2009 Odds and Ends – BOOKS
Okay, so like a man cleaning out an closet he hasn’t used in awhile, I’m going to be posting some odds and ends to close out the previous year.
First off, books.
I read a lot of books during 2009. But I know some people (with names like Rhonda and Nick) who put me to shame. Mainly because I’m a slow reader, and I only have time to read during my morning and night commute on the subway.
I also haven’t kept track of what I read throughout the year, so I do not feel qualified to list a top 10 or something. But here are some books I read that blew me away – mostly at the tail end of the year:
DEPRAVED – Bryan Smith’s new novel about some people passing through a small, Southern town and get captured by the locals, who plan to use some of them for sex, and others for some kind of special “feast.” Sure, this kind of thing has been done before, but Smith has an excellent style that pulls you along like a big dog on a leash. He puts his own spin on it, and the book lives up to the title. The pacing reminded me a bit of Richard Laymon, who was the master of the fast-paced horror novel.
SUCCULENT PREY – 2009 is the year that Wrath James White became one of my favorite authors, and a lot of it has to do with this book, that took the level of violence and sex that you normally see in a Leisure paperback and turned the volume up to 11. Even Edward Lee is more subdued in his (more mainstream) Leisure titles, but Wrath takes no prisoners and goes where few writers would go. Which is why I loved it. Hardcore horror at its best. Also check out his new one, THE RESURRECTIONIST.
AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT – Michael Louis Calvillo’s second novel is about a chef who is addicted to human meat, and a girl who is addicted to heroin. Eventually, their paths are going to cross – it’s only a matter of fate. An excellent read that was one of those rare books that I really couldn’t put down. I even missed my subway stop once in the middle of it.
Yeah, all three of these are horror. And I recommend them highly.
Other 2009 books of note:
DON OF THE DEAD – Nick Cato‘s debut novel mixed zombies with gangsters. Featuring characters with names like Mike “The Mozzarella” Greco, Thomas “the Pork Chop” Razolli, and, my favorite, Carl “The Calamari” Maestrinni. I thought I was sick of zombies, but it made me laugh. Clever premise.
BLACK BUTTERFLIES – Kurt Newton. Kurt’s a friend, but I’ve also been a fan of his stuff for a long time now. This novella from Sideshow Press is a very strange, and moving, love story. I really dug it.
CURSED – Jeremy Shipp’s one-of-a-kind novel is hard to explain. A group of people find themselves cursed in very bizarre ways and try to figure out why, and who’s doing it. Probably my favorite bizarro book of the year.
The only thing that bugs me is I know I forgot a lot of good ones. Hey, I’m gettin’ old.
Also in 2009, I discovered the writing of T.E.D. Klein, who, despite the small amount of books he has out, has become one of my all-time favorite writers. I got his books used (they’re criminally out of print). I read his 1985 novella collection DARK GODS (featuring “Children of the Kingdom,” “Petey,” “Black Man with a Horn,” and “Nadelman’s God), which was amazing from beginning to end and hooked me like a flounder. And I found his classic story “The Events at Poroth Farm,” in a very cool anthology called AMERICAN SUPERNATURAL TALES from Penguin Books (also featuring some of my other favorites like Karl Edward Wagner, David J. Schow, Thomas Ligotti, and Dennis Etchinson).
Right now I’m reading his only novel, THE CEREMONIES (1984), which is an expanded version of his “Poroth Farm” story. So far, so good. He’s got a very original style that really strikes a chord with me. He’s still around, but he hasn’t written anything new in a long time. I wish he would.
(UP NEXT – THE BEST MUSIC OF 2009)