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Old 10-02-2013   #1
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Topic Nominated Recent Reading

I thought it would be interesting if TLO members occasionally posted brief accounts of their recent reading and their general reactions to the books read, favorable or not. Personally, I’m writing this to use up some time before some scheduled surgery and I’m trying to beat the clock. Parts may be Quick ‘n’ Dirty!

I finally got my hands on Mark Samuels The Face of Twilight and found it to be as engrossing, unsettling and as starkly horrific as his short stories. In it the living are being replaced by the dead; murder victims are being found, bodies horribly mutilated with carved occult symbols. A character called Conrad Stymm, a small man with a terribly scarred head, attired in a long raincoat, often carrying a heavy black leather bag, seems the natural suspect for such barbarism. (This Ripper-like figure could have been played brilliantly by the great Peter Lorre). This short novel contains the kind of visceral horror that’s rare in Samuels shorter fiction; and some of the descriptions are intensely horrific and physically disgusting, though never in a gratuitous sense.
The Face of Twilight is replete with truly nightmarish episodes, adroitly described, such as a hospital where the healthy visit and never leave, being transformed instead into sick, ghastly broken things. There’s the sinister website that posts numerous haunting images of urban desolation…and allows the protagonist to put together a strange map leading to a deserted and rundown T.V. station that may still be broadcasting some very sinister programming. The book’s final revelation/conclusion is appropriately hellish, and I think this may well be Samuels most underrated book.
. .

I’ve also reread Friedrich Durrenmatt’s brilliant “The Winter War in Tibet” (found in Collected Essays Vol. 3)..Like Borges, Durrenmatt was a master at transcending genres. This can be read as a straight horror/sci-fi novelette with fantastic bits of black humor and satire, or as a very dark work of philosophical pessimism. The style, thanks to a gifted translator, is instantly recognizable as Durrenmatt, and is as atmospheric as it is darkly poetic, describing soldiers and mercenaries engaged in a fantastic war on snowy peaks, bluffs, canyons, all living within deep labyrinths of subterranean tunnels, fighting an enemy whose identity they can never be certain of. Passages of intense philosophical thought follow scenes of ghastly violence. The ‘hero’ carves his story into the walls of the tunnels and chambers (Shades of At The Mountains of Madness!) for any alien race to read after Mankind’s eventual passing. Injuries have left him a monstrous Cyborg with one arm ending in a machine gun and the other in a stylus. Lacking lower limbs as well, he traverses the labyrinth in a motorized wheelchair. He fights for “the Administration” and, like all his company, wears the same white uniform as the faceless enemy. Doubt of the existence of an enemy is punished by death. The Commander who befriends our narrator is sadistic and violent; he may be insane; and the descriptions of the apocalypse ravaged country (before the Winter War) are haunting in their desolation. This was my third reading and new revelations unfailingly made themselves known.
The Winter War is a blend of horror, philosophy, and poetic despair that my words can’t begin to do justice, so I refuse to try any further…
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Old 10-02-2013   #2
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Re: Recent Reading

I'm reading To The Devil A Daughter by Dennis Wheatley. Lots of scary fun.

Just read the dedication to Warren Zevon at the beginning of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Very very nice.


And good luck, Druidic. Better days are coming!

Lucian pigeon-holed the letter solemnly in the receptacle lettered 'Barbarians.' ~ The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen

“The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” – Oscar Wilde
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Old 10-02-2013   #3
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Re: Recent Reading

I'm re-reading Ask the Dust by John Fante, being the story of a young writer named Arturo Bandini who travels to Los Angeles in search for inspiration. It's beautifully written and Bandini is such an adorable loser. I really like this book.

Also, I don't know if you're performing of receiving the surgery (is it Dr. Uidic, perhaps?) but best of luck either way. Hope it all works out for the best.
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Old 10-02-2013   #4
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Re: Recent Reading

The Map and The Territory by Michel Houellebecq which I am finding quite different from his other work but heavy on concept with excellent prose to bring it home as usual. Houellebecq seems to have benefited from and has managed to avoid the pitfalls inherent in so-called "experimental" writing; his current mode, to judge by this book, is restrained purposelessness. This book is enjoyable in the way that a lot of Bernhard (from what I've read)---weirdly---is. Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst Dividing Up the Art Market---what an hilarious and apt notion! Reading reviews of this book, I was surprised by the general chagrin of many readers by the fact that Houellebecq appears as a character himself in the book and is by turns seemingly brutal and light-fingered with his portrayal of 'his truly'. I believe this "self portrait" in fiction to be very interesting and has seldom been executed with more aplomb than here---though I get the feeling that Houellebecq's previous books have been more than a little autobiographical---something like a mild-mannered schizo dissecting himself.

In addition to that I'm reading John Dies at the End ---I like it so far, please don't judge me too harshly---I've not read anything like this before...not usually one for "college humor" (which I believe to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek in this book, by the way---despite what many think to the contrary). An enjoyable horror-comedy novel...I can't see if you enjoyed Sean of the Dead (though I gave that a bit of a "meh", though it could be argued that in a way it was at the beginning of the living dead cinematic revival and one of the better examples from that awful period) not being at least slightly amused, perhaps even enthralled, by this. Charles Bukowski dedicated his novel Pulp "to bad writing"---it's a fun, indulgent and silly read---that has to be ok now and again, doesn't it? As one Good Reads reviewer said and it might peak the right kind of readers interest:

"Surrealism, pop culture references [not usually my thing, but I guess I find Chuck Klosterman amusing in an "end of the human line" sort of way], quantum mechanics, discordianism, conspiracy theories, irreverance and respect for a good old-fashioned pun... All the elements that made Robert Anton Wilson's work so brilliant, thought-provoking and genuinely entertaining are present in David Wong's book too." *bracketed aside mine

I so far agree with this statement and love RAW.

All in all, I'm enjoying reading these two concurrently...

....but don't take my word for it...(den ne dah!)
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Old 10-02-2013   #5
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Re: Recent Reading

I would second the excellence of John Dies at the End; it is one of the few novels I have read that works both as a comedy of 'laugh out loud' proportions and a genuinely unnerving horror tale. The author obviously has a great love and respect for the genre, and reads like a Douglas Adams take on cosmic horror, if Adams were a twenty-something burnout from the american midwest. This absurdist-slacker sense of humor can be often deliberately juvenile but is informed by a wit and intelligence that keeps it light-years away from what constitutes much of 'college/frat humor', and is closer to the likes of the original Nat. Lampoon and old-school Simpsons, or movies like Wet Hot American Summer, Super Troopers, and the early works of Kevin Smith. In my humble opinion, JDATE belongs somewhere on a list of best 21st century weird fiction, and I do not hesitate to recommend it to the forum. The sequel, This Book is Filled With Spiders, is also well worth reading.
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Old 10-03-2013   #6
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Re: Recent Reading

Thanks ChildofOld. I'm almost finished JDATE and was wondering if the next one TBIFWS was worth it. I trust your judgement, sir!
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Old 10-03-2013   #7
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Re: Recent Reading

The Face of Twilight is pants. The dimwit that wrote the book should be kicked up the backside time and time again by fellow weird writers who are more commercially successful and whom he's never met. Even if he has met them his work should still be hereafter ignored or ridiculed by all of the weird fiction community in perpetuity. Its loser author is a regular jackass. He's not interested in awards, conventions and mutual back-scratching. Don't mention him again. It's embarrassing to everyone who really matters or cares in our community and detrimental to our continued solidarity.



In short, yuck!

Mark S.

"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh
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Old 10-04-2013   #8
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Re: Recent Reading

Mark, if you still have a copy of FoT lying around, I'd be more than glad to take such a foul volume off your hands. Glyphotech too, even. I'll endure owning them so no one else has to
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Old 10-04-2013   #9
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Re: Recent Reading

First I’d like to thank some of you for the kind words and well wishes. I’m going to be limited in the amount of time spent sitting and walking for a bit so I’ll have to take a short break from my desktop—which means more reading of real books (always a sensual treat), endless listening to music, a once a day splurge on pizza or Chinese take-out delivered to my door… financial ruin but not a completely bad deal, at least not until I get bored out of my skull. In a recent post, I wrote, “There’s always a price to pay.” A couple decades ago a brilliant surgeon performed an operation no other surgeon would touch; and he saved my life. But of necessity, there was a lot of what was then called “vein stripping” and the inferior vena cava was removed. Because of that (and the largely unilateral edema caused by the revamped plumbing) I’m now susceptible to the kinds of leg problems often seen in elderly diabetics. But I’m still grateful to that surgeon and I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and pay the price for the rest of my life. I still regard the original operation as a good deal…considering the alternative. So this surgery was a skin graft, a last ditch effort to repair a leg wound that’s been trying to heal for over two years. And so far, it looks good.
NJ, did you ever catch the film version of Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out? It’s an enjoyable Hammer film with Chris Lee and (surprising for a Hammer) a script by Richard Matheson. It’s one of my favorite Wheatley books.
To Ramonoski: I believe they paged Dr. Uidic several times while I was recovering but I fear I was far too busy hitting the button of the Morphine Pump every 8 minutes to be sure…BTW, John Fante is a name new to me and now someone to look into.
Murony, ChildofOldLeech, thanks for the recommendations. I’ve wanted to check out Houellebecq and now is probably as good a time as ever. And I could use a laugh or two right about now, so John Dies at the End might provide it. Thanks again.
I always find it interesting to hear or read about what other intelligent human beings are reading. I’ve discovered some Good Things that way. I believe Lovecraft discovered Lord Dunsany in a similar fashion…Years ago I discovered Cormac McCarthy that way.
Mark S. is too hard on a good book. Granted, the scene where the eye patch guy freezes to death while simultaneously swigging from a flask and fighting off a pack of rabid Siberian Huskies (even as the apparition of a dead former friend mockingly lectures him on the impossibly beautiful Evil of it all) seemed just a mite overwrought…just possibly. But that could be the morphine affecting my memory...

Last edited by Druidic; 10-04-2013 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 10-04-2013   #10
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Re: Recent Reading

Slip Montag 20 bucks or a bottle of cheap Scotch; he’ll write an affectionate pastiche of Laird’s stuff. Some of us remember what happened the last time M. did an affectionate pastiche of a writer he liked and it wasn’t pretty. He likes Barron; that will only make it worse. Montag also killed off the Easter Bunny so there’s probably no limit to the man’s
evil.
As for me, maybe I’m just a weirdo, but I wouldn’t mind another ‘foul book’ like TFOT on my shelf.
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