Political Horror Show// Highly Recommended

After completing the novel Sedition and writing the review below, I want to emphasize that (IMO) this is a highly recommended five-star Amazon read I label a Political Horror Thriller. At 615 pages, it created havoc with my reading schedule. It was scary enough that I woke up in the middle of the night to continue reading. I will post most of my comments on Amazon, but this paragraph and the final two rant paragraphs below will appear only on my blog. This book affected me more than anything I read last year (2018). I don’t want to make a comparison to this year because it is only February.

Writer Woes

Welcome to Parkview by Brian Paone is the most complex modern-day novel I have read. I have my own approach to reviewing a novel and it is completely useless in this case. There are more complex novels; many can be found in the classics, but they are complex for different reasons. There are modern day writers artistically popular but “difficult to understand.” This novel is different. It is like a jigsaw puzzle and it is presented in layers of reality. If there is one central question a reader might ask while reading the novel, the question would be: what is real? Giving a reader that question as a guide is no help. Somewhere near the end of the novel, completely new directions and realities emerge. For those who want to look ahead, forget it. The story is difficult to follow when reading in its order of presentation. Flipping to the last few chapters would make no sense at all.

Grunge as Entertainment

A first feature I questioned about The Grunge Narratives: A Rare Horror Collection by Nick Younker was, why Grunge? What…

Tuli Learns to Inhale

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

Don’t Bury Me by Nick Younker begins as a dystopian novel, provides a steadily increasing supply of despair and pathos and ends with a twisted presentation of what may be described as social justice. This is not a spoiler because the interesting element of the short story is the process by which it gets there. Plus, there are two rewarding surprises for the reader who has taken the journey through all the negative sludge. To phrase this in a way that is not a spoiler, the reader might find an answer to the problems of income inequality.

Is Laurie Real?

The Colors of Autumn by Jay Lemming is a coming of age very short story. At only fourteen pages, this should take a reader about one-half a cup of coffee (caffeinated) to read. I found this story as I was wandering through some Amazon author pages and stumbled across this sentence: “The Colors of Autumn is the tale of a dying season and of naivete brought to the doorstep of depravity.” It is not fair to put such shiny objects in the path of an eclectic reader.

Darkness in Everyday Things

Tiny Shoes Dancing by Audrey Kalman is a collection of twenty short stories. Kalman selects significant elements from primarily insignificant lives, the lives that don’t get a mention in the supermarket tabloids. Short stories are great; they fill time and are portable. There is no guilt in not completing them because you can always put off the pesky routine tasks which you know you have to do … right after you finish the short story you are reading. The stories in this collection are great because they make the reader feel important. We have all had some variation on these normal, everyday challenges. Well, most of them. There are some tales which are weird.

Writing a Memoir

I received this book through Booksprout as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for a review. I received no compensation other than the fun of reading the book. This was a challenging book to read for two main reasons. The style of writing in which the story was written made it occasionally difficult to determine which character was dominant and presenting a point of view. The second difficulty might be due to the format of an ARC. There are distracting spelling irregularities and clumsy phrasing such as “Could have they come all the way here …” (Kindle locations 1814-1815). While I do not consider the phrase wrong, it reads like an outdated, formal style. I don’t know whether changes are planned before final publication but I feel this novel should go through one more examination by a copy editor. Otherwise, it reads as if it were written by an accomplished writer whose second language is English.

Fantastic Story Structure

Maybe because of the relationship between crime, mystery, and legal thrillers, I am attracted to titles like We, The Jury by Robert Rotstein. Years ago, I was spoiled as far as legal thrillers by John Grisham. His appeal has not faded with his recent works such as the The Whistler. Rotstein does not compare to Grisham; he is different in many ways and that is what makes this novel an exceptional one. It is pleasing in its organization. It is clever in the observations offered on the travails of everyday life, some, but not all, in a legal sphere. It is entertaining in its examination of spousal abuse in which the husband is the abused … or maybe not. That is why we are in the courtroom. Abused or not, should there be incidents in which murder is justified? Self-defense? Perhaps. That is why readers are invited to examine the court proceedings presented here.

A Survivor’s Story

Beautiful Hero by Jennifer Lau comes with the subtitle “How We Survived The Khmer Rouge.” I could not help but compare it to stories of the Nazi Holocaust; many others have made the same comparison, I am in no way original in doing so. This is the story of one family’s successful attempt to escape from a country occupied and ruled by a group of leaders who followed the politics of genocide. Pol Pot was the principal leader but could not exercise complete autocratic power. As recently as last year some of his close advisers were still appearing in court charged with war crimes. Things did not get much better for the Lau family after the 1978 Vietnamese invasion because there were pockets of the country still partially under control of remnants of the Khmer Rouge. We know that Pol Pot died in 1998 under suspicious circumstances. I was living in Cambodia at the time and have yet to see accurate information about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Christmas Cheer

I couldn’t leave the Christmas season without at least one review of a Christmas book. Given that I like the genre(s) of thriller, crime, mystery, and horror; I was delighted to find this seasonally appropriate book which author Christopher Moore describes as “A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror.” In The Stupidest Angel, I couldn’t find the terror because of unrestrained and continuous laughter. This novel is absurd, hilarious, and laughing-out-loud fun. The only way I can review it is by examining some of the improbable characters.