming by Harold Pinter

(pb; 1965, 1966: play)

From the back cover:

"In an old and slightly seedy house in North London there lives a family of men: Max, the aging but still aggressive patriarch; his younger, ineffectual brother Sam; and two of Max's three sons, neither of whom is married -- Lenny, a small-time pimp, and Joey, who dreams of success as a boxer. Into this sinister abode comes the eldest son, Teddy, who, having spent the past six years teaching philosophy in America, is now bringing his wife, Ruth, home to visit the family she has never met. As the play progresses, the younger brothers make increasingly outrageous passes at their sister-in-law until they are practically making love to her in front of her stunned by strangely aloof husband."


Homecoming is a short, sharp and caustic play. While this is structurally and tonally stunning, its pitch black harshness, with its sudden character shifts (or angles of attack), made this an unpleasant read from start to finish: no rays of sunshine in this cutting, bleak familial drama.

This is worth reading, if you do not mind its repentless darkness or are interested in studying how waste-no-word plays are written. Otherwise, pass on Homecoming.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Bone: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith

(pb; 1992, 1993, 2005: graphic novel, collecting issues #7 - 12 of the comic book. Second of nine graphic novels.)

From the back cover:

"Fone Bone and his cousins plan to return home after visiting the village of Barrelhaven with Thorn and Gran'ma Ben. But Phoney Bone risks everything on one last get-rich-quick scheme for the town's annual Great Cow Race. As usual, Phoney's plans go disastrously awry, and Boneville seems farther away than ever.

"Meanwhile, ominous signs indicate that a war is brewing, and Fone Bone finds himself helping his friends defend their idyllic valley from a formidable enemy."


Cow Race continues in the vein of the first Bone graphic novel (Out of Boneville) in that it is a fast-moving, word-spare and character-charming children-friendly comic book, a work that had me constantly smiling and laughing. Again, this is a great work, possibly landmark, with distinctive and equally charming artwork that further brought these characters and their world to life.

Cow Race, the second of nine Bone graphic novels, is worth owning. Followed by Bone: Eyes of the Storm.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

**M.J. Iuppa's Defining Even was published on the Microstory A Week site

M.J.Iuppa's epigrammatic and analytical Defining Even graced the Microstory A Week site today. 

This revenge-themed, numerically structured tale is the final entry in this year's Microstories. Many thanks to the authors who submitted their works and to those who read it. =)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

(pb; 1994: nonfiction)


Bird is a good, entertaining and instructive how-to guide on how to become a working writer. Her balanced, sometimes pen-joyous attitude and execution is realistic -- becoming a solid, good or excellent author does not often translate into material wealth and bestsellerdom -- and this hard-truth approach (for some would-be writers) makes this one of the better instructive books I have read on the subject.  

<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 ...