SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States | Member Since 2006
Yes, I knew he's Steven King's kid. Yes, I listened to Heart-Shaped Box ages ago. Yes, I knew this book existed, but still it took me too long to get around to queuing this up and enjoying these well crafted tales of the bizarre and quietly disturbing tales (well, all except the award winning, but lengthy, Better Than Home, whose subject matter just didn't flow with the rest of the collection).
Hill's stories range from fairly straight-up horror to fun-house mirror fantasy. Vampire hunters and child killers make appearances, as do inflatable boys and painfully realistic underachieving boys with possible super powers. Not to mention the sweet movie house ghost of the title ... What was I waiting for?
Started watching the miniseries and then heard that the book was nothing like the (increasingly annoying) television show.
Soooo true! The book is a wonderful distillation of worst-case scenarios for the road we jumped on during the Cheney/Bush years and really shows how humans can always take a bad situation and make it worse. Yes, it's pretty bleak and you shouldn't get too emotionally invested with the likable characters (or completely write off initially unlikeable characters who may have unused talents).
Raul Esparza's accents were a mixed bag, but his interpretation of the characters and the plot line were spot on thanks to his significant acting chops. (How many different Maine residents can anyone really embody vocally?) There are lots of characters (luckily some were from MA or otherwheres) so it was a tough job; I think Mr. Esparza rose to the challenge and succeeded.
Another great one from Stephen King - plenty of violence, gore and humour. Perfect if you want a tasty story with lots of ingredients to indulge in this summer.
Haters gonna hate, and yes, there is a good deal of Peyton Place in Pagford; but, being from the David Lynch School of Small Town Distrust, I think Ms. Rowling nails the pettiness of most people's lives in her bunch of roundly unlikable characters, few of whom find any hope of redemption by story's end. The horrors of middle class morality, abuse and poverty (of the wallet and the spirit) are examined along with warnings of the dangers inherent in obesity, facebook bullying and shoddy website security.
Not a tale for the squeamish or those who require uplifting tales of the chicken soup variety. Possibly best for those who, like the author, have seen society from its lower rungs and know that luck (and a bit of ruthlessness and avarice) has more to do with whether one gets to move on up than most care to think.
If David McCullough found the secret papers of the 16th President of the U.S. and found out that Mr. Lincoln had a secret motivation for all the decisions he made that involved saving the world from bloodsuckers ... oh wait, the South really was sucking away people's lives ...
Aaaanyway, if there was a supernatural reason for Mr. Lincoln to take up arms against a sea of troubles and David McCullough wrote a book about it, that book would sound an awful lot like this. Scott Holst conveys the perfect historical tone as he reads this work of an alternative history to make it sound not that far from the real deal.
Remember that it is not a Jane Austin parody - it's far darker than that, which is fitting, given the source material. Of course it helps if you know a little about the Civil War and Lincoln's life, but you don't need to know too much to get immersed in this new take on a much-explored time in the history of the United States of America.
He's a pretty smart, funny guy and he wants you to know that. Unfortunately, like many a Rand-loving libertarian, his style leans towards ... well ... yelling. Or at least it felt like I was being yelled at when I listened to this for too long at a stretch.
Listened to in smaller doses, I'm sure this would have been more enjoyable. Still, it is worth a listen, especially if you're already a P&T fan or like fairly raunchy but funny tales of rampant hedonism. Warning: he does display a fairly schmaltzy side when writing about his own genetic pool, so be prepared.
The tales in this collection lean more towards Dolores Claiborne than Carrie, but King's gift is in making sure we understand how horrifically humans can act and think, even without any supernatural help. The shortest of these 4 shorts, however, does feature a low-overhead demon with a special deal to offer, and the first tale, a real gorefest, mixes bad luck and bad brains with plenty of beyond-the-grave juju. We also get to see how other, not-so-evil, humans go about surviving their encounters with frighteningly believable monsters - well, at least half the time.
Though The Magicians seemed like it ended in a great spot, when I heard that there was another book planned I immediately thought of a few storylines I wouldn't mind seeing Mr. Grossman flesh out, especially Julia's story of what she was up to while The Magicians was happening. Let's just say I eventually felt like calling TMI (felt like, but didn't stop listening, of course) as Julia's tale spun towards the point where she would join with the Physical Kids. Quentin's story, the main plot, continues from where we left him emotionally and logistically and the mix of old and new characters hit me as just right.
Even when the action is at its high point, something in Grosssman's prose keeps it tamped down a bit. Likewise, Mark Bramhall's performance keeps things at a quiet, understated pitch while losing nothing of the wonder/horror that might be happening on the page. Quentin and Julia pride themselves on being cool customers: Bramhall gets that tone and maintains it.
Adventures abound and magic is, again, not always what you want it to be. Now, there is one more female character I'd like to hear from, and it seemed to me that there was a hint that Grossman isn't completely done with her either. Fingers crossed for the next installment!
If you know nothing of Mr. Gaiman previous works, listen to this one! If you loved the dialogue in his Sandman comics, this will bring back some fond memories! No extensive knowledge of pantheons or the supernatural is required. This is simply storytelling at its finest, bumped up to unheard of levels of aural bliss by possibly the best reader I've heard to date (this book should really say "Performed By" instead of "Read By", rather like the Harry Potter recordings). Every character comes to 3-D life through the perfectly merged talents of Msrs. Henry and Gaiman. The humour is deadly urban British wit by-way-of-the-West-Indies, with a few trips thru Florida, too. The scary bits are rendered even more jarring and cold-blooded thanks to the overall irreverent tone. Just remember: though Mr. Gaiman may have written the story and Mr. Henry may be telling the story, all stories are Anansi's. And when you finish listening to this tale, you'll want to ask the first spider you see to send Anansi your personal thanks!
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