7,282

February 15, 2008

…words since last Friday. A grand total of 40 pages. I am pleased. With myself.

However, worry not. Book reviews and suchlike will return shortly; this isn’t going to be a blog detailing my progress on PM2. At least not for the most part — I reserve the right to highlight significant milestones like, for example, 10,000 words or, if it actually happens, 100 pages or something. 🙂

Haven’t actually done a lot of reading this week, not book-wise anyway. Mainly been writing; rest of time taken up by (blurgh) working. Anyway, books on the table that will probably get read and reviewed soon include:

  • Winkie, by Clifford Chase (about a teddy bear that comes to life and is promptly put on trial under the Homeland Security Act for complicity with the enemies in the War On Terror
  • The Spy Who Loved Me, by Ian Fleming (for some reason the only one I didn’t have, found it in a secondhand bookstore)
  • Doomsdays, by Jeffrey Thomas (vignettes from multiple different ends of the world)
  • Succulent Prey, by Wrath James White (brutal gore etc yay)
  • Monster Planet, by David Wellington (third in a pseudo-zombie trilogy: you know me by now)
  • Er, well, other things that I can’t remember since the pile isn’t in front of me.

Will try and update a bit over the next week but am away in Bunbury training people so internet is probably going to be an issue.

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4,157

February 12, 2008

…words since last Friday. Of PM2. Which equals, in 11-point Courier New doublespaced, twenty-two pages. It’s early days yet, but it appears the laptop may have put a deep gouge into the rusty manacles of my writer’s block.

And perhaps this place has something to do with it too. I’ve been doing reviews — for my own interest, and not because I really think anyone is reading (if you are, hello! hope you’re enjoying the show! 😀 ) — for a month now, and the initial idea was to try and kickstart my corroded writing ability by writing anything. That’s metamorphosed into more detailed (and hopefully amusing) reviews because I’ve genuinely enjoyed doing them after the first few difficult lines, but the underlying imperative to try and write has always remained… along with the underlying perhaps it will translate into fiction hopefulness.

And in celebration, I shall provide whoever is watching a fragment. PM2 from about halfway through page 3:  come on down!!

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…[He] yelped, and instantly stopped struggling. When he was entirely still the acidic gout ceased and the churning mouth began to close.

But before it had shut entirely, a squealing mechanical voice spat forth, sharp as crystal above the increasingly freezing windrush of their passage.

Move again, little scrap,” said the Widowmecha, “and I take a foot. Snip, snip, snip.”

Bull-Headed Women! (and men)

February 12, 2008

 The Minotauress, by Edward Lee

 

The Minotauress, by Edward Lee.

 

Yep. Hail to the King of Extreme Redneck Horror ’cause he’s back, and it’s definitely extreme.

The Minotauress is classic, non-mass-market Lee. Occult demons (the Minotauress in question and, yay! Spermatogoyle!* ) , psychotic rednecks, philosophers in moonshine bars, more utter depravity than you can shake a steer’s horn at and beneath it all a clear, remarkable and downright clever writing style that shows that, whilst Lee is having a whole hail-of-a-lotta fun with the gross-out, he’s also a stunningly well-researched and -read writer who can plot and impart with the best of them.

You’d never see something like this published by any mainstream publisher, but Necro Publications has long since been Lee’s friend and his selling power in the limited edition/extreme market is second to none. The Minotauress kicks like an angry cow trying to escape a slaughterhouse, and won’t let you go until you’ve wallowed in every truly disgusting splatter of spilled guts and carnal monstrosity.

And why not add a little spice to this slop-bucket of blood and bodily fluids? There’s also a bonus novella called The Horn-Cranker, which is equally full of yee-ha!, splatter and enough political incorrectness to spray a wall with puke. Horn-cranking is the ancient art of manually removing a steer’s horns with a HORRIBLE GREAT RUSTY MACHINE and then… well, there’s a cave, and inside this cave there’s all sorts of hideous cow-related remains and — things — and guess what? They’re coming ba-aaack. Horned, horny and very pissed off.

Ed Lee. To paraphrase a movie catchphrase the title of which I can’t remember: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurl. It’s like drinking white lightning ‘shine whilst havin’ congress with a big ol’ unfriendly heifer. Bucking great. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried.  😛

 

 

 

 

 

* You’ll have to find a copy for yourself to experience the deep joy of the amazing and unforgettable Spermatogoyle. >:P

 

Duma Key

February 12, 2008

Duma Key, by Stephen King (image linked from King's website for review purposes) 

 

Duma Key, by Stephen King.

 

Lovely. A thick, big novel after the (in my opinion) shouldn’t-have-been-resurrected-1970s-trunk-novel Blaze.  And an interesting continuing validation to my completely baseless theory that Stephen King seems to write something spectacular, then not-so-good, then spectacular etc etc la la la.

[This theory based on my own tastes and criticisms, not necessarily on literary merit, so bear with my personal preferences here: Wolves of the Calla was marvellous, Song of Susannah less so — great story, great action but too slight in the overall scope of the Dark Tower sequence — then the utterly magnificent The Dark Tower itself, then Cell, which started so well and ended in a disorganized damp squib… on to Lisey’s Story, completely resonant and wonderful, then the aforementioned urgh Blaze and now Duma Key]

Anyway. Duma Key itself — you know, I can’t give an entirely objective view of this one. Just can’t, this time. There are simply certain things in it that I am relating to very strongly due to circumstances close to me. The personally harrowing descriptions of Elizabeth’s mental and physical decline. The concept of art as gateway to reality, and its ability to alter same. The anger and frustration of the progatonist Edgar Freemantle as he tries to come to grips with a world changed by his accident. These sort of things are speaking very strongly and clearly to me at this particular time in my life. I know them in different guises, and it’s frightening how accurately King has portrayed them. A true testament to a master writer.

The story itself is a little slighter than I might have liked it, and there are a few deus ex machina elements that seem a little obvious even given the way the tale has to play out. I’ve no objection to deus ex machina writing in general (and am probably alone there as it appears most of the literary community seem to think it’s a very lazy method of connecting A to B when there doesn’t seem to be a connection in the first place) and, provided it’s done well, think it can be a very effective and even startling method of style and storytelling. But, occasionally, obvious.  And there was someone’s fate within that seemed gratuitous, abrupt and a little pointless, with the various players’ reactions to same not coming off as true.

Where Duma Key works for me is its richness of language and descriptors, and in this it utterly works. I was as lost at sea as Edgar was, transfixed by almost every page with only a couple of poorly drawn exposition scenes somewhere in the middle to cause me to sit back and blink that I was reading a book and not living someone’s mingled Heaven and Hell. Add to this the tapestry of experiences and slices of life that I can, in many ways unfortunately, completely relate to, and this all elevated the story well into the top 15% of King’s literary canon — and told me in no uncertain terms he’s lost none of his skills.

So, Steve… for a quasi-retired man your output has been pretty impressive. What’s next?

 

 

Ugly Heaven, Beautiful Hell

February 7, 2008

Ugly Heaven, Beautiful Hell 

 

Ugly Heaven, Beautiful Hell, by Carlton Mellick III and Jeffrey Thomas.

 

A dual book comprising two unlinked novellas: ‘Heaven’ by Mellick and ‘Hell’ by Thomas. I enjoy both authors so this was a treat for me.

‘Ugly Heaven’ is bizarro: very typical Carlton Mellick III, and exactly why I like his writing. People die, appear in what they think is Heaven and a strange roadtrip through an utterly alien environment occurs. That’s usually Mellick down to a T — in this instance the roadtrip includes such sidelines as:

  • the bodies of people in Heaven are without orifices, and bodily functions have to be dealt with by slitting them open and sewing them up afterwards
  • what comes out of your body may not be what goes in, eg: insects and strange gloppy foodstuffs
  • behind the backcloth-drawn ‘reality’ of Heaven are vast organic machines and even stranger worlds

Carlton Mellick III is an acquired taste and no denying it. I acquired it long ago and never looked back. If you like your stories seasoned liberally with complete weirdness and your invented worlds beyond ordinary feats of imagination, then look no further.

In contrast, ‘Beautiful Hell’ is more cohesive, and effectively an in-name sequel to Thomas’ superb Letters From Hades. Within these pages the damned try to get through their damned lives in gorgeously depicted and realised Boschean helltropes (today’s Newly Invented Word that you may all worship at the feet of)… but the ordered structure of Hell is crumbling as some of the controlling demons begin to question their roles and form relationships with the damned — and a particular book, which happens to be Letters From Hades, is subversively circling through a damned underground and stirring the pot even further. Add such maleficopolitic (today’s second Newly Invented Word that you may fall over and froth at the mouth about) themes to the imminence of a visit from God ‘imself to Hell — and a plot to assassinate him — along with the unwilling transfiguration of many of the demons into a new kind of demon heavily reliant on tentacles, and you’ve got a lovely, weird little tale that defies most rational conventions and pulls you along like the proverbial rollercoaster until you’re breathless and very satisfied at the end. (and certainly very much looking forward to Thomas’ official sequel to Letters… , Voices From Hades, coming later this year).

The two authors complement each other almost perfectly, though the tales they spin are very different. It’s a breakneck, provocative read that will leave you mulling over the whole long after the book’s been put happily onto the shelf. Find it, buy it, love it and prepared to be weirded out, in a good way.

 

Every Sigh, The End

February 7, 2008

 

 

Every Sigh, The End, by Jason S. Hornsby.

 

Cross Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama in particular with Dawn Of The Dead and you get an inkling of what this one is like. The author’s style is very reminiscent of Ellis’ authorial voice, as noted in the frontal acknowledgements. Which means that if you have something against Ellis — and a lot of people do, largely for American Psycho but often just because they look at his writing style as dead and nihilistic (I disagree, but that’s a subject for a different entry) — you’ll probably hate this, or not read it, on general principles.

Which would be a shame as it’s utterly gripping, incredibly complex and very satisfying.

The story is told from the first-person POV of a superficially-typical Ellis character: Ross, a twenty-something, relatively monied slacker type whose life mainly consists of predominantly of parties and interrelations with his equally jaded friends, lovers, etc. However, even from the beginning you can tell things are just that little bit off… it’s closing in on New Year’s Eve in 1999, and the world is full of Millennium Bug paranoia, and our protagonist has a different but associated form of paranoia going on. Why does he keep seeing people filming him on street corners? Why are there zombies lurking in the shadows unnoticed by everyone else, with makeup and scene-setting people in tow, who occasionally lurch to astounding violent life and devour random bystanders for real? Why are the roads around his city being slowly, stealthily closed off? And come to that, who exactly are his family and friends… because they’re definitely not who he thinks they are.

As New Year’s Eve closes in and the city streets begin to resemble an apocalyptic movie set, as more and more zombies have their make-up touched up and then are released, as the attacks move out of the shadows and into the mainstream and the real blood begins to flow, dispassionately filmed at close quarters by faceless men in radiation suits that somehow don’t seem to get attacked…

It’s very hard to categorize this. Just rest assured that none of it is what you would expect: leave any and all preconceptions at the door, and settle in for a hell of a harrowing, surreal, conspirational and sometimes metaphysical ride. Ellis and zombies, mix and blend into something utterly other — who would’ve thought? With this book, zombie fiction has stumbled out of its niche level and is, quite frankly, verging on literature.

 

 

 

er... 

 

Sob. I should really give up attempting to write EVER AGAIN. How can I compete…?