Jan 022015
 

“The Abominable” (Dan Simmons)the-abominable-dan-simmons-663x1024

Not.  What.  You’d.  Think.

Let’s start there.  I am only on page 125 of 663 and, though I don’t really know where we’re going from here, I can unequivocally state that I am both beyond impressed and still not being chased by a yeti.  All joking aside, I have no idea how the title will play into this one, but there is no hint so far of anything from the realms of cryptozoology.  But, man…what a tale already.  Austerely written and hearkening back to a time and place nearly 100 years behind us, you need to go into this one expecting something other than an all out footrace from the get go.  There is a slow build and development, but if you’re anything like me you’ll find it well worth the effort.

Before I go on, let me share the teaser from the publisher:  “June 1924. On the brutal North East Ridge of Mount Everest, famous adventurers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanish into the snow-whipped night.

Daredevil explorer Richard Deacon devises a plan to follow in the men’s footsteps, accompanied only by two friends. Off piste and with no support team, the three men strike for Everest’s peak and the most vicious climate on earth.

As the winds rise and the temperature and oxygen levels drop, Deacon and his companions hear howls in the distance. Some dark creature is tracking them up the mountain, sending them scrabbling blindly into Everest’s dangerous heights to escape it.

Soon they will discover what happened to Mallory’s crew – but can they escape the same hideous fate?

A gripping thriller by a master of the genre, The Abominable blends historical fact with spine-tingling drama – this is one of the most chilling and unforgettable novels you will ever read.

Now…I am an absolute Everest junkie.  Actually, anything to do with high altitude mountaineering.  Combine that with a tight plotline and a bedrock rooted in actual history (albeit speculatively so), and I’m hooked.  Utterly hooked.

Can’t wait to see where this one takes me, but I’m galloping through pages at a righteous pace.  More to come.

 

– Curt

Nov 142014
 

“Freak Show” – Horror Writers Of America (Edited by F. Paul Wilson)5666

 

I have a serious inclination towards the darker side of things when it comes to my appreciation of the arts.  Not exclusively limiting myself to the nocturnal, of course, but a morbid curiousity and a bent to the less mainstream nevertheless.  Perhaps it’s simply because it is an avenue of existence that most people prefer to avoid; crossing the street to walk in sunshine, rather than skulking in the shadows of alleyways and gutters.  Who knows?  And let’s not dwell too long or deeply.  “If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”…or something like that.

For those with similar aesthetic leanings, I thought I’d share a bit of ‘heads up’ on a long forgotten gem of a book.  “Freak Show” is an interesting story.  It is a story of many stories, in fact.  Under the guidance, watchful eye and editorial nudgings of author F. Paul Wilson, a ragtag band of authors were brought together under the collective pseudonym of the ‘Horror Writers Of America’.  Each was allotted a chapter in which to breathe life into a character – their own particular ‘freak’ – and contribute their unique brand of evil to the overall narrative.  Wilson, himself, bookends the tale and interjects little chapterlings along the way to ensure continuity and that there is an actual story being played out, and not simply a series of disturbing vignettes.  The end result is…well…let’s just say it will resonate.  This is not a book to be easily relegated to the dusty recesses of the mind and forgotten.

This is not to suggest a flawless piece of literature, however.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  The central plot ‘device’ (a delicious turn of phrase, as you’ll see if you do indeed manage to track down and read this book) is more than a little thin, and the occasional change-up in first- to third-person narrative really throws the overall ‘voice’ off.  And, at the end of the day, some of these authors are simply better writers than others.

Occasionally, though, magic happens in these pages and we end up with something that is sooooo much more than simply the sum of its parts.  From the near-gothic sequence involving a Joseph Merrick-like character shuffling his way through an ‘almost dreamworld’ to the threatening and murky deep southern swamps…from the surreal darkness of a vampire-esque seer to the most depraved sexual collectings imaginable…from the blues-drenched edge of a campfire jam between a child and a child killer to the horrendous secrets of a snakelike schizophrenic…this is a nightmare tale of divine proportion.  And a scavenger hunt to end all scavenger hunts.

This novel/short story collection (think Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man” with a slightly more substantial plotline) is a macabre little tale with just the right blend of esoteric strangeness, B grade sexuality, atmospheric density and a broad range of taboo horror to add a little fear no matter what your literary palate and personal phobias.  So…turn the light down low, pour a big glass of Ardbeg and settle in for a long trip with ‘The Peabody-Ozymandias Traveling Circus & Oddity Emporium’ around an America from days gone by.  One where mud shows and carnival tents were still a relevant piece of Americana.  And where the Freak Show still beckoned those with darker inclinations.

This is a tough book to find, and even tougher to get your hands on affordably and in decent condition.  If you can track one down, though, I highly recommend doing so for those who like their horror more in the vein of the old school ’80s and early ’90s vibe.  Simply unforgettable.

 

– Curt

Feb 082011
 

Just that.  What’s on the table right now?

I am one of those manic individuals who has to have multiple books going at one time (ahem…especially when one of them is a really long fantasy trilogy wrapped up in an omnibus package).  Let’s face it…everything we tend to surround ourselves with either affects our moods or is tailored to suit them, so why should books be any different?  With a few going I always have something to suit my fancy.

The current rotation:

“The Fionavar Tapestry”

– Guy Gavriel Kay

This is Lance’s February selection for the Liquorature crew.  A hefty chunk of fantasy.  Sigh…not my favorite genre, as the boys know.  I’ll concede though, this is finally growing on me a little.  A little.  Only took 300 pages or so before I could say that.  Can’t really say more here, as it would be premature, and besides…I’m sure there will be a review sometime after the 25th of this month.

“Meg”

– Steve Alten

Quick fun read.  A beast far more terrifying than Jaws…the long extinct (or is it?) Megalodon.  Does it trump Benchley’s masterpiece?  Hmmm…no, but a heckuva ride nevertheless.  If you like those pseudo-science types (think Crichton…or David John Watson!) you’ll likely dig this one.  Though there were a couple of creative liberties taken here (one glaring monstrosity especially) I gotta say I loved the the solution for the ascent through the frigid zones.  Enjoyed the hell out of this one.

“How To Make Love Like A Porn Star”

 – Jenna Jameson

Uh…yeah.  Guilty pleasure much?  I was in Chapters a couple days back wandering around with a hot Americano in hand killing time with two of my vices (books and good coffee).  Picked this up on a whim and threw myself on a chair.  After about 20 minutes of skimming and flipping I was hooked and bought it.  Jury is still out (hey, I just started) but I’ll let ya know more as soon as I know more.  Good or bad, it is a freaking interesting read.  This is Jenna Jameson after all.  Not that I’d know who that is or anything.

**A little nervous about the spam this little mention will generate for the site.  Oh well.

Next up…

“Heart Shaped Box”

– Joe Hill

As soon as I start I’ll let you know how it goes.

 Posted by at 8:47 pm
Oct 252010
 

Hmmm.  I’ve been so into the rums and the movies over the last weeks, that it has slipped me to see what others are reading these days.  This of course came about at work when The Hippie and I were discussing possibly upcoming choices with which to plague the illiterati.

Books for me have always been a lifeline.  My childhood was marked by frequent (and interesting) changes.  Before I was twelve I was already on my third continent.  Friends changed, languages were different, cultures varied wildly: but the great constants through it all were my brother, my father…and books – for which my mother can truly be said to be the facilitator (she was a librarian). Some of my earliest memories from Africa remain those of my curled up in a corner next to her office, reading a pile of Willard Price or Enid Blyton stories.  Want to know why I speak and write with such polysyllabry?  Blame all that earlier reading.

This love has never left me.  I may not have embraced e-books or the Kindle, but I read with as much interest and variety as always.

So what am I reading now?  Here’s what’s on the shelf at home, and I’d like to know what you have on your bedside table as well:

1. Blame The Hippie for this one – A People’s History of the United States

2. Ways of Sunlight – Short Stories of Samuel Selvon

3. A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church (an Inspector O novel, set in – get this! North Korea)

4. The Complete Sherlock Holmes (I’m prepping for the Baskervilles session in November, but am rereading eveything to prepare)

5. A Drink Before The War – Denis Lehane.  My take is that Lehane is one of the best noir writers currently publishing, with unexpected threads of humour coiling around all his very dark work. I don’t care what you start with, but any one of his novels is worth a read.

And there you are.  What have you got to share or recommend?

 Posted by at 5:15 pm
Aug 232010
 

Time for a Top 5 list.  Haven’t done one of these in a while now.  Challenge is…Top 5 books (must be fiction…and no…the bible does NOT count) that have made you think.  Something that has challenged you, taught you, confronted you…or just made you go ‘hmmmmmm’.

Start thinkin’.

 Posted by at 10:23 pm
Jul 072010
 

You’re about to be marooned on a deserted island, and can take only ten books with you.  These books may be all you have for a lifetime of reading and re-reading.  What would your ten books be?  Drop in a line or two after each to say why. 

Oh yeah…and one more thing…if you can buy it as one bound volume it is fair game as one entry.  If not, something like ‘The Dark Tower’ 1 through 7 is not a valid single choice.  That is seven books.

Go…

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
Jan 212010
 

This is a book Lance recommended to me a couple years back.  I then recommended to several others.  I know a few here have read it.  An absolutely brilliant book.  Once you start, it is hard to put down.  This would be a good Liquorature book, but I promise I won’t do it.  My next book will be ~300pgs or so.  Not another 1000 pager.

Who here has read it? 

Any discussion to follow…please refrain form spoilers.

BTW…movie in the works.  Rufus Sewell cast as Tom Builder?  Come on…lame.  Wiki it.

Jan 162010
 

As an aside to Liquorature, but still the same idea…I am hoping to have at least a few commit to a long term one-off meeting.  Many months in the future.  I am hoping to get a few of the members to make it through all seven book of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (soon to be an eighth!!).  I want to make this strictly optional for those who devour books at a faster rate than our club dictates.  I am hoping for a long night of discussion over VERY fine whiskies and rums (start saving, boys).  There is an endless store of subject matter in these books, without any of it necessarily having to be tooooooo deep.

Just a thought…this would be the perfect opportunity for an ‘Occasional Traveler’ or two to join us if they have read, or want to read, such a bulky tale.

This meeting would not take place until all who commit have finished.  Likely towards the back end of the year.  I will host.

I know a few were interested, but before I start making my way through again I would like to know there are others equally committed.

Yay or nae will suffice.

Thoughts, gents?  Anyone want to follow Roland on his quest?