Archive for horror

The Book Booth: Deflation Edition



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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, @SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

After last weekend, it would seem that the Packers were deflated spiritually and the Colts literally. In our little town, due to its proximity to the Big City, one can see that every other car, house and business sports a 12th man sign, which leads me to believe that the Seahawk roster exceeds the 53 person limit. But who's counting?

I suppose enjoying sports helps one to be a well-rounded person, though I would never claim it is essential. Apparently neither do the folks at BuzzFeed, who, in asking how well-rounded your book collection is, don't include sports as a qualification.
Book Collection Suggestions

If you aren't exactly well-rounded, you could become more interesting by reading some of the books Emily Temple suggests at Flavorwire.
Well-Rounded Book Collection Suggestions

If you wish to be interesting by being au courant, Jane Ciabattari over at the BBC suggests her top twelve novels of this current young century. And anything by Michael Chabon is well worth your time.
12 Novels of the 21st Century

Of late there has been a resurgence of interest in books about revolution and revolutionaries. Neel Mukherjee at the Guardian reviews the top ten books of the genre. I was happy to see Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent included. Go read it if you haven't before.
You Say You Want a Revolution?

Perhaps you're more in the mood for a good horror novel, but you've exhausted your Stephen King collection. Nick Cutter, author of very recently published novel entitled The Deep, suggests ten good horror novels that you may possibly be unaware of.
Got Horror?

Of course the first American master of the horror genre was Edgar Allan Poe. Ernest Hemingway contended that Mark Twain was the source from which modern American literature descended; Gore Vidal insisted it was Poe. (Poe was certainly very influential among the late 19th century French symbolist poets). I'd go with Herman Melville myself. Nevertheless, author Marilynne Robinson has written a very good appreciation of Poe at the New York Review of Books. I have not read Poe's late work, Eureka, but it sounds fascinating.
Edgar Allan Poe

Speaking of works that may seem obscure, I've never heard of William Hill Brown, or his novel The Power of Sympathy, which seems to be regarded as the first true American novel. I don't think I'm going to rush to the library to get a copy or anything, but Dan Piepenbring at the Paris Review gives it an overview.
The Power of Sympathy

If it were not bad enough that the NSA already knows my thoughts, it seems that publishers now have a source to tell them whether you have finished a book or not. Fortunately for me, I don't have an e-reader and have to make do with heavy tomes with paper pages. The rest of you may want to watch out though. Joseph Bernstein at Buzzfeed explains.
The NSA Knows When You've Been Sleeping, Knows When You're Awake, and Knows What You've Been Reading

Well my friends, have a most wonderful weekend, filled with books and words to cherish. Please let us know what books have you enthralled.


Overnight: Haiti


Hillside House in Haiti

Hillside House in Haiti

I've never been to Haiti and, in truth, have never read anything good about it.

I found an interesting passage in The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux about Haiti which made me look for videos about it to get an overview of what's happening there now, post earthquake.

Here's the passage:

From The Traveler's Tree by Patrick Leigh Fermor (in 1909:

The cane-field and savannah turned into the outskirts of the capital. Thatched cabins struggled into the country under the palm trees, and multiplied into a suburb, through which the road ran in a straight, interminable line. For the first mile or so, the town consisted entirely of rum shops and barbers' saloons and harness makers. Hundreds of saddles were piled up in the sunlight. Bits and bridles and saddle-bags hung in festoons. There were horses everywhere. ..... Old women, puffing their pipes, jogged along side-saddle. They had scarlet and blue kerchiefs tied round their heads in a fortuitous, rather piratical fashion, half covered by broad-brimmed straw hats against the sun. The sides of the road pullulated with country people chattering, drinking rum, playing cards and throwing dice under the trees. The air was thick with dust, and ringing with incomprehensible and deafening Creole. I felt I might like Haiti.

And here's a recent PR videos I found. (I will post others at a later date).

I'd love to hear from anyone who knows the Haiti of today, post-earthquake.


Video Mid Day Distraction- HELL NO: The Sensible Horror Movie


Heh. Via.


Why We Are Not Following The Following


Guest post by skippy the bush kangaroo (@skippybkroo)

nobody likes good tv as much as we do, and nobody is as thrilled with the evolution of long-form story-telling on television as we are. add that to the fact that mrs. skippy loves kevin bacon, and we were incredibly excited to see the new fox tv series starring mr. bacon, known as "the following."

 photo following.jpg

"the following" which airs on mondays nights on fox-tv, tells the tale of an imprisoned serial killer played by james purefoy, who manages to communicate with his cultish acolytes on the outside to manipulate them into gruesome, bloody and shocking murders at his behest, like some sort of cross between charles manson and hannibal lecter. bacon plays the fbi agent who originally caught purefoy's character, and is now back on the case to try to figure out...wait for it..."the following."

now, we have no problem with explicit violence in service of a good scary or interesting story. we think breaking bad is one of the greatest piece of popular entertainment of all time, and we are big fans of dexter, justified, and the walking dead as well. but the difference between those afore-mentioned shows, the following, is simply this: "the following" sucks.

and it sucks in a big, big way. firstly, all the cops are really, really stupid. secondly, all the bad guys are really, really smart, and really, really evil. and that's about it. what other, little characterization there is seems to be lifted wholesale from a thousand previous police procedurals (bacon's character is world-weary! and alcoholic! purefoy's character is charismatic! and handsome! the black guy gets killed! almost right away!).

but wait! there's explicit violence, just like on those cable shows! stabbings! immolations! eye-gouging! and all in the name of edgar allen poe, who is supposedly the inspiration for all these killings, in the worst mis-reading of the works of american literary giant since disney animated the legend of sleepy hollow.

the problem with all this gore-nography, as we call it, is that there's nothing else very interesting in the show to hang it on. breaking bad isn't about drug dealers killing each other; it's an intricate study of the moral breakdown of a man already being beaten by the system. dexter isn't about slicing people up, it's a complicated analysis of the definitions of good and evil within each of us, asking if the indulgence of one can serve the other. and walking dead has zombies, so...

we expected so much more from kevin williamson, the creator and executive producer of the following. williamson wrote the scream films, which happily played with the tropes of horror movies even as they worked as a horror movies themselves. but in the following, williamson doesn't do anything with horror/serial killer tropes, other than steal them from thomas harris and criminal minds. even ryan murphy at least has fun juggling horror tropes around in american horror story. williamson seems to be writing this crap in his sleep, or else farming it out to some junior high creative writing class somewhere.

last week's episode was a prime example: the fbi followed (no pun intended) the clues to a specific individual's house. he wasn't home, but his wife was. the fbi interrogated her and decided she didn't know anything about the murderous cult her husband was involved with. now, at this point, we literally shouted at the tv "yeah, sure she doesn't! like paterno didn't know about sundusky!" but the fbi let her go back to her house, and sent one agent (the afore-mentioned one black guy in the cast) to guard her. even worse, he felt really safe turning his back on her in the kitchen where they keep all those knives and cutting implements. well, if you couldn't see his extremely bloody death coming a mile away, then we've got an original story about killing a man and hiding his still-beating heart under the floorboards to sell you.

there is something to be said for the subplot of two straight (bad) guys who pretended to be gay to get close to the ex-wife of purefoy's character in order to kidnap her son, only to later realize that maybe they liked being gay, but there's an evil girl involved who doesn't like them being gay, so she stabs one guy, who goes out and kidnaps an innocent lady and beats her up and keeps her in the basement. well, ok, there's really nothing to be said for that subplot, now that we write it out and look at it.

we are sorrier than you know to say this show is a turkey. we like to think that television has entered a second golden, or at least a silver, age of story-telling, with shows that demand actual attention paid by its audience, and multiple views of every episode to suss out the nuance and layers of human interaction. lost, the sopranos, fringe, as well as the shows mentioned above, are great examples of complex, substantive examinations of human folly.

"the following" is just a pale imitation, a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. if you ask us if we are going to keep watching it, we'd quote poe's raven.