Stangest Tales

Review:

Strange Tales V - Stephen J.  Clark, Andrew Apter, David Rix, Rosalie Parker, John Howard Reid, Rebecca L. Johnson, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Valentine, Charles F. Wilkinson, Andrew Hook

Not as representative of the eerie or uncanny as previous volumes, but a greater variety of story. More surreal and a good number of just strange experimental seeming short prose pieces. They all have a plot, of a sort, but to say many are surreal and enigmatic would even be a bit of an understatement.

There were a few science fiction, oh okay, let’s call them speculative fiction entries, that partook of the Dickian or James Tiptree feel.

Overall I was not as captivated by this volume in the series, but it was still well worth the money and you will find that Parker’s anthologies are quite unique in this genre/type of collection of original stories.

The book is beautifully produced, more elaborately than its younger siblings, with a fully embossed and colored binding and a full color frontispiece. As usual a beautiful production by Tartarus at a competitive price for a limited edition and it will look great on your shelf with all those other mostly cream colored Tartarus volumes.

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Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1220255/stangest-tales

Trial bt Internet

Review:

Trial by Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case - Douglas Preston

I probably have rated it higher than it should be but it was quite thought provoking. Not so much another dissection of the trial that seemed to never end as the rampant online fury that surrounded Amanda and Raffaele, people that not only were blatantly innocent but who these people couldn’t have possibly known anything about other than what was fed to them via social networks, websites, and overtly biased media outlets. What possible stake could Jim Bob in Timbuktu have in the sad tale of one British student’s brutal murder in Perugia, Italy and the quite obviously framed defendants? Why wish the innocent guilty, and so vehemently, or care at all with everything else that is going on in the world?

Preston, yes that Douglas Preston of Preston & Child, does a good job of distilling the workings and psychology of online mob hysteria and retribution and how it starts and spreads virally. He focuses not so much on the details of this actual event as on the meta-level workings of the frenzy and how literally thousands of individuals can make death threats against someone they don’t know and don’t have any stake in based purely on mob dynamics and biological and social evolution.

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Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1207615/trial-bt-internet

Triumph of Will

Review:

Mawson's Will - Lennard Bickel

Not nearly as literary as Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World but still page turning exciting and awe inspiring. Bickel doesn’t mention many sources but we have to assume he had Douglas Mawson’s own The Home of the Blizzard Being the Story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 to go by and presumably his diaries. Up to a certain point he has Xavier Mertz’s diary as well but I’m still not sure how Bickel fills in all the blanks so definitively particularly after Mertz dies. There is a three chapter excerpt from The Home of the Blizzard Being the Story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 in my edition covering the same timeframe as Bickel.

Anyway, another smashing good read about a polar expedition where about everything that could go wrong did, up to a point. Somehow Australian Mawson alone, having lost or left behind most of his food and gear, suffering from starvation, snow blindness, vitamin A poisoning, and scurvy manages to literally crawl and roll downhill a good part of the way back to where he started and survive to boot.

Few know about Mawson due to the fact that his saga was overshadowed by the Scott-Amundsen race to the South Pole and the subsequent disaster that happened to the Scott party on the way back around the same time.

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Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1207599/triumph-of-will

DVD Only

Review:

The Strangers - Robert Aickman

When you buy this book from Tartarus Press it comes with a 53 minute DVD, Robert Aickman: Author of Strange Tales, produced by R.B. Russell and his partner Rosalie Parker. I haven’t read the book yet so this review at this time is strictly about the DVD. I watched it and it gives a pretty good overview of Aickman’s life, work, and influences. I’m actually re-watching it as I type. There are film clips, photographs, drawings, sound clips, interviews with acquaintances, critics, and aficionados. It really is almost the quality of a BBC documentary. Reggie Oliver and Jeremy Dyson are featured commentators and one of his girlfriends is even interviewed!

Not only does the disc deal with Aickman as a writer and editor, but also his work with the Inland Waterways (we call them canals on this side of the pond) and his relationship, personal and professional, with strange tale authors L.T.C. Rolt and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Russell narrates and is pleasant and easy to listen to. Several stories are featured with excerpts read as iconic “Aickmanesque” in order to define this odd adjective, which is almost an impossibility.

Tartarus Press books seem pricey to many but with this volume containing six unpublished and uncollected Aickman stories along with poetry, nonfiction, and this DVD it is actually quite a value, as if that mattered.

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1200431/dvd-only

DVD Only

Strange Tales V - Stephen J.  Clark, Andrew Apter, David Rix, Rosalie Parker, John Howard Reid, Rebecca L. Johnson, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Valentine, Charles F. Wilkinson, Andrew Hook

When you buy this book from Tartarus Press it comes with a 53 minute DVD, Robert Aickman: Author of Strange Tales, produced by R.B. Russell and his partner Rosalie Parker. I haven’t read the book yet so this review at this time is strictly about the DVD. I watched it and it gives a pretty good overview of Aickman’s life, work, and influences. I’m actually re-watching it as I type. There are film clips, photographs, drawings, sound clips, interviews with acquaintances, critics, and aficionados. It really is almost the quality of a BBC documentary. Reggie Oliver and Jeremy Dyson are featured commentators and one of his girlfriends is even interviewed!

Not only does the disc deal with Aickman as a writer and editor, but also his work with the Inland Waterways (we call them canals on this side of the pond) and his relationship, personal and professional, with strange tale authors L.T.C. Rolt and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Russell narrates and is pleasant and easy to listen to. Several stories are featured with excerpts read as iconic “Aickmanesque” in order to define this odd adjective, which is almost an impossibility.

Tartarus Press books seem pricey to many but with this volume containing six unpublished and uncollected Aickman stories along with poetry, nonfiction, and this DVD it is actually quite a value, as if that mattered.

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1200422/dvd-only

Head Full of Little

Review:

A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

In the end I didn’t really like this book very much. It seemed totally forgettable. Tremblay fails to flesh out any of the characters except for Meredith/Merry and maybe Marjorie to some extent, so we don’t really have much invested in anyone else. 80% of the book is one giant red herring which Tremblay still gives away all too soon, making not much suspense OR mystery to enjoy. Tremblay wants us to get into the old: Is this just psychological or really supernatural or both? But we just don’t really care and it ultimately adds nothing to the story It’s a horrible story (content-wise) either way so it is six of one and half a dozen of the other and the whole metaphysical aspect was wasted on me. We’re made to think this argument is more profound than it is because of the the phenomena Merry observes, but is the only one alive to relate, before the reality TV show, but then we get into, oh my, maybe she is just a really unreliable narrator which muddles anything profound to be gleaned from the rest.

There are a lot of limp wristed swipes at Catholicism, Christianity in general, and god based religion that seem preachy but unconvincing and pointless. The blog posts were superfluous and over explanatory and were just filler for me.

What did I like? Well, you can read it very fast, in a couple of hours, and not miss a thing (while or after reading it).

Into the bin headed for the second hand store.

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Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1200061/head-full-of-little

Don’t Read Now

Review:

Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne Du Maurier - Daphne du Maurier, Patrick McGrath

I wasn’t overly impressed with this collection of stories. Don’t Look Now and The Birds were pretty good but having seen the films many times certainly took much away some of the suspense. No fault of the author. I thought that The Birds was better, more menacing, than the Hitchcock film of the same name. I liked the more ambiguous ending better. The Escort I thought was awful. The plot is so hackneyed I knew what the ending would be when the “mysterious” ship appeared. Split Second and Kiss Me Again, Stranger were both very good with the latter having a great twist at the end. Blue Lenses, one of Du Maurier’s more celebrated stories, I thought was pretty weak. Once you figured out the schtick (and you will, quickly) it was just boring and overlong. Monte Verita was really long and just average as a story goes. I hated the ending.

Du Maurier’s writing style and the stories’ vocabulary and metaphor seemed somewhat dumbed down to appeal to a larger audience than a more literary style would have appealed to. Certainly not very quotable prose. For some reason, I guess because none of the stories were really gripping, it took me a long time to finish the entire book. I was never hooked like I am with horror writers; waiting in expectation for the next story.

I’m not sure why Du Maurier is held in such high regard. Because of some of her novels she is considered one of the more literary horror writers that the non-horror readers (Who wants that stigma?) find acceptable to read. I guess it must be because of her other writing. She sure had a lot of her output adapted as movies.

There is certainly more interesting and exciting horror stories to read. Would I recommend this to someone? No.

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Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1197432/don-t-read-now

No Future

Review:

Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored - John Lydon

Intelligent without being intellectual and always entertaining. And what about that whine? Lydon via Andrew Perry more or less chronologically recounts his life from a wee lad to the present time. A born raconteur, Lydon relates the saga of his life in the Sex Pistols and beyond and everything in-between. Full of laughs there are also decidedly more serious and tender moments than you would expect and Johnny comes off as a fairly serious person, not one for sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll but he’s seen it, just not participated. He’s refreshingly self-deprecating while at the same time you can see his actual pride in the things he has done. As you would expect he lives life to the fullest and has no time for fools.

 

Not as many sneers as you might expect.

 

All you english teachers stay away from this, Mr. Lydon has his own way of speaking and writing and it ain’t textbook correct. It’s more like listening to someone verbatim that knows how to speak but doesn’t know proper grammar.

 

Still, blind acceptance is the sign,
Of stupid fools who stand in line, like…

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