Friday, September 20, 2013


It is slowly getting to be fall weather here where I am.  The Halloween decorations are out, aisles in my local stores have been taken over with Halloween candy. Must be that time of the year again. The R.I.P. challenge.

I almost forgot about it this year. But it isn't my fault. I fairly recently moved back from Ukraine, got a new apt, a new job, a new roommate. And I'm supposed to be writing my dissertation. Because of all that I'm keeping it super simple this year.

Before I tell you what I'm going to do, here is a brief description of what the RIP reading challenge is.
1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

Oh and read something (or watch something)  in any of these categories:
Dark Fantasy.

There are different levels of participation. For more information see here.

This year I'm going with Peril the Third in which I read only one book.  I have decided to read NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I kind of enjoyed Horns when I read it (probably for a RIP challenge one year), but I remember not liking the ending much. Time to give Hill another chance I think.

I'm also going to complete Peril on the Screen. My friend made a Lovecraftian movie called Long on the Island.  I'm pretty darn thrilled about it.

Finally, I will do Peril of the Short Story. I haven't decided on anything for that, so suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Ok, so it looks like I'm only ever going to use this blog to do RIP reading challenges. That is ok. I've abandoned blogger for tumblr is what actually happened. I like tumblr better for most things, but writing book reviews is not one of them. It is too complicated to enable comments.  So because it is almost Fall and because this is the only reading challenge I ever remotely get around to completing, I will soon have a post up about R.I.P VIII. For information about it before my actual post where I tell you what I have decided to read, you can go here Stainless Steel Droppings.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bruno Schulz

This summer in Ukraine was the 5th annual Bruno Schulz festival.  I'm terribly embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of this writer before. A friend of mine gave me a incredulous look when I asked her if she knew who he was. Of course. He was Jewish, wrote in Polish, and lived in a Polish town that is now part of Ukraine, Drohobych.  He is claimed by all three groups: things were a bit complicated back then. He was shot by a German SS officer in 1942.

Since this summer, I've read bits and pieces of his short stories. A passage always jumps out at me and I think to myself that this is an author I'd really love.  There is a website with many of his short stories translated into English. One day ... But glancing through this evening I discovered a new word:

Peripeteia: a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work

I need to find some way to work this into my dissertation that I may or may not ever get around to writing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

RIP Review: Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

Most of you probably already know the plot; a happy young couple moves into a new apartment building and soon discover they are pregnant.  Maybe there are some strange stories about the history of the building, and yes, there is a tragic death soon after they move in, but really there is nothing to worry about. And those neighbors, perhaps a bit odd, but aren't they the nicest old people ever? So helpful, so caring ... 

Honestly, I expected to like this book more. I enjoy rather dark horror, but I also enjoy subtly creepy tales too (for instance Shirley Jackson).  I thought this book was well-written and it reads like a screenplay with exact details ("It was 4pm"). I could picture quite well their apartment and their neighbors, and I thought the dialogue between Rosemary and Guy was pretty realistic.

But it is not particularly suspenseful and even though there is this element of uncertainty about whether or not Rosemary can tell reality from fantasy, I thought the end fell too firmly on the side of reality.  So I was disappointed. There is one small section of the book towards the end right before she has the baby that I thought was very well done. Rosemary is ostensibly quite calm as all her suspicions coalesce , but there is this fascinating restrained hysteria lurking right at the edges that worked for me.

Now if you would have asked me two weeks ago if I'd seen the movie, I would have said "Of course, what sort of question is that" I love horror films; how could I not have seen Rosemary's Baby. Well, as it turns out, I guess I haven't because it was not familiar to me in the least, and from what everyone says the film is exactly the book.   So when I'm back in the states I have some catching up to do. 


And Ladies and Gentlemen  I actually completed my R.I.P challenge! And wrote all the reviews! Here's to setting realistic goals for yourself. Actually, I read a few other books too. I started The Devil in Silver, which has been getting rave reviews, but has only managed to piss me off. I also read the first two books in Del Toro's vampire trilogy The Strain and The Fall.  If I find time (which might be on a 5 hour train ride to Kyiv at 6am after an all night Halloween party) you might get a bonus short story review. Something Lovecraftian-- actually, I want to reread "The Color Out of Space."  

Friday, October 12, 2012

RIP Review

My Life as a White Trash Zombie 
by Diana Rowland

Drug addict and "loser" Angel Crawford wakes up in a hospital room with some vague memories of a car crash that the nurse tells her could not have happened because there were no injuries on her anywhere.  Angel tries to figure out the truth as she begins to experience confusing and unsettling new cravings.  In the midst of some new discoveries, she also must deal with a slacker boyfriend and alcoholic father.

I promise that I did not read this just because it was set in my place of birth Louisiana, however, that might have been one small reason.  The book is pretty short, easy to read, and at times laugh out loud funny.  I wouldn't really say it is horrifying in any way though there are a couple of stomach turning scenes to be expected in a book about zombies.  The plot was a bit of a let-down. The mysterious communications via notes left on her car at the beginning had more potential to go somewhere interesting.  Also I found the ending to be over-the-top ridiculous. The last scene literally made me roll my eyes.  On the plus side, I thought the relationships in the book were well-scripted, the dialogue was believable, and Angel was an entertaining protagonist.

If you really like zombie novels, then sure pick this one up.  If you are looking for something in the horror category, I'd go elsewhere. I'll give it 3 stars out of 5 as it was decent, but not anything I'd ever want to reread.