I’m looking for new recommendations. I just had a blast reading Jeff Strand’s Cemetery Closing (Everything Must Go), his latest Andrew Mayhem book, then dove into Lawrence Block’s Dead Girl Blues. The latter of which gave me interesting dreams.
I remember, roughly 20 years ago, reading a bunch of Jeff Strand’s books for free. Maybe he was published by Tor? Or Baen? I think both of those publishers were offering free ebooks at one time or another. The idea was to discover what that did to print sales. It increased them…the lesson from that was probably something along the lines of obscurity being worse than piracy. Obviously context-dependent. Anyway, I had Strand’s books in a .lit format that probably doesn’t exist anymore on a PDA running Windows CE. And I’d never heard of him. So, 20 years later, here I am loving his stuff. Buying it whenever something new comes out. I guess it worked.
Some of Strand’s stories are a bit more involved. A bit more bizarre. And with, you know, believable characters. That’s not what he does with Andrew Mayhem. This latest had pirates, cannibals, macabre death, and tons of humor: par for the course. As I said, I had a blast. (Strand often plays with a mix of horror and humor…sometimes supernatural stuff, sometimes not, but generally I love it.)
Then, the same day (yesterday) I finally started Lawrence Block’s latest. Oh boy. I want to say a lot about it…but what I really want is to converse about it. It is, in a word, dark. No fantasy/supernatural stuff here, as that’s not what LB does.
Okay, two things I guess I can say without worrying about spoilers, but if you’re not interested in occasionally reading really, really dark stuff maybe you should just skip this paragraph: (1) It reminded me, as far as “feel”/mood, of Donald Westlake’s The Ax, which was a very good book I may never reread, and (2) LB himself dropped this into his newsletter prior to publication…um…in the first chapter, the protagonist rapes and kills an innocent woman. And not in that order.
Hey. I said it was dark.
Anyway, the book is hard to talk about. I guess it’s safe to say it explores the limits of forgiveness and redemption. And left me thinking about just how much more disturbing a sociopath can be, once it becomes clear that he/she/they/it can actually love others. Some others. Clearly a limited offer there.
Still. LB wrote it. I’ll read anything he writes. And it was fun. In its own thoroughly disturbing way.
On the writing front, I’m making some progress. Lots of things have come up and redirected me in the last couple of weeks. Normal, I guess. More of that today, and tomorrow too (going to the river with the kids!). But, still, some progress. Trying some new stuff. More about all that later on.
I’m serious about looking for new authors/books to try out. I tend to read everything by anyone who can hold my interest–something that’s apparently more difficult as I’ve aged. I like to think it means I’m more discerning, but whom do I kid here? My capacity for paying attention has fractured into pretty focus-shards, good for a moment’s diversion but possibly not making me a good candidate for directing traffic. Especially not airplanes.
Ooh! I could write a story about airplanes….
Well, you see what I mean. Let me know if you have any ideas/books/authors to pass along?
And have fun out there!