Archive for the ‘ Literature ’ Category

Interview with Marcus Pelegrimas, author of Blood Blade

If you have not yet read it, I suggest you read my review of Blood Blade, the first book in the Skinners trilogy.  We were fortunate enough to get an interview with the author, Marcus Pelegrimas.  For those not familiar with him, Mr. Pelegrimas has written a good number of westerns and short stories in various other genres, primarily under the pseudonym of Marcus Galloway. This his first entry into dark fantasy/horror genre of the romantic persuasion.  If you want to learn more about him, you can look him up on his website at www.marcuspelegrimas.com.

And now, without further ado, here are the words of Mr. Pelegrimas himself regarding his latest novel.

marcus-pelegrimas

You’ve written works in a variety of genres. Which do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy writing westerns, but horror and fantasy has always been my first love. The labels may change (horror / dark fantasy / urban fantasy / high fantasy / whatever), but anything with monsters has always had a special place in my heart. The very first stories I used to write when I was a little kid were about monsters and now that I get to write in this genre on a professional level, I’m truly excited! Continue reading

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How a Man Does It: Review of Blood Blade

Blood Blade BookjacketBlood Blade is one of three books in the Skinners saga, a dark fantasy written by Marcus Pelegrimas.  In it you’ll find vampires that make more sense than traditional ones, a little romance, and a plentitude of blood and gore.

As the sole survivor of a werewolf attack, Cole Warnecki, video game designer,  finds himself entangled with a group of enforcers known as Skinners.  They open his eyes to the multitude of monsters that populate our world.

The Skinners keep werewolves, as well as vampires, in check, preventing them from overthrowing humanity.  The problem is that Skinners are very few in number and are having difficulty keeping the crucial balance between the predators and the prey.  Things don’t get any better when a crazed vampire named Misonyk gains control of an unidentifiable monstrosity known only as Henry. Continue reading

Snuff: The Story of the Most Boring Gang Bang Ever

Chuck Palahniuk has been one of my favorite authors for a few years now. His stories about the darker side of life have often left me unable to put the book down.  The plot often equates to things getting worse for the main character in often entertainingly macabre ways.

When I heard he had a new book out, Snuff, I immediately got my hands on it, filled with vague hopes that this would be better than his last book, Rant, which had left me disappointed and confused. Unfortunately, I found this to be his worst work yet.

The plot revolves around Cassie Wright, an aging porn star trying to end her career by breaking the world record for the largest gangbang by having sex with six hundred men in one day. Most of the story takes place backstage, as seen through the eyes of three men; Mr. 72, a young kid who claims to be Cassie’s long lost son, Mr. 137, a failing television actor, and Mr. 600, a co-star in many of Cassie’s films.

The narrative style is typical Palahniuk. As the action moves forward he throws in more info, fleshing out the story or the main character. Survivor, had tips about cleaning as the main character was a maid; Fight Club, told the reader how to make explosives, since the main character was a psychopath. These fit to their stories well, and added to the narrative. Snuff is filled with odd facts about celebrities and sex. While these facts are amusing in themselves, it feels like Palahniuk spent a few nights on Snopes.com, wrote down every odd thing he came across, and tried to work it into his story. Often, the facts come up as small talk between the characters and added nothing to the story itself, seemingly inserted to artificially lengthen an already short novel. Continue reading

The Kite Runner vs. Maus

The Kite Runner, a fictional account of the lives of two Afghani boys, by Khaled Hosseini left a bad taste in mouth. It is a dark book, sometimes unnerving, but there is more to it. I hated the narrator; I hated how he wallowed in every little bit of misery that he could find, how he milked his background for every tiny bit of sellable ethnic exotica. I felt the narrator, who is also a writer (if not THE writer; the book reads like a memoir but is not one) was selling his past and his people. The Kite Runner is a well-written piece of literature that I wanted to rid myself of upon finishing.

Without a break from literary gloom, I went straight for Art Spiegelman’s Maus. As I’ve mentioned before, comic books haven’t been comic in some time, and this story of the Holocaust as told by a father to a son, was no exception. Initially, I had the same feeling. I thought to myself, what a fuckhead this Spiegelman is (in this case, the narrator is a writer and in fact, THE writer). He is hungry for this sellable story that he is almost battering his ailing father, Vladek, for. But then an amazing thing happened, Arty the mouse–the Jews in the story are mice, the Germas are cats, the Poles are pigs, the Americans are dogs, and so on–was talking to his wife about how much of a fuckhead he is. Ah! He KNOWS. He is aware! In fact, the whole book is hyperaware of itself. The reader is brought along for Vladek’s story of his survival, and for Arty’s story of getting the story, as well as how he struggled for a decade to finally get himself together enough to put together this book, this book you are reading. Continue reading

“The Devil’s Bones”- A Forgettable Forensic Thriller

“The Devil’s Bones” is a novel written by team Jefferson Bass, which consists of Dr. Bill Bass, founder of The Body Farm, and journalist Jon Jefferson. This fictional piece follows the life of forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton, a sort of Sherlock Holmes of the forensic world, as he copes with a painful past while trying to keep his mind occupied with his job.

The problem with this book is that it focuses on too many things at once, and not enough on the crucial bits. Brockton starts off by conducting a dangerous experiment in which he burns two cadavers, each inside a vehicle, in order to obtain data on the remains for use in an actual case where a woman was found burned in her vehicle. Because foul play was suspected in the case, his data on the two cadavers could prove useful in determining if the potential murder victim had truly perished in the flames, or if her body had been placed in the vehicle for incineration after she had died.

Shortly after his experiment, Brockton finds out that Garland Hamilton, a rival of his who murdered Brockton’s girlfriend and nearly succeeded in framing him for it, has escaped from prison. Not long after that, the lawyer who successfully defended Brockton in the case approaches him with a personal request: to examine the cremated remains of his deceased aunt on the basis that the remains do not appear normal.

The writing shines when Brockton is narrating, describing his surroundings, his emotional reflections of the past, and the forensic evidence in the cases at hand. He gets into great detail, and you can visualize what he’s talking about, or empathize with some of his feelings. It does help if you have a little knowledge in anatomy and bone structure, but luckily the back of the book contains three bone charts. However, when it comes to dialogue, I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a poorly scripted sitcom. Continue reading

Welcome to Ankh-Morpork, We Will Take Your Money Now

pratchett-making-money.jpgIf you are new to Terry Pratchett and his Discworld, fear not. Each book can mostly be read without worrying too much about what has been going on heretofore. This book, however, is in a way Part II of Going Postal, a book where we first meet Moist von Lipwig, a man who cheats people who feel they are cheating him and must live on the edge if he is not to go over it.

After narrowly avoiding death and finding angels who apparently work for the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Moist was trapped in the city’s decrepit Post Office that more or less failed to deliver mail and was home to dangerous secrets. He cleaned up the mess, resurrected the place as well as people’s faith in it, and made his reputation anew. In this next book, Moist is forced to explore banking.

The world of financial management appears to have less to do with keeping ledgers than it does with raising the dead, being constantly forced to get into black coaches where (self-) important people smirk, madmen and their Igors, assassins, and being licked by a small dog with a penchant for whirring devices of self-pleasure. There are also magicians, old lechers, and super-duper mysterious chief cashiers to whom the world of numbers is the only true reality. Continue reading

Four Star Secrets Tolerable Only to Foodies

service-included-cover.jpgService Included: Four Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, by Phoebe Damrosch, is probably in my top most misleadingly named books of all time. When I first read the title, I assumed it would be a gossip-filled spelunk into the dark dinner-discussion secrets of those rich enough to drop over a thousand dollars on one meal. Something like this has it’s appeal to us hoi polloi—lord knows I would jump at the chance to sit for a meal at a 4-star restaurant (but I would probably want to take a crash course in etiquette first), and reading a book about the people who take what Thomas Keller dreams up for granted is not without its draw.

What this fanciful Imagineering leads me to is simply that this memoir is not about the secrets of the insanely rich—Damrosch reveals nary an eavesdrop— instead it focuses on the author’s personal bumbling journey through waitressing, life, and love. The title instead highlights the backdrop against which we see her life unfolding.

Damrosch began waitressing in a trendy Brooklyn café and sundry other eating establishments. When it opened, she landed a job at the Manhattan offshoot of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Per Se, by pure chance. From the moment she first dons the Armani Per Se tuxedo, Damrosch’s entire life begins to center around the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong—working at Per Se is clearly not the same as working at Heliopolis Greek Style Family Diner. For one thing, the wait staff goes through a several-week training period, during which they get a crash course in everything from the varieties of sparkling versus still water, to the history of the Central Park overlook that Per Se enjoys. They have 401(k) plans, health and dental benefits, and make enough money to afford living in Manhattan. The job demands close attention to detail and significant study, which I have to admit I never expected, and which I ended up finding fascinating. Continue reading

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