book monster

The Book Monster #18

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I took my wife on a date to see the movie “Austenland” at the dollar theater at the Gateway Mall on Thursday (I wasn’t quite sure what to expect). The movie is about a Jane-Austen-obsessed woman (played by Keri Russell) attending a Jane-Austen-themed resort where women pay big money to experience what it’s like to be in a Jane-Austenish romance with gentlemanly actors (no touching!). I LOLed throughout the movie and I was pleasantly surprised by this chick-flick. Russell’s rendition of “Hot in Here,” by the rapper Nelly, was fantastic too. Jane Seymour, Bret McKenzie and Jennifer Coolidge also starred. I haven’t read any of Jane Austen’s work. Even after seeing this movie I can’t say I have any desire to read Jane Austen’s novels. There is no appeal. However, there is a chance I’ll try Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36nk3NEyCLU

A note: For the time being, The Book Monster is going bi-weekly!.

An observation: I have been drinking a ridiculous amount of tea lately. Yogi brand Echinacea Immune Support tea is delicious, it has a hint of mint among other natural flavors, and is perfect for sipping while reading on a dreary day during fall or winter.

Book news:

Infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau was found guilty of Criminal Contempt for making false claims about his book, “The Weightloss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.” National Public Radio reported, “In a series of infomercials, Trudeau claimed the book revealed a “miracle substance” discovered in the 1950s and kept secret by food companies and the government that allows people to eat anything, not exercise and not gain weight.” According to NPR, Trudeau violated a 2004 court order that prohibited him from making false claims in his book.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in Lafourche Parish, La. voters decided to continue to fund the library over diverting funds to the jail. Parish Council Chair Lindel Toups said libraries have too much money than blasted libraries for the activities taking place inside such as, “teaching Mexicans to speak English.”

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Mark Twain didn’t want his autobiography published until 100 years after his death.

The second volume of Mark Twain’s Autobiography was released. Ben Tarnoff’s review in The New Yorker is fantastic: “When Mark Twain opened his mouth, strange things came tumbling out. Things like hoaxes, jokes, yarns, obscenities, and non sequiturs. He had a drawl—his “slow talk,” his mother called it—that made his sentences long and sinuous. One reporter described it as a “little buzz-saw slowly grinding inside a corpse.” Others thought that he sounded drunk.” 

DarkmansWhat I’ve been reading:

Nicola Barker’s “Darkmans” is a mixed bag. This borderline-experimental book was hilarious but I felt it was too long (838 pages). I was underwhelmed by the ending of the book too (I think I missed something and I may go back through and skim over certain key points in the book and then finish the last chapter). During my reading of this book I moved from New Mexico back to Oregon and I was sidetracked by travel, friends, family, and other books (this may have to do with the underwhelming ending too). Set in England, the book follows an eclectic cast of characters (Barker’s character development was fantastic) through a series of strange events, some more exciting than others, as history subtly lurks in the shadows and pushes some characters to madness.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Earlier this year I nabbed “Winnie the Pooh” from my parents house in Beaverton and this last week I started reading it. Author A.A. Milne wrote the Pooh books at the request of the adult non-fictionalized version of Christopher Robin, Milne’s son. The books are a result of Milne telling stories to his son.  After WinnieThePoohreading the first two chapters of the book I realized this book should have an alternate title: “Winnie the Pooh, or A.A. Milne is Clever.”  Clever indeed, and I chuckle just thinking about the antics of Pooh and friends. The simple nature of the characters results in a lot of well-intentioned bad ideas that are enacted by this cast of Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everybody, but if you like to laugh and you don’t mind reading a book geared towards children, read it.

Other things I’ve been reading:

• Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.”

• Selections from Mas Udi’s “The Meadows of Gold.”

• “Bears: A Brief History,” by Bernd Brunner.

• The May 2013 issue of Outside magazine.

• The Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft.

• A couple poems from the Winter 2013 issue of “The Gettysburg Review.

Don’t forget to share this column with your friends who love to read. Also, I’d love to hear from you if you have any comments, requests, rants, praises, or two-sentence book reviews or anything else that has to do with books and literature. Hell, if you send me an e-mail you could end up in the column: [email protected]

 

The Book Monster #17 (Relaunch)

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October 30, 2013 

After a 10 month hiatus, I am relaunching my column “The Book Monster.” 

For those who have never visited my column before I would like to welcome you and invite you to keep coming back. I also invite you to read some of my old columns. The Book Monster discusses books, publishing news, authors, literature in pop culture, and anything else that has to do with books. Feel free to comment with Facebook. I would also love to hear from my readers whether you have questions, comments, etc. You can contact me by e-mail (the box with the “e” inside, below my bio) or via Twitter (the box with the “T” inside).

To my readers both faithful and intermittent I apologize for the abrupt death of the column in December; my career took me elsewhere.

Goth, vamps, and Edgar Allan Poe teamed up to save the world from emo kids last week on South Park.
Goth, vamps, and Edgar Allan Poe teamed up to save the world from emo kids last week on South Park.

This being the eve of Halloween I feel inclined to touch upon Edgar Allan Poe, father of the horror genre, who appeared last week “South Park” as the original goth. During the episode titled “Goth Kids 3,” Poe accused the goth kids of South Park Elementary of being poseurs. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone never fail in their ability to polk fun at anything and everyone, and their portrayal of Poe was hilarious. 

Poe’s masterpiece “The Raven” may be his best poem, and Christopher Walken’s reading of the poem is excellent. Enjoy:

CoralineThis past weekend I read Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline.” I heard the Tim Burton adaptation of the book was terrible and I have never seen it. The New York Times Book Review dubbed “Coraline,” “One of the most frightening books ever written.” With a review like that I couldn’t resist reading it. “Coraline” follows in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” in that Coraline finds a door in her home that leads to another world, only this is a world where everything is a sinister replica of the real world. Quality of plot and quality of writing made it easy for me to overlook the fact that the book is written at an elementary reading level. I wish I could’ve read “Coraline” when I was a Goosebumps obsessed third grader, but I still loved the book as an adult. This book wasn’t the most frightening I’ve read, but as far as children’s literature goes this book takes the cake.

Technology has changed the face of the publishing industry and online literary journals are popping all over the internet and the best thing about them is they are free. Wig Leaf publishes fiction under 1,000 words a handful of times every month, although I have not figured out their publishing frequency. I cannot vouch for all the fiction that is published on the site, but I have come across a few great stories at Wig Leaf. Finding a short story worth reading only takes a little bit of searching on this site.

 

 

 

Book Review – Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms

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The cover artwork for Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms, edited by Dr. Alex Scully.
The cover artwork for Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms, edited by Dr. Alex Scully.

Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms is the second installment in editor Dr. Alex Scully’s horror anthology series to be published by local indy press Firbolg Publishing. The common thread running through the tales this time around is homosexuality, which may turn away some potential readers, but it should be noted that Dr. Scully manages to avoid the common editorial pitfall of pounding the reader over the head with her anthology’s thematic linkage at every turn by including a diverse selection of stories ranging from ones in which LGBTQ-ness is central to the plot to others in which it is merely implied.

Along with its main theme, Fires and Phantoms also carries on the theme of its predecessor, Enter at Your Own Risk: Old Masters, New Voices, by mixing in some rather excellent stories by older writers like Edith Wharton and Ralph Adams Cram. One can only hope that the addition of masterworks by authors from previous literary eras will continue to be a hallmark of the series going forward, although their presence does have the unfortunate effect of highlighting the unevenness of the contemporary stories that make up the bulk of the anthology.

Following a short introduction by horror novelist Robert Dunbar extolling the genre’s lack of literary status as a virtue that has granted horror writers the freedom to explore taboo subjects long before it was considered safe to do so in mainstream fiction (and an even shorter foreword by Dr. Scully), Fires and Phantoms starts off with “Alone,” a short poem by Edgar Allan Poe that evokes a certain sense of otherness and isolation that should help readers get themselves into the proper mindset to enjoy the stories to come.

However, the mood set by Poe’s work is spoiled somewhat by the first piece of prose fiction in the collection, “When You Are Right” by Robbie Anderson. The setup of Anderson’s story is interesting enough – a policeman working the night shift waits in the car while his partner patronizes a creepy house of ill repute – but it reads like a rough outline, rushing ahead to its conclusion without pausing to give the reader much in the way of interesting detail or characterization. Thankfully, the next story in the anthology, “Time for One More Show” by local Eugene author B.E. Scully, gets things back on the right track with a much more interesting tale involving a lesbian stripper who becomes enthralled by a seductive mirror-bound apparition, but the difference in quality from one story to the next throughout Fire and Phantoms is stark enough that it may prove an insurmountable annoyance to some readers.

Another peculiarity that detracts somewhat from the collection is the inclusion of three stories – “A Decent Cup of Tea” by Michele Cacano, “In the End, He Dreams” by Michael Meeske, and “Inheritance” by Richard May – that read suspiciously like romance stories that were only submitted for consideration because they happened to have ghosts in them. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad stories, but their lovelorn tone would be more at home in a Harlequin Romance novel than a gothic horror anthology.

That said, Fires and Phantoms includes far more good stories than bad, and only one tale in the second category (Chad Stroup’s “Prickle the Ivories”) truly sinks to the level of unreadably awful. Along with B.E. Scully’s salacious tale, other contemporary gems here include T. Fox Dunham’s supernatural Civil War story “Last Dance in the Rain,” Vincent Waters’ macabre tale of a devout, troubled husband “Promises in the Dark, Whispers at Dawn,” and Andrew Wolter’s surprisingly enjoyable re-imagining of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” coyly entitled “A New Heart That Tells a Tale.”

wharton_pic
Edith Wharton

But as good as those modern stories are, the best ones in the entire anthology are the three oldest: Wharton’s compellingly understated “The Eyes,” Richard Hall’s ghostly trip through the history of LGBTQ literature “Country People” (which, fittingly enough, inspired the creation of this anthology), and the one story in the book I found genuinely disquieting on a visceral level, “In Kropfsberg Keep” by Ralph Adams Cram. Dr. Scully merits some applause for that last selection; Cram’s body of work as an architect may still be relatively well known, but his literary output has rather undeservedly fallen into obscurity over the years.

Again, its homosexual themes may put off some people, but the stories Dr. Scully has assembled here are by no means just for LGBTQ readers. It’s far from perfect (what anthology is?), but if you’re a fan of gothic horror, Fire and Phantoms does enough things right to justify picking up a copy on your next visit to the bookstore.

Book Review – Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully

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The cover artwork for Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully.
The cover artwork for Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully.

Verland: The Transformation, the debut novel by Eugene author B.E. Scully, is a welcome return to a time when vampire stories were actually about vampires.  And when I say vampires, I don’t mean brooding sex symbols who might enjoy a snifter of Type O every now and then when they aren’t busy romancing vapid teenage girls, but the vampires of old: superhuman, disquieting predators with an overpowering thirst for human blood.

The nominal protagonist of Scully’s story is Elle Bramasol, a true crime writer who ekes out a living on the mid-lists when she isn’t busy having conversations with her mother’s grave or hanging out with her two cats or policeman boyfriend.  That all changes one day when she gets a call informing her that famed Hollywood producer turned murderer Eliot Kingman has made a personal request for her to write a book about the events that led to his glitzy, high-profile trial and subsequent conviction.

However, Bramasol soon learns that Kingman’s case is the furthest thing from his mind.  During their first interview, he rambles on about the nature of life and grief, then tells her that he has found a loophole to mortality, a way around death itself.  When she inquires further, he directs her to visit his mansion, where his wife and his assistant give her a sheaf of translated pages from a book purporting to be a diary that begins during the Franco-Prussian War in the 1870s.

It’s at this point that the novel really comes into its own as the diary introduces us to Verland, a young Prussian soldier who is turned into a vampire by a mysterious medic after being left to die on the battlefield.  As Scully unfolds the vampire’s story through multiple series of diary entries, Verland soon supplants Bramasol as the de facto protagonist of the story; he is a fully-realized, complexly layered character, and his diary is the most interesting part of the entire novel by far.  In fact, the entries are so compelling that they begin to overshadow the rest of the book, and it won’t take long before readers will find themselves skimming through Bramasol’s investigations so they can get back to reading about Verland’s life story.

Portrait of B.E. Scully from her author page on Amazon.com.
Portrait of B.E. Scully from her author page on Amazon.com.

The passages dealing with Verland’s diary succeed as well as they do by never making the mistake of lingering for too long on any one subject.  By turns Verland is a wretch overridden with existential anguish, a terrifying predator who revels in his powers, a passive observer to important historical events and personages, a detached clinician who performs unsettling J.G. Ballard-style experiments on his own flesh, and an outsider who knows he must remain apart from humanity but can’t quite still his yearnings for the simple pleasure of social contact.  And no matter how far Scully pushes her titular antihero, his thoughts and actions always feel true to the character she has created.

One of the more fascinating themes running throughout the book is the constant juxtaposition of the vampire’s overriding monstrosity – i.e., the need to feed via murder, up close and personal – with the evils of human society in all their depersonalizing, depraved cruelty.  In a way, Verland’s simple animal urge to seek out prey paints him with a purity of purpose that somehow elevates his bloodlust above the far murkier motivations behind the predations of normal humans.

Verland’s passage through history also works to take the vampire mythos created in seminal horror novels like John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and carry it intact up to the present day, free of the glitterpires and other misty-eyed romantic trappings that make contemporary vampire fiction so unbearable to read.  The novel’s historical and literary references sometimes devolve into little more than rote name-dropping, and at times the scope of the story outstrips Scully’s ability to fully realize it, but that’s a small complaint.  It’s hard to fault an author for daring to reach for something just beyond their grasp instead of playing it safe and composing a lesser story.

So, while Verland: The Transformation doesn’t avoid the usual smattering of problems that seem to plague all debut novels, B.E. Scully nevertheless succeeds in writing an engaging, satisfying tale.  It may not be high literature, but it doesn’t need to be – it’s a straight-up vampire novel, and a damned good one at that.

The Book Monster Vol. 16

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SONY DSCOn my way to Fred Meyer to buy some eggs I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Reading is Sexy,” and I couldn’t agree more; people who read are beautiful.

Glad to see the Mayans weren’t right, and the world didn’t end on the 21st of December. I was a little worried until I read this NASA-created webpage answering some questions about the supposed end of the world, but seriously, I laughed while reading this page.

Adventures in the Rocky MountainsOregon Quarterly, the University of Oregon’s official magazine, published an article titled “Doomsday or Deliverance”. It was written by my Magazine Writing instructor at the U of O, Alice Tallmadge (she interviews another professor of mine, Dan Wojcik {folklore department}, about the apocalypse). This is by far the best writing about the 2012-end-of-the-world hype we’ve been hearing about for the last couple years.

Gift Guide Part 2: Christmas can be stressful because the economy is in the dumps and if you’re like me there are some people in your life you’re really want to buy gifts for. Don’t fret, Dover Thrift Editions can save Christmas. DTE’s are cheap paperback books priced as low as $1.25. To gift your friends and family without breaking your budget or using a credit card, give your co-workers, friends, and family a DTE. You can’t find any contemporary books in DTE format, but old books are easy to find.

colby_buzzellWhether or not you agree with the politics of The Iraq War, it would behoove you to read Colby Buzzell’s “My War: Killing Time in Iraq”. The book is a result of an infantryman’s journals and blog that he kept while he was in Iraq (the blog eventually drew fire from the head honchos in Iraq, and after that Buzzell had to clear his writing with his Platoon Leaders before posting on his blog). What makes this book so great is Buzzell’s candid writing, which is blended with humor, and the cold-steel reality of being in a combat; nothing is sugar coated. In fact the author writes about how when he was in Iraq he got numerous email’s complaining about the offensive language on his blog. To them, all he had to offer was more explicit language. The Iraq War was one of the ongoing events that defined the last decade. If you want to understand it you need to read this book.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading older memoirs so much is that it gives the reader a view of how things once were through the lens of a living person (they were living when they wrote it anyway). Adventures in the Rocky Mountains is a collection of Isabella Bird’s correspondence during her travels through the mountainous-western states in the 1870’s. Bird’s writing is descriptive, concise, and telling. If you’re wondering how an adventurous women of the 19th-century fairs when a bear scares the daylights out of her horse, read it.

Look for the exciting conclusion of The Book Monster’s Holiday Gift Guide next week, and don’t forget to share The Book Monster with your friends and anybody else who loves reading.

The Book Monster Vol. 15

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Christmas is upon us! So The Book Monster is beginning it’s holiday gift guide with stocking stuffers. Stocking stuffers need to be compact, thoughtful, and inexpensive. “The History of Farting” by Benjamin Bart is perfect for everyone’s stocking. I also recommend pistachios be put in your loved one’s stockings because they’re fun to eat while you read.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on Thursday at midnight. I’m not a huge fan of books being turned into movies because 19 out of 20 times the movie is terrible, but Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy was exceptional. So yes, I plan on attending the midnight showing. I have a feeling I will be binging on J.R.R. Tolkien books for the next month afterwards.

I would also like to remind my readers not to sit in the same spot on the couch too long, too often. I did a lot more reading this past week than normal, and I noticed my couch cushion was flat. It’s important to rotate your seating while reading.

Bruce Holland Rogers sells a subscription of 36 pieces of short-short stories, which are received via email, for $10 a year. Not only is this guy an innovator in the publishing industry, but he lives in Eugene.  Next week EDN’s Ryan Beltram will be interviewing Rogers, so keep an eye out for the story next week. Bruce Holland Rogers story Dinosaur can be read online, and it’s awesome.

If you’re looking for more winter reading check out Bill Watterson’s “Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Snow Goons.” In this book of comic strips Calvin and Hobbes fight against evil snowmen when their Winter Wonderland turns on them. Of all the Calvin and Hobbes books out there I think this one showcases Bill Watterson’s creative genius as an artist better than any of the others. The Snow Goons artwork is slightly morbid, it’s humorous, and it’s beautiful in it’s own way too.

A few years ago while working at a shoe store in the Valley River Center I was talking about books with a co-worker. He told me “The Stand” was the best of any Stephen King book he had read, which were many. So this fall I took the plunge and read “The Stand,” and I loved it. Because it has 1141 pages it took me a while to get through it. The book is about the apocalyptic events that follow a devastating super-flu, and the ordinary people who band together to fight the evil powers that arise from the ashes of civilization. I wouldn’t say it’s my personal favorite of Stephen King’s works, but it was still a great book worth reading. There is even a beautifully written Christmas scene in the book that I was not expecting to come across. It should be noted that there are two versions of this book. It was first published in 1978, and in 1990 it was re-released in it’s complete and uncut format, which is the version I read. There was also a TV movie made by ABC that was horrible (no I didn’t watch it, but I’ve heard nothing good about it).

The Book Monster Vol. 14

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To Build A Fire…

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and that means I’ve been reading a lot on Airplanes. I came prepared for all my flights with books and magazines, but I still found time to read the ridiculous and amusing Skymall catalog and after browsing through it a few times I have set my heart on these book ends.

While I was in Minnesota I dropped by Half Price Books, which is a bookstore chain that prices  new books well below half price, and yes, I bought a few books. The Book Monster recommends if you’re ever traveling to a city with a Half Price Books you make a visit and expand your library. Even if you don’t buy any books their Rare Books and Collectibles section would be worth your time.

Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, is publishing a children’s book, and it will hit bookshelves next September. The book will be about a girl whose father has been deployed to the Vietnam War. I’m interested to see how this book will be received by the kids whose parents have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan.

To prepare our Boy Scout troop for a snow campout on Mt. Hood my scoutmaster, and father, read  To Build a Fire by Jack London to us scouts. This well written survival story about winter travel in Alaska has a special place in my imagination, and I always think about it when I go on my winter adventures in the Cascades. A few years ago I bought London’s “To Build a Fire and Other Stories” and the gritty stories explore man’s instinct to survive at all costs. Many of the stories take place in Alaska but others take place in the Pacific islands, California. Another favorite story in this book titled The Strength of the Strong is about an ancient civilization’s conflicts with other tribes. Re-reading the title-story of this book has a become a winter tradition of mine. 

What if you could taste people’s emotions in the food they cooked? In Aimee Bender’s novel “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” an adolescent girl’s life is turned upside down when her mother’s unhappiness begins to ruin every meal. This book is a smooth read with excellent writing. It explores human relationships and the way we deal with problems. Even though a lot of the food in this book is tied up with sadness and other emotions, I got hungry whenever I read the book.

 

“Holidays on Ice” by David Sedaris is not filled with cheese like a lot of other books about Christmas. The book begins with SantaLand Diaries, which chronicles the author’s experience as an elf at Macy’s in New York City. The book continues with absurdly-humorous holiday stories that may resemble the holidays more closely than a Richard Paul Evans book. The book is short, but sweet as a Christmas cookie. Snuggle-up next your Christmas tree, read this book, and you’ll be ready for the holidays.

Don’t forget to share The Book Monster with your friends on Facebook.

The Book Monster Vol. 13

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These days you can find and purchase almost anything because of the internet. But alas, I cannot seem to find the book “101 Shaggy Dog Jokes” anywhere. I checked this book out a number of times from my elementary school library, and I loved it. I even memorized a few of the jokes.

Q: “What is the first thing a shaggy dog does when it jumps in the swimming pool?”
A: “It gets wet.”
And
Q: “How do you make a shaggy dog float?”
A: “Two scoops of ice cream, root beer, and a shaggy dog.”

Yes, these jokes are ridiculous, but it is a children’s book (I still think they’re funny). Not being able to find this book makes me feel like it died; and books shouldn’t ever die. This digital age we live in has brought us unlimited access to books in both digital and hardcopy; however, It seems like “101 Shaggy Dog Jokes” slipped through the cracks.

I recently finished Richard Dawkins’ book “The Greatest Show on Earth”, which is about evolution. Dawkins is a world renowned evolutionary biologist who writes informally about the science and brilliance of evolution. There were 2-parts in the book that I found rather dense, but the rest was a breeze to read and understand. My favorite part of the book was learning about all the strange but true happenings in the natural world and the evolutionary explanations behind them. Dawkins writes about some very strange flora and fauna, and the addition of full color photos with in-depth captions is very helpful in visualizing what he is writing about. If you want to understand evolution, this book is a must read.

Looking for literature with a cowboy twang? If you are, look no further than the High Desert Journal, which is based out of Bend, Oregon. This local publication includes poetry, non-fiction, art, and fiction about the American west. I discovered this gem at Barnes & Noble, and read through it while scarfing some pumpkin cheesecake at the cafe. Highlights in the current issue include a short non-fiction piece titled Occupy Fossil by Jack E. Lorts (fossil has less than 500 people), a report on the national cowboy poetry gathering, and the art-conscious spacious formatting. You can pick the High Desert Journal up at Barnes & Noble or you can subscribe for $15.00 at their website.

As October comes to an end, don’t let it end without reading any Edgar Allen Poe, the original master of suspense and terror. Wait until it’s late and everyone in the house has gone to bed, sit in a cozy chair next to the lamp, read The Raven or The Fall of The House of Usher or whatever your favorite Poe writings are, and let your imagination run loose in the silence of your own home.

Do you have a question for The Book Monster? Or do you have something you want to say about books? Email me at [email protected] And be sure to share The Book Monster with your friends on Facebook.

Book Monster Vol. 12: More Horror

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Words by Kevin Baird, EDN

The other day I was thinking about the scariest book of all time. What is it? After much debate I decided it was a toss-up between “The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree”, Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories” series, and the first Goosebumps I ever read, which was “You Can’t Scare Me.” Of course none of these books would scare an adult (maybe “Scary Stories” would), but as a child I was gullible, and my vivid imagination was still unchecked by science. As an adult I still love the horror genre. It’s gateway of nostalgia that opens up my imagination to frightening ideas and possibilities and never disappoints. So without further delay I give you, my readers—more horror.

A few months ago I contributed $1.00 to a Kickstarter for Nightmare Magazine, which was created by John Joseph Adams (whom you may remember from my last column); it features horror writing and horror art. This month Nightmare Magazine launched its first issue. You can read a couple of the stories without purchase on their website, and e-book issues cost $2.99, and they also have lifetime subscriptions for $500.   Unfortunately for me the mag is only formatted for the Kindle, Kobo, and the Nook (I have neither, I am archaic). Next time I support a Kickstarter I’ll be doing a little more research.

If you are wondering about witches look no further than “Malleus Maleficarum” or “The Hammer of Witches”. Although the book is over 600-years old, and saying the book is outdated is an understatement it’s still an important piece of horror literature. Included in this book are methods for detecting and destroying witches. This book was a propeller for the proliferation witch accusations throughout the centuries. Since it was written so long ago you’ll have to read a translation from latin. You can pick up an e-book version for as low as $1.00.

 

Clive Barker, who you may know as the writer and director of the movie Hellraiser, is also a prolific horror writer. “The Books of Blood” is a dreadful collection of stories that explore the full spectrum of the senses and emotions through both humans and evil creatures. Included in this book is “The Midnight Meat Train,” which was adapted into a film in 2008. Clive Barker is a master of creating gritty scenes, hidden dimensions of evil, and original creatures.

 

“Poems Bewitched and Haunted” is an anthology of spooky poems. Some of these poems are clever and will leave have you cackling in your chair while others will get your imagination running wild. It features well known poets such as Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and plenty of poets I’ve never heard (their poems are great too). This book is part of the everyman’s pocket library so it comes in a compact hardcover with a built in bookmark.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Do you have something to say about books? The Book Monster wants to know. You can email him at [email protected] Be sure to share The Book Monster with your friends on Facebook.

 

The Book Monster Vol. 11: Horror Edition

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It’s October. The leaves are turning orange, brown, and yellow. Pumpkins are starting to show up at the grocery store, and you might be wondering what to be for Halloween. I contemplated dedicating an installment of my column to horror books later in the month, but books take a while to read, and if I wait too long to recommend a horror book you might not get around to reading it in time.

I recently found some gummy skeletons in my cupboard from last Halloween, and I threw them away because they were old. According to Slate.com most candy doesn’t go bad and even chocolate bars have a long shelf life. I now wish I would’ve kept the gummy skeletons.

You may recall the movie, “The Raven” starring John Cusack hitting theaters in April. I don’t know anybody who saw it. I refused to see it because I thought the film would ruin one of the greatest poems ever written. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 22% on their Tomatometer, which gave the following review “Thinly scripted, unevenly acted, and overall preposterous, The Raven disgraces the legacy of Edgar Allen Poe with a rote murder mystery that’s more silly than scary.” Some pieces of literature shouldn’t be tampered with.

If you love zombies as much as I do, which is near obsession, you must read “The Living Dead”. John Joseph Adams (editor) did a fantastic job of putting this book together. Adams scoured the annals of zombie literature to find stories covering all sides of the zombie spectrum. The zombies in this book are the horrible relentless zombies we’ve seen in so many films, others are voodoo zombies, some are only imagined, while others are thinking, feeling zombies who try to protect their still-human families. The depths of humanity are explored in these well written stories from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Dan Simmon’s, Poppy Z. Brite and many others.

If you’ve read all 486 pages of zombie lore in “The Living Dead” like I have, and you’re still hungry for more pick up “The Living Dead 2”. John Joseph Adams has put together another 492 pages of the best flesh-eating entertainment. Although I haven’t read this one all the way through yet, the stories I’ve read thus far are fantastic. This collection features stories from Max Brooks (of “World War Z” fame), and Robert Kirkman (creator of AMC’s The Walking Dead), and many others. 

 

If you’re looking for a scary picture book to read this Halloween may I suggest taking a look through The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey. The book chronicles the unfortunate and random deaths of 26 children. This book is morbidly-cute and laugh-out-loud funny. Gorey’s drawings are grotesquely superb, his writing is perfectly concise and complimentary to his art, and he has a knack for giving death a humorous face.

 

One of my favorite books of all time is, “Night Shift,” by the master of horror, Stephen King. It’s a collection of stories filled with the boogeyman, murder, supernatural happenings, aliens, and vampires. One of King’s most well known stories, “Children of the Corn,” which was later turned into a series of movies is also included.