Sunday, March 21, 2010

A brave new step in Jugg-ology...The Twsited line in Portland

Perhaps the biggest collective gang of idiots embarrassing the human race are without any doubt the juggalos. See here:

For a month now Cari has insisted that we go take pictures and witness first hand the juggalos that live in our community. I thought it was good idea, since I have two Jugg-a-characters in my novel in progress. So here are some pictures. We got off the bus at Sixth and Burnside where the Jugg-a-line had been full effect I'm told since around noon. The side walk was sticky from faygo bottles shook and sprayed on fellow juggalos in some form of bonding or mating ritual. not sure which, further study is required.

We cross the street and circled the juggalos from a safe distance. Cari needed to use the bathroom so we choose Ground Kontrol ( classic video game Barcade). The guy checking Id's asked to see in our bags "Because of the juggalos." A gentleman came in behind us in a faded Juggalo T-shirt and I heard the bouncer say "Hey you can't come in here with that Faygo!"

After a game of Galaga, it was back to the line. We saw a group of juggalos who arm in arm posed for our camera. one extremely drunk juggalo missed out as they yelled. "Get in here Razor blades." Cari assured miss blades she would take another with here. "Get on in there Razor blades." that is Blades in the red hat in the top photo.

We saw a enterprising young group of Jugg-a-preneurs selling Faygo.

It wasn't long before we had enough and as we waited we saw a mini-van pulling with full clown painted Juggalos drive by. The line was around the block,insane. They were all chanting "Family" and honestly as stupid as I knew they were it was another thing to see them in person.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Review: In Concert by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem

In Concert By Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem
364 pages hard cover
Centipede press

I had read interviews with Melanie Tem before reading this collection but went into it completely blind. The Tem's are a married couple who have racked up Bram Stoker awards and various fantasy nominations and awards on their own so it stands to reason that a collected of their short fiction co-authored together would be high quality. It is high quality.

The subtitle on the book is “The collected speculative fiction.” that leads one to believe that the stories are going to be a lot more of science fiction than the book delivers. Sure several of the stories are but the majority are firmly in the horror genre. The stories appear in the collection in the chronological order that they were published in. Each one is tightly crafted so there is little growth of the years. The Tem's were in full command of their combined talent early on.

To me the best story of the collection “More than should be Asked.” It is a creepy story about a bad penny child that takes creepy to a disturbing peak. Other interesting stories include a vampire story called “The tenth scholar,” The opening Science Fiction tale “Prothesis” and a very interesting tale set in the west called “Lost.”

I think this is a fantastic collection of dark fiction. Libraries that are serious about horror and Science Fiction do their members a favor by having this book and putting it out where it can be seen. The only draw back I can see is the $65 dollar price tag. Yikes you could get five genre books for that price in trade paperback, many are of equal quality. That being said I think this book an important entry in the genre of dark fiction.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Book Review: The Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton

The Castle of Los Angeles By Lisa Morton
Introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck
179 pages
Gray Friar Press

Those in the horror field know Lisa Morton. She won a Bram Stoker(The horror field's Oscar) for a short story she published in one of the world's leading horror magazines Cemetery Dance. At the same time she was racking up story after story in anthologies along side the greatest names in the genre. The thing is even as she was sharing the table of contents with greats such as Clive Barker,Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury and others of their stature Morton held her own. Often her stories have stood up as the strongest in the anthologies she had appeared in.

Morton has been around the block screen writing several B- Movies, one act plays, chapbooks and two non-fiction books (The Halloween encyclopedia and a book on the films of master Hong Kong filmmaker Tusi Hark). This book however is her first novel, and after reading I think Morton is due for another well deserved Stoker award nomination. (She was just nominated again for her novella Lucid Dreaming)

Don't let the low page count fool you Morton has packed in an unbelievable amount of story for it's length. She doesn't waste pages and paces the story so well the pages fly by. I read the book in 48 hours that included two work days.

The story follows Beth, the new owner and director of a black box theater on the bottom floor in one of LA's oldest buildings. Known as the Castle, it as ancient a history as LA gets. While several people live in the building, a struggling filmmaker, and a famous artist who owns the penthouse. I could go into more detail but I read nothing on the back of the book, sold by my history with Morton's novella and shorter works. I had better experience for going in blind.

Morton plays a series of traditional Gothic horror power cords within the haunted house sub-genre. It is the characters and their reasons for living at the Castle that make this novel unique. Some may call those haunted house cliché or tropes I prefer power cord (as Science fiction author Rudy Rucker has called them).

You gonna give AC/DC a hard time for playing a power cord? Lisa Morton takes a familiar riff, tuned slightly to her pitch and the result is a near perfect traditional horror novel. That is the challenge for us modern artists, there are thousands of songs, novels and films before us. It is truly something special when an artist can spin an original take on tired theme. Bravo Lisa Morton, I'd like to start the standing ovation right now. The Castle of Los Angeles is wonderful short horror novel, it has very little weakness and packs it's short pages with story telling strength.

On a side note...

Two in a row, Lisa Morton and Cody Goodfellow are both LA writers. My last review was Goodfellow's Perfect Union. That book was also a Haunted House novel of a sort, it was anything but Traditional. I read their takes on the haunted house genre back to back. They are so different, both works that deserve your attention.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: Perfect Union by Cody Frackin Goodfellow!

Perfect Union By Cody Goodfellow
Swallowdown Press
256 pages

Cody Goodfellow is one of three authors (Gina Ranalli and John Shirley) who have received their own Tag on my blog. The man is a diabolical genius that fills his fiction with equal parts genius, gore, humor and genuine terror. Best of all this dangerous soup also has highly literate prose and well developed characters. When I read Cody's first novel Radiant Dawn I believed I was looking at the future of horror fiction in the same way those early readers of Clive Barker's books of blood were.

Many of you horror fans have read his short stories as Cody has become a staple in the field for new anthologies quietly racking bizarre and strange catalog of shorts that Swallowdown released last year in a collection ( Hit the Cody tag at the bottom of this post you'll find it). Cody's first two novels were a single story and as great as they were Perfect Union was a real test for Goodfellow. While his short stories have a modern weird tales kinda thing going on could the ultimate bizarro off the hook Goodfellow short story go full length. The answer is yes!

Perfect Union is a weird masterpiece. Influences ranging from Cronenberg body horror, Evil Dead style gore comedy to a fascinating political dissection of Marx and Thoreau make this a genius horror novel destined to be mis understand by the the masses but loved by the readers ready to get in the ring with Cody. It's not for everyone, The sex scene between tweakers in the opening chapter is beyond gross and a signal to potential readers....can you hang? Cody Goodfellow can disturb, offend and amuse in a single sentence, he has done all three to me in a speech tag before.

PU is the story of Drew who recently married Laura and agreed to go on a road trip with her hysterically funny twin brothers to help move their mother out of her rural Nor Cal home. Laura didn't talk about her family for good reason, mom was a commune hopping hippie and abusive enough give all three of her kids serious issues.

Mother lives near Utopia - a town founded by hippies and home to a failed communist compound that was moved into a an old aslylum. A new commune has grown out of the house, which uses radical biological experiments involving bees, mind control and the ultimate communist hive mentality taken to an extreme.

Goodfellow's characters slowly lose control and as the novel amps up. This happens as the hive mentality takes control of the narrative. Once that happens the blood, guts, and fetuses fly. Goodfellow spins a mind bogglingly insane tale of body horror that manages to dip it's fingers in uncomfortable gore while invoking laughter and deep thought about issues of personal freedom. Who knew a book where a woman bites the heads of fetuses and throws them at people could also explore the failings of communism. An intelligent socio-political dark bizarro masterpiece and one of the most original horror novels in years.