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Tuesday, October 02, 2018

3 Books a Month – September (The Last of the Summer Readings)

Alright, we're officially into fall and the Halloween season! Of course that didn't quite stop be from getting my horror on with September's book challenge (still ongoing between Nicole D'Amato and myself – and any friends that care to partake as sort of a self-challenge). Strangely, my first book book of the month was only the second novel I've ever read by the brilliant Peter Straub. Well, possibly the first novel, as the previous book I'd read had actually been his short story collection Houses Without Doors, and I'd read that way back in the 90s after having finished the Straub/King collaboration The Talisman. Anyway, I'd been in a used bookstore in Santa Monica when I accidentally came across a bent-up recent publication of Peter Straub's 70s thriller If You Could See Me Now. Reading this murder-mystery for the first time, with its dangerous smalltown redneck flavour and supernatural creep-factor, it struck me just how influential this novel might have been to the works of upcoming horror authors and filmmakers – and I say might have been, because in truth I'm not sure what the critical or commercial response to this book was when it was first published in the 70s, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it actually had a direct influence on other genre works. Moving from If You Could See Me Now to a weirdly similarly-toned The Wasp
Factory by Iain Banks, the prose in the latter novel was far more contemporary (and should I even use the word “clever”? – I suppose that would be subjective) yet both novels retained the same tense, engagingly creepy, and mysterious gothic atmosphere that continually signaled that there was so much more going on beneath the surface of these novels' main plots. Following these two novels, I finally read a book that I had purchased back in the 1990s (around the same time as I'd purchased Straub's Houses Without Doors, it would be extremely safe to assume), Dan Simmons' LoveDeath – LoveDeath is a collection of novellas dealing with the often horrifying and always tantalizing themes of love, sex, death, and violent bloodshed. Some of the works in this book are existentially haunting, other parts are terrorizing, and of course, there are some decent doses of humour, because really, what's sex and death without a little bit of nervous laughter? Everything in Simmons' book is extremely readable, although
Simmons' prose is such that it quite literally demands and simultaneously commands the reader's attention. Not concentration, just attention, and thereby the reading of LoveDeath felt more intense to me than the other horror literature I'd consumed this month – and of course, all of these books were so very appropriate in leading into the fall/Halloween season. Finishing my three books a couple of days before the monthly deadline, I once again went back to Preacher (as season three is still not available on Prime! Come on, Amazon!!) and I've now gone all linear – last month, I'd read the fourth book in the originally-compiled 9-book series (the series has since been re-compiled and re-published in a slightly different order and context over six books), and now I've firmly placed myself in the proper order, having devoured Preacher Vol. 1 – Gone to Texas, which collected the first seven comics in the long-running series. Hopefully, I'll have Vol. 2 in my hands by the end of October. 


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