The Shimmer

THE SHIMMER may well refer to the DayGlo peach-and-teal color scheme of the book that lay underneath the jacket of David Morrell’s latest novel. Or — oh, yeah! — perhaps the plot, which is based on the real-life unexplained phenomena of the “ghost lights” of Marfa, Texas.

As the characters of Morrell’s work experience them, the lights of fictional Rostov are colored and of varying size and luminosity, too low on the horizon to be stars, hovering in the grasslands at night. Their effect is hypnotic on those who are drawn there inexplicably. A hair above imperceptible initially, the lights dance until entranced watchers extend their hands, as if to touch them.

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The Caterer #3

I think someone’s trying to pull a fast one over on me. THE CATERER #3 purports to be a reprint of an ahead-of-its-time comic book from the ’70s, except that it feels too ahead of its time, know what I mean? Jeff Lint is credited as its creator, supposedly a cult sci-fi author, albeit one who doesn’t show up on the excellent Fantastic Fiction database. So I’m officially calling BS on it.

That said, whether it’s the hoax I strongly suspect it to be, it’s still absolutely hilarious — a silly, subversive work and Pop Art parody. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but nor does it need to, as being one long non-sequitur is all it aims to achieve. Somehow, it surpasses even that.

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Hot for Words: Answers to All Your Burning Questions About Words and Their Meanings

If intelligence is sexy, I wish someone would’ve told all those girls with whom I attended high school. Marina Orlova claims smarts equal sex appeal, but then, she looks like Marina Orlova. She’s the author of HOT FOR WORDS: ANSWERS TO ALL YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS, which no one would be publishing if she were ugly.

The book does exactly what it promises: diving into the origins of words and phrases. But never before have roots been so seemingly raunchy, as each page is accompanied by a slick, full-color photo of Orlova in fantasy-ready poses, from schoolgirl uniforms and bikinis to lingerie and eating a banana.

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Win FREAKONOMICS!

The 2005 nonfiction smash hit FREAKONOMICS: A ROGUE ECONOMIST EXPLORES THE HIDDEN SIDE OF EVERYTHING is finally out in paperback. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s book explores such offbeat social phenomena as why crack dealers still live with their moms, how legalized abortion has reduced crime rates, and what different socioeconomic classes name their children. This edition includes new material, and we have two copies to give away.

To enter:
1. E-mail us your name and mailing address (U.S. and Canada only; no P.O. boxes) with “Freak out!” as the subject line, to editor at bookgasm dot com.
2. Await Friday, Sept. 4 when we announce the randomly chosen winners.
3. Or, just buy it at Amazon.

Win BEG, BORROW, STEAL!

Michael Greenberg’s BEG, BORROW, STEAL: A WRITER’S LIFE is an autobiography in installments, set in New York, where the author depicts the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft, or simply stay alive. He finds himself writing about golf, a game that he never played; doctoring doomed movie scripts; driving trucks and taxis; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women’s department store; and botching his debut as a waiter in a coveted five-star restaurant.

We have one copy to give away. To enter:
1. E-mail us your name and mailing address (U.S. and Canada only; no P.O. boxes) with “Or just ask nicely” as the subject line, to editor at bookgasm dot com.
2. Await Friday, Sept. 4 when we announce the randomly chosen winners.
3. Or, just buy it at Amazon.

SEARCH ME >> 8.09

A sampling of some of the bizarro search terms with (thankfully) low numbers that brought people to BOOKGASM over the last 30ish days:

• how to get girls to read non fiction
• ninja master boobs
• bob kane asshole
• david hasselhoff printable pictures
• charo a cock tease

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Wolf’s Gambit

Cinematically, werewolves are the coolest monsters. The man-to-wolf transformation scenes always play well, and then there’s the running through the forest and snarling and howling at the moon. You gotta love it.

But on the page, these elements don’t work as well. A novelist needs to bring something more to the party, and in WOLF’S GAMBIT, W.D. Gagliani doesn’t quite make it. His storytelling is fine and the main characters are well-drawn, but the book misses that visceral thrill we associate with tales of men changing into beasts.

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To Find Cora / Like Mink Like Murder / Body and Passion

Someone please explain why Stark House Press, which puts out some of the best reissues in today’s market, never falters. Now it’s gone above board with TO FIND CORA / LIKE MINK LIKE MURDER / BODY AND PASSION, containing three rare and sadly forgotten Harry Whittington novels, as David Laurence Wilson explains in his very detailed and thorough history of these lost classics.

Wilson goes even further, adding Whittington’s house names he wrote under to the bibliography, making it three full pages. Wilson also relates stories about how Whittington would not even acknowledge some of his work, once it was printed, since editors would try and sex it up and change titles just to sell books.

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Who won THAT SUMMERTIME SOUND?

First-time novelist Matthew Spektor’s THAT SUMMERTIME SOUND is a rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age story set against the Columbus, Ohio, music scene of the ‘80s. The novel reads like a music encyclopedia, with constant references to seminal bands like The Feelies, Hüsker Du, Pere Ubu and Uriah Heap. Specktor’s prose captures the vibrancy of youth and the thrill of summer.

We have one copy to give away, going to:
• Jake Lsewhere of Chittenago, N.Y.

Buy it at Amazon.

Son of Retro Pulp Tales

Although pulp as a format may be long gone, pulp as a genre will never die … at least as long as it continues to be cared for, in good hands like those of Joe R. Lansdale and Keith Lansdale. The father/son team has a strong hold of the editing reins of Subterranean Press’ SON OF RETRO PULP TALES, a sequel to the 2006 original.

‘Tis fitting the elder Lansdale open the collection of 11 stories, covering everything from Westerns and jungle exploits to cold-blooded revengers. His “The Crawling Eye” is the weirdest — and arguably the best — of them all, with a well-armed reverend befriending a presumed half-wit kept caged in the aptly named town of Wood Tick. Involving rancid horsemeat and dimension-hopping monsters, it’s a joy to read, with dialogue as brisk as it is biting.

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