Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
February 19, 2019
Promises from God for Men of Color. Ugh.
Category: Books … Serious

So I was in Walmart late the other night and was looking over the books on their Black History Month table, and my eyes settled on a book titled "Promises from God for Men of Color." I think I was in the mood to be annoyed or amused or confused -- or possibly, though doubtfully, enlightened -- or whatever, because it was this book that I decided to pick up and flip through.

Eventually, after finding nothing particularly arresting on the pages I found upon first opening the book, I skimmed the table of contents to see if it would point me to something more interesting... whereupon I found a section called "Positive Thinking." For myriad reasons -- many of which are related to my experience as a so-called man of color -- I do find it difficult to think positively about events. So, curious as to what advice the book might have for me on the subject, I turned to the page indicated.

Firstly, the page indicated didn't actually point to the "Positive Thinking" section -- that section was in fact two pages later. So a book that purported to communicate the promises found in the infallible Word of God to a particular audience couldn't even get the TOC right, which is discouraging but somehow apropos given the hand God's dealt men of color. Anyway, I did ultimately find the "Positive Thinking" section and settled in to read the verse expressly chosen for the subject. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 12:53 pm | Comments (0)
October 14, 2018
The Ballad of Black Tom, etc.
Category: Books … Miscellany … Serious

Do you have any places that fill you with an inexplicable sadness?

So there's this section of road I occasionally have to drive -- I've probably mentioned it before -- and whenever I drive it during the evening I'm overcome with a deep and overwhelming depression. Like, suicidal depression. If that road had an exit to the Key Bridge, I'd probably steer my car right over the edge; if I kept a gun in the car (I don't own guns), I'd likely pull over and shoot myself in the head. That feeling is perhaps especially jarring because it usually follows otherwise positive and encouraging experiences -- when I land on it in the evening (for some reason I'm unaffected when I drive it in daylight), I'm usually on my way home from a writing group session or the horror book club meeting or the Renaissance Festival. I don't know how I'd feel if I ended up on that road after a particularly long and shitty day, and I'd be both curious and terrified to find out. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 11:50 pm | Comments (0)
March 7, 2018
Adaptation dilemma and detective stories?
Category: Books … TV, Film, & DVDs

So I finished rereading Anonymous Rex yesterday and just received Anonymous Rex on dvd in the mail today... but -- despite the film's sharing its title with the first book in the series -- apparently the film is based on the prequel, Casual Rex! And while I've already ordered that book, it's slated to arrive Friday at the earliest and I'd wanted to watch the movie tonight... but I want to read the book before seeing the film. ARGH.

Also, random thing I realized: when it comes to fluff reading (ie, books that aren't established classics or at least lean towards a literary/pretentious style), I think detective stories are my favorites. I'd never recommend Anonymous Rex over Brave New World or 1984 or Frankenstein or Great Mischief (by Josephine Pinckney; it's probably my favorite book you've never heard of), but it's a really fun read despite (or because of) its ridiculous premise. I kinda want to review Anonymous Rex at greater length; it's got some choice quotes I'd love to share -- and I realize that I almost always feel that way about detective narratives. They're delightful.

-posted by Wes | 6:04 pm | Comments (0)
February 26, 2018
William Sleator and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad character
Category: Books

So in the last two weeks I've read three books by William Sleator: The Beasties (1997), The Boxes (1998), and Marco's Millions (2001). (That I read three books in that time isn't impressive -- Sleator wrote young adult science fiction, so the books go by fairly quickly.) I bought The Boxes and Marco's Millions years ago when I worked at a book store; Sleator's books had neat cover art (The Boxes features an alien crab thing on its cover; I'm a sucker for alien crab things) and, as frequent residents of our clearance shelves, the titles were cheap to boot. Apparently I was more interested in the covers and the price, since I'm just now getting around to reading the books themselves.

Of those three books, I imagine The Beasties will prove to be the most memorable to me -- I'm sure I'll write more about it some other time, and I'm sure I'll puzzle over the events of the climax for years to come. For this entry, however, I'm going to talk about two-book series that comprises The Boxes and Marco's Millions. Specifically, while there are a lot of neat things worth discussing in the books (frex, Marco's Millions features a naked singularity, which affects gravity and the passage of time for characters as they approach it), I'm going to talk about one particular character. The character isn't fascinating in the least, but I did find it fascinating how inexplicably unsympathetically this character is portrayed. Spoilers follow. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:22 pm | Comments (0)
February 2, 2018
Preliminary thoughts re: Ramsey Campbell’s The Kind Folk
Category: Books

Are any of you familiar with Ramsey Campbell? Apparently he "is perhaps the world's most-honored author of horror fiction" and "has won more awards than any other living author of horror or dark fantasy." (The Wikipedia article features even higher praise; in speaking of him, author S. T. Joshi apparently wrote, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood." Wow.) I'm reading his 2012 novel The Kind Folk for a horror book club I joined late last year.

It's... bad. Like, really bad. The writing isn't just amateurish or unpolished; it's not even simplistic in the way many children's books are written -- it's more like the writing a child (say, a fifth grader) would produce after a couple of revisions. So far (and admittedly I'm only four chapters in) the story is incredibly weak, too. Campbell is in the habit of writing very short chapters (generally 3-5 pages), which I assume is intended to keep the reader engaged -- it's easy to keep saying, "Oh, I'll just read the next chapter," when the chapters are so brief -- but each chapter could literally be summarized in a single sentence without losing anything essential or valuable because the writing is wholly lacking in sophistication and depth. It's so empty that I can barely focus on it; somewhere in the middle of the second page I had to flip to various other parts of the book to see if the writing ever improves. It doesn't. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:54 am | Comments (0)
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