Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not Dead Yet

I know I've been quiet but I promise I'm not dead yet. Most of the books I've read lately don't quite qualify as "horror" but one of them would probably make decent source material. I hope to get a couple of reviews up this week.

Looking at my To Be Read stack I have way more books to read than I thought I did and I've got more on the way thanks to some really sweet ebay auctions I won. I've got enough to last me quite a while.

Don't forget you can still enter the contest to win an autographed Steve Vernon chapbook over at the contests page.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Pulitzer

Congratulations to Cormac McCarthy for wining the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction by an American author for his novel The Road. A copy is sitting in my "To Be Read" pile.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Commandments

I was really hoping I could start this review with "The Bram Stoker Award wining collection...." but I can't. I can start with: The Bram Stoker Award Finalist collection The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes and published by Nocturne Press was a great read. Given that this is Easter weekend it's a great time to look at a book that deals with Christianity in a horror fashion.

The short version is that there are eleven stories in The Commandments. One for each of the Ten Commandments and a story that encompasses them. I believe writing this kind of story without offending the core beliefs of the religion is a challenge. I feel Angeline did a wonderful job of telling her story without offending those beliefs.

The encompassing story is about a church that obtains a very old copy of the Ten Commandments. Once the tablet arrives and is put on display in the church things take a turn for the worse for the members of the congregation.

Each of the ten stories focuses on one of the commandments and the punishment for those that chose to it. I try to stay spoiler free here so I'll just give a short teaser on each of the ten stories.

I - When a husband and wife have different religious beliefs it can really stress a marriage. Be very careful which god you chose to worship but be more careful about choosing who you marry. You never know how far they will go to make a point.
II - Craven images are not to be made or kept. Keeping one around the house can just kill your relationship.
III - Taking the Lord's name in vain can do more than make your mother mad. It might just cost you your life.
IV - When you are supposed to keep the Sabbath day holy it's not a good idea to do any work. You won't believe the things you will see and sadly you won't live long enough to tell anybody about them.
V - This story got my attention because it shows the victim isn't always the person ignoring the commandment. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. Failing to keep this commandment will cause suffering not only for you but for your entire family.
VI - Thou Shalt Not Kill because if you do the punishment will be swift and horrific.
VII - The problem with having a mistress is she may not want you to go home to your wife. At least not all at once.
VIII - Gold. It's shiny, it's pretty and you can't wait to get your hands on it. If it's somebody else's gold though you might just want to keep your hands in your pockets.
IX - One lie leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another. It's a heavy price to pay when they all catch up to you.
X - What's yours is yours. Be happy with what you have because if you start wishing you had what your neighbor does you just might get it.

The encompassing story picks up again after the tenth commandment and wraps things up quite well.

While I do say I think Angeline did a wonderful job of not offending the core beliefs I must admit that knowing a woman wrote the way Angeline did about the tenth commandment can really put a man's mind on the seventh one. Of course knowing how the stories end will probably scare him right out of those thoughts.

There is enough horror variety in The Commandments for any horror fan. Unlike some books where you get one type of scare Angeline comes at you with ten different ones. This is a book you will enjoy.

Maybe next year at this time I'll be congratulating Angeline on wining the Stoker award. Her work deserves a win.

Big "Thank you!" to Angeline for allowing me to quote the following paragraphs from The Commandments.

How did they - how could they - Elias couldn't finish the thoughts. The skeletons had been piles of bones in the wood crate, but now they had somehow become connected again - whole - and moving as if alive before him in a clattering, creaking - but speechless movement.

Elias stood there petrified, rain soaking his shirt to his skin, molding it to his body. His hair was plastered flat on his head and water gushed over his nose and face.

One of the skeletons had retrieved the shovel and was studying it, while another one was curiously examining the golf cart. Elias stood there afraid to move; afraid to breathe, hoping the animated sets of bones would, perhaps, forget he was there; excecpt for the small detail of the rescuing-skeleton that was still tightly grasping his wrist.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat

Steve Vernon brings us the tale of Texas Jack Page in The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat. This chapbook is available from White Noise Press and features the artwork of Keith Minnion. Each chapbook in this limited run is signed by both Steve and Keith. Again, the quality level of the small press never fails to impress me. This chapbook is going to stand up to the passage of time not just because of the story quality but because of the production quality as well. Each page features artwork that really helps set the tone of the story. By the time you reach the end you will feel as if you were there with Texas Jack page.

Texas Jack Page is a man who loves his books so don't be surprised to find a part of yourself in the character. This is a story of a man who loves what he reads and collects what he loves. Before the end of the story you will find yourself thinking "Do I have that many books to? Am I on the same path this guy is?" This story serves as a salute to authors and readers everywhere. Keep in mind that for every positive there is a negative. Yin and Yang. Black and white. That book collection of yours is pretty impressive and positive, or is it? I haven't decided which scares me more about The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat, the story itself or how much of the story I see in myself.

How much did I enjoy this chapbook? Enough that I bought a second copy just to give away to one lucky reader. The contest will be up within the next seven days.

Big "Thank you!" to Steve Vernon for permission to quote the following:
Texas Jack Page became a hermit. He lived alone in a trailer in the center of a flat Texas plain. The grocery boy brought him case after case of pork and beans. He learned to bake bread and make his own beer. The trailer's breathable space grew cloistered and thick with a miasma of ass-propelled methane and the aroma of brewing yeast.

And yet outside his trailer, outside his tiny world, his legend slowly metamorphosized. He was Texas Jack Page. Groveling sycophants e-mailed his screen name, begging for a glimpse of his dark secret world. The legend began and was added to, in entry after entry, a walking shroud sewn from a cybernetic sky full of countless message board threads.

Teas Jack Page said this. Texas Jack Page found that.

Online, Texas Jack Page was ten feet tall. His high-heeled boot prints stomped across the message boards of a hundred websites, touching lives and tantalizing the imagination of hungry young fiction cannibals.

One more thing: Call me Ishmael