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"Black Juice" by Margo Lanagan

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 08:01 (A review of Black Juice)

This book kept popping up at Amazon, either as a book that was bought by others who also bought the book I was looking at, or in my recommendations. I had been interested in it for a while, but kept putting the thought aside due to wanting to read novels. Finally at a point in my life I switched to reading short stories because of being too busy, so this came quickly to the top of my list again. Then Amazon was selling remainders of it for $4.99, the hardback edition. Hard to pass that up.

These are the stories within:

“Singing My Sister Down”
“My Lord’s Man”
“Red Nose Day”
“Sweet Pippit”
“House of the Many”
“Wooden Bride”
“Earthly Uses”
“Perpetual Light”
“Yowlinin”
“Rite of Spring”

What kind of surprises me is that this is “categorized” as geared towards young adults. Puzzling, because some of these stories are rather dark. And some are quite complex, including thick prose. I can totally see a teen enjoying this book, but for the adult readers out there that like speculative fiction, don’t let the tag put you off.

Obviously the best story is the first, Nebula nominated “Singing My Sister Down”. It is told from a young boy’s point of view as him and his family witness the very slow execution of his sister. His family tries to make her last day a celebration by feeding her her favorite foods and singing songs to her as she slowly sinks into a tar pit.

Lanagan seems to write a few different ways, but all being still in her basic style. “Singing My Sister Down” is one of the more straight ahead stories, along with “Perpetual Light”, which is told from the view point of a college student who drives three days to attend her grandmother’s funeral.

“Wooden Bride”, “Yowlinin”, and “Rite of Spring” lean more to a surreal side, and more fantastical. This can be said more of “Rite of Spring” which turned out to be quite a treat. A young man is given the task of courting the spring season by battling the fierce winter elements up on a mountain where his brother had once failed. The prose is very thick, but in all the right places. “Wooden Bride” centers around one bride-to-be in a mass ceremony who gets lost on the way to the church. It has some strange ways about it, since it appears there is no groom. But still an interesting story.

This collection didn’t start strong with just because of the Nebula nominated story. Both “My Lord’s Man” and “Red Nose Day” were great stories as well. “Red Nose Day” was a little evasive, but it worked so well with the story. Especially the very shocking twist two thirds into the story. Two college age guys (my take) are lost in a world of being hit-men (again, my take) and are making “hits” on performers at what seems to be either a very popular event, or a way of life in this city/world.

There were two stories though I found hard to finish. “House of the Many” I literally did not finish. I am still confused as to what the story was even about. It was very surreal in my opinion and heavy on language. “Sweet Pippit” was rather unique, and I applaud Lanagan for this story, but again I was a bit confused as to what exactly was going on. The main characters of the story though are elephants, and they are searching for Pippit, a young human man, who seems to take care of them.

Even with the two clunkers in my mind, this was still a great collection of stories. And again I stress that it is probably hindered with the young adult tag because some scoff at that. It would be a shame for speculative fiction fans to pass on this because of that tag. Lanagan’s writing style should turn heads, as it did with me, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear much more from her in the future.


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"Hockey Sur Glace: Stories"

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:58 (A review of Hockey Sur Glace: Stories)

“Hockey Sur Glace” by Peter LaSalle is a collection of short stories and poems. This book immediately caught my eye, being a fan of the game. And a moment later I realized that it could also be very bad. After all, a collection of hockey stories? But as I read the description it specifically said that it wasn’t hockey stories. It was stories that hockey has something to do with. One of the best stories in the book (”Wellesley College for Women, 1969″) actually has very little hockey in it. The stories represent more. Though not all of them are great.

Here is a list of the stories and poems:

“Hockey Angels”
“Le Rocket Negre”
“A Pond-Hockey Pledge” (poem)
“Goalies Are Weird” (poem)
“Hockey Sur Glace” (poem)
“Rollerblading Along” (poem)
“Wellesley College for Women, 1969″
“Additional Consideration”
“The Injury”
“Hockey”
“Van Arsdale’s Pond”

The poems were interesting to read, but not all that great. I find it hard for anyone to write a good poem that is more directly related to sports. “Goalies Are Weird” was really the only one that stood out, and mostly for it’s humor, like the goalie that swears and trash talks opponents like crazy, yet hardly says two words to his teammates. What helped this poem in my eyes is being able to relate in some ways. I have played goalie, and am probably considered weird by a handful of people, if not more.

“Le Rocket Negre” was an interesting story about a French Canadian of half African descent who gets noticed and works his way up into the Detroit Red Wings organization. His dream is to play for his beloved Montreal Canadiens, yet never makes it to the NHL. “Hockey” (what a simple title) was also a pretty good story, but I think it could have been longer and given the reader more explanation of what was going on. “The Injury” was a strange stream-of-consciousness story that I was finding annoying at first, since the entire 11-12 page story was one sentence. But as you get deeper into the story, it has much to tell about an up-and-coming player whose career is ended with a freakish injury in a meaningless game near the end of the season in the minors. And “Van Arsdale’s Pond” is a unique look at a kid’s point of view, using hockey as a metaphor much like “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

One story, “Additional Consideration”, I didn’t get through. It seemed to a humorous/satirical look at something called the “Sleep Shot.” I got about a third of the way through (it was the longest story of the bunch) and decided it was weird and boring. Maybe someday I will go back and really read it. Just wasn’t in the mood considering the other stories seem to come more from the heart.

For the hockey fan that likes to read, this is a nice little collection of stories. Though it is probably best read in the middle of the season. It was strange reading about kids trekking through piles of snow to get to a frozen pond while it’s really in the mid 70’s outside.


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"The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:52 (A review of The Gun Seller)

I found out about this book at an IKEA furniture store of all places. My wife and I were walking around and I kept noticing books on shelves with a title written in Swedish and the author’s name Laurie (no first name). Finally out of curiosity, I took one down to set ease my mind that it wasn’t Hugh Laurie of British comedy and "House, MD" fame. But much to my surprise though, it was indeed the actor.

The plot synopsis is from School Library Journal, as part of Carol DeAngelo’s blurb:

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Thomas Lang, formerly of the Scots Guard and currently a freelance bodyguard/man for hire, is offered an assassination job. He indignantly refuses, attempts to warn the victim, and is soon embroiled in undercover work for the British government, CIA operatives, arms dealers, and terrorists.

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Given the Wodehouse influence, and the synopsis, the best general description is “spy spoof” novel. (Though not my words.) When I started reading the book, it was easy to hear Laurie’s voice in the narrative. Quite honestly, that is how I pictured the character of Thomas Lang. It is filled with British wit and humor. As someone that has enjoyed Laurie’s comedic work, I found myself enjoying the prose and narrative quite a lot. But with any debut novel, there are issues.

Two events, or sections of the book don’t have smooth transitions. They both lie within how Lang comes to be working for those that he works with. He first is brought into a scheme with the man who he was first asked to kill, a Mr. Woolf (who’s daughter Lang is falling for). Then the scheme to bring him to work with terrorists. Both are not clear. As well as the lead up to the final chapter. It was not very clear why Lang did what he did. It needed better editing, quite honestly.

The thing that Laurie has going for him in this novel though is his writing style. The spoof part of this novel, and all the issues that Lang deals with (in first person) are very funny and very entertaining. Sometimes his writing style carried through what could have been a very boring passage, or even whole chapters. His characterization was pretty good, though stronger with the British characters. It was all held together though by his writing style. Even with these unclear issues of how or why alliances were being made, I wanted to keep reading because the book was far from boring.


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"A Conspiracy of Paper"

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:43 (A review of A Conspiracy of Paper)

Here is a rundown on the synopsis of the book thanks to Alix Wilber and Amazon.Com:

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A fool and his money are soon parted - and nowhere so quickly as in the stock market, it would seem. In David Liss’s ambitious first novel, “A Conspiracy of Paper”, the year is 1719 and the place London, where human greed, apparently, operated then in much the same manner as it does today. Liss focuses his intricate tale of murder, money, and conspiracy on Benjamin Weaver, ex-boxer, self-described “protector, guardian, bailiff, constable-for-hire, and thief-taker,” and son of a Portuguese Jewish “stock-jobber.” Weaver’s father, from whom he has been estranged, has recently died, the victim of a horse-drawn carriage hit and run. Though his uncle has suggested that the accident wasn’t quite so accidental, Benjamin doesn’t give the idea much credence: “I blush to own I rewarded his efforts to seek my opinion with only a formal reply in which I dismissed his ideas as nonsensical. I did so in part because I did not wish to involve myself with my family and in part because I knew that my uncle, for reasons that eluded me, had loved my father and could not accept the senselessness of so random a death.” But then Benjamin is hired by two different men to solve two seemingly unrelated cases. One client, Mr. Balfour, claims his own father’s unexpected death “was made to look like self-murder so that a villain or villains could take his money with impunity,” and even suggests there might be a link between Balfour senior’s death and that of Weaver’s father. His next customer is Sir Owen Nettleton, an aristocrat who is keen to recover some highly confidential papers that were stolen from him while he cavorted with a prostitute. Weaver takes on the first case with some reluctance, the second with more enthusiasm. In the end, both converge, leading him back to his family even as they take him deep into the underbelly of London’s financial markets.

Liss seems right at home in the world he’s created, whether describing the company manners of wealthy Jewish merchants at home or the inner workings of Exchange Alley - the 18th-century version of Wall Street. His London is a dank and filthy place, almost lawless but for the scant protection offered by such rogues as Jonathan Wilde, the sinister head of a gang of thieves who profits by selling back to their owners items stolen by his own men. Though better connected socially, the investors involved with the shady South Sea Company have equally larcenous hearts, and Liss does an admirable job of leading the reader through the intricacies of stock trading, bond selling, and insider trading with as little fuss, muss, and confusion as possible. What really makes the book come alive, however, are the details of 18th-century life - from the boxing matches our hero once participated in to the coffee houses, gin joints, and brothels where he trolls for clues. And then there is the matter of Weaver’s Jewishness, the prejudices of the society he lives in, and his struggle to come to terms with his own ethnicity. “A Conspiracy of Paper” weaves all these themes together in a manner reminiscent of the long, gossipy novels of Henry Fielding and Laurence Stern. Indeed, Liss manages to suggest the prose style of those authors while keeping his own, less convoluted style.

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I have left all of the review in because it gives very good insight on the book itself without giving away much at all. And quite honestly I find myself with not much to add to it.

The novel turned into more of a mystery then I had thought. In some ways a private investigator type story, but not, given the time it takes place. However, as mentioned by Wilber, because of the prose, storytelling, descriptions, and characterizations, it turned into a very compelling read.

As always with these types of books, I didn’t know who was behind the crimes until I was told. And even so, it wasn’t clear until Weaver talked with another character. But the one thing I did like was that all of Weaver’s work wasn’t just hunches. He took time to agonize over issues sometimes. It was work, and hard at that. He wasn’t just some brilliant man that knew everything that was going on. And quite honestly, Liss weaved (no pun intended) quite a tangled web of conspirators that, to me, was believable, hard to figure out during the reading, yet all made sense in the end.

I know little of the times that Liss wrote about, but they do seem inline with what little I know. Because of that, this probably works well as a historical fiction novel, not just a mystery of sorts. Given that the time and companies that Liss writes about, like mentioned by Wilber, this is highlighting the start of the stock market, so to speak. There is a lot to be had in this novel, and I was glad I took the time to read it.

There are three more books that Liss has written, or is in the process of writing, that involve Benjamin Weaver. As it is, this one can stand alone. There is no need to have to read the next to be totally satisfied with the finish.


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"Dark Sister" by Graham Joyce

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:16 (A review of Dark Sister)

I have read a few book descriptions for this one and have decided to alter the best one, because some of the plot points were incorrect. So here is Tamara Hladik’s description/review of the book that is listed as the description at Amazon.Com with my corrections/additions:

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“Dark Sister” is the third book by British fantasy writer Graham Joyce to be published in the United States - and the author travels further into the realm of pure horror than he did in “The Tooth Fairy” or “Requiem”. Maggie Sanders, an unfulfilled, restless housewife in England, comes to terms with her nascent, otherworldly power amidst a disheveled and antagonistic domestic life. Her archaeologist-husband Alex is subtly dominating, which makes for an unfulfilling marriage. So, Maggie buries herself in the chaos of her small children (six-year old Amy and three year old Sam), until a chance discovery both liberates her and invokes catastrophe.

The Sanders decide to tear out their gas log imitation and open up the fireplace for real wood fires after a visit to a friends’ home. While cleaning out the chimney, Alex discovers an herbalist’s journal which Maggie finds much interest in. Soon after, her life unfurls wildly and runs horribly aground. It seems that the owner of the journal was not just an herb woman, but also a witch with real powers. Inspired by this forgotten woman, Maggie begins to dabble in the arts of Wicca, with the help of herbal store owner Ash and Old Liz in whom he has consulted. The gifts it brings her are powerful - a sense of freedom, purpose, even clairvoyance. But every gift has its counterbalance, and Maggie’s newfound telepathy allows her to see things she might have wanted to remain hidden. Even more ominously, it seems that in unearthing the journal, Maggie has awakened deep tragedies from an abandoned time, and the evil that now stalks her and her family might be insatiable and unstoppable.

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Now, I left the first line of this description/review in there because that horror word crept in again in regards to Joyce’s work. I obviously need a lesson on what horror fiction is, because I just don’t see it. Just like “The Tooth Fairy” this book came across as a novel about real life with fantastical elements. And the “horrors” or events that happen in this book seem even less horrific, to a point, then those in “The Tooth Fairy”, except for one. Though still, with other fantasy books I have read, it is not more horrific then anything else I have come across. Though part of that is in presentation.

One element of the book that I really enjoyed was the subtleness of the witchcraft. And maybe subtle is the wrong word, but it’s the only one I can come up with right now. It’s not overbearing, it’s not what the whole story is about. There are real life issues going on there, and Maggie tries to use these powers to help the issues, and sometimes fails. But it’s not heavy handed, like some big gothic novel. I have a copy “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman waiting to be read. I would like to see how these two books compare. (And for the record, I have not seen the movie “Practical Magic”, based on the book, which is surprising given that I am a fan of Nicole Kidman.)

The characters are all well crafted, though there is a bit of craziness to each. However, we are dealing with a world where “witches” can practice their craft and are successful. One of the most endearing characters though is Old Liz. She’s the 83 year old women that Ash sends Maggie to see for advice. At first she is a hard woman, but as the story goes, you see the intelligence in her character, the reason for the hard exterior, and though her presentation doesn’t change much, you do see more and more of her inner person as the book goes. All the characters have flaws and they are well presented, and of course many of them won’t own up to those flaws.

This is the second book by Joyce that I have read in the last month, and I have enjoyed both on many levels. Both have very fantastical elements, but he keeps so much reality in the books that they can be seen from many different views.

Side note:

I am not really into quotes by other authors that are displayed on books. I have found them unreliable at times. But there were two on this book that I found interesting. They are also listed with the description of the book on Amazon.Com:

“I won’t bother saying Graham Joyce deserves to find a wide audience in America; rather, I think the American audience deserves to discover him.” — Jonathan Lethem

“Graham Joyce writes the kind of novels we keep hoping to find, but rarely do.” — Jonathan Carroll

I think both of these are accurate. Of course you have to like these kind of books. But it took me quite a few years to finally fall into Joyce’s work. And frankly, I think Carroll’s quote about Joyce is true of his own work.


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"The Tooth Fairy" by Graham Joyce

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:13 (A review of The Tooth Fairy)

Much like Jonathan Carroll, Joyce’s books have been showing up in my recommendations at Amazon for a long time. And over time, I became very interested in reading some of his work, with this book being my first choice. Thanks to BookMooch, I got my hands on a copy.

Here is a rundown from Publishers Weekly via Amazon.Com:

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An unlikely sprite assumes a sinister incarnation in this exceptional supernatural novel about a troublesome but endearing trio of boys coming of age in the English Midlands in the 1960s. Seven-year-old Sam first lays eyes on the Tooth Fairy “oddly dressed and smelling of horse’s sweat and chamomile” in the middle of the night after he has stashed a tooth under his pillow. Over the years, the fairy becomes a fixture in his life. No one else can see or hear this odd creature, who is sometimes male, sometimes female and alternately coy, cruel and cuddly. Even without this personal demon, Sam would get into plenty of trouble with his chums: Clive, a “gifted child” who wins a NASA (yes, the American NASA) science contest at age six but longs to be normal; Terry, an affable lad whose life is plagued by catastrophe; and Alice, the fetching, knowing girl who drives the boys wild with lust. Joyce engagingly describes the boys’ childhood experiences - sampling drugs, toying with explosives, worrying over acne - and carefully portrays their childlike stoicism in the face of several horrifying tragedies.

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The first thing that caught my attention when I started reading this book was that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t showing up too often. I expected more, though this was based on another description I had read about the novel. Along with that, The kids parents were quickly introduced, and by first and last name, when the three main characters’ last names where never attached. It had me scratching my head. I couldn’t tell the parents apart or grasp a firm image of what they were like when the names were mentioned. I was also dealing with the misconception of the Tooth Fairy herself. But soon the book’s pace fell into a good rhythm, things became clearer, other things started to develop a good pattern, and a good story emerged.

The one thing that the Tooth Fairy can be seen as is a metaphor for the problems and pressure a boy would endure while growing up and dealing with life. As is said in the description, the Tooth Fairy’s appearance changes, and with the needs of what she is doing to Sam and what is happening in his life. Joyce’s presentation is very subtle. At least it was to me. I was still dealing with the questions that Sam has throughout: is she real and is she the cause of his and those he knows’ problems. However, the end gives a good interpretation of the answer, yet doesn’t outwardly reveal the answer. Does that make sense?

It was interesting for me to read some of the reviews posted on Amazon about this book. Everyone seems to think of this as a horror novel. “Really?” I say to myself. Sure, some of the tragic events might be considered horror, but I saw some of them as just parts of life. Especially those that Terry deals with. Maybe more along the lines of bad luck. But one thing is clear, as pointed out by a review, that there is a difference between this novel and something that Stephen King would write. In a novel by King, you would know about the pain and gore that is involved, where as Joyce leaves it more as a surreal event.

Also, there is much more to this book then being a fantastical story with horror elements. At least to me. You learn much about the characters, especially Sam. There is much to laugh about too, if you know and enjoy British humor (sorry, but Joyce wrote this with a very British feel). The emotional pains of dealing with life is a big theme of this story. Not just from a the tragic either, just everyday things one growing up has to tackle. That’s why it’s best described as a coming of age story with a big fantastical element that makes it’s different.

With the ending, and getting through those first few chapters and realizing where Joyce was going, it turned into a unique and interesting story. Like with Carroll, I look forward to reading more of Joyce’s work.


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"The Kite Runner"

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 07:04 (A review of The Kite Runner)

From Amazon.Com, here is part of Gisele Toueg’s description:

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The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule.

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At times this book is a coming of age story. But on the darker side. Realizing that you have to sleep in the bed you made. With Amir, he continues to progress through his demons. Yet there always is something to remind him of what he did. And one of them is his father, unknowingly but through a secret he kept from Amir, and takes to his grave. It was part of the reason he was asked to come back to Afghanistan.

I hate giving away some things that happen, but another part of what Amir goes back for is Sohrab, Hassan’s son, though he doesn’t know it at the time. And when you learn of Sohrab’s life, you clearly see innocence lost with some unspeakable acts he has endured. Then as they get closer to bringing him out of that war-torn area, the disappointment of roadblocks for such a young kid, he takes his tragedy even farther, and compounds the feeling. It is also brought around when the ending of the book seemed to be headed for too tidy and happy an ending. Though the ending is hopeful, it is far from wonderful.

One of the blurbs on the back cover says that it is a haunting tale, and I totally agree. Though the books seems to offer a lot to the reader. Or at least I took much from it. I found so much I had a hard time putting it down. Even after I was done reading it.


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"The Old Man and the Sea"

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 05:01 (A review of The Old Man and the Sea)

The story is about Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman that heads out to the waters, farther then normal, to try and catch something after 84 days of nothing. Using very old methods, the “old man” hooks into an enormous marlin, but even he doesn’t realize how big it is until later. His fight seems to first end in triumph, but it soon turns to what the old man wishes was just a dream.

When I received my copy of this book (thank you BookMooch), I was surprised to see how short it really was. I knew the page count was low, but even the typeface in this edition was huge and double-spaced. It felt like a pamphlet compared to books that I have read. But oh what a pamphlet it is.

It is not overly written. The prose is simple. But much like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” (or should I say "The Road is more like this book), it is the story of human spirit and survival. Though survival on other terms in this case. It captures that which pushes people beyond what they ever thought they could accomplish. Yet this story doesn’t end on the happiest of notes. Still it gives the reader much to be had in such a short story.

This book won Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize and helped him earn the Nobel Prize for literature a year later. I can see why after reading it. And what I have read about his writing is that this book finishes very different then the typical Hemingway-fare. It also revived his career many say. It would be interesting to read more by “Papa.” I have only scratched the surface with this and “The Nick Adams Stories” a couple of summers ago. However it’s the ending that made this story more enduring. Having the “trophy picture” at the end may be nice, but it’s not reality. Though if his earlier works evoke the same “I-must-keep-going” drive, then they may be worth pursuing.


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"Dark Domain"

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 02:46 (A review of Dark Domain)

The main reason for my interest in this book was because Grabinski is Polish. He has even been referred to as the “Polish Poe” (as in Edgar Allen Poe) on a couple of web sites that I came across. Now I have not read much of Poe’s work (mostly in high school), and don’t have a tendency to read those type of stories he is most famous for. Though I have wanted to. So when I came across this and saw that he writes rather macabre fantastical type stories, what may even be referred to as early horror, I decided to take the plunge. Another intrigue was that of the writers in Polish literature, Grabinski was the one and only writer of this style for a long time (born in 1887 and died in 1936).

I don’t want to keep referring to Poe, being under educated on his work, but Grabinski’s prose is not nearly as poetic. This could be due to the translation. Though from what I have read, Miroslaw Lipinski’s work is highly thought of in terms of translation to English. Mind you, the prose is still very steeped in deep descriptions that give the story so much more.

This is the first collection of Grabinski’s work translated to English. The book contains the following stories:

“Fumes”
“The Motion Demon”
“The Area”
“The Tale of the Gravedigger”
“Szamota’s Mistress”
“The Wandering Train”
“Strabismus”
“Vengeance of the Elements”
“In the Compartment”
“Saturnin Sektor”
“The Glance”

“The Motion Demon” is probably his most famous, being also the title of a short story collection that was published in Grabinski’s lifetime (recently translated to English). Like many of his stories, it takes place on a train.

Of all the stories, I think “Fumes” was the one that grabbed me the most. It was the right combination of strange happenings without straying too far from where it started. The descriptions and the style of the writing at the start really had me geeked, if it was any indication of what was to follow. “Fumes” is about a civil engineer out on a survey when a blinding snowstorm comes upon him and he loses his companions. After walking a long way he finds a two room shack, and two strange people inhabiting it.

Most of the stories endings are a twists, and a couple of them you can see coming. Or at least get the idea of where they are headed. Most are still a very good read in getting to there. That can’t be said for “The Wandering Train” though. It involves an unscheduled train that keeps showing up at stations at odd times throughout the country, sometimes in an impossible circumstances. For me, the story didn’t draw me in and the ending was rather anti-climatic. But that was the only clunker in the bunch.

Other then trains, a common theme seems to be fighting one’s own demons, whether another person, or supposed other person. And with “Vengeance of the Elements” it comes down to the main character, who is the fire chief, battling the as stated elements, though mostly fire.

Again, I haven’t read a lot of Poe, and have yet to crack open the copy of the “Cthulhu Mythos” by H. P. Lovecraft that I have. But fans of these writers and other alike would probably find some entertainment in this collection. I sure enjoyed it.


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"Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 21 February 2008 02:44 (A review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time )

First things first, I can’t help but compare this book to one by Elizabeth Moon called “The Speed of Dark”. The reason is that the lead characters and the style of writing are very similar. Both have a lead character that is autistic, really good with figures, and both want to be astronauts. Also the point of view of each book is first person (though there are a few spots in “The Speed of Dark” that goes to third), and it gives the reader some insight of what might be going through the mind of someone that is autistic.

“Curious Incident” is about Christopher, an autistic boy (15 years old) living in Swindon, England who walks by his neighbors house one night and finds her dog (named Wellington) dead in the front yard. From there, the book is presented in a manner that is it written by Christopher, and he is trying to find Wellington’s murderer. You find out more about the levels of his condition (he hates the color yellow, loves red, hates France, doesn’t like anyone touching him, etc.). And you find out about other mysteries in his life.

“Curious Incident” won the 2003 Whitbread Award for best novel, and I can see why. Though it is a quick read, it really gives the reader something to think about. Just for reference, “The Speed of Dark” won the 2003 Nebula Award for best novel, this is one of the two world famous science fiction awards. Both books can be enjoyed by non-sci-fi readers. But obviously “Curious Incident” is more accessible, even if it is heavy in math and logistics at times. Both books are very good reads and I would highly recommend both.


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