Book Talk: October 2016

Introduction

I read a lot of books. For years I have read books from a number of different genres, authors, and countries. It’s my love for reading is one reason why I wish to start this new monthly post series, which I call Book Talk at this point.

For those that have seen my “Reading” page I have all the novels that I’ve read since 2012. Thing is, I like having it there, but there are a lot of short stories that I have enjoyed and wish to add to that list, but would cramp the page. It’s because of that as well that I wish to have this Book Talk post, so I can add short stories I have read without displaying too much information.

So with no further delay, here is the first Book Talk post. I’ll be breaking it up between novels/novellas and short stories as they’re different from each other, and to avoid confusion.

Novels/Novellas

Since it was October, I decided to take the opportunity of reading primarily horror fiction.

The first novel/novella I read was The Shadow Out of Time, from classic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. First published in 1936, the story follows Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, a lecturer from Miskatonic University who attempts to uncover the Great Race of Yith, whom themselves caused him to suffer a mental breakdown early in the 20th century. I have read many of Lovecraft’s novellas before (At the Mountains of Madness, The Colour Out of Space etc.) and have enjoyed their storylines. This one came close to home for me; a decent portion of the story was set out in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. I really enjoyed being taken on a journey through this world, but there were a couple of things that held this back from being truly amazing for me. The biggest problem with this piece is Lovecraft’s writing itself. I adore Lovecraft’s imagination and enjoy the stories he tells, but his confusing writing style and strange dictionary of words made this a hard read at times. Despite this, The Shadow Out of Time still one of his most readable works and one I recommend people check out, if you haven’t already.

The second novel I read this month I’ve not even finished reading yet. The novel is called Wake, a 2013 novel from New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox. Set in a town in New Zealand, the story follows fourteen people who survive an outbreak of madness in that town. As from writing this, I’m at page 205 of 443 of my edition, so I can’t give a full opinion on it so far. I can say, however, what I think about the story so far. I really like a lot of things about this story; I love the New Zealand setting, the setup of the characters, and I really want to find out what happened in this town. There are a couple of criticisms I have with this story though, the main one being its pacing. I find this book to be slow with reading, which has caused my mind to wander a little whilst reading it. Despite this, I’ve liked it so far, and will have a full opinion by next month.

Short Stories

Keeping with the spooky theme of October, I also decided to read short stories from known horror writers. This month I read short stories from Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Jason Fischer, and Richard Matheson. There’s a few of them and I wish not to spoil their plotlines, so I’ll only give my thoughts on these, rather than a rundown.

From Stephen King this month I read ‘Afterlife’ from his recent short story collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015). I found this story really interesting and it certainly made me think what the afterlife could hold.

From Edgar Allan Poe, I read The Devil of Belfrey. I love Poe’s stories, but this one wasn’t exactly one of his best. I found it far too confusing and couldn’t quite understand what the story was about.

Now onto what is possibly my favourite short story for the month; Jason Fischer’s ‘Hunting Rufus’ from his short story collection, Everything is a Graveyard. I don’t wish to spoil this story, but this is how I will sum it up; pure Aussie horror! Gigantic kangaroo-like monsters and a bogan driving a Ute; two things I don’t see often enough in horror fiction. I recommend people go find this story and read it as it is unique and odd within horror.

To finish off, I’ll speak about the two stories I read from my favourite horror short story writer, Richard Matheson. The first, ‘Crickets’ I found to be odd at first and a little slow, but become a whole lot better by the ending. The ending was really creepy and had me shivering slightly by the end of it. The second story, ‘First Anniversary’ is my second favourite read for October. The start to it was a little weird as well, but it built on me over time and ended with yet another gooseflesh-inducing ending. Both of these stories can be found in his Nightmare at 20,000 Feet short story collection.

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