Category Archives: Uncategorized

Slave Stories: Scenes From the Slave State

Slave Stories: Scenes from the Slave Statehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25150011-slave-stories

Have you seen the list of authors on this one? No really, look again. I am surprised that more people haven’t read this yet. I thoroughly enjoyed the way each author added to the ethos of the slave state. Much of this is pretty dark, but there are also some humorous and slightly whimsical ones as well. This anthology is a strong and varied. It has perked my interest in finishing all of Chris Kelso’s slave state books, and possibly rereading the two I have already read. Standouts below:

Blackout In Upper Moosejaw by Laura Lee Bahr

Aphanisis by John Langan

Shatter Demalion by Simon Marshall-Jones

Aftermath by Gary J. Shipley

Municipal Election 3B by Mick Clocherty

To Imagine Disaster is to Invoke the Same by Violet Levoit

The Act of Dying by Shane Swank

Gold, Myrrh and Frankenstein by Rhys Hughes

Dive Bar Prophecies by Ian Welke

Ruins (Poems) by Seb Doubinsky

From Within by Richard Thomas

Overall very few misses, many hits. Recommended. 4 stars

Devil Entendre by John Edward Lawson

An extremely visceral collection that also manages to be highly intelligent. Full of frightening darkness with no gimmicks to water it down. This is not light reading. Having read two books by John Edward Lawson, my mind has been blown both times. I am impressed to say the least. Devil Entrende is certainly some of the best horror I have read. Without giving away much, below are the highlights of my favorite pieces:

Unmapped Approaches to Infinity: What is the significance of the giant amber? This is a great way to start the book off. The conclusion is terrifying, with so many perfectly placed details along the way that are certain to creep you out.

The Invisible Girl: A truly fucked up tale involving a doll purchased to fill the void in a family after a miscarriage. I don’t think I will ever shake this one from my memory.

Never Go Back: A man that is just too charismatic, too handsome, too perfect, too good to be true.

The Curious Urologist – The journey to find out what is really going on with a mysterious patient takes the reader on quite a ride. The reality is truly sickening and scary to say the least.

The Hiroshima Maidens: The name says enough, but then again this is crazier than you could ever imagine.

An Ideal Family Holiday: Likely the story that stands out most, we read about a family enjoying a holiday program together on the TV. All seems joyous and great until we get to the bottom of the family ritual. No kidding, this one will hit you like a sledgehammer to the face. I cringed a lot.

Tap That Ass: A small town terrorized by a murderer. This was done so well. I never could’ve predicted the way this ended. Not to mention the details of the killings. Simply WOW.

I will stop now. You have been warned. Yet, I hope for more, that you have also been persuaded to read some John Edward Lawson in the near future by this little ramble.

Ecstatic Inferno by Autumn Christian

Ecstatic Inferno by Autumn Christian

This collection combines the four stories in “A Gentle Hell” with six previously unpublished pieces. Within Ecstatic Inferno themes of loss, madness and melancholy prevail, with haunting characters in the form of insectoid monsters, broken butterflies, demons and blackened beings. When compared to her previous output, it could be said that Ecstatic Inferno is at times a bit more sci-fi or a even a slightly more accessible form of darkness, but I find it hard to say this for certain because each story carves it’s own identity. The author’s work has a feral, hallucinogenic quality that never fails to get the endorphins going. Akin to an IV delivering a “reader’s high,” her prose maintains a poetic intelligence that has me hooked.

They Promised Dreamless Death – Would you trust all that is involved in turning off consciousness, having a machine take over your daily duties so that you can get that much needed “rest?” How do you re-assimilate upon returning to form? The interconnectedness of the characters and the changes in their relationships play a big part in shaping the context. A great way to begin.

Crystalmouth – Possibly my favorite. The siamese twins and their experiences are extremely vivid and the entity they face is beyond creepy. I loved the interplay between the two as their conflicting personalities and ideas clashed. This could be deemed a coming of age story, but is much more eerie than any I have read. The ending may surprise you.

Your Demiurge is Dead – The examination of religion is the thread running pulling this one together. The despondent, damaged nature of Mimi’s children, especially Tuesday, pull at the emotions as a society’s accepted deity shifts rapidly.

Sunshine, Sunshine – “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. “In these corridors, you’re an angel.” These are the words of the sunshine man. Creepy nostalgia with life experiences coming full circle after a prolonged distance grows between you and all that you came from.
“I remembered the paths I used to walk like the ache people sometimes get in broken bones that have long since healed. That’s what this swamp was – a deep ache.”

Pink Crane Girls – Possibly the most PK-Dickish of all. The protagonist is “a manager of living time bombs.” The turning of the girls into their new roles was a bit terrifying and sad. There is a strong sense that there is so much going on under the surface, but I am sure that I only grasped a small percentage of it. This one is immersive to say the least. “Where do they go when the work is finished?”

The Dog that Bit Her – Following June’s character through the phantasmal changes in her life kept me under this story’s thumb until the end. Studying the changes in the dynamic of the relationship between her and her husband was a highlight and an indicator that something monumental is about to happen.

The Bad Baby Meniscus is the other contender for favorite of the bunch. Also the most reminiscent of “We Are Wormwood” to me. I adored the character of Mellie. Her wit and ideals were extremely amusing. This one also had that trademark dark fantasy feel that Autumn does like no one else.
“Everything got real slow, like I’d just stuck my head underwater and the reeds reached out to tug on my hair and encircle my face. I got the feeling that underwater lived another me, a liquid, luminous blue me, who parted the reeds and struck me on the mouth.”
Tugging at my heart strings, the story had me hoping against what seemed an inevitably tragic end.

I have never been one to keep it secret that Autumn Christian is a favorite of mine, but do not let this take anything away from the convictions of the review. Ecstatic Inferno is a book I have anticipated for quite some time, and is everything I expected, with some newly forged territory as well. I highly recommend this one as well as any of Christian’s books. 5/5 stars.

My Top 15 Reads of 2015

It has been a great year in books for me personally and I wanted to show some respect and admiration for those that really did it for me in a substantial way. Narrowing it down to 15 was not an easy task. FYI, not all were released in 2015. In no particular order, they are:

Tales From The Vinegar Wasteland by Ray Fracalossy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21009811-tales-from-the-vinegar-wasteland

How to Avoid Sex by Matthew Revert

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16137625-how-to-avoid-sex

Brainfused Colorwheel by Gina Ranalli

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12939176-brainfused-colorwheel

  Astral Hell by Jordan Krall

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23949003-astral-hell

Ash Cinema by Edward J. Rathke

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13585649-ash-cinema

Quintessence of Dust by Craig Wallwork

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13585645-quintessence-of-dust

Hearers of the Constant Hum by William Pauley

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23302117-hearers-of-the-constant-hum

The Face Hole by Gary J. Shipley

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23449744-the-face-hole

Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24882022-skullcrack-city

Cattle Cult! Kill! Kill by M.P Johnson

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25366297-cattle-cult-kill-kill

Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales Alectryomancer and Other  Weird Tales by Christopher Slatsky

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25979991-alectryomancer-and-other-weird-tales

The Operating Theater The Operating Theater by Christopher Ropes

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27313363-the-operating-theater

I Will Rot Without You I Will Rot Without You by Danger Slater

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27794651-i-will-rot-without-you

Digest by Sveinung Mikkelsen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24208296-digest

Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon by Cameron Pierce

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25348639-our-love-will-go-the-way-of-the-salmon

 

 

ASH CINEMA BY EDWARD J. RATHKE

Ash Cinema Ok, so I really want to describe how good this book is, how much it moved me. I am certain to fail miserably, but here it goes. A tryptic is used to beautifully convey stories of love and loss that really strike a chord. Very dreamy and intense, it will speak so loudly to anyone who has felt that otherworldly, once in a lifetime kind of love. A long gone movement in avant-garde cinema and art connect the three stories with connections between many of its’ important figures. Writing is a tool used in the present to “recreate the past and bring it back to life.”
The quality of the writing, the prose and the pacing were all stellar. I was amazed that it never faltered nor went overboard with the emotional intensity being what it was. In short, I will be haunted by the memory of this one for a while, much like the characters in the book are in their own way.

I Will Rot Without You by Danger Slater

I Will Rot Without YouFor our friend Cotard everything falls apart. Everything falls apart. Everything…

Having been through a nasty breakup recently, the memories of his ex and their time together continue to haunt him. After she moves out, he discovers that the apartment they used to share is infested with roaches, who happen to have some big, mysterious plans for our protagonist.

So what are the strong points of “I Will Rot Without You?” I don’t know where to begin. This book is so full of clever analogies, intelligently crude humor, tragedy, and poetic prose, yet all is balanced so perfectly. It is also crazy how well all of it works to build the central theme. One of many passages that stood out to me: “The architecture seemed to pull my body forward toward a vanishing point at the far end of the hall, as if the construction of this room were but a single note played over and over, like a snake charmer’s chattel call, like a compulsively sterile convenience store soundtrack.” The surreal, dreamlike scenes and colorful descriptions never let up as the reader is pulled into Slater’s most accomplished and cohesive yarn yet. The line of roaches passing the bright red mold spores up and into Cotard’s mouth as he slept, and the accompanying dream scenes are good examples.

As far as characters go, they are extremely odd, yet memorable. ​The reanimated cockroach named Cross was a favorite, keeping me guessing as I pieced together all of what was happening. Hold on, did I mention the body parts? Lots and lots of body parts​: Cotard’s neighbor Dee Dee has parts of her jealous lover Cutter sewn to her, ready to keep any and all threats of another man away. The old man in the building who lives with the puppet corpse of his wife seated at the dinner table and says things like “You don’t give someone you love to the dirt.” The protag literally falling apart. Again, all tied into the metaphor of losing the love you truly cherished. We really do continue to carry a piece of that person and our experiences, long after our life has gone other places. Without spoiling anything, I will finish by saying that the ending was a great way to wrap all of this up.

I have anticipated this book for a while now and it was worth the wait. I really have nothing negative to say. I see this one appealing to fans of so many genres, as it ignores many of the typical classifications. Read this!

The Operating Theater by Christopher Ropes

The Operating Theater The hardest part of this little review will be finding the adjectives intense enough to describe how this collection of poetry made me feel. Personally, what I loved about it is how much passion was conveyed within the pages: vivid, honest, and gracefully done. I had intended to list favorites below, but realized that it is pointless to do so when about 80% of these were not only good, but good enough that my eyes were wide and I was in awe as they concluded. If any of what I have written describes something you would enjoy, I strongly recommend you read the Operating Theater.