Slivers of Bone

slivers bone reviewHorror fan fave Ray Garton dishes out a lucky 13 scraps of short fiction in SLIVERS OF BONE, a new collection from Cemetery Dance featuring a mix of reprinted and all-new material. Any worries that the collection might not feature Garton’s usual salacious blend of sex and suspense will be dispelled from the start, as “The Guy Down the Street” concerns a couple of suburban dads who decide what to do about their creep neighbor who’s been doing their daughters on the Internet.

“Second Opinion” is about a writer who’s claimed to have penned the perfect story, except for the ending, which he can’t figure out. Trouble is, everyone he consults to help pays for doing so with their lives. “Website” has a WWW newbie driven insane by a mysterious site that shows him video clips of what everyone in his immediate circle is doing at that very moment.

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B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground

bprd killing ground reviewI know it’s a little early to begin getting excited about the release of HELLBOY II in July, but dammit, I’m getting itchy. To calm the jitters, I took a look at a recent five-issue story arc in one of HELLBOY’s companion comics, Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D.: BUREAU OF PARANORMAL RESEARCH AND DEFENSE. This is the übersecret government department to which Hellboy belonged before he recently quit. His team was assigned to monster-killing duty.

This story arc is called B.P.R.D.: KILLING GROUND – a depressingly generic title and not a good sign. It was written by Mignola and John Arcudi, with art by Guy Davis.

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Did YOU win CUTS?

cuts reviewMaking the cut to win a copy of Richard Laymon’s latest novel from Leisure Books, CUTS: Shon Richards of Marietta, Ga.!

All you had to do was identify five BOOKGASM excerpts from reviews of other Laymon titles (and kudos to you if you figured out pasting them in the search bar revealed the answers in a split second). The correct answers were:

Thanks for playing. Those who lost out can buy it at Amazon. Everyone, come back Monday for yet another contest!

SEARCH ME >> 2.08

Our monthly depressing look at the search terms that bring pervs to BOOKGASM!

search terms feb 2008

A Devil for O’Shaugnessy / The Three-Way Split

devil three way reviewStark House Press’ A DEVIL FOR O’SHAUGNESSY / THE THREE-WAY SPLIT has been on my radar for a long time – not just because it gives more of that great Gil Brewer noir, but because it also has an unpublished novel that finally sees the light of day. The main reason for this discovery is discussed in the opening essay, which goes into great detail of its history, including how Stark House’s previous collection pleased Brewer’s estate.

The “new” A DEVIL FOR O’SHAUGNESSY is a great piece of noir, further cementing my opinion of Brewer as an unsung master. There’s an element included that could have hampered the story with goofy comic relief, but it’s used to much greater effect than other writers would have done.

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QUICKGASM >> 2.28.08

quickgasmBecause time isn’t always kind: economic reviews in a world full of waste!

v second generation reviewAbout all I remember from the 1983 miniseries V of my childhood: 1) Faye Grant looked hot, 2) Freddy Krueger was in it, and 3) that lizard baby. V’s writer/director Kenneth Johnson revisits the loose ends of the resulting 1984 weekly series with the novel V: THE SECOND GENERATION. The reptilian alien “Visitors” have wrestled control of Earth by tricking its residents, except for the small splinter group of resistance fighters. Your enjoyment will help tremendously if you’ve revisited V on DVD, as several characters and storylines either are referenced or still in play. Everyone else may be working at a disadvantage, and may be better suited to awaiting the eventual screen adaptation, even if Johnson’s ever-thriving imagination is still in full force.

fortune cookie chronicles reviewFor THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES: ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF CHINESE FOOD, Jennifer 8. Lee traveled the globe to find the very best Chinese restaurant. I won’t spoil the surprising winner for you, but the real charm of the book comes in the other chapters, in which she laments the dangers of being a Chinese food deliveryman, explores the origins of chop suey, visits the manufacturers of those white takeout boxes (a wholly American thing, by the way) and recounts a 2005 Powerball mishap when there were more payouts than usual because a fortune cookie string of lucky numbers actually was. Lee writes so friendly, you want to take her out for a bowl of hot-and-sour soup. This engaging buffet of travel, history and popular culture will put a smile on your face and a pang in your stomach. And no MSG!

mad tausig reviewGonzo cruciverbalist Ben Tausig attempts to hook kids into pencil games instead of video games with MAD TAUSIG VS THE INTERPLANETARY PUZZLING PEACE PATROL. You’re supposed to stop madman Mad Tausig by doing crosswords, cracking codes, unscrambling words and tackling a variety of logic, word and other puzzles. The quasi-mystery is a lot of fun, with something to do on every page, and the cartoony illustrations by Goopymart – an alias, I’m assuming – help make the book irresistible. Buy one for your kids … and one for yourself. It’s not the most fiendishly clever puzzle book out there – that’d be Lemony Snicket’s THE PUZZLING PUZZLES – but it’s darn close.

american movie critics reviewThe whole of our country’s cinema criticism is chronicled in AMERICAN MOVIE CRITICS: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE SILENTS UNTIL NOW – EXPANDED EDITION, edited by Phillip Lopate. Among its earliest entries are poet Carl Sandburg’s awkwardly phrased reviews (“Then it is for you this Caligari and his cabinet”) and Cecilia Ager’s take on KING KONG, which focuses solely on Fay Wray. Film criticism got better as the decades progressed, as Jonas Mekas’ all-question review of Andy Warhol’s SLEEP shows, or the rightfully praised works of Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael and Vincent Canby. More recent pieces of note include J. Hoberman’s bad movies essay/tribute and screenwriter Paul Rudnick’s take on DANCES WITH WOLVES, albeit under the satricial guise of Libby Gelman-Waxner, the über-yuppie columnist from the late Premiere magazine. At more than 750 pages, there’s a wealth of material here for serious film enthusiasts.

this may help you reviewTHIS MAY HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORLD, goes Lawrence Potter’s slim little volume, which serves as an FAQ for this current crazed earth of ours. It seeks to tackle – through both commentary and good ol’ hard facts – many of the trickiest hot-button issues of today, including “Is Bush actually stupid?,” “Is it possible that global warming is not taking place?” and “What is Iran up to?” (The short answers, respectively: His IQ equals John F. Kennedy’s, not likely, it ain’t pleasant.) Chapters are divided amongst topics like China, Darfur and Russia. That Potter offers concise, easy-to-follow explanations justifies the book’s title; unfortunately, those in most need of knowing the answers may not even care.

writing new york review‘Tis easy to see why they call New York “the city that never sleeps”: Because when you have a thousand-plus-page book like WRITING NEW YORK: A LITERARY ANTHOLOGY, you’d better be planning on some long nights. Edited by Phillip Lopate, the book originally was published in 1998, but this 10th-anniversary edition from Library of America is much more relevant with the inclusion of post-9/11 material, like a chilling excerpt from Don DeLillo’s FALLING MAN novel. A wealth of classic writers are here – F. Scott Fitzgerald, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, Edgar Allan Poe, Tom Wolfe, O. Henry – paying tribute to (and sometimes knocking) the Big Apple. If you’re a fan of the metropolis, or a New Yorker subscriber, this belongs on your bedside table. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

El Diablo

el diablo reviewBrian Azzarello’s EL DIABLO has nothing to do with the El Diablo of DC Comics past. But it has everything to do with that writer’s reputation for dark, violent work. Over four issues in 2001, the 100 BULLETS creator told a weird Western tale that’s just now making its trade paperback debut. Is it worth the wait? You bet your guns.

Moses Stone serves as sheriff of a two-bit town named Bollas Raton. When he’s not keeping the peace, he’s chatting up the local bounty hunters, executing Apaches and trying to get his wife pregnant. But one day, the peace becomes much harder to keep.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> MacDonald’s Extra-Value Meal

bullets broads blackmail and bombssoft touch reviewYou people knew at some point I was going to force John MacDonald and Ross Macdonald into a really bad quick-service restaurant joke. Over a billion readers served! To serve as the middle of this sandwich, we have Carter Brown, whose books read like fast food.

SOFT TOUCH by John D. MacDonald – Considered by some to be the best of the non-Travis McGee bunch, this 1958 entry might actually be the best book MacDonald ever wrote. Jerry Jamison, a man on the verge of a breaking point, is set to leave his job working for his father-in-law and his drunk, lay-about wife Lorraine. Then, out of the blue, old Army buddy Vince Baskay turns up with an offer of some easy money.

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The Devil’s Bones

devils bones reviewAs the third book from Jefferson Bass – aka Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson – THE DEVIL’S BONES continues the story of forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton, founder of the University of Tennessee “body farm,” where human remains are studied for research into their death. Namely, this research helps out with determining the times of expiration and various conditions.

BONES deals with three situations that our good doctor has to deal with. First is that of a woman found burnt up in a car. The problem is that she was long dead before the vehicle was set ablaze, with no clues that suggest a bomb or an improvised explosive device, and the husband having an airtight alibi, proving he could not have been involved.

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BOOKS 2 FILM >> Beowulf

books to filmbeowulf movie reviewHere’s how little I understood BEOWULF when I had to read it in English class in junior high and again in high school: I thought the title referred to the monster, and that the monster was a wolf. Laugh all you want, but Anglo-Saxon epic poems of the 8th century aren’t the easiest things to decipher.

Luckily, Robert Zemeckis’ BEOWULF is different, and I don’t just mean because it’s animated. It’s his “no-bullshit” version of the epic poem, as he promises on the making-of documentary featured on the DVD’s extra features: “This has nothing to do with the BEOWULF you were forced to read in junior high school. It’s all about eating, drinking, killing and fornicating.”

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