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    I wish someone would produce a limited hardcover, quality paper and binding, etc. I think the book deserves some nice treatment. I really liked the cover too, but no art inside the TP.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
    -John Barth


      Those "Mammoth Books" never seem to get limited editions. Would be quite a coup though.


        From HellAlan Moore

        “Knight of the East, you stand accused of mayhems that have placed our brotherhood in jeopardy, before your peers, masons and doctors both.”
        “I have no peers here present.”

        1888 saw a series of murders and mutilations that shocked the world and gave us one of the most infamous killers in history. There are five main murders associated with Jack the Ripper, and this book details each. Extensive research was obviously done to write this story, with liberties taken as well.

        One of the first things revealed in this book is the identity of the killer. As the police and the media speculate, the perpetrator was indeed a man of immense skill, no less than the Crown’s Royal Surgeon, though he is promoted to the position near the beginning of the work.

        William Gull, a high-ranking member of the Masonic order, is mixed up in the story after Queen Victoria’s son is found to have sired an illegitimate child with a local prostitute. The ‘working girls,’ destitute, learn the true identity of the father and resolve to blackmail a man close to the Crown with the information in order to stay alive. The Queen learns of the blackmail, promotes William to Royal Surgeon after he saves her son from illness, and tasks him with dispatching the women involved.

        We soon begin to see cracks in the formidable Gull’s armor, as his explanations to his sadistic but frightened driver border on ravings, but as the Doctor goes about his work he gets closer to personal enlightenment, to God, even becoming unhinged in time and traveling to the future.

        Gull’s ties to the Masons complicate his endeavor, as instead of quickly killing the girls he decides to mutilate them, purportedly to ward off the encroaching Order of the Golden Dawn, which William claims was responsible for the French Revolution. The Masons learn that the doctor is working under royal decree, but also that he is out of control and hatch plans to mitigate the damage and throw smoke on the issue. By the time a local detective, with the help of a psychic investigator, gets close enough to identify the killer, the murders have finished and the entire situation is on lockdown, and the few who know the truth are forced into silence.

        STOP! This may all sound like an interesting, complicated story, but this is a graphic novel. The following page spread is one of the most gruesome but gives a good idea of what you can expect. Even among horror fans, this is not going to be for everyone and I want you to know how bad it gets if you're thinking about picking this one up:

        Other controversial parts of the books will be the frequent sexual situations displayed, usually seeming dirty and depraved. This is not due to female prostitution, but has more to do with the men involved. While they have hard lives and are treated poorly, the prostitutes in the story come across as mostly victims of the world, a point I won’t argue.

        It’s a long book by graphic novel standards, and is told in the vernacular of the time which may slow the reading down a little further, much like we Americans need to concentrate harder to understand dialogue in films like Lock, Stock and Trainspotting. The story takes some time getting properly rolling, but by the halfway point you are wide-eyed and glued to the page.

        From Hell
        examines murder, magic and conspiracy, is exhaustively researched, and takes an unapologetic look at the human condition.

        “Do you understand how I have loved you? You’d have all been dead in a year or two from liver failure, men, or childbirth. Dead. Forgotten. I have saved you. Do you understand that? I have made you safe from time, and we are wed in legend, inextricable within eternity.”

        4+ stars





        “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
        -John Barth


          House of Leaves - Mark Danielewski
          “Darkness is impossible to remember.”

          Johnny Truant, party-hound, wastrel, discovers the unfinished manuscript of the recently deceased Zampano containing details of The Navidson Record, a kind of found footage film released by Miramax containing, along with much more, the two underground short films “The Five Minute Hallway” and “Exploration #4.”

          “The Five Minute Hallway” shows a man facing an open doorway in his house, the hallway extending perhaps 10 feet past the threshold of the door, and with full continuity on camera the man exits a window to left of the door, crawling outside the house, and enters another window on the right side of the door, thereby revealing a spatial anomaly. The hallway should not exist; the wall should be solid. Investigation by Navidson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer in the video, reveals the interior dimensions of his new house exceed the exterior dimensions. Navidson checks, rechecks, checks again, then starts calling people to help investigate. “Exploration #4” is part of the investigation.

          The wider, longer release by Miramax contains much more extensive footage captured by Navidson during the handful of explorations, and Zampano’s manuscript is an in-depth study and breakdown of the whole affair. Johnny Truant is attempting to put together and understand the loose pages of Zampano’s studies, and his own story is told in tandem with Navidson’s as he follows the incredible tale down the rabbit-hole with his sanity challenged in the process.

          You move through the parallel stories containing nearly 500 footnotes of both vital information and references and dozens of pages of appendices, all the while reading backward, upside down, even holding the 700-page-plus monstrosity up to a mirror and repeatedly flipping all around the book while Navidson attempts to protect his family and Johnny learns and reacts to what happened. When it gets weird the writing style mimics the story, although it is mostly linear. If you find yourself tempted to just move on instead of rooting around for the information the author wants you to find don’t do it! Trust me on this, payoffs abound if you stick with it and dig and you won’t get the satisfaction if you don’t put in the work, so take the red pill.

          Even considering the monsters lurking around here I wouldn’t expect everyone who picks this up to finish it. It’s more than worth it if you do, but you may end up leaving a little of your own sanity behind. House of Leaves is a maddening, labyrinthine spiral of frustration and awe.

          “Do not entrust your future to the limits of your stride.”

          5 stars






          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
          -John Barth


            House Of Leaves has been one of those books I've been meaning to pick up for years. It seems to be a rather demanding read, but also sounds right up my alley. Thanks for posting the review!


              House of Leaves is a demanding read, but is also a very rewarding read. One of my all time favourite novels.


                You're most welcome Sock Monkey. It's tough but really something special. I'd heard about this for a while myself before picking it up. Theli I think it was a comment you made a while back that helped tip the scale - thank you!

                The text is especially dense toward the beginning which makes the book seem like a mountain. I recall somewhere within the first 100 pages flipping back and forth following footnotes around, frustrated because I didn't seem to be making the forward progress I'm used to when reading. But the payoff is so much more gratifying when you've worked for it like that.
                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                -John Barth



                  NeverwhereNeil Gaiman

                  “This is reality. Get used to it. It’s all there is.”

                  This man has no right to write like this. I understand there’s a craft perfected with hard work, but it just seems so easy; it must be so easy. Beneath even a small section of a seemingly whimsical tale is (always) something profound. And it’s not even hidden, it's just a single layer down. But while philosophy is ever-present it serves the story, and you can be deeply moved, grinning ear-to-ear and fighting back tears all at the same time. On first sitting down and beginning I smiled once, opened it up to broad grin within a couple of pages, and was laughing out loud by page 9 and this kept up throughout the book.

                  Richard Mayhew is relatively happy with his normal life and rushing to dinner with his fiancé when an injured girl appears before him on the sidewalk. His fiancé Jessica, already running late for the dinner with her rich, important boss, implores Richard to leave the poor homeless girl alone, at most call someone else for help, but Richard refuses and because the girl is adamant at avoiding a hospital Richard takes her home with him then and there to tend her wounds and talk sense into her for proper care tomorrow.

                  The girl is much better the following day but a couple of bruisers show up looking for her and Richard stands in their way. His fiancé leaves him, his friends desert him, he loses his job and nobody in the world can even see him properly anymore, and he follows the girl, Door, to the hidden underground of London where the story begins.

                  What follows is a grand adventure for a mythic key in an impossible land of magic with Richard so far out of his element he spends most of the story astonished. It’s troubling, it’s funny, it’s moving and most important it’s true. As you approach the story’s end you’ll find yourself exerting your own will, making sure the author has written want you want, what you need to happen, and if he didn’t write it that way, well then he must go back in time this very instant, write it, publish it in the past and make sure it’s all wrapped up and ready so when you read the next few paragraphs it’s been properly fixed. Except it doesn’t need to be fixed.

                  It’s amazing, it’s not to be missed, and it’s just not fair to other writers having to contend. The perfect modern fairytale.

                  “I’d watch out for doors if I were you.”

                  5 stars




                  “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                  -John Barth



                    This Year’s Class PictureDan Simmons

                    “Mr. Geiss grunted, pulled the new boy to his feet with the wire noose, opened the door with one hand, and shoved him in ahead of her with the pole. There would be just enough time for cleanup before the first bell rang.”

                    I don’t much care for the zombie sub-genre. Zombie stories remind me too much of walking down the street, looking out the window, working in an office or, God forbid, going to the mall, all of which indicate the world ended a long time ago and we’re just waiting around for everyone to realize it’s already over.

                    That being said, Dan Simmons’ This Year’s Class Picture is one of the best stories I’ve read, even though it contains zombies.

                    Ms. Geiss, possibly the last living teacher on the planet, is clinging to her past life as a tough-as-nails but dedicated teacher. Though her students are zombies she keeps bringing them into the classroom to learn despite their mindless actions and constant attempts to devour her. During the times the students are in her class they are under her protection and she’ll do whatever she can to keep them focused and incentivized to learn, including actions she would have found revolting when the world was alive.

                    The heart of this story is a teacher’s determination to break through to her students, to show them they matter, to demonstrate they can be better than they are if they apply themselves. This isn’t about zombie students, it’s about the best teachers struggling all over the world today and it’s a work of art--very highly recommended.

                    “There would be only the dead eyes, the slack faces, the open mouths, the aimless, mindless stirrings, and the soft stench of rank flesh. It was not too dissimilar from her years of teaching live children.”

                    5 stars





                    Last edited by bugen; 04-09-2016, 01:40 AM.
                    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                    -John Barth



                      The Man Who Made ModelsR.A. Lafferty (vol. 1)

                      “A German of the last century stated that the generally bad design of eyes offered irrefutable evidence that God was a bungler.”

                      Most of the gut-bustingly funny quotes I could list here are more so if you have the context from the previous sentence or two, with that context built upon the previous paragraph or two, and all of a sudden you really need the whole 15 minute story if you want to be rolling on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. And I kid you not, with some of these stories you will curl up into a ball, stomach muscles finding the humor even if your mind is still catching up (though you may not necessarily be on the floor).

                      This first book in a planned series of twelve volumes covering Mr. Raphael Aloysius Lafferty’s entire career in short stories consists of 17 tales. My understanding is these stories are out of print with Centipede now bringing them all back and some basic searches seem to bear that out. But that’s the only thing that makes them obscure. Some of the greatest writers of our time look to this man as an idol of imagination. The volume’s introduction by Michael Swanwick is informative, touching, and a bit of hero-worship. I’ve read the introduction to volume 2 by Harlan Ellison and much of the same applies. This quiet, unassuming, deeply religious man from Tulsa, Oklahoma was a giant to some of the greatest writers of our age like Ellison, Gaiman and Wolfe.

                      “Whenever he found a stubbornly empty space, he filled it with his imagination.”

                      We open with a man who carves intricate models of humans and the subjects always disappear as the models are finished. But when the human subjects reappear, the models are gone. A policeman trying to stop a gargantuan theft attempts to pin the crime on the sculptor and has his own way of manipulating carvings. Near the close is a tale of a man looking for an $85,000 loan and ending up in front of a street-peddler who claims to clear profits of a nickel on a good week, but the potential borrower witnesses the peddler make a loan of 2.5 million to a well-known businessman while deciding if he wants to accept his own loan with its accompanying catch. And in between is a series of stories that fall into the category of “I’ve never read anything like it.”

                      It’s not horror unless you count a man fighting to be the ultimate hunter while being ripped apart. It’s not sci-fi unless you count a man building his own living mice out of plasma. It’s not fantasy unless you count a man casting spells of perception on land to make it nearly invisible so he can avoid paying taxes. And it’s not absurd. Not unless you count a state-of-the-art communications device with serious issues communicating. It’s a highly concentrated dose of allegorical and deep but whimsical storytelling.

                      I’ve seen a few photos of the man, read a bit about him from a couple of introductions and have started to form a working knowledge through the stories themselves, all of which have led me to a mental image of R.A. Lafferty in action—it’s something akin to Tom Bombadil.

                      If anyone here is unfamiliar with Mr. Lafferty but your interest is piqued you may want to click the following link, scroll down a bit and open "Narrow Valley" which will take around 15 minutes to read.


                      “And I will tell you something else if you will promise not to tell the monkeys.”

                      4 stars






                      Last edited by bugen; 03-30-2016, 01:50 AM.
                      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                      -John Barth



                        The Martian ChroniclesRay Bradbury

                        “Amoebas cannot sin because they reproduce by fission. They do not covet wives or murder each other. Add sex to amoebas, add arms and legs, and you would have murder and adultery.”

                        Today it came to my attention I’ve approached Ray Bradbury like an idiot, which doesn’t surprise me because it’s from that same direction I’ve approached all kinds of things. Most of my experience with the celebrated author has come from more modern anthologies often using tales that don’t properly represent him. Cheaper tales, maybe. I allowed those stories to form an initial opinion of the writer as well as dictate the urgency for his main works to be read. That was a mistake, and I understand I’m possibly the last person on these boards to have read this.

                        The Martian Chronicles
                        consists of a series of short stories stitched together to form a cohesive whole, which I’d heard is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ and I agree. The version of the book I read is the updated one, changing dates to be more futuristic for the modern reader and removing the tale “Way in the Middle of the Air” for PC sensibilities (don’t get me started) which I tracked down and placed back into its proper order after “Musicians.” In 1997 when this tale was removed from the collection and all story dates were moved out 31 additional years two other shorts were added in, “The Fire Balloons” and “The Wilderness.” All are considered here.

                        At the beginning mankind has perfected rocketry and launched a series of expeditions to Mars, which is a surprise to the Martians because their scientists had always told them that the atmosphere on Earth was too oxygen-rich to support life.

                        The first couple of humans meet opposition all too familiar to us today. The next aren’t believed to be Earthlings and try to prove themselves to the inhabitants. The third has humanity revealing some of the weaknesses that caused people to want to abandon Earth in the first place. Martian and man meet at the same time while thousands of years apart. Inhabitants realize colonization is inevitable and retreat. Man exerts his will on the planet, removing signs of previous ownership. These are some of the stories, and familiar characters weave in and out throughout the book.

                        Overall it’s a kind of Wild West on Mars as people on Earth rush to escape war, poverty and oppression and take their chances on new lives. But man will be man, and most of the heavier thinkers among the early pioneers know that it’s only a matter of time, maybe 100 years, before all earthly problems have migrated to the new world.

                        And that’s what happens. And that’s the point. We can’t escape ourselves, ever, and while man is capable of breeding individuals with the drive to change, to do good works, eventually the sheer weight, volume and volume of humans drowns out sense. No one has yet solved this problem on our world today, and Mr. Bradbury knew this and wrote about it. This book is an examination of those foibles, the issues that keep us from being better than we are even when we give it everything we’ve got. But there’s hope. Every time one of us does something good, something that makes the world just a little bit better there’s a little bit more hope, and I guess that sounds cheesy but it’s still about the most important thing we can do. Will it help? Will we survive? We can hope.

                        I don’t normally post these but here are my ratings for the individual stories. Without adding them up to ‘more than the sum of its parts’ and viewing as a novel this would still be the highest rated collection I’ve ever read:

                        Rocket Summer - 2
                        Ylla - 4- (3+)
                        The Summer Night - 4-
                        The Earth Man - 5
                        The Taxpayer - 3+
                        The Third Expedition - 5
                        ...and the Moon Be Still As Bright - 5-
                        The Settlers - 4-
                        The Green Morning - 4-
                        The Locusts - 3
                        Night Metting - 5
                        The Shore - 4
                        The Fire Balloons (added) - 4-
                        Interim - 3
                        The Musicians - 4-
                        Way in the Middle of the Air - (removed) - 3+
                        The Wilderness (added) - 4
                        The Naming of Names - 5-
                        Usher II - 4+
                        The Old Ones - 3 (n/a?)
                        The Martian - 4 (4+)
                        The Luggage Store - 4+
                        The Off Season - 4
                        The Watchers - 4+
                        The Silent Towns - 5
                        The Long Years - 5- (4+)
                        There Will Come Soft Rains - 5-
                        The Million-Year Picnic - 5

                        I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a beautiful collection of stories and a beautiful snapshot of the human race. And it’s not a picture of us caught in amber from the time when it was originally published in 1951, this is a modern picture of us that still dates all the way back to when we first picked up clubs. We sometimes have the intelligence, the wisdom and the empathy to overcome as individuals, just not the inclination as a whole. Mr. Bradbury’s examination of these issues is art in its highest form.

                        “We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things. The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.”
                        “Who are we, anyway? The majority? Is that the answer? The majority is always holy, is it not? Always, always; just never wrong for one little insignificant tiny moment, is it?”

                        “If you can’t have the reality, a dream is just as good.”

                        5 stars

                        This one’s for you, sir. Sorry I'm late.

                        “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                        -John Barth



                          “Throttle” – Stephen King, Joe Hill

                          A father, his headstrong son, his old war buddy from Vietnam and seven other road brothers of The Tribe (Live on the Road, Die on the Road) get mixed up in a deal that goes bad. Very bad. While discussing the matter in a restaurant parking lot they become aware of a nearby trucker who promptly leaves the family of bikers only to terrorize them when they move out. As all synopsis state the tale is homage to Richard Matheson’s “Duel” where an unstoppable king of the road must be stopped, originally appearing in the tribute anthology He Is Legend.

                          This one reads like lightning as you might expect from collaboration between these two. Even the conversation leading to initial action is fast and brutal and you learn a bit of character backstory on the road. Once it really gets going there’s no stopping the momentum.

                          Despite honoring the framework of an outstanding story, the collaboration of extremely gifted authors and a killer pace, this one doesn’t quite go where it needs to go for 5 stars but comes close on speed alone. It’s riveting but doesn’t match the desperate tension of its predecessor even if its stakes are higher.

                          “Throttle” is about 14,000 words to the 10,000 of “Duel” and is over well before you know it.

                          “You couldn’t drive a man’s family to earth and expect to live.”

                          4 stars

                          *Image is in the Kindle edition but looks taken from the comic adaptation (Nelson Daniel)
                          Throttle (kindle edition).JPG
                          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                          -John Barth



                            ChristineStephen King

                            “If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.”

                            Somehow managing to go 33 years since its publication without reading Christine, approaching the halfway point, having covered some of the most brilliantly written, intimate material I’ve seen from Mr. King, I knew a big part of me was in there with Arnie. Probably a bunch of us can relate to parents who seemed to care only about what they cared about, not so much what their kid cared about, because if they in their wisdom didn’t already care about something or disagreed with it then that something must be no good—get rid of it.

                            Young Arnold Cunningham is riding shotgun with his buddy Dennis when they pass a rotting heap of a Plymouth Fury junked on the side of the road displaying a reluctant For Sale sign. Arnie is instantly smitten and buys the car, costs be damned, and begins an impossible restoration process. He can taste potential freedom for the first time in his familial-dominated life and pours his heart and soul into the idea of Christine, his new love, setting him free.

                            His parents immediately cannot stand the car or how it represents Arnie pulling away from them. His one friend and his eventual girlfriend see a dangerously close relationship developing between Arnie and his car and begin speaking out against Christine. This serves to strengthen the bizarre relationship, and Christine’s malevolent spirit begins challenging Arnie’s enemies and those rivaling for his affection as people around him present their ultimatums. And it gets ugly.

                            The book is eerie in its ability to summon up sentiment from our teens. How about you parents out there? Have you created any Arnold Cunninghams, pushed them into corners? Because Christine only gained her real power over Arnie when he had nowhere else to turn, when he had her or had nothing, at least in his mind.

                            Yes, this is the horrific story of evil manifested and attached to a car, as everyone knows, but it didn’t have to go down this way. Because more than the story of the murderous spirit in Christine this is the story of the importance of listening to those we care about instead of just pretending to listen, for those times when real guidance or empathy is necessary. And what can go wrong when we’ve misjudged. God help the parents. And God help the kids when the parents are mistaken.

                            “The terrible feeling, the terrible image persisted: that the first time he had talked to Arnie Cunningham, he had been talking to a drowning man, and the second time he had talked to him, the drowning had happened—and he was talking to a corpse.”

                            4+ stars

                            christine PS.jpg

                            *This review was written about a week ago when the book was finished but I decided not to post it, mostly because it was hot and angry. I’ve toned it down and posted it now because it was an honest reaction to a fantastic novel. One day I'd like to have a limited copy of the PS (pictured) or Grant edition.
                            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                            -John Barth



                              Excellent review, Andrew of one of my favorite stories and one I revisit every couple of years or so. I'd love to see a reboot of the film as well; if done correctly of course. I think it's a timeless tale of a boy's love for his machine (his freedom), his best friend, his girl, and how quickly those priorities can get screwed up. With a little help of outside forces in the world of SK. Right, wrong, or indifferent; I cheer inside each time Arnie's bullies get their due.....


                                Thanks Brian. We're agreed, this is a really special story. It's startling how fast things change and it's Mr. King's ability to bend reality that makes it so much easier to gain perspective. I loved this book as a whole but especially feel that impossible connection he forges with readers in the first half (first 100,000 words!) is just pure magic.
                                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                                -John Barth