At first, I thought I wasn't going to meet the challenge this month! (For those new to this, my wife Nicki and have currently have a three-books-a-month challenge taking place – indefinitely. It started in June). However, I actually passed the goal quite literally (ha!) in the eleventh hour on the 31st – of course, if you were to ask Nicki about it, she;d tell you that my last book didn't count. More on that later. So, the reason I almost didn't make the goal this August was actually in part the fault of the first book I'd read – Joe R. Lansdale's “The Thicket”. I've always loved Lansdale's work, though he's one of my favourite authors whose books I seem to only get around to every couple of years (I've really gotta change that, there are still a few of his early ones I haven't gotten to yet) – but hands-down, “The Thicket” is now my favourite Lansdale book. It's a Western-type of seek-and-revenge tale, with a Southern existential weirdness that really only Lansdale can do justice to (especially as he practically invented this style). This one is definitely the pick of the month. Following this, I absolutely devoured Stephen King's latest, “The Outsider”. And as much as I loved this book and the insane plot turns it took following the arrest of a child-killer who may or may not be innocent, and who was widely adored in his own community, I have to admit I was slightly annoyed (only slightly, mind you) as I was getting to the finale of the novel only to realize that there was a reliance on characters introduced earlier in King's “Mr. Mercedes” trilogy, which I had/have not read yet. Minor thing, though, but I'm a little OCD (just ask Nicki) and so I would've liked to have known that beforehand, and I might've read Mr. Mercedes first. At any rate, “The Outsider” is still very much recommend.
Finishing this novel was where the trouble began – I was dying to go back to something Lansdale-esque. But instead of reading another book, I launched into the Preacher television series on Amazon Prime and binge-watched the first two seasons. (I would've done three, but the third season wasn't available yet. Which might've been a good thing). As I ran out of Preacher episodes to gorge myself on, I remembered that back when I was experimenting with getting into graphic novels, I had actually purchased a Preacher book – Volume 4, “Ancient History”. I honestly couldn't tell you how long I'd held onto that graphic novel for, having purchased it years ago from Golden Age Comics on Granville Street. I can tell you that it had been stuffed to the back of the top shelf of the bedroom closet, and at one in the morning it wasn't going to go over really well if I woke Nicki up digging through my back-issues of The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies to find this fucking thing, so I gave up after a cursory glance. Instead, I went for a trade paperback that my friend Vincent Ternida had given us a few days earlier – it was, in fact, his
first published novel. “The Seven Muses of Harry Salcedo” regards the trials and tribulations of singles-dating in Vancouver, told from Vincent's keen eye on Vancouver living and getting through a daily grind in what is often a schizophrenic city, even for people who were born here. His observations on the city are humorously perfect (the description of his “Java Mausoleum” in the first chapter instantly reminded me of the time I saw two young women carrying a new espresso machine to the cashier in the downtown Best Buy while both of them were carrying Venti Starbucks coffee beverages); and the description of Harry's dating life are colorfully painted with his uncannily acute sardonic/loving descriptions of culture in the city. As I actually managed to finish my friend's first novel before the st. Although Nicki will maintain that “comics don't count” (okay, I might be paraphrasing there), I disagree when said comic is over 200 pages and boasts a lot of text and the stylized writing of Garth Ennis. “Ancient History” was mostly filmed in the first two seasons of Preacher, but I have to say that it temporarily satisfied my newfound addiction and gave me a new-found appreciation for the original graphic novels. Now all I have to do is track down the other eight books from the original saga...