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Re: Strantzas, here's a stellar example of second book jinx, sophomore slump, what-have-you... Simon's first collection from Tartarus Press was brilliant, so much so, I couldn't believe that it was Simon's. (He's been a customer/correspondent of ours for years, and while a nice guy, there was nothing in his correspondence that would lead one to think of him as an accomplished prose stylist). The difference between the two books is profound, so much so that I might venture a guess that the stories in Burnt Black Suns were actually written earlier than those in Cold to the Touch, which are infinitely superior. A bit of good news, the latter volume has finally been reissued in paperback so one need not shell out $150-$200 for a copy, but may acquire one for a much more modest $15-$20.

I'll admit that I've yet to read Laird at novel length, at the novelette/novella length both he and Scott Nicolay just excel. Scott's first collection Ana Kai Tangata was outstanding and since I have the privilege of being in possession of the manuscripts to some 3/4ths of the second (as yet, unfinished, unpublished) collection, I can aver that it's even better! He's got two more long pieces to finish and then it's done, should definitely be a keeper. On another note, I just printed out (since I hate reading on a screen) all of Alyssa Wong's stories to date. Not enough for a collection yet (36,000 words total), but OMG what a magnificent start. Hie thee hence to her website and read one, doesn't matter which one, they are all gold. Twenty years from now people are going to remember where they were when they read their first Alyssa Wong story. Probably the greatest talent to come along in weird fiction since Caitlin R. Kiernan, simply amazing.

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I'll be sure to get myself a copy of Cold To The Touch. I think there was potential in Strantzas, but Burnt Black Suns wasn't a good 'finished product' and had some wonky editing. Going by what you said, OSJ, perhaps Cold To The Touch would be a satisfying read.

This morning, I started - and finished - The Scribe by Matthew Guinn. I'm not a fan of detective stories or thrillers, generally speaking, but I enjoyed Guinn's previous novel, The Resurrectionist, so I wanted to give this new book a go as well. The setting (Atlanta in 1881) is one that interested me, so that was a good counterweight to my usual indifference towards this kind of story. Descriptions of that time's technology, culture, beliefs, social stereotypes etc kept me more interested than the story itself, which was pretty much a poor man's Se7en with a much less satisfying ending. It was a pretty brisk read, but it fell apart in the final third with awkward developments and disappointing clichés. The Resurrectionist was much better, I think, especially the 'historical' chapters in that book.

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Hey guys, I've been scrolling through the pages in this sub-forum, trying to find the memorial thread for Elie Wiesel because I wanted to share my thoughts on how Night really moved me when I read it in college, but I can't seem to find a memorial thread anywhere.

You guys did do a memorial thread for Elie Wiesel back when he died on July 2nd, right?

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On 8/5/2016 at 7:06 PM, AxB said:

She said no movie. But that might be a way to get a better deal.

 

On 8/5/2016 at 11:29 PM, Brian Fowler said:

I'd be shocked if, after the current spin-off trilogy thing runs its course, WB doesn't back up the dump  trucks full of money until she eventually says yes.

Of course, I'm a theater kid at heart, and I desperately want to see it on stage but that won't be anytime soon.

http://screencrush.com/rumor-cursed-child-trilogy/

Well, if you believe rumors, they are already trying to get the ducks in a row to make a movie trilogy of movies.

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On 8/27/2016 at 0:59 PM, OSJ said:

You may find this hard to believe, but I'd never heard of the Reacher series until just now and from reading up on it, it sounds like just my kind of thing (now that I've finished off all the later Parker novels by Don Westlake). Is the whole series worthwhile? I see that you can still get a nice signed 1st of The Killing Floor for under $200, so I'm willing to go all-in if the books are that good... Opinions on the whole series, please?

Sorry, I just saw this. I think Lee Child is a writer who doesn't fall in love with his own prose at the expense of the story. I've read all the Reacher stories, and my favorites are "Worth Dying For," "61 Hours,""Make Me," and "Never Go Back." I feel like, keeping the release schedule he does, some of the books are going to be duds, but I find them infinitely readable...

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23 hours ago, just drew said:

Sorry, I just saw this. I think Lee Child is a writer who doesn't fall in love with his own prose at the expense of the story. I've read all the Reacher stories, and my favorites are "Worth Dying For," "61 Hours,""Make Me," and "Never Go Back." I feel like, keeping the release schedule he does, some of the books are going to be duds, but I find them infinitely readable...

I'll check him out. I take it that he maintains a pretty prolific schedule? Some guys can with no problem at I keep it pretty easy at 500 words a day, every day. However, a lot of that is non-fiction (introductions and suchlike) which requires a lot of time-consuming fact checking and the sites are always interesting and I like to acquire knowledge like a sponge, so what should be five-minutes of check fact and done, often becomes an hour of fascinating reading. What I call a "thirst for knowledge" some unkind folks have criticized as "short attention span and easily distracted". 

Any writer that is organized enough to actually have a release schedule that they are comfortable making public, is likely capable of maintaining their quality of output. David Gemmell told me he worked in 18-month cycles; six to research, six to write, and six to screw off and think about the next one. Tim Powers does basically the same, but with a two year cycle. My buddy Edward Lee is still doing the 500 words a day, more if he feels like it (and I've watched him work, there's no way he's knocking off at 500, he's likely hitting twice that amount at least five days a week and just doesn't want to jinx himself by saying so. 

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Currently reading The Peripheral by William Gibson.  For me, this started out really confusing.  It was one of the most confusing reads I've experienced, the first 75 pages or so.  Mostly because it starts out being about gaming, and I don't game at all.  So there was all of this coded language that I did not get at all.  But, it's like this futuristic version of gaming, which only added to the confusion.  So, there was gaming, maybe some drone-like or avatar stuff, and 3-d printers.  I was lost.  Plus, there are a multitude of characters that I didn't see how they connected to one another.  But then, all of a sudden, everything started to click and the puzzle pieces started to fit together.  I'm about 250 pages in now, and it's become really good.  Once I pushed through the initial confusion, it has become worth it.

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Finished Book One of Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series, and while I also have the second book...it's gonna go on the back-burner for a good long while. It's a solid story but it draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggs soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch.

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On 9/3/2016 at 7:09 AM, Roman said:

OSJ, have you read The Scribe yet? I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on it.

Sat down and read it yesterday. In all fairness, the author was at a disadvantage as I had just re-read A Feast of Snakes and Harry Motherfucking Crews is a hard act to follow. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Guinn either wrote this first or at least started it first as it has "first novel fuck ups" all over the place. His eye for detail is fantastic, there aren't too many people that can do a period piece as effectively and as accurately and I'll cut him a lot of slack for that. The book is meant to be a thriller, that's it, it doesn't have to be anything more. There is a certain sense of self-consciousness that floats cloyingly over the whole thing that makes one worry that Guinn is reading his reviews and taking them to heart. (Note to author: Please don't do that, the last guy that did was David Foster Wallace and we all know how well that turned out.) 

I'm going to compare Guinn to a contemporary, Tom Franklin and in that comparison, he comes up short (although The Ressurectionist was brilliant). Franklin writes thrillers that are sometimes period pieces and sometimes they become something a little more than "just" a thriller, good on him for that. I don't think Franklin sits down at the keyboard and says "This will be MORE than "just" a thriller, because I am a clever motherfucker." Tom's a damn good writer and damn good writers will frequently produce stories/books that transcend their original purpose of being "just" an entertainment.

I worry that Guinn is consciously trying to do so, which almost never works. 

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Thanks for the quick review, OSJ. I feared I was missing something, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought it doesn't hold a candle to The Resurrectionist.

I just finished Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Christopher Hitchens called it the funniest book of the second half of the twentieth century and although I'm not usually a fan of 'funny' books, that praise convinced me. It wasn't a bad book at all, but it was just... meh. A quick read with some nice phrases spread about, but nothing great.

I'm working my way through a pair of books related to my job (burn nurse). After that, I'm not yet sure what to read. Perhaps I'll finally start on Boy's Life and follow that up with Gone South. I've also been eying Buddha's Little Finger for a long time now, but I think some Southern Gothic would go down better right now.

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41 minutes ago, Roman said:

Thanks for the quick review, OSJ. I feared I was missing something, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought it doesn't hold a candle to The Resurrectionist.

I just finished Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Christopher Hitchens called it the funniest book of the second half of the twentieth century and although I'm not usually a fan of 'funny' books, that praise convinced me. It wasn't a bad book at all, but it was just... meh. A quick read with some nice phrases spread about, but nothing great.

I'm working my way through a pair of books related to my job (burn nurse). After that, I'm not yet sure what to read. Perhaps I'll finally start on Boy's Life and follow that up with Gone South. I've also been eying Buddha's Little Finger for a long time now, but I think some Southern Gothic would go down better right now.

I read 'The Old Devils' a couple of books back by Amis. Really enjoyed it - think he had a good way of describing the meandering nature of later life.

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11 minutes ago, Roman said:

I still have that one on my list. I'll get around to it at some point. I've read several of his son's books, though, and I prefer those. Money is especially good.

I've got Money and Yellow Dog. Read neither. Got Money on the good reviews, got Yellow Dog on the bad ones...

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Just got finished reading Heart of Darkness for a bookclub my friends & I have started up. 

I read this for the first time in high school and it's amazing how much more I enjoyed it this time around.  Almost makes me want to go back and read more classics, but then again these Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy books are probably going to win out.

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23 minutes ago, CSC said:

Just got finished reading Heart of Darkness for a bookclub my friends & I have started up. 

I read this for the first time in high school and it's amazing how much more I enjoyed it this time around.  Almost makes me want to go back and read more classics, but then again these Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy books are probably going to win out.

Allow me to plug a book that I'm willing to bet is unfamiliar to everyone here... I think we can all agree that Heart of Darkness is a classic.. Oneof the neat things about my job is that I get to discover stuff, in this case I found a novel that can stand proudly aside Heart of Darkness! In my role as Grand Poobah of Dancing Tuatara Press, I'm mainly focused on weird menace and Asian super-villain stuff from the US and the borderline supernatural thrillers from the UK. One of our "flagship" authors is a guy name of Edmund Snell, of whom most (if not all) of you have never heard. He's completely forgotten today, but in his prime (1920s-1940s) the guy was EVERYWHERE. During the 1920s you literally could not go a week without seeing a new Edmund Snell story in one of the dozen or so top fiction magazines. Snell usually wrote crime fiction with fantastic devices like The Z Ray, The Sound Machine, and so on. What makes Snell's work stand out from the pack is that he lived much of his life in Borneo and Malaysia and frequently set his stories there. However, nothing he had written prepared me for what I got in The Back of Beyond. 

This isn't just a book that few people have read, all of the standard reference works have it cataloged incorrectly as a short story collection. It isn't, it's a novel and a damn fine one at that. It's really Heart of Darkness set in Borneo and Snell writes from the heart with as ringing a denunciation of British colonialism as you're likely to see. What's more, Snell stays true to what made him successful, The Back of Beyond doesn't trade the story for a pot of message, it's every bit as good as the best of his thrillers. You can read the intro and first chapter on the Ramble House site, www.ramblehouse.com

 

 

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On 6.9.2016 at 0:31 PM, Marty Sugar said:

Finished Book One of Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series, and while I also have the second book...it's gonna go on the back-burner for a good long while. It's a solid story but it draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggs soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch.

If you thought the first book is slow paced you should stop right there as it gets much worse later on. I gave up somewhere in book 6.

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I was on call today so I thought I'd read something easy and quick: Mo Hayder's Pig Island. What a crock of shit with the most predictable ending imaginable, although I'd read a lot of reviews saying how amazing and unexpected that ending was.

Robert McCammon is looming closer.

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I'm a big oral history fan, so World War Z was right in my wheelhouse. It's also one of the best audiobooks I've heard, as he got an all-star cast for it (Nathan Fillion, Paul Sorvino, Simon Pegg, Martin Scorsese, Henry Rollins, Mark Hamill, Carl & Rob Reiner, Eamonn Walker, Alan Alda, David Ogden Stiers, Jeri Ryan, Parminder Nagra, John Turturro, Bruce Boxleitner, Alfred Molina, F Murray Abraham, Common, Rene Auberjonois). Brooks said that the audiobook was his movie, therefore he didn't care what the movie studios did with the property.

 

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