31. The Bachman Books: The Long Walk – Richard Bachman
This is definitely one of my favorite Stephen King works. It’s the best of the Bachman books and displays that weird line that he’s so good at skirting between the terrifying and the everyday.
The Long Walk’s title is literal and much more than it seems. In an alternate version of Maine, teenage boys walk and walk and walk. They all have their reasons for participating, they all have different levels of endurance, and as they keep going through blisters and their shoes falling apart and madness the reader learns more about the world they’re currently living in and it made me more and more anxious as I read. It’s a story of endurance and a totally modern horror.
Horace is ready.
92. The Day Is Dark – Yrsa Sigurdardottir
I have read a couple of books lately that involve Greenland and as I am a fan of stories like The Thing and scared of latent bacterial diseases that are definitely going to come out of the permafrost and kill me off if I finally get to move somewhere I can breathe without my allergies being a major daily concern…well, this book worked for me. It’s bleak and there are several unlikable characters, even if none of them is an alien-infected dog.
It’s another story of Thora, the lawyer who gets to do more than most lawyers I’ve heard of, traveling to Greenland because of a possible failed operation and some missing workers. Is this still monetarily viable for the company? That is, um, not intriguing to me at all, but the rest of it was. There was a lot of cold, messing around with bones (not the best idea here), a dead guy in a freezer, some elements that were supernatural via religious ideas, and a lot of unpleasant conversation. It also touched on how awful it is to be the odd one out in a group of workers, so, much is covered. Oh, and Thora packed like a total moron for the trip while trashed. Nice. Very human.
In this herd of golden pigs – Horace, Ozma, Finny, and ultimate ruler Peregrine, everyone was an odd one and that’s why they were all so wholly lovable as a group.
31. Coldbrook – Tim Lebbon
To use blurbesque language- this was a very compelling zombie tale that kept me up at night. In other words, it’s a mass market paperback, so I ended up reading about 200 pages in one night and about 130 the next so I could finish it on my days off. The characters were interesting enough that I wanted to follow them through their various actions to the end soon and not over a period of many, many days.
I am always keen on secret labs and somehow this one managed to have the secret experiments not be on humans…on this earth. There are multiple earths, alternate universes, etc. in this book and for once it didn’t bother me that much. I know it’s a normal sci fi trope, but sometimes, like on TV in the past few years, it gets overused and seems lazy, to the point where I wait each new time I hear it for someone to mention the world without shrimp. In this story it’s the catalyst and things go to shit pretty quickly (and no shrimp are involved).
Another thing I liked was that everyone who had access to guns wasn’t suddenly good with them. Many things that occurred were not too ridiculous to ring true and the ending was only mildly hopeful. Mildly!
Horace and Danger Crumples assumed based on the title they’d just need to amass fleece blankets.
96. New Year’s Evil – Michael August
It seems this is an overly easy play on words to make. Everybody’s done it from Eazy-E to the 1980 slasher film with the best opening song not to have a wide release full soundtrack to back it up to this 1994 entry in the Z*Fave Scream series which doesn’t even really have much anticipation in relation to the holiday. It easily could have happened on any other holiday when teenagers usually have parties. Or, like an equinox, or any exciting day for astrology. I mean, there’s no anticipation about who is going to secure the beer, if there will be murders in different time zones, or whether or not there will be a kiss from a super-crush at midnight. They also did not paint the town.
It starts with goody two-shoes Tess Ryan trying to buy candles for a ritual the new girl says will keep the local ne’er do well off of her and her friends’ backs. The new girl is from New Orleans and is apparently very, very old for someone attending high school.
Tess wants mostly normal 90s teen things – to date the boy her father looks at like he’s the one beating kids up (He wears ripped jeans. And black! Oh horror of suburban horrors.), to hang out with her friends the bubbly one and that other nerd boy, and to research witchcraft at the local library when it seems like something’s up. It’s tubular.
I’ll be honest, their solution to witchcraft-based attacks is a little weak, but, the witch did manage to take most of the good books out of the library before they got anything useful. Sinister shit.
When it came to Horace and Ozma, she really didn’t have to worry about whether she’d get her NYE kiss either.
70. All Creatures Great and Small, 21. All Things Bright and Beautiful, 37. All Things Wise and Wonderful – James Herriot
James Herriot’s series of memoirs about being a new veterinarian in Yorkshire are some of the most pleasant volumes I’ve ever read. It took me a while to realize there were only ever mild through lines and that it didn’t matter to me. Some stories stick out more than others, for instance one about a hematoma in a pig’s ear that could be in this one but also could be in another of the series, but there’s always a strong sense of Herriot’s commitment to animals and his prickly journey getting to know the people, livestock, and pets of the Yorkshire Dales.
Having grown up around farm animals in spurts, I was saved from having much direct contact with the complications of calving or much beyond seeing cattle and pigs up close, so I don’t have any direct stories of large animal veterinary activities I saw up close, but, if I wasn’t allergic to everything outside and inside and also scared by certain animals with hairless tails, I would probably have gone that route in my career. Investigating problems, figuring solutions to weird things out, and being useful are all aspects of both veterinary medicine and librarianship and these stories are chock full of all of those things with a large dose of gruff English farmers. And drinking. And also a lot of off road-style driving. Some World War II and getting married and Helen sounds cool. But I will never forget that pig ear hematoma.
The reactions to there being no guinea pigs in this series run from escape (Merricat, Horace) to begrudging solemnity (Peregrine, Danger Crumples).
37. The Year of the Intern – Robin Cook
This was published in 1973, and yet, so little has changed when it comes to the exhaustive aspects of medicine. We may have better drugs now, but, if you get the wrong doctor, or, really, the wrong nurse, you have little chance of getting what you need in the United States. If you aren’t rich, you have even less chance of getting what you need. And I blame greed for that, not the actual hospital staff, just the greedy assholes who decided that medical care could be forced to turn a profit. Greed and the concept of turning a profit are the two worst things about living in the United States, hands down. Corporatization ruins everything that would otherwise be for the public good, like how every other very developed nation doesn’t shit on the sick because some of them are poor…
Money isn’t discussed really in The Year of the Intern as I recall, but parts of the healthcare experience that were and still are effected by money are. For instance, staffing and what happens in the ER. Like many public service areas that need to be available 24 hours a day, staffing and the decisions made by staff who either are or aren’t good at their jobs without being able to sleep properly, ever, alter people’s lives and provide a lot of opportunities for people to be loudly frustrated. This intern spent a lot of time being mad at on-call doctors who didn’t want to come in, patients who showed up with fake illnesses just to hang out in the ER (and you have to treat everyone the same way, welcome to working with the public where you can explain theory all you want and they may never listen) creating massive wait times and shenanigans for actually dire patients, and yet, also spent a lot of time talking about how he was banging various nurses- even one who had a boyfriend, which just read to me as, yep, this is still pretty current but with 1970s sexy flair and lots of blood. He’s so altruistic, but also has that Burt Reynolds charm. He will also end up getting paid a lot more than the first on-scene persons. So next year, let’s elect someone who will fight to fix this shit.
Danger Crumples and Horace, ever vigilant because of their proper nap schedule.
76. The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike
Okay, so, I don’t always get the suspensefuls while reading horror novels and just HAVE to finish – but this one I did. The last time I remember staying up later than I should have to finish a book because I got said suspensefuls was when I read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and I finished that well over a year ago. So…yeah, this freaked me right out like the Blair Witch in the 90s. The fact that I’ve experienced one hell of a hateful basement can’t have anything to do with that. Not at all. It wasn’t an apartment basement.
Anyway, one of the things that bothers me and keeps my imagination spinning about Japanese ghost movies I’ve seen- all two, and I’ve also seen their U.S. equivalents- is that the ghosts were the winners. There’s a neverending cycle happening and no character gets out of being freaked out. That does not leave one settled at the end. And the stress that’s depicted here is hellish. So hellish. Also familiar from my basement experience. Also hellish.
Horace has helped many guinea pigs and me with being frightened of things in basements or otherwise; I really wished he was around while I was reading this.
11. Be Mine – Jane McFann
You didn’t notice me in class and I like you, therefore I will scare you and people you care about so that you will be vulnerable to me and my obsession. Rude. Why do any men feel entitled to women’s attention at all? It’s not theirs, not even on holidays when you might be able to make them think their boyfriend is creeping into their house to leave anonymous hearts on things.
Horace’s method of hitting on ladypigs makes it impossible not to notice him, he’d just pretend to fall on them from the back of the couch. It was…a little obvious.
1. In Your House – The Cure
2. You’re Mine – The Black Angels
3. Bedroom Hymns – Florence & The Machine
4. The Sky Is Falling – Queens of the Stone Age
5. I See Through You – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
6. Eva – Burning Tapes
7. Cut Me Loose – UNKLE
8. My Least Favorite Life – Lera Lynn
9. Save a Prayer – Eagles of Death Metal
10. Heartbeats Acoustic – Dick Valentine
11. Demented Mantra – Ogre & Dallas Campbell
12. Invader – Dance with the Dark
13. Are You Satisfied? – Reignwolf
14. For Blood – Bass Drum of Death
15. Vicious & Disgusting – Burning Tapes
4. Give Me Your Hand – Megan Abbott
They didn’t have guinea pigs in their lab and for that I am grateful. For once, I didn’t have to read inaccurate depictions of guinea pig behavior so they could be utilized for research by a seemingly accurate group of postdocs. Instead, a clump of dead mice fell from the ceiling with a huge bloody thwack. So gross. Such a way to begin.
To an extent, this story was a little all over the place and at several points didn’t ring true to me- at one point I found myself caring not a bit about what the central secret really was, but I still found it overall to be a solid read. It was the first book I’ve read by Abbott and I can say that I liked it a hell of a lot more than the second one I read- Dare Me. That book felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy. But this one, as someone who has several degrees that aren’t in the hard sciences but has helped a lot of those graduate students in the library and with finding articles, this one was enjoyable because that part rang true.
I do think one of the major bullshits of academia is the cutthroat nature of competing for research placement and funding. Just think what this country would be like if we looked at education funding as truly part of the greater good? Or at education as something that benefits society as a whole and not just something to mock the students for later when they’re trying to pay back their student loans? My generation is lost in my opinion in no small part due to student loan re-payment, but since I’m not fresh out of college, we are forgotten for the fresh new debtors when we could have been contributing much more forcefully to the economy for years. YEARS. More than a decade, even. But, it’s more fun to be completely out of touch and act like only new college students have this problem and isn’t everybody who bought that lie about how going to college would help them get better pay stupid? Happy graduation, everyone!
Who has fourteen toes and will never be used in research? This Horace.
Tomorrow, I will be at Walker Stalker in Chicago! Tomorrow.
And this time, I am also planning on showing how my book cover parodies have become far more plentiful than they used to be. In the beginning, it was just Danger Crumples transforming Christopher Pike’s 1990s YA output, as seen here –
I do think with Danger Crumples I may actually have parodied these covers into being more coherent stories. Oops.
However, now that most of these are only available as postcards and I had more plays on piggie names in mind – more pigs have gotten their own book series and three of the paintings will be on display for the first time and also possibly the last time, I tend to make new things for every show that I do because I have a lot of ideas and very inspiring piglets.
Peregrine, crime boss and queen of my herd, finally got her own book series – Prey Street. And once again she meets with her most frightening enemy – the phone. This time she let Merricat pick it up, as if that would help.
Finny got a series too! Finnybumps, it’s very specific and allows him to intimidate Salem, just as he tries to from across the room every day.
This is my favorite new book cover parody. Ozma’s 80s horror paperback. There’s always been something ominous and yet flashy about how cute she is, which could only be expressed by painting her while drinking a lot of Tab.
Walker Stalker! Tomorrow! I know I’m no Jerry, who I won’t be able to see because I’ll be at my table, and I’m clearly not King Ezekiel, who I won’t be able to mention Hellraiser: Hellworld to (um, that movie has Khary Payton, future apparent (I haven’t seen it) downer Superman Henry Cavill, and the best but somewhat -to put it lightly – misused person on Vikings, Katheryn Winnick all in it, what a strange world we live in), but I hope someone comes and sees me anyway because I have a very wide range of stickers this time.