I spent today reading my own book. I was re-familiarising myself with the "new" novel, after having spent some time on the "old" novel. It was a pleasant experience, and though every page is scribbled with yellow "CHANGE THIS" ink, I felt that relief, that soft feeling in my heart that maybe writing this wasn't just a waste of time.
After weeks of editing I've felt, periodically, that my reading suffers, but I've still managed to get a few books in here and there. These are some of them, the ones that stuck in my memory and I'd like to tell you about them.
BOOKS I'VE LIKED RECENTLY
HÁLENDIÐ or (ICE LANDS) by Steinar Bragi
I read this book in Icelandic, and to be honest it's been a long time since I've read anything in my native tongue so it was good to be back "home", so to speak. It was also riveting to be sent up into the Icelandic highlands to experience horror unlike anything I'd imagined. I don't know what the translation is like, nor how much it helps to know a bit about the Icelandic landscape, but I loved the story. It was the right mixture of reality, the strange and the awful.
THE ATROCITIES by Jeremy C. Shipp
I'd read short stories by this wonderfully imaginative writer before, but though I was expecting quite a lot from him this book still managed to surprise me in a very pleasant way. Wonderfully atmospheric and creepy. This is the kind of novel that makes you fall in love with horror literature all over again.
HORRORSTÖR by Grady Hendrix
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this one already, but it bears repeating. When I found MY BEST FRIENDS EXORCISM I went through a phase and read everything by Hendrix. Wonderful author, great storyteller. This one stuck with me, not because of the excellent idea of the awful invading IKEA, or the fact that the book looked like an IKEA catalogue - what made me fall in love with it was the subtle Clive-Barkeresqueness of it. This is Hellraiser invades IKEA, and it's excellent.
IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD by Genki Kawamura
This little book is a gem. Subtle horror with a hint of Kafka and a splash of Murakami. I love books where the devil plays a part and this one is fun and creepy at the same time. It's not given that this is horror, but to me it definitely read as such. Existential crisis supported by the devil and everything goes haywire. Loved this book.
THE SILENCE by Tim Lebbon
Now I'm sure I mentioned this before. I know I put his novella WHITE on the last list of recommendations I made. THE SILENCE has since come to Netflix and while I'd definitely tell you to see that I'd urge you more eagerly to read the book. The movie is good and it's true to the book, but the book is still SO much better.
A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Trembley
This one stuck with me. It pops into my head again and again though it's been a while since I finished it. It's such a good mixture of uncertainties, where you don't know quite what's happening, if there are supernatural forces at play, or not. He writes with such balance and sincerity it's hard not to be swept away.
KÄRLEKEN (L'Amour) by Marguerite Duras
I've loved Duras since I was a teenager and read THE LOVER. I stumbled upon this book on sale at a local bookstore recently and snatched it (along with another Duras book I still haven't read). This books is surreal, reminded me very much of Samuel Becket's GODOT. It's not exactly horror, but it has an atmosphere of the apocalypse, of a city in ruins. It's about love and lust and silence and death and if you haven't read Duras already you really should pick up a book by her. She is one of the great ones, a wonderful author who is not mentioned often enough.
THE DARK GAME by Jonathan Janz
I listened to the interview Brian Keene made with Jonathan Janz on THE HORROR SHOW podcast and immediately realised that I needed to read something by Janz. It made me very happy when I realised that some of his books are up on Storytel.se (an audiobook site I subscribe to) and so I started listening to this book while walking the dog.
The dog got a lot of exercise those few days it took me to finish it. It's the audiobook equivalent of not being able to put a book down, so I spent the time walking the dog in the forest, listening to this. It's well written, the plot is fun and the characters (especially the bad guy!) are great. What really brought it home was the dialogue the book constantly has on writing and about what being a writer really means.
Can't wait to listen to the other books the site has by Janz.
I have my nightstand (virtually) filled with books I need to read, but since I'm editing it's going ever so slowly. I am thankful for audiobooks at a time like this. I often listen to podcasts or audiobooks while walking the dog and the better the book the more exercise we get. It's a great tradeoff if you ask me. At the moment I'm dedicated to finishing KILLING COMMENDATORE by Murakami. It's been on hiatus for a long while, I started reading it this time last year.
And after that - who knows? Any recommendations?
Also if you’re looking for a cool sci-fi short story, you might like this one written by my friend Leonie M. Smith called Burying Gabe.