Friday, February 10, 2006

Rounding out the 50

Yes, hard to believe (and stomach) but book #50 will be hitting the blog first thing on Monday and the first fifty picks will be locked in. This also means I won't reading any new PODs for the next several weeks.

This last year has been a blur of print.

The Needles are coming and the nominees will be announced in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and put on your Armani tux and your Bill Blass gowns 'cause we are going to have a serious awards show! Actually, you can finally put to use that tuxedo t-shirt and your old bridal gown for these awards.

Check out the blog on Monday for the last selection of the 2005 book year!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Danger of Too Much Fact in Your Fiction

Today's P5:

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 13,358 5
(4) CONVICTION: 47,909 5


Ultra-talented author, Kenneth J. Harvey, has written a satirical piece on the James Frey debacle that is a must read. It ran in the London Times and the Toronto Star a few days ago, but you can read it here now.

If this doesn't make you think--and make you laugh--well, then, you might fall more along the lines of this level of entertainment.

For those of you that enjoyed it, go buy Kenneth's highly touted book--as well as one or more of the excellent books listed on the right side of this blog.

Monday, February 06, 2006

ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE by Jeremy Robert Johnson (Eraserhead Press)

I am extremely particular about many genres of fiction--especially horror. It is easy for it to get bloated and thoughtless and--more often than not--gory for the sake of gore.

That said, if you could marry well-crafted literature to stories of visceral horror, you would be holding ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE in your hands. Jeremy Robert Johnson has put together a collection of stories (most previously published in various magazines) that cover a vast array of themes and ideas--and even points in time. The writing is genuine and delicious. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll lose your lunch.

The lead story, The League of Zeroes, is a short, beauteous story of the end result with our culture's fascination with attention (extreme haircuts, piercings and tattoos): body modifications. A true post-apocalyptic adventure? Even worse:

It all leaves me with the impression that I'm living in some kind of ravaged nuclear wasteland. The problem with that diagnosis lies in the absence of any apocalypse. No one dropped any bombs; no great fire scorched the Earth.

We just ended up like this. We followed a natural progression from past to present. We're not Post-Apocalyptic, we're Post-Yesterday.

Next up is Dissociative Skills, which tells the story of a kid who pops a pill so he can drop off and take a scalpel to his belly in order to see what's inside--and successfully finds out. Granted, you don't want to eat any red meat before you read this story--but this is to be expected from good horror. Even Stephen King, before he got all Green Mile-ish and whatnot, was a vivid and explicit storyteller; it's just part of the genre.

What makes JRJ's group of stories so compelling is the sense of self (or lack of self, or search of self) that is present in each element of the collection. Johnson is probably a few books away from doing for horror what Jonathan Lethem did for science fiction. Plain and simple? Forget horror; this is good fiction. From stem to stern, each story will amaze you--and I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you'll read them all more than once.

And you'll never suspect this was produced POD (which Eraserhead uses as its print model) based on two simple things alone: the price ($8.76 on Amazon) and the rich cover, which was clearly not someone's weekend play with Photoshop. This is a top-notch collection that is certain to be a welcome addition to your library.