Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Reviews (January, 2015)

Being as it’s only 3 1/2 months since my last post, here are some latest book reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through www.amazon.com.

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REVIEWED: Not for Nothing
WRITTEN BY: Stephen Graham Jones
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2014

Not for Nothing is a gritty, twisting detective tale set in small-town Stanton, Texas, where everyone knows each other and business affairs are conducted by the ghosts of high school cliques. In fact, one of the clever and most successful elements of this story is the yearbook-esque feeling of it; the protagonist, Nick Bruiseman, a disgraced ex-cop and now-drunk security guard fumbles his way through a series of double crosses and murders, and all the time every person he comes in contact with —either friend, enemy, ex-lover, etc.—is from his school or is the child from someone from his school.

The book is rather slow and leisurely to read, much like life in Stanton. The story is drenched in sadness and dejection, but also in humor and suspense. It has a hundred twists, and not all of them are necessary, but it’s a thrilling ride nonetheless. The narrative seemed a bit choppy at times, but that ties into Nick’s perpetually half-drunk take on the world around him. Then again, this style of writing seems to be a signature of the author, Stephen Graham Jones; reading him is as of someone verbally telling a story, with detours, hiccups, gaps, asides, and all other means of genuine conversation. Rather than polished-smooth, the writing is raw and legitimate and embodies an unfamiliar beauty.

As a side note, after reading the first couple of pages, my mind slowly recoiled in a double-take of reluctant, dawning horror. This book was written in second person point of view: The audacity! The inhumanity! The dread! It’s a rare-enough feat to pull off a successful short story in this POV, but I don’t know if I’ve ever read a full-length book in this way which has held my interest (excepting childhood Choose-Your-Own-Adventures!), and I was instinctively averse to continue. However, Jones managed to build a story filled with empathy, sadness, humor, insight, that in retrospect seems integral to having been 2nd POV.

Five out of Five stars


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REVIEWED: The End in All Beginnings
WRITTEN BY: John F.D. Taff
PUBLISHED: September, 2014

“The End in All Beginnings” is a solid collection of novellas by John F.D. Taff, who’s been writing dark fiction for nearly a quarter of a century. Each of the stories is a thoughtful take, relating in some way to death and sorrow. Probably the least morose story happened to be my favorite, “Love in the Time of Zombies,” which was quite funny and with great content. “What Becomes God” is a long path into tragedy with a ‘killer’ ending. “The Long, Long Breakdown” was a gloomy, drowning post-apocalyptic ‘world’ that this author really needs to expand upon in future works. The other stories were fine in their own ways, but these listed were my top three picks from the T.O.C.

Four-and-a-half out of Five stars


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REVIEWED: Motherless Child
WRITTEN BY: Glen Hirshberg
PUBLISHED: May, 2014 by Tor Books (originally in 2012 by Earthling)

Motherless Child may be classified as a vampire book, but it is not related to the well-worn tropes familiar to most readers. Glen Hirshberg’s writing is as literary as any classical author, filled with pathos, explorations of the human condition, and a contrast of the good vs. evil theme, but with unexpected outcomes. Two young mothers, Natalie and Sophie, who have been turned into vampires, must leave their beloved children behind to travel the country searching for answers, trying to fight the effects of what they’ve become, until the inevitable showdown with those who changed them forever.

Four-and-a-half out of Five stars




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Midnight Cheers,

Eric J. Guignard




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