Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review--American Ghoul by Walt Morton

This book was suggested to me by the author himself, Walt Morton, after I made a comment that the title of this book was the same as a WIP (work-in-progress) of my own.  Actually, the working title of mine is American Ghouls and I hope to be done with it soon. 

I was lucky enough to find this on Kindle and I have to say, it was a fun read.  It was the first YA book I've read in a while and I'm glad it was suggested to me. 

The story is about a teenage ghoul who has to live a secret life in 1970's America.

But this isn't a coming-of-age story.  Thankfully, Morton keeps the plot going on this and doesn't dwell on bits that peg this book into some convenient mold.

There are some very funny moments, some touching moments and some great elements of horror.

I loved the dark humor in this novel.  It reminded me a bit of Tales From the Crypt and some of the Crypt Keeper's jokes.   There are moments where I felt like I could almost hear the Keeper's wonderful cackle in the background. 

Howard is a good character with nice balance.  He isn't overly sentimental but he isn't cold and unfeeling.  In fact, if it weren't for his ghoulish needs, he would be like any other kid his age. 

As he takes care of his grandmother and works his way through being in high school in New Jersey we see him navigate through various teen tropes.  The nice part is Morton keeps this plot driving forward so he doesn't get hung up on various things. 

And thankfully, Morton doesn't get sentimental about the 70's, and instead keeps it as a backdrop in a matter-of-fact tone. 

Howard also gets into a band called The Corpsemen.  To me, this screamed "Homage to The Misfits" but seeing as how they are a litigious bunch and have more lawyers than total number of band members, I can see why their name never comes up.  And I'm probably going to get sued for making that comment because I mentioned The Misfits twice without permission and written consent of the various members.  

There is even a website about The Corpsemen and it's well worth a look.  In fact, I'd wager that Morton was able to make a better story by avoided the other band all together and instead creating his own unique group. 

This book was a fun read.  It didn't get bogged down in the various traps YA books have in front of them and Morton kept the plot driving so you kept turning the pages.  He made Howard a great character without making him too unreal and it's nice to have somebody writing about ghouls. 

I would say give this one a read.  If for no other reason than to learn a few more jokes about eating people.  You never can get enough of those, can you? 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Help Wanted: Inquire Within

I need a stalker. 

Everybody else seems to have one and I'm jealous.  I've never had a stalker before. 

I personally don't do stalking, per se.  I mean, others might call it stalking but I call it Intense Personal Research.  You know, two people go out for a walk but only one of them knows about it?  I haven't done it for a very long time because it got boring. 

Why watch somebody enjoy life more without you than with you? 

But I'm jealous of guys who have had female stalkers.  To me, that's just intense love.  It's romantic.  A woman looking through your mailbox when you're at work isn't creepy.  That just tells me she wants to make sure I don't get junkmail. 

I find the idea of a female stalker touching.  It's a gesture of love and affection. 

I used worked with a guy who was being stalking by an ex girlfriend.  She once greeted him as he left his house to go to work and laid down on his driveway so he couldn't drive away.  How cool is that?  It's creative, dedicated and really shows her level of commitment. 

You just can't buy that kind of work ethic these days, either.  In a world where sex is so easy to find, true love becomes more illusive.  And what proclaims love louder than cutting your man's name into your own arm with a razor blade?  Nothing! 

I offered to be a stalker for a friend of mine once.  She had one previously but it just didn't work out so she kicked him to the curb.  She was stalker-less.

So I offered my services.  You know, just to keep things lively and to avoid stagnation.  She was nervous enough as it was, being stalker-less is scary sometimes, so I outlined my full-on Deluxe Headcase-Off-His-Meds Package.

First, I would do the usual online cozying up.  You know, follow every post she made, like it and comment about how great she was, etc.   I would make sure to use statements like, "Wow!  You're the smartest person online!" and basically go nuts every time she made a post. 

Next, I would make sure to send rambling private messages and e-mails.  These would also include links to badly written poetry I posted on wasteland forums that vaguely referenced my affections for her.  Plus, I would make sure to include links to romantic music where all videos seemed to end in the couple dying. 

After that, I would begin sending her all kinds of weirdness.  Pictures of kittens in cages, recipes with bizarre ingredients like sauerkraut and grape jelly combined with boiled eggs.  I would insist she make it and try it with hourly PM's while asking for her phone number. 

The best is when you find out where they work without them telling you, then you send them roses.  That just puts the cherry on the whole thing, really.  It's the little details like that that make Intense Personal Research such a rewarding hobby. 

Anyways, after fully laying out the plan, she politely declined and said she was good for now.  Also, just in case I missed it, she got a restraining order.   Those silly pieces of paper!  I always have a good laugh with the cops when they bring one over.

So, yes!  I need a stalker.  An Intense Personal Researcher.  Someone who will watch me closely and make awkward attempts at getting close to me.  The job doesn't pay, but I'm sure we'll work something out later on.  *wink-wink*

You'll have to hurry.  There is a prowler/peeping tom running around my small town currently.  My neighbors have seen him/her and I heard them outside my window the other night.  If that person is reading this, let me be the first to say, "Thank You!"  You know, it's not often you'll find somebody who likes to look into an apartment at 2 am and watch a fat guy in his fudgies read a book, but you sure did it.  And for that, I'm flattered. 

There's no such thing as mind bleach and if you like that sort of thing, then Gods bless you!  I'm humbled.

No, really.  I am.  I know that in today's society there are tons of exhibitionists out there and of all of them, you chose to watch a fat guy in his underwear read a book.  A good book, actually.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.   I'll be reviewing this book on this very website soon enough. 

In fact, the book was so good, I didn't notice you right away.  I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude.  But I'll be sitting around in my chonies again tonight while I finish this book.  If you're there, lemme know and I'll do some poses for you. 


Friday, July 12, 2013

NightWhere by John Everson

I've waited a bit to review this book for one simple reason--it evoked a lot of thoughts and I wanted to sort through them before I said much. 

This book is amazing for a number of reasons I'll cover, but most importantly it does something that all very good books do--it sends your thoughts back your own life.  It makes you think about your actions and what you do, have done, and what you desire to do.  And for me, it made me sympathize with an MC while wondering what I would do in his shoes.   

On the surface, NightWhere by John Everson is a novel about a man who goes to great lengths for a woman he loves.  It's a couple involved in swinging lifestyle brought on by her insatiable needs. 

I've known swinging couples before.  I can tell you that it's always one partner or another pushing the issue.  Maybe one is gay or bi, maybe the other is just greedy.  But one person is always pushing that issue and the other goes along with them out of love. 

How much are you willing to accept just to be with the person you love?  That's a tough question to ask.  NightWhere really does address that issue in a big way.  Sometimes it's hard to watch this happen and Everson does a remarkable job navigating the plot and characters through this initial mud into something darker. 

When Rae, the wife, pushes harder to satiate her desires it leads the couple into the world of BDSM.  Thankfully, Everson doesn't picture the world of BDSM through the lens of some babe in the woods but rather as a vanilla that isn't a prude.  It's refreshing to not get some learner's course on this stuff. 

The most important aspect to NightWhere, for me anyways, was the decent into the underground club and where it ultimately leads.  I'm not going to spoil things, but it's no big secret our desires lead us into terrible places.  The Seven Deadly Sins were named so because when we over-indulge in them we take ourselves in a spiritually bankrupt state.   

What do you desire?  If God wasn't looking and you could have what you wanted, what would it be?  And if it was a dark, terrible desire, would you still want it? 

Sex gets us into trouble.  Almost always, it gets us into some kind of trouble.  NightWhere does a great job of sliding us into that trouble without us totally being aware.  We are titillated by the voyeurism.  But once we look, we cannot look away, and that leads us into true horror.

NightWhere is a club.  It's not some ordinary sex club.  It's underground and hidden away.  You can only get there by invitation.  You must choose to be there.  This is important when we partake in our indulgences.  We choose to gorge ourselves at the buffet, we choose to make money to buy things, we choose to attack out of anger.  And at NightWhere, you can choose to do anything you want.

The other element to NightWhere that had me buzzing was the nature of the relationship our flesh has with our desires.   I wasn't surprised to learn that every lottery winner gains a bunch of weight.  We all indulge in something and most often it is with our flesh.  We consume. 

But what if that goes too far?  And who is to say what "too far" is defined to be?  Where do you draw the line?  The kinksters like to use the mantra Safe, Sane and Consensual.  But what if you could break any of those?  What if you could break all three and get away with it? 

NightWhere reminded me a bit of the David Guy's novel Autobiography of My Body in that it forced me to question my own thoughts and feelings about desires, flesh, and what is too far.  Everson brings out his MC's heroic elements perfectly until it is an obsession just as strong as his wife, Rae's.  And in the final third of the book we are taken through a world we hope we never have to see.  Rae's husband does anything, and I mean anything, to get her back.  Plus, there is a certain toy used by a plaything I once sketched out and tried to design, and seeing it used in this book didn't make me feel any better. 

This book was nominated for the 2012 Bram Stoker Award and I knew it would.  Anything that provokes that much thought while making me squirm in my seat as I turn the pages is something special indeed.  If you haven't read this book yet, you need to.  Anybody who is a fan of horror needs to put this on their reading list. 


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ignoring The Bad--The Love that Hurts

One of my favorite poems was a prose poem written by Kenneth Fearing. He was an Illinois native like myself.

Remember that Kevin Costner movie NoWay Out? That was modern re-telling of Fearing's novel TheBig Clock.

During the whole Commie Pig-Dog witch hunt, a Senator asked Fearing in front of a Grand Jury if he was a member of the Commie Pig-Dog Party. Fearing replied, “Not yet.” I love anybody willing to give a middle-finger statement like that.
But Fearing's poem Love, 20Cents, The First Quarter Mile, is one of my favorites. It deals with a couple of issues in relationships. One is the on and off nature of some relationships. Make-up, break-up, make-up, and repeat until exhaustion.

The other issue is the how we seem to negotiate our way through relationships. We ignore the bad and try to focus on the good. In the process, we lose who we are and set up more pain for later. Some people are worth swallowing this for, some just aren't.

This poem is good, but it could use an update. That and I have this demon I need to shut up.

Love, 20 Bucks, The First Quarter Mile

All right. I may have posted some crap on Facebook and Twitter.
And said a few things to your friends. And made a scene at work in the parking lot.
And maybe I did threaten to kill Dre and his crew. And the comment
I made about your mom wasn't fair.
But you should move back in.

Come back to our trailer.
I will forget about the video you made, Jungle Love 4,
And you will stop telling people I'm crazy.
Together we will agree there is nothing wrong
with my gun collection.
And we will say your drinking is purely recreational
and those shakes are from blood sugar.

I will stop calling your friends drunken cum dumpsters
And you will agree the swastika on my wall
is historical and my klan robes are from Halloween.
And I will stop saying your lady parts look like
they've had too much train traffic.
And you'll agree I was too tired for sex and it wasn't the
Oxies, Roxies, Morphine and Xanies
From the constant pain in my joints.

I forgive you and love you dearly.
Every time I close my eyes, I see your face
And the expression on it
in those videos and pictures.
I focus hard on
Your free spirit and strong nature,
The wry smile on your face and
bronze skin.
No man can keep his hands off your body.

Tonight around the bonfire
your face dances in the light of the flame
And the coyotes off in the distance
sing your name in eerie praises.

Come back. We'll have a party.
We'll invite your slutty friends
so they can hook up with my skinhead buddies
And take pics to post on Facebook.
And I'll shoot any niggers that show up.