Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Booklist #3

1. Currently Reading:

- Mystery, (Signet), by Peter Straub.  Peter Straub is one of my all-time favorites.  From Shadowland, his classic Ghost Story, his collaborations with King and my favorite two, lost boy, lost girl and in the night room, his books basically rock my world.  His prose is a thing of beauty, his handle of storytelling masterful, and it was reading Straub and also Gary Braunbeck that really led me to see what writing horror would look like for me.  Mystery tells the story behind Tom Pasmore, the reclusive sleuth Straub's reoccuring character, author Timothy Underhill, so often seeks out for information.  Rich and substantial, like all of Straub's works this is one I'll force myself to read slowly.

- Johnny Halloween, (Cemetery Dance), by Norman Partridge.   Norm Partridge is one of the finest and most versatile wordsmiths I've come across recently.  Lesser Demons  and Dark Harvest were splendid, the former one of the best short story collections I've read since Tim Lebbon's Last Exit for the Lost, the latter being a VERY tricky take on Halloween, and here comes this tasty treat:  more stories about the October Boy.  You want noir and the supernatural together with precise wordsmithery, this is the stuff for you.

2. Just finished:

 - The Keep, (Berkley Books), by F. Paul Wilson.  This was great, as I fully expected.   No sparkly vampires here, and also a peek into the roots of Wilson's over-arching mythos that ties many of his works together.  I'm a total sucker for those things:  maybe it's a marketing ploy, who knows, but reading different installments and perspectives of a mythos is like piecing together this huge, unbelievable puzzle.  Wilson's usual lean prose was a little more substantial in this one - more elegant, really - but it fit the time period well.  Another win for Wilson.

3. "Recently" discovered:

- Ghostwriter, (Hatchette Books,) by Travis Thrasher. I put recent in quotations because this one I discovered just last summer and the following months ago, but they still deserve a mention.  Ghostwriter, by Travis Thrasher, is honestly the closest thing I've seen in the CBA (Christian Bookseller Association) to actual horror.  The bloodshed - though well done - is there.  The suspense is there.  The tension. AND...a key element of horror that CBA books usually miss: the dread and despair.  All there.  Also: people die.  Sounds heartless that I list this as a plus, but if you're going to scare people, dangle them over the edge...there MUST be stakes.  Thrasher does this one right, and I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

- Creatures of the Pool, (Leisure Fiction), by Ramsey Campbell.  Okay, horror fans - I know.  How long did it take me to discover Ramsey Campbell?  Before this I'd read his short work and liked it, but I never realized his POWER until I read this.  Highly literary, built on images darting from the corner of your eye, full of atmosphere and dread, Campbell proves why everyone considers him a master with this one.  It's so Lovecraftian but not, it's mostly "Campbellian" because he channels all that classic dread, propels the reader headlong in a present tense narrative, but does it HIS way.  Definitely will be hunting up more of Ramsey Campbell.