Tag Archives: Robert McCammon

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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Full disclosure: I have described some of the metal drumming I like as sounding like hooves, or horsies, or a herd of wild ponies running free across the plains…but never in a story, that would be embarrassing.

24. The Five – Robert McCammon

Writing about music is hard. It just is. It’s hard to describe, sometimes when you describe it using feelings you end up sounding like a tool, or just a bit too sentimental, or you’re Cameron Crowe and despite all pedigree and reputation you really do sound like a bit of a sentimental tool when your music-feels come out of your character’s mouths. I have been to many shows that had a clear overall communal feeling of some level of joy; I’ve also been to my share of “off” shows and more than a couple where I knew members of the band and I cringed about the banter (Stop talking! You’re too drunk and many of us would like to respect you again at some point! You only played two songs and the ten minutes feels like fifty! – I cannot say what show I was thinking and cringing this at. It’s still too hard going through the secondhand embarrassment and I really liked several members of the band. Oh dear Jeebus.)

Sometimes in The Five, Robert McCammon gets a little Cameron Crowe-y and I know it’s probably just me being all “I know some stuff about music and I have opinions and discerning tastes” and my main problem with such Crowe-yness is that it’s too broad. Not every musician, or musician character archetype, it going to worship the same stuff. We can’t all like the same things. Being too genre-specific is a total pit too, though, so, whatever, Roky Erikson-reference and then shove in a Buckethead fan… Anyway, what I’m getting at is that in titular band, there’s a dude who seems like a metal dude but says some phrases that I wouldn’t expect to come out of a metal dude’s mouth – and he’s wearing Chuck Taylors instead of boots, so he’s almost like a metal-indie hybrid, there’s a hippie chick, Peaches if she was an obstinate drummer, the throwback keyboard guy, and the rough and tumble bass player with a past – Murderface, he is not, although they are both imaginary bass players. It’s like several archetypes of musicians formed a band – and they get along. For me that seems like a total fantasy, but that’s okay because McCammon clearly loves what he’s talking about, to the point where he did mention too much gear, and it’s a road trip thriller. I do love some driving stories. Journey stories are a total thing for me; and I’ve never been on tour, just heard a lot about it. The lead singer of The Five totally reminds me of a friend of mine, so he was pretty easy to picture, especially all the anger-based comments. So, if you can look past a few of the cheesier descriptions of songage, and enjoy Robert McCammon’s weirdo version of reality where the supernatural edge of things creeps up on you, The Five is ridiculously enjoyable.

Finny's full name is Finntroll. Ozma is named after the princess and later queen from the Oz books and also the Melvins album. In this picture I'd call them The Two.

Finny’s full name is Finntroll. Ozma is named after the princess and later queen from the Oz books and also the Melvins album. In this picture I’d call them The Two. They were on tour underneath my coffee table.

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Find some other way to feel. Then you won’t feel sad. Good luck.

70. Gone South – Robert R. McCammon

I’ve been looking at this book on my mother’s bookshelf for a long time and it’s one hell of a novel. I did not expect a single thing that happened in it; I didn’t know I was going to be reading such a tense, fantastical story that included some Elvis, some serious amounts of sweating, a fairy tale garden, drug dealers, obstinate ladies, and a conjoined twin. I felt like I understood it better after having lived in Mississippi (it takes place in south Louisiana) and I definitely know where the areas that the story took place are on a map – mainly it reminded me that there are some things about living in the South that I cannot explain to anyone. It’s retained its sense of wildness and a weirdness that is heavily on display in Gone South. And living there truly demonstrated to me that there are some things that can never be fixed, some things that will work themselves out regardless of how much I worry, and some things that are just doomed. My darling Duncan was one such doomed individual and you can see her sweet little profile in the photo below, she’s with her mother Murderface. She died four years ago today, the first of my herd of eight to pass, of cancer. She was only nine months old and time was obviously not on her side. No it wasn’t.

I think about Duncan a lot and regardless of whether or not I want them to, some of my pigs’ death days sneak up on me. I’m pretty sure one of the currently living pigs’ death day is soon to come and so the death days are reminders of what I’ve gone through and what I will go through again and again, as long as I choose to keep these little rapscallions. Granted, the benefits of having guinea pigs for me far outweigh the non-benefits. Lost my words there a bit. Oh well. Anyway, another reason that Duncan’s death day is weighing heavy four years on is that Ned Vizzini committed suicide recently. He was only a year older than me and was living a chunk of my dream career- he’s had four books published, he allowed a movie to be made of one horrifically affecting novel (that meant a lot to me), and he was writing for television. He also may have had enough money for his family to live on at any given time. And some people have to write- regardless of whether or not it’s ever going to get anywhere that anyone notices- and some people get paid too. It’s hard to understand where that kind of accomplishment would go south on you. But maybe he lost his anchors or maybe he was being pressured to just “get over it” too much, as that seems to happen to people with serious depression. I definitely lost my anchor and, just a quick public service announcement, try not to choose anchors that can die.

So, 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short' it is! Fuck it, you won.

Murderface and Duncan Hills, brutally cute, also brutal reminders of how short the lifespan of guinea pigs can be. Happy Holidays, Mr. Hobbes!

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