Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book reviews: Heart Shaped Box, Thursbitch

Since the utter disappointment that was Metro 2033, I've read two excellent books:

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, described by my friend JS as "a cracking horror page-turner." Absolutely. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. With a protagonist as unlikeable as any you'll come across and what seems, on the surface, to be a simple tale of revenge, ultimately ends in something not quite like redemption, not quite like a fairy tale, and much like the old horror novels I would read, standing up, by the dozen in the used book store in my teens.

Full of creepy moments -- she and I each had our own, separate passages that creeped us out -- great dialogue, and interesting characters that I actually cared about and, even better, could fully see in my mind. No wasted words, just a great story.

After reading Hill's 20th Century Ghosts previously, I can attest to the man's skill as a storyteller. I highly recommend both works, and his new novel, Horns, is on my to-be-read list.


Thursbitch by Alan Garner. I'll excerpt JS' review:

a brilliant book - admittedly, frequently incomprehensible and not an easy read by any standards, but fascinating and powerful and written with an incredible economy. Rarely have I read a book that expresses such great scope in so few words. It's only about 150 well-spaced pages, but it manages to encompass so much. It's all about the power of places, the power of landscape, and how places can link people and events that happen hundreds of years apart, not just psychologically, but also literally. There are two stories, set 250 years apart, that begin to overlap and affect each other in strange ways. As my friend Si described it when he recommended it to me, "It's psychogeography, Stone Tape theory and quantum physics as folk tale".

This book attracted me before I opened it, as those are all elements I love to read/write about. Yes, there are parts -- mainly, the chapters set in the past, with Jack -- that are full of language that can be difficult to understand. But even if you don't understand the word, you will get the sentiment, and I had no problems at all with dialogue in those sections.

As with HSB, there was a protagonist that I found unlikeable at first. I won't say much about Sal, except that the author did a brilliant job of portraying her, and I read the last page in tears.

Here's what I can say best about Thursbitch: Unlike HSB, I could, indeed, put it down. In fact, about every 2-3 chapters, I set it down.

Because the use of language, the imagery, the concepts caught me on fire. I had to keep a notebook next to me, so that I could put the book down and immediately write whatever was in my mind, born of the magic that is Thursbitch.

Not a book for everyone, yes. But for some, it will be a reading experience unlike any other.


No fic today; I'm busy working on something I hope makes it into xTx's Zombie Summer. Nothing better than zombies. Except zombie haikus, of course.

brains brains brains brains brains
infection, meteorite,
it comes down to: brains

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