Many will know George R. R. Martin from his Song of Ice and Fire series (better known as the TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones). I’ve always been intrigued by the premise of the series, I don’t like watching TV, and I haven’t read any decent fantasy in a very long time. But the books are so damn long and there are so many of them. Would they be worth it?
My love for horror has recently been rekindled. With yet another dreadful Saw instalment out there, one would almost forget that there’s still plenty of original stuff around. Not only that, older works are increasingly at risk of being forgotten. To support my own memory as much as anything, here’s a quick overview of some good books I’ve read in the past month.
Blackwater is a Southern gothic family saga, tracking the lives of several generations of the Caskey family, as they make their fortune in the fictional town of Perdido, Alabama. Connecting the many subplots is the story of Elinor, a woman who mysteriously appears during a flood, marries one of the Caskeys, and proceeds to rule the clan. Oh, and she’s also a river monster.
The Dark Frontier is thrilling ride through the Weird West: a world which feels both excitingly familiar and exquisitely strange. Anyone who feels slightly bored by more traditional western stories will find plenty to enjoy in this new collection of genre-bending writing.
Self-publishing is often frowned upon, seen as a vanity exercise that removes the gatekeeper function of traditional publishers and releases floods of drivel onto an already saturated media landscape. My own opinion is a bit more nuanced. I think publishing and self-publishing can easily exist together. Indie and DIY approaches have long been common in other creative sectors, such as music and film. And with everyone broadcasting themselves on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, I can’t see why self-publishing my thoughts in book form would be a weird or embarrassing thing to do.
The Gray Man of Smoke and Shadows is brief, shocking, and action-packed. An intense reading experience that feels like a vicious jab in the throat and left me wanting more.
Picture this. A novella about two sisters: Sis and Amy. One of them alive, one of them dead. The living one muscular and feisty. The dead one reincarnated… as a chainsaw. Together they set off to get their revenge on Amy’s killers. Cue rampage, gore, mayhem. And, in case you missed it, a talking chainsaw.
With the world still in peril and the library still shut, I’ve recently found myself reconsidering my own book shelves. I only own a handful of books, mostly because my voracious reading habit would otherwise become rather space-consuming and expensive, and I rarely reread books anyway. But since I don’t like to read from screens, which means ebooks are out, and no imminent end to the current lockdown seems likely, it looks like I’ll need to reconsider my principles.
I love The Lighthouse. It’s been a while since I was this impressed by a film, or a book, or any work of art. Go and see it if you can, but go easy on the booze. And be nice to seagulls. You’ll find out why soon enough.
King’s central position in contemporary cultural imagination alone merits a proper look at his work. Sure, other authors have written novels that are more aesthetically pleasing, literarily challenging, or thematically groundbreaking. But the fact that his books just keep selling and selling suggest that King is on to something.
Other than that, I’m simply a massive King fan and will jump at any reason to revisit some of his books.