Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Reading: Night in the Lonesome October by Richard Laymon

I read some Richard Laymon including The Cellar while he seemed to be a well-kept secret in the horror community, more popular in Great Britain than the U.S.

Sadly he passed away too soon, at age 54, in the early aughts with several books still in the publishing pipeline.

I picked up some of his titles as they appeared in U.S. paperback editions, but someone I missed Night in the Lonesome October until Googling information on A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny as I prepared for my re-read.

The Laymon title's great Halloween season reading. It's almost like Haruki Murikami wrote a horror story. It's not quite as surreal as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, but it's got a bit of that kind of flavoring, though there's no spaghetti-eating.

Night is narrated by Ed Logan, a college kid who's just been jilted by his girlfriend Holly who met a guy named Jay over the summer break and decided not to come back to school.

Despondent, Ed takes long walks in the little community of Wilmington near his school's campus. On a long hike through various neighborhoods on his way to the all-night Dandi Donuts, he's captivated by a girl who seems to be sneaking back into her house following a late-night assignation.

Hoping to learn more about the girl, Ed soon gets distracted by Eileen, Holly's sorority sister who thinks Holly treated him shabbily.

Soon things are steamy with Eileen, though Ed's not willing to give up on the wandering girl. Continuing searches connect him with a degenerate named Randy who's spotted Eileen and would like to have Ed lure her into his clutches.

When Ed escapes from Randy, his world gets progressively weirder. Is there something about October in Wilmington?

What's up with the homeless figures under the bridge? And what's up with the girl who Ed soon learns slips into different houses each night.

With some genuinely chilling horror scenes and a heart-pounding finale, Night is a fabulous, moody excursion with well-realized characters and a creepy town for them to exist within.

Not to be a prude, but my one quibble is that even for its strangeness, there's a bit at the end that leaves dreamlike and edges into male fantasy territory. So be it.

Overall the tale's rich, atmospheric, chilling and exciting.





Friday, October 10, 2014

A Night in the Lonesome October Re-Read


It's hard to believe it's been almost 20 years since I picked up the paperback edition of A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny. I just ran across it in a Barnes and Noble, or possibly a B Dalton, my curiosity piqued by the cover art -- Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and others all at a gathering.

It turned out to be a fun excursion, a  Lovecraftian tale told through the eyes of Snuff, a dog who happens to be Jack the Ripper's familiar. Jack is just one of many players in an ancient game that
revolves around opening gateways to let Old Ones back into the world.

Some want to open. Others want to keep things closed.
Avon Edition

As the cover art promised, Holmes and Watson and many other figures from Victorian literature and Victorian reality people the book. Some Universal Pictures horror figures show up too.

It's rather handily told in brief chapters, each corresponding to a date in October. Snuff struggles to find out who the players are and what their goals are and really has a lot resting on his shoulders as Oct. 31 approaches.

I'm doing a re-read this year, as I've been intending to do for a couple of years, mostly since reading this essay by Dr. Christopher S. Kovacs in the Lovecraftzine which notes:


A cult tradition has evolved to re-read the book each October, a chapter a day, and to attempt to deduce the identities of the tantalizingly familiar characters. For the book is rich with borrowed characters from real life and classics of literature and screen. Some are obvious, but others are not.


Kicking myself for letting my original paperback edition go, I tracked down a good used hardcover for less than a fortune. And finally this year, I remembered close enough to Oct. 1 to play the game.

It's been long enough since that initial reading, that it's new to me again, and it's a blast to step back into Zelazny's blend of the Gothic, Lovecraft, the Victorian and the Universal horror cannon. It's almost like one of those late entries in the Universal series such as House of Frankenstein, where all of the signature monsters were thrown in.

I've been told there were once plans to throw Basil Rathbone's Holmes into those mixes, so the book's a bit like a Universal film that never was.

I'm happy to take a few minutes each night to join the game. It's a perfect Halloween season venture.

I was also happy to discover a couple events serendipitous to my re-read. Chicago Review Press has brought out a new edition of the book, which had grown hard to find, and the Twitterverse has become involved in the re-read game.

There aren't a lot of tweets so far, but the hashtag #GoodDogSnuff has been deployed. Perhaps the cult will grow, and the universe is expanded in Issue #18 of the Lovecraftzine with new tales from many authors. Read the back issue free online here.

It's just Oct. 10, so there's time to join the game.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Booktaker - a Nameless Detective Story



A Nameless Detective title greeted me when I dropped over to Audible the other day. I thought at first The Booktaker was one of the novels, and it reminded me I've lagged behind on the tales by Bill Pronzini, who for decades has steadily put out a book a year featuring his San Francisco P.I.

I used to read those almost as steadily, with a burst of back-to-back reading of volumes here or there, but somehow I let myself get out of touch with Nameless. (In the tradition of Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op, the cases unfold in first person with only personal pronoun references for Nameless and never a proper name, except in one crossover title with Collin Wilcox in which he's referred to as Bill.)

I was delighted to discover the Audible offering was A.) Free at the moment and B.) A free-standing novella featuring Nameless. It seemed to be a great way to get back into the tales, and that proved true.

In the story, Nameless is hired by the antiquarian bookseller who sold him a collection of pulp titles once upon a time. Collectible maps are disappearing from his shop's secured rare books room in spite of careful security measures and an alarm system.

Taking on a false persona involving the surname Marlowe in tribute to Philip, Nameless goes undercover at the bookshop and begins an assessment of the premises and the employees.

A nice and twisty 90-minute tale unfolds with glimpses into Nameless' personal life, tips on the antiquarian book trade and a bit of action.

Nameless put the pieces together a couple of minutes ahead of me, though I was going "Of course" when he revealed the facts had been before me all along.

All in all it was a great little find, and a 90-minute mystery is a friendly listening length. The story is narrated by Nick Sullivan, perhaps a bit matter-of-factly for a first person story, but it gets the job done.

If you've never met Nameless, this is a good entry point, with a blend of the hard boiled flavored with affection for pulps and literature alike.







Friday, August 01, 2014

Mine Games 3D Art Reveal




I received a bit of news from the folks at Phase 4 films, the ones who gave me an early U.S. look at the Patrick remake, now streaming on Netflix.

They have announced a September 16 DVD bow for Mine Games, the latest film from  filmmaker Richard Gray who'll be helping the Audition remake, and starring Briana Evigan of the Step Up Films.

It's the tale of friends who discover an abandoned mine, and inside they unleash a deadly force which turns their excursion into a fight for survival.

It also stars Alex Meraz (The Twilight Saga), Julianna Guill (Friday the 13th), Ethan Peck (In Time), Rafi Gavron (Snitch), Lindsay Lamb (1108), and Joseph Cross (Untraceable) star.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bee



You were working.

I was pausing from a walk in that same patch of lavender.

You dived into petals.

I looked on for just a moment.

You never noticed, too busy seeking nectar.

But I had a little time to ponder our brief passing.

And the wonder that you are and of it all.   

Monday, July 14, 2014

Midnight Eyes - Louisiana-set mystery thriller 99 cent special price

Crossroad is running a special on my novel Midnight Eyes at the moment. It's available on just about every e-book platform for 99 cents.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

The talk focuses on former FBI profiler Wayland Hood who's summoned back to his Louisiana hometown to help his estranged father solve a series of brutal murders.

Events seem to be tied to a beautiful and mysterious woman, and Wayland and his father, Sheriff Ty Hood, have to put old differences behind them to get to the heart of the mystery buried deep in Louisiana swamp country.





Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Lovecraftian Serial

My story Lovecraftian story "Sleepers" is being serialized over at Paper Tape.

It began when I was thumbing through vinyl albums one afternoon in an antique store. I ran across a Broadway cast album for a show I'd never heard of, and my mind started turning that over.

What if there was a show that had opened and closed very quickly, and what if most materials related to it such as the sheet music disappeared?

What might be behind that?

I started playing with the notion, and I started to think about Aubrey Slater, a woman employed to find obscure items that couldn't be located on ebay.

What if the only remnants of a lost play could be found in London, where the original version was staged in the fifties in the West End?

I sent Aubrey to find out, feeling for her the whole time as I realized she was a mother estranged from her child for a variety of reasons, some her fault, some not. But she was also a researcher on a quest, with clues gradually pointing to more than a failed musical of interest to a few fans.

The result starts here and will continue in four parts over the next four weeks. It's kind of fun to be doing a little literary experiment like this. Check it out if you get a chance. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

John Schneider's Smothered

John Schneider's comedy Smothered stars Kane Hodder and a host of other horror icons, who find themselves in a Most Dangerous Game-style situation after a failed convention appearance.

It filmed in Louisiana, which is kind of cool. John Schneider of Dukes of Hazzard fame has a production company based there.

Happy to see cool things happening in my native state. Here's the trailer:


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