Friday, April 8, 2016

Last Month's Books: "I Hated, Hated, Hated Some of These Books"

I tried going on a low-carb diet. For someone who centers most meals around carbohydrates--rice, tortillas, popcorn, potatoes--it was hellish. I am not going to stay on a low-carb diet. But I AM going to eat more meat and veg, and fewer carbs. Oh, and no sugar and a drastic decrease in caffeine. That should help a lot. What does this have to do with books? Bugger if I know. Let's talk about books.

Neil Gaiman

Short simple sentences. Parental neglect. Creepy doors. This is great. Want a longer review? No. 

Ghastly Beyond Belief: 
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations
Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman

The literary version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. All the stupidest lines, characters, and back-cover blurbs from decades of science fiction and fantasy. Biting, yet loving, commentary and a great mixture of obscure and obvious choices.

The Devil Wins
Dallas G Denery II

If I had been assigned this book in college, I would have been ecstatic. Fascinating topic, a solid writing style, and a lot of citations to help write a paper. Great textbook fodder. But as a semi-educational book to read over lunchtime, The Devil Wins just doesn't quite do the job. It's just a little TOO textbooky to triumph over the stack of other books I could be reading. 

Vampire Forensics
Mark Collins Jenkins

A fascinating look into the scientific and folkloric origins of the vampire mythology. Goes into enough detail to be informative, but not so much as to become overwhelming. Examines vampires and vampire-like beings in folklore across the world, and the cultural, societal, and scientific causes of vampire beliefs. My main complaint was that the whole thing felt a bit...inconclusive. I was expecting some final thoughts, but instead the book just sort of...ended.

Your Movie Sucks & I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie
Roger Ebert

I didn't always agree with Roger Ebert--his thoughts on video games as art, in particular, struck me as short-sighted and almost intentionally ignorant. That said, Ebert in top form, writing scathing reviews of terrible movies? I can get behind this. Along with I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, Your Movie Sucks forms a great primer in what not to do when making a movie. Hilarious, biting, and almost always spot-on. If you're looking for movies so bad they're good, or if you want to learn inventive new ways of panning movies, this is your book.

A Field Guide to the Creatures That Stalk the Night 
Bob Curran

I don't trust any book that gets the afterlives of multiple religions--Catholic, Norse, and more--wrong in its introduction. I also don't trust any book that's as clunkily and poorly written as this is. The prose is graceless and the research suspect. Either of those might be forgivable on their own, but together make this book unappealing in the extreme.

The Croning
Laird Barron

I've noticed a pattern in Laird Barron's works. Two patterns, really. One: He really likes to have a brother-sister duo who are either snogging or want to snog. Two: He seems desperate to prove that the world is an awful, terrible, no-good place by describing vulgar, mundane things in great detail. Whether that's the modern gladiator fights and the sex the modern-gladiator protagonist has in The Light is the Darkness or a list of sex, torture, rape, cannibalism, and infanticide in The Croning, Barron seems incapable of subtlety. It's as if he found out that modern audiences are buying "grimdark" novels and decided to go that route in the most blunt way possible. Which describes Barron's writing as a whole. Lovecraft by way of unsubtle, "grim" and "gritty" attempts at "realism." A sledgehammer does not a horror writer make.