Tag Archives: Belvedere

ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz……….

17. The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To – DC Pierson

This book reads like it was written by someone who is too cool for school. The initial impression I got from the blurb of it seeming like a magical realism sort of sci fi teenage romp well written enough to be literary fiction is really inaccurate.

The science fiction bits come in toward the end and they don’t make up for the lack of cleverness and ingenuity with tired tropes. There was also a lot of space taken up by the main character wondering if making friends with the weird kid will also make him weird. Um, duh, kid, that’s the whole point of hanging with the weird kid…getting out of the banality. If you don’t want that, keep hanging with the stupid cool kids. An unwilling protagonist who spends too much time debating the risk of letting an actual story happen is a sad, sad thing in fiction. Bottom line for me was feeling like I’ve read this story before with less pretentious prose.

Belvedere would’ve put this book in the “rejected MFA imitations of more interesting genre fiction” section of his library.

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It’s dark in here.

75. One Kick – Chelsea Cain

I learned a lot of uncomfortable information about child sex trafficking from this book and although it’s fiction, I do not wish to fact check anything. I have to say, I am not surprised that Chelsea Cain and Chuck Palahniuk were ever in the same writing group. Tidbits about uncomfortable things that validate the circumstances and actions of the story are a foundation for both writers. Chelsea Cain’s heroine Kick Lannigan is closed off but compassionate, she has a complicated and unpleasant past, and she makes for an intriguing guide through the world of One Kick. It’s very tense.

Also, there’s some level of weirdness with the follow-up. It was supposed to come out a long time ago and I had it on my Amazon Wish List and then it went wonky. I tried to look into it a couple of times and for now I’m going to have to go with “the book got kidnapped and trafficked,” which is really unfortunate on a couple of levels.

Belvedere tensely searches for new smells and a better napping spot. Guinea pig thrills.

 

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Mostly pictures of my pigs trying not to be in pictures with art I’m bringing to SUPERCON…

Have I mentioned that I’m going to be at SUPERCON? A few times? Well, here’s one more mention featuring works I’m actually bringing with me (unless something terrible and luggage related happens, then I’ll basically just have posters and postcards and two paintings):

First off, we have Pere-Barb, from my set of Stranger Things parodies, Danger Things. Peregrine does not want to be seen with Pere-Barb, I guess she doesn’t like her jacket.

 

Salem, like most guinea pigs, does not want to look at me the same way he looks in the painting. He’s following in the footsteps of greatness by being uncooperative. Also, for some reason this is hard to find on Threadless, so here’s a link. Real Guineas.

 

Brand new – Herdin’ 2 Electric Pigaloo, just in time if you need inspiration to save a community center of your very own! Ozma is running away from the responsibility. Running away – to Paris. Always go to Paris.

 

Pere is proud enough of her criminal empire to be photographed with the posters that you can ONLY get from me in person. Only. I’ll have them in my jacket.

 

And finally, these are most of the blind paintings that I will have. Now there are way more guinea pigs than skulls! (I do love skulls, there will be more skulls.) They are wrapped up and I have no idea which one is which because I was not in the room while they were wrapped. Each one is $5 and based on a Nancy Drew end paper. They’re literary. Like me and possibly you.

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Well, he’s not wrong with that subtitle.

20. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread – Chuck Palahniuk

There are several stories in this collection that I won’t forget.

Especially “Red Sultan’s Big Boy,” I got halfway through that one while waiting for an appointment – I predicted accurately where it was going, and I had a hard time not spewing that forth during my appointment because, well, I had just the right friend to tell about that story, but I had to finish it first.

Belvedere was not that friend.

I am not sure how I feel about his new choice to use animal names for characters. During the story about the poor monkey (I mean, “Monkey”) marketing the cheese it seemed novel. But I feel like Flamingo got pretty screwed over in a later story and frankly, it put a very, very weird set of pictures in my head. There’s a newish Sanrio character, a red panda named Aggretsuko who hates her job and sings metal kareoke and works with a gorilla and a hippo who won’t stop showing baby pictures and…I just don’t really want Palahniuk’s animal characters in the same office block as Aggretsuko. I like her and don’t want her to suffer anymore than she already has to in order for me to identify with her. She’s got a super cute rage face.

Belvedere also has a super cute rage face.

“Cannibal,” well, the less said about that story of high school romance, the better to surprise. If you got through the one with the pool drain, you’ll get through “Cannibal.” High school kids can certainly suck.

Belvedere never went to high school. He didn’t suck.

Anyway, as usual, Palahniuk aims for the uncomfortable and reaches it, digs into its abdominal cavity, and pulls out a spleen and that is why I read him for the most part. I will take the named animals over the freshly invented languages that made Pygmy and Tell-All harsher to get through though, as long as he leaves guinea pigs and red pandas out of it.

No, really, Belvedere agrees with me. Leave guinea pigs out of it. You don’t know what they do well enough to give them jobs. Barely anyone seems to.

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Somebody’s watching that coffee and contemplation.

32. Stalkers – Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, eds.

One of the nice things about libraries is that they sometimes make purchases from smaller publishers and those things stick around…waiting for their chance. Stalkers was published by Dark Harvest of Arlington Heights, IL in 1989.

It features authors of horror novels for the most part, several of which wrote books on my shelves that I haven’t yet read, like J.N. Williamson. Williamson’s story “Jezebel” was very moralistic but also captured the feeling of being watched when you’re really not doing anything worth watching as a lady very well.

Pickles was constantly doing something worth watching. Here she is, looking alert.

Some I forgot about, like John Coyne (The Legacy aka that book/movie poster with the cat head sticking out of the green, zombie looking hand that scared and intrigued me as a child). Coyne’s story “Flight” was one of the weirder ones. A man takes off with his child when he’s totally not supposed to and ends up in a cabin with a paranoid old coot and it gets very bizarre from there. Features ye olde proverbial “They.”

Some I hadn’t heard of, like Michael Seidman, the editorial director of Zebra…a publisher that probably would have published me back in the day and stuck lots of weirdo skeletons on my covers. Oh, to go back in time. Seidman’s “What Chelsea Said” was a creepy little urban nightmare. Bumbutt.

Edward D. Hoch, “The Stalker of Souls” was an academic mystery. I haven’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I got that vibe from it nonetheless. The reveal was a little tiresome, but the atmosphere leading up to it was great and very on theme.

Belvedere raises his head while being accused of nefarious plans by Pickles. Again. She’s the guinea pig Sherlock. Sort of. Not really. She’s far too cute and not nearly addicted to heroin enough to be Sherlocky.

The story that stuck with me the most has its own introduction, an oddity for short story collections, usually there’s just a short paragraph introing the author (if that, and sometimes the contributor bios are in the back). The introduction discusses how long Dean Koontz had the idea and other situations where the story didn’t work out to be published and it’s a nice insight. I’ve read one Dean Koontz book, The Funhouse, it was written under a different name and it was weird but didn’t make me want to dig in to the rest of his catalog. I think my main turn off, as usual, is the font they use for his name. It doesn’t appeal to me.

Anyway, now I’m a little more intrigued. I will at least always look for his stories in more of these weird little horror story anthologies because “Trapped” played right into my worst stalking fears and also hit several areas of my interest – isolated homes, mad science corporate bullshit gone awry, smart heroines who don’t freak out, a hero very much like Chief Hopper… But as I was saying, those worst stalking fears – RATS. Genetically engineered rats who are even smarter than rats already are. Also bigger. And they cut off your phone while staring at you with their beady little eyes. And they thought about the car. And they’re huge and white with red eyes. And of course there was a fucking illustration for that story. NO. I try not to show fear around real rats because I appreciate how smart they are, but, No. Also, rats are not afraid of people. They like people.

Pickles hides from smart rats in her hay. According to a 1921 book about pets I have, rats hate guinea pigs, so she doesn’t really need to.

 

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The body of an angel and the head of a wood owl

  1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

Hendrix has definitely made some novelist progress since Horrorstor. There are many details in My Best Friend’s Exorcism that really work – the descriptions of Charleston and summer activities in the south in general, the extreme specifics of cassette destruction, and lots and lots of fluids (although I can’t say I ever associated pickles with cadaver labs and I frankly don’t want to, I’ve never thought formalin and pickles had a similar scent either). The description of Margaret in her bed was stomach churning. And I very deeply understood what Abby’s mom was on about when she told her that her rich friends would use her as a scapegoat. I understand that position better than I ever wanted to, the powerful trying to keep the powerless in their place. The book also reads like a shot and I did stay up to keep going to find a non-paranoia inducing scene the second night I was reading it. I have very specific memories of the first time I watched The Exorcist that were invoked reading this (damn it, Regan-me similarities, you still bother me!) and those never make me feel comfortable going to sleep. My imagination is very strong and will not be denied.

On the other hand, the sense that I was being told too many things bothered me at several points. These characters were stronger than the ones in Horrorstor, but they’re still being written with a sense of remove – like they were conceptualized as types and not people and there’s some fight against that but the distance won. The exorcism itself also didn’t work for me; it seemed to go by really quickly and there was a lot of time and build up of what was going on with Gretchen that just didn’t square with the way the exorcism happened. Maybe if WHAM! had been involved instead of Phil Collins. You know Phil Collins made some kind of deal…you know it.

“The power of Phil is not compelling, Belvedere! I didn’t even like ‘Sussudio’!” Pickles will not be exorcised. She was never possessed, so it makes sense.

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“On the business end of a beam of despair”

4. Them or Us – David Moody

Welcome to the post-post-apocalypse, where if you can’t get your mental shit together, you’re doomed. Then again, you always were doomed, even if you could get your mental shit together because there’s some probably tiny handed dictator waiting to only give you food if you’re fittingly sycophantic and brutal. Sheesh. How do these people gain power? Oh wait, regardless of country, sometimes they get voted in.

Them or Us is a fittingly bleak and mildly brutal end to the Hater trilogy, set in Lowestoft, and yet, The Darkness’ fate was not mentioned. I assume Justin and Dan and co. are fine and were in a bunker when the bombs fell – after all, bombs are really only supposed to fall on Slough, isn’t that how the poem goes?

It was the coming of the …Belvedere. Damnit, too many syllables, and “Bel Bel” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Black Shuck.” He was certainly “a curious beast” though. Oooooooh.

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All this could’ve been avoided if the B&B had been set up on the Island of Misfit Mascots.

51. The Drifter – Richie Tankersley Cusick

Mrs. Baxter could have used a nice visit with the Sexual Harassment Panda from South Park before starting on her business plan. When your daughter says the man you hired as a live-in handyman after he just showed up one day at your door in your new town and has been giving her the creeper eyes and you imply that she should stop asking for it -that makes for a saaaaaad panda. Just a reminder, Mrs. Baxter, you should be glad your daughter told you about it BEFORE anything criminally prosecutable happened.

Mixtape –
1. Sinking with the Sun – The Raveonettes
2. Shallow Water – Electric Citizen
3. She Cried – Rowland S. Howard
4. Wild Charms – The Kills
5. Goodbye Gemini – Blood Ceremony
6. The Deserters – Rachel Zeffira
7. Constellations – Black Mountain
8. Nothin’ – Rowland S. Howard
9. Headed Nowhere – Those Poor Bastards
10. Big Dark Love – Murder By Death
11. Hollow Earth – Zebras
12. Four Teeth – True Widow
13. Black Eyed Dog – Swans
14. Lonely Sunday – Reignwolf
15. Calla – Russian Circles

Belvedere doesn’t take kindly to age based power imbalances being used to the advantage of walking jean jackets.

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“What do you MEAN ‘YOU DON’T AGREE WITH ME!?’ DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH!!!!?”

49. Dog Blood – David Moody

The second book in the Hater trilogy follows main character and thinking-man’s Hater Danny McCoyne as he searches for his daughter, who has also become a Hater aka not superhuman, not undead, but not interested in anything other than brutally killing or changing over anyone who isn’t currently a Hater.

Along the way there are also threads that the thinking man who generally hated many things is not entirely gone, was not entirely consumed by the Hate and has the possibility of something more moderately hatey… I can’t see any overtones of this book happening in current society today, no sir, I cannot.

Let Belvedere teach you the way. Feel the urge to sneef and chuckle in the face of your enemies wash over you.

Let Belvedere teach you the way. Feel the urge to sneef and chuckle in the face of your enemies wash over you.

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Electric blue, page 92.

31. They Thirst – Robert McCammon

Some of the territory this book covers is familiar- if only listening, and, say, heeding warnings were revered qualities. They’re not in this book and they don’t seem to be in real life either. If only.

Anyway, this is McCammon’s take on the ensemble vampire story, and he chose a large amount of space to work with, which works to his disadvantage. It’s lengthy and wordy and a little flat in a way that reminds me of They Live (They live, they thirst. They’re doing so much!) and it’s not going to show you anything new if you’ve already read any vampire books, or, say, The Stand and Salem’s Lot. It’s one of McCammon’s early novels, and having read the later-written Swan Song first, I can see attempts at what he will achieve with an ensemble cast and a slightly out of the way supervillain. I am inclined to give some points for effort, although certain characters that become important are completely out of left field when they suddenly appear (Ratty…) and others with potential are too flat to invest in because there are so many people to follow (Andy and Solange, in particular). The main aspect that interested me was the Hammer Horror throwback of the castle.

Mortemer and Belvedere in their own ensemble drama. Father and son, scampering over a quilt on a double bed, scampering in search of a good hiding spot... to take a nap.

Mortemer and Belvedere in their own ensemble drama. Father and son, scampering over a quilt on a double bed, scampering in search of a good hiding spot… to take a nap.

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