Sunday, April 13, 2014

**One of my mainstream poems, Berlin, 1944, was republished in Phantom Kangaroo magazine

One of my older mainstream poems, Berlin, 1944, was republished in issue 19 of Phantom Kangaroo magazine.    (Big thanks to editor Claudia Lamar for this.)

If you have the time and are so inclined, check this poem out!

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This poem also appears in my 2012 single-author anthology Almost there: poems.  It was originally published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association site in March 2002.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

(hb; 2014: second novel in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series)


From the inside flap:

"September 3, 1940.

"Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters.

"And only one person can help them - but she's trapped in the body of a bird.

"The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world.  There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine.  But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner.  And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom."


Review:

Hollow is a solid, storyline- and theme-expansive sequel to Home.  Those readers who weren't wild about the original novel's mixed genres and elements probably won't enjoy Hollow, which is mostly set in bombed-into-ruin 1940 London - in other words, readers who prefer strict genre boundary works shouldn't read this book

Readers who enjoyed Home's gritty WWII settings and briefly stated fantasy elements might want to check Hollow out.

Followed by a forthcoming sequel, whose title and publication date I'm not sure about yet.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Yours Until Death, by Gunnar Staalesen

(pb; 1979, 1993: second novel in the Varg Veum  series.  Translated from Norwegian to English by Margaret Amassian.)


From the back cover:

"It was at their 'torture chamber', a hut in the pinewoods nearby, that Varg Veum, Private Investigator, first encountered the gang's pathetic but deadly ferocity. Eight-year-old Roar's bicycle had been stolen and not an adult in sight dared retrieve it. But a preliminary brush with such youthful violence was as nothing compared to what awaited Veum when he got to know Roar's blue-eyed, shy yet sensuous mother, Wenche Andresen, and her estranged husband, Jonas. Veum's attempts to break up Joker and his pack of young thugs by enlisting the help of the local youth club leader proved a dead end. But not so dead as the man who lay prone with a knife in his back on the floor of Andresen's flat."


Review:

Yours is a straightforward, full-of-snappy-dialogue and entertaining non-mystery (the bad guys are easily sussed out), with few - if any - twists in the plot.  That said, this word-lean book doesn't seem to be focused on shocking plot convolutions, but rather a philosophical, wry and sometimes melancholic rumination on relationships and love - if that was the author's intention (and it reads like it was), then this is an above average novel with a quirky and engaging lead character.

Worth reading, this - perhaps even worth owning, if you're reading Yours for its philosophical points.

All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

(hb; 2004)


From the back cover:

"When alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of the many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill.  Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again.  On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally - the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch.  Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?"


Review:


Kill, for the most part, reads like an action-packed, waste-no-words and hard (tech-savvy) science fiction take on Groundhog Day.  Character development and word count are minimal in this fast read and it kept my attention through most of it; near the end, it drags out a bit, but it has a solid finish. 

This is worth checking out from the library, or picking up for a few dollars.


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This novel is the basis for the forthcoming film Edge of TomorrowScheduled for a June 6, 2014 stateside release, Edge is directed by Doug Liman from a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth.

Tom Cruise plays Lt. Col. Bill Page.  Emily Blunt plays Rita Vratatski.  Lara Pulver plays Karen Lord.  Jeremy Piven plays Col. Walter Marx. Madeleine Mantock plays Julie.  Bill Paxton is also in the film, but IMDb.com doesn't (as of this writing) list the name of his character.

Monday, March 31, 2014

**One of my mainstream stories, Seasons by the sea, was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Associate site

One of my mainstream stories, Seasons by the sea, was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website.  It will run on the site from April to June 2014.

Seasons - a mood piece largely based on a dream I had, structured (and otherwise influenced) by Eric Rohmer's 1970 film Claire's Knee and actor Bruno Ganz's work - is about an American expatriate visiting a secluded European town to recover from a hellacious divorce and his subsequent quiet, midlife salvation.

Check this story out!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Galveston, by Nic Pizzolatto

(hb; 2010)

From the inside flap:

"On the same day that Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he senses that his boss, a dangerous loan-sharking bar-owner, wants him dead.  Known 'without affection' to members of the boss's crew as 'Big Country' on account of his long hair, beard and cowboy boots, Roy is alert to the possibility that a routine assignment could be a deathtrap.  Which it is.  Yet what the would-be killers do to Roy Cady is not the same as what he does to them, which is to say that after a smoking spasm of violence, they are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.

"Before Roy makes his getaway, he realizes that there are two women in the apartment, one of them still breathing, and he sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that causes a fateful decision.  He takes her with him as he goes on a run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas - an action as ill-advised as it is inescapable.  The girl's name is Rocky, and she is too young, too tough, too sexy - and far too much trouble.  Roy, Rocky and her sister hide in the battered seascape of Galveston's country-western bars and fleabag hotels, a world of treacherous drifters, pickup trucks, and ashed-out hopes.  Any chance they will find safety there is soon lost.  Rocky is girl with quite a story to tell, one that will pursue and damage Roy for a very long time to come. . ."


Review:

Stark, raw and hauntingly beautiful with its Cormac McCarthy-esque prose, this dark and engrossing novel is one of my favorite reads this year (it's a relatively short list).  Its lead characters - Roy and Rocky - are especially relatable, with their often bleak, briefly hopeful lives, as they try to improve, escape their tragic and brutally violent circumstances.  This is not a work for the faint of heart or those who need lots of sunshine in their reading material.

Galveston is a stunning and effective novel that builds on a familiar pulp themes and storylines, updating them in nuanced ways - worth owning, this.

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Janus Metz Pedersen is set to direct the resulting 2015 movie, its screenplay penned by author Nic Pizzolatto.

Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roy Cady.

When more information is easily available I'll update this post. =)

**One of Will Viharo's stories, People Bug Me, was published in Nightmare Illustrated magazine

One of Will Viharo's stories, People Bug Me, was published the fifth issue of Nightmare Illustrated.  This story is a fast-moving, entertaining mix of two 1957 films, The Sweet Smell of Success and I Was a Teenage Werewolf

The plot for People runs thusly: a post-Sweet/on-the-lam reporter, Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis' character in Sweet), is interviewing a small town shrink, Dr. Alfred Brandon (Whit Bissell's character in Teenage) for an article after Brandon has been attacked by one of his patients - a teenage "lycanthrope," according to Brandon, named Tony Rivers (Michael Landon's character in Teenage).  When the interview takes on sinister overtones, Falco - quippy and doubtful about his interview subject - tries to extricate himself from the obviously obsesssed Brandon, but it's too late. . .

This quick-blast, feels-like-a-real-Fifties-film tale made me wish I could see it on the big screen, even as a short.  There probably won't be a film version, but even if there isn't, there's this highly enjoyable sort-of sequel to read, penned by consistently excellent author Viharo.

Check this story - and this equally excellent magazine - out. 

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I also especially enjoyed Viharo's recent "Flicks" column ("Cerebral Cinema") in the latest Bachelor Pad magazine (issue #27), in which he shows knowledgeable appreciation for select body-based horror and similar genre films (e.g., The Brain That Wouldn't Die, 1962; Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, 1974), many of which are my personal favorites.  This is a must-read for any fan of these genres, so if you're an adult reader and so inclined, pick this up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

(hb; 2005)


From the inside flap:

"When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck.  Like calling Fat Charlie 'Fat Charlie.'  Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing 'gifts' his father bestowed - before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

"Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things.  Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew.  A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun. . . just like Dear Old Dad.  And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

"Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad.  He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god.  Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil.  Some said he could cheat even Death himself."


Review:

Anansi Boys is a good, entertaining (often in a laugh-out-loud way) urban fantasy with a light touch.  It probably helps that it has the feel of a Douglas Adams story and that Fat Charlie constantly made me think of Arthur Dent, the protagonist from Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  

Anansi is worth owning.  Check it out!

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A BBC miniseries version was recently announced.  I'll update this when I have more information.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

All Those Moments, by Rutger Hauer with Patrick Quinlan

(hb; 2007: actor autobiography)


From the inside flap:

"He came to mainstream prominence as a machine more human than his creators in Blade Runner, terrified us as a hitchhiker bent on his own death and the death of anyone who got in his way in The Hitcher, and unforgettably portrayed a lonely king roaming the night as a wolf and pining for the love of a hawk during the day in Ladyhawke.

"Rutger Hauer has dazzled audiences for years with his creepy, inspiring, and villainous portrayals of everyone from a cold-blooded terrorist in Nighthawks to a blind martial arts master in Blind Fury, but his movie career was nothing compared to his real-life adventures of riding horses, sword fighting, and leaving home at fifteen to scrub decks on a freighter and explore the world.

"From poverty to working with a traveling theater troupe to his breakout European performance in Turkish Delight and working with legendary directors such as Paul Verhoeven (Robocop and Basic Instinct) and Ridley Scott (Alien and Gladiator), Hauer has collected All Those Moments here."


Review:

All Those Moments is a pleasant, breezy, thoughtful and relatively polite - compared to most autobiographies - book.  If you're looking for detailed film-by-film behind-the-scenes stories, you may be disappointed at how Hauer skirts over certain movies; if you're looking to read about his career highlights (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, Batman Begins) you'll probably enjoy this.  The book ends with selective "entries from [his] diaries," which are slightly more whimsical and off-the-cuff than the rest of this autobiography.  This is a good library or used copy read.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

(hb; 2011: first novel in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series)


From the inside flap:

"It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. . . As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-od Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.  As Jacob explores its abandoned bedroom and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar.  They may have been dangerous.  They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.  And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive."


Review:
 


This truly inspired - in the most complimentary sense of the phrase - and multimedia, not-quite-a-YA urban fantasy novel immediately immersed me in its time-looping, family-themed storyline and memorable characters.  (It's "not-quite-a-YA" work because of its dark-ish themes, several instances of strong profanity and brief instances of blood and WWII-era imagery.)  It's easily one of my favorite reads of late, and one that lends itself easily to cinematic form.

Great read, this - worth owning.

Followed by Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children.

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The forthcoming film version, scheduled for a stateside July 2015 release, was announced recently.  Director Tim Burton has been "officially attached" to helm the project.  (I'll update this post when I can easily get more information.)
Steve Isaak has published two hundred stories and poems, and is the author of three anthologies: Behind the wheel: selected poems, Shinjuku sex cheese holocaust: poems and the forthcoming Horrorsex County: stories (which are, or will be, available at Lulu and Amazon).