Friday, October 13, 2017

NEW STORY PUBLISHED: "The Arranged Marriage" at SOFT CARTEL

I now have a new story published! It's not a horror story, except maybe in a broad sense, so it's not in the spirit of the season. But I'm still proud of the story and I'm very happy to have it up at SOFT CARTEL.They describe the story as this: "a kafkaesque match is made in a lucid dreamscape."

Read it at SOFT CARTEL here. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Review in Red Room Magazine

I now have a review in print. The debut issue of Red Room Magazine has published my review of Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall. Head over to Amazon and pick up a physical or digital copy.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Month Long Halloween Party at Cultured Vultures

If you're friend with me on Facebook, you know that I'm doing a challenge to read 31 horror books before the end of October. I'm also going to be discussing the books I read each week over on Cultured Vultures.

I've already laid down some ground rules for the challenge. Next week, my first set of brief discussions will be up over there.

There may also be something even better coming out soon, but nothing is certain yet, so I'm not announcing it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

New Prose Poem at Philosophical Idiot.

My prose poem, "Channel 104 at 2:45 AM," is up at the webzine Philosophical Idiot, founded by poet B. Diehl.

Read it here.

If you haven't read it yet, you can also read my review of his debut poetry collection, Zeller's Alley, at Cultured Vultures as well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Reviews at New Places + A Contest

In case you missed it, my review of the upcoming book, Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s, from Grady Hendrix is up at Ginger Nuts of Horror. There's also a contest to one of two copies of the book. Just like and share the review and leave a comment with what your favorite horror book cover from the 70s or 80s is. Hopefully, I'll have more horror-related reviews up there in the near future.

I'll also have review appearing in print in Red Room Magazine. That one will be review of that Valancourt Books reprint of Ken Greenhall's novel Hellhound. You'll be able to get that in print or online this October.

I'm working on a lot of other things behind the scenes and I'll update here when they're ready to be made public.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Brief Thoughts 23

Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy 

Wisconsin Death Trip is a collection of photographs and news reports from Jackson County, Wisconsin take from between 1885 to 1900. The goal of collecting the work was to get an idea of what everyday life in that place and time period was like. As the title suggests, it's not a pretty one. The region was plagued by murder, economic downturn, and rashes of suicides and arson.

The photographs take up a large part of the book and juxtaposed with the news stories are extremely disquieting. What seems to be blank looks on the people's faces (this was before smiling for photos was common) become masks of despair.

One could debate if this method of examining a time period is the best way of really getting into the psyche of the everyday person of the time, like the introduction states its goal is. Despite that, it remains a fascinating project. It's part history and part art book without being a history of art book. It's no wonder it maintains a cult following.

Buy Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy.

Wytchcult Rising by Philip LoPresti

This novelette from writer and photography Philip LoPresti is a story of an inbred cult living deep in the woods. The narrative jumps between a young boy involved in the cult, incapable of talking or walking from his deformities, and a third person perspective.

The prose is simple but poetic. The narrative recounts the cult's rituals in disturbing detail. Eventually, a group of men stumble upon the cult. After dispatching the men, the cult decides they no longer need to remain hidden in the woods and decide to take a nearby village for themselves.

The story is relatively simple, reminiscent of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and books like Off Season for its atavistic, incestuous family living in the dark recesses of the backwoods, but incredibly effective. The cult's strange and violent rituals, focused around sexual bodily fluids like semen and menstrual blood, give a sense of Dionysian spirituality and place it in opposition to the chasteness valued in Abrahamic religions.

Also included in this short book are photographs by LoPresti. They are just as disquieting as the story itself. Some of them showing death and destruction explicitly, but most resembling more the aftermath of the cults doings. LoPresti is just as talented a photographer as he is a writer.

Unfortunately, this book is out of print. If it's reprinted at anytime, I'll update here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Brief Thoughts 22

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

During the 1936 election, a demagogue named "Buzz" Windrip becomes the Democratic candidate for President instead of Franklin D. Roosevelt. With his populist platform; promising a universal basic income, strong law enforcement, and a suppression of the rights of troublesome blacks and Jews, he handily defeats his Republican opponent, Walt Trowbridge. Once in power, he quickly concentrates power into the executive office and reorganizes the United States into a fascist state.

A liberal editor of a small-town newspaper named Doremus Jessup opposes Windrip from the beginning. He finds himself forced to crank up his opposition after hearing about Windrip's advisors murdering a pair of Jewish men in cold blood. His harsh words towards the administration earns him the negative attention of Windrip's brownshirts, called the Minute Men, but he continues his opposition even has the administration becomes more and more tyrannical.

The book that came to mind the most while I read It Can't Happen Here was Jack London's The Iron Heel. I couldn't help but compare and contrast them. They were very similar in plot, but very different in their philosophies, their protagonists, and their intentions. London was a Marxist and The Iron Heel was written mostly to push this philosophy. Lewis is a liberal and It Can't Happen Here was written in response to the rise of fascism in Europe. Ernest Everhard of The Iron Heel is basically a Marty Stu, but Doremus Jessup is far more three dimensional.

Both move towards being an adventure story focused on rebellion to a totalitarian state, but It Can't Happen Here is more of a slow burn and gives a far more realistic story on how a fascist state could come to be in the United States. London's Iron Heel is basically a shadowy cabal of capitalists who manipulate everything from behind the scenes. Buzz Windrip was based on Huey Long, a Louisiana politician who almost ran in the 1936 Presidential election, but was assassinated before he could. Windrip's closest advisors, Lee Sarason and Dewey Haik, seem to be based on Nazi figures like Ernst Rohm, Josef Goebbels, and Hermann Goering. Overall, It Can't Happen Here is just more grounded in reality.

Some may find the beginning of this book a bit dull because it's very topical and dated. There are several figures here, both actual figures and stand-ins for actual ones, who probably won't be recognized by most. Despite that, it still remains entertaining and engaging to read, especially when Windrip takes office. There's a dry sense of humor in recounting Windrip's horseshit speeches and the atrocities committed by his regime. So even 80 years later it remains very readable. Somewhat relevant too. Sales of this book increased after Donald Trump was elected President. Comparing and contrasting Buzz Windrip with Trump could be an essay unto itself, so could my own thoughts on how a totalitarian government would happen in America if it did.

This is a classic for good reason. It's funny, insightful, thought-provoking, very readable, and as relevant as ever. Even its title is evocative. Highly recommended

Buy It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis here.

Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers by Pierre Guyotat  

Where do I even start with this one?

This novel recounts a war between the fictional country of Ectabane and what's implied, but not explicitly stated to be, France. It follows many different characters from both sides. There are battles, slavery, a lot of rape, torture, and churches being destroyed. 

Reading this book is like crawling through mud made of dirt, blood, piss, and semen. There's very little plot. It's more a barrage of horrible vignettes and images. One part that sticks out the most to me is a scene where a young boy in a brothel is forced to have sex with a dog for the entertainment of the brothel's patrons. This was very difficult to get through. 

Guyotat apparently based this novel on his experiences during the Algerian War for Independence. He was a French soldier but ended up siding with the Algerians for which he was imprisoned. A large chunk of this novel apparently came from the hallucinations he experienced while he was in prison. It shows. 

I'm making it sound like I didn't like this novel, and I'm not sure saying I "like" it is the correct way to put it. It's one of the most intense things I've ever read the prose is amazingly crafted, even in the French to English translation.  That's why it was such a mentally exhausting experience to read. I've heard that Guyotat's Eden Eden Eden is even more intense. I'll read that at some point, but I need sometime to recover from this one. 

This is an incredible book, and it's a shame the English translation is out of print. I hope either a new translation or a re-release of this one will be done in the near future. 

Buy Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers by Pierre Guyotat here.