78. The Family Plot – Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest is one of those authors I feel like I should have already read lots by. Boneshaker was a great big deal as I recall and I was super into the idea of Maplecroft because I love some lady murderer stories. I tried to read Maplecroft multiple times but I was just not getting in. Just not. And that made me pretty sad.
Fathom is the only book of hers I managed to get through and I liked it okay…but was not wanting MORE! on any level. However, with The Family Plot, I think I finally found the Priest for me. I absolutely loved it.
Because of the existence of dust and me in the same universe, I will never become a salvager or a picker or the sort of person who finds antiques and cool pieces of house until they end up at a store. So, as abbreviated and possibly inaccurate as the operations of Music City Salvage may be, I don’t care, novel-level accuracy got me wholeheartedly into this story. Main character Dahlia was very relatable for me – she has allergies (not as bad as mine, clearly, or she couldn’t do that work, but they like never get mentioned anywhere and so many people have allergies that do work involving old things), she’s relatively fearless, she recognizes the value (sometimes exact) in antiques, and she knows how to organize disparate elements into a task well-finished. So I was entirely content to follow her through southern-style trying not to lose her shit while the ghosts in the Withrow house got stronger and more insistent and actually scary.
Pere and Ozy know the best way not to lose your shit is to turn away from the photographer and still look cute.
16. Burnt Offerings – Robert Marasco
Marion and Ben and Aunt Elizabeth and David live in the city. It sucks during the summer. It’s like really hot and there are too many people and Marion doesn’t feel like her antiques get their due unless she’s obsessively polishing them and so she’d really like to escape. Just this once.
Well, a house that’s only $900 and way out in the middle of nowhere comes up for the summer. It’s full of antiques, it’s by the beach and has a pool, the only catch is Marion has to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an old lady she’ll never see. Perfect!
Everything goes fine and they all end the summer with a nice family chuckle as they drive back to the city. The end.
Okay, not so much. But it’s not ever really clear what is happening exactly or why that title was used if the very life is being sucked out of the adults. But I guess “Burnout Offerings” just sounds like a post-graduate school group therapy session title. Too contemporary.
Danger and Horace are waiting for me to get the movie so we can all figure out if we like that better. These boys really loved their 1970s horror cinema.
Filed under Books, Review
69. Twilight – William Gay
I picked this up at a thrift store on Magazine Street that no longer exists as far as I can tell and used to have a silver rocking horse hanging above it. I’ve never really been sure what it was called. Mr. Cheese and I had a lot of fun there, they had a new stuffed Gizmo in a bird cage and this lovely calendar from a Chinese restaurant with especially lovely rabbits on it…it’s also the place I bought Mr. Cheese his second sugar urn, i.e. a sugar bowl that, for the un-tea-cultured poors like me, looks more like an urn than it does a sugar bowl. He found his first one in Iowa.
Anyway, I bought this book because the description made it sound like it was going to be a southern gothic version of Phantasm. There’s a funeral director doing questionable things with the bodies and a young man who must stop him. Well, it’s not like Phantasm. For one thing, there’s no Reggie character. And it not being like Phantasm has sort of clouded my judgment. You see the sentences, they are pretty. I am rarely in the mood for pretty sentences, if ever, so I can appreciate this for what it is – a well written story about a young man who has gone into the local wilderness trying to get to a sheriff before he gets killed by the local psychopath (who was hired by the funeral director). There’s some poetically written nature, some Odyssey-like characters, and some mysteriousness that reminded me a bit of The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale but not as nasty- but it just wasn’t working for me as a reader. Especially when the actions that started the story were resolved in two sentences, at the very end, and the sentences came from a character who was supposedly important throughout the book but didn’t end up doing anything but resolving the starting action. It’s a journey story and usually I really like those, but I just wasn’t able to get into this one once I realized it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be.
“No Tall Man? No ice cream truck? Why even bother writing a creepy funeral director character if he’s not pursued by a team of misfits and the resolution to his story basically occurs off-page?” Pickles has my back, because I put words in her mouth, but still, she would have my back.