In honor of my favorite holiday, I read a couple of creeptastic books to review for you. Unfortunately, I’ve been more freaked out by looking at my bank statement than I was by these two books.
The Ghosts of St. Augustine by Dave Lapham was one my parents got for me at least fifteen years ago. We were in–you guessed it!–St. Augustine at the time, exploring that awesome little bit of America. I’m a total wuss when it comes to scary stuff, but this book left me wanting more. It was a great compilation of historical ghostly visitations, but it was pretty poorly written and I never felt weird reading it alone. (I really want something that is going to scare me while I’m in a brightly lit room sitting next to someone, so let me know if you have any suggestions!) One of the stories was actually told from the ghost’s point of view and then never explained afterwards, so it kind of made the whole collection lose credibility.
Definitely pass on this one.
I had high hopes for The Little Big Book of Chills and Thrills edt by Lena Tabori. It had all the makings of an interesting compilation: recipes, short stories, poems, strange illustrations, and even magic tricks. Unfortunately the magic tricks were lame, the short stories were old hat, and the recipes and poems weren’t creepy at all, obviously. I felt like this book was more like a little big waste of my time.
Skip them both.
2 haunted houses of 5
The Mammoth Book of Erotica has been sitting on a bookshelf somewhere in my vicinity since I was a teenager. I started reading it back then, killed a hundred pages, and then walked away. I still had an old piece of ripped paper marking the spot where I left off. Maybe I was afraid of my mom busting me or something. Who knows?
But I finally came back and finished the job.
As with all anthologies, TMBOE had it it’s ups and downs (tee hee). Rarely did I find any of these stories arousing or titillating (I love that word) but many of them were entertaining outside of the sexual spectrum.
Some of my favorites included:
- The Isle of the Dead by Thomas S. Roche- Queen of the Damned meets transgender lead singer.
- Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice- An excerpt of Rice’s famous Beauty BDSM trilogy.
- Hollow Hills by Michael Hemmingson- Six youths get frisky in the back of a 1971 Mustang.
- A Carcass of Dreams by Marco Grassi- His “story” was several separate individual pieces. Some were of strange subject matter, but all were well written. (Coprophilia, anyone?)
- The Girl in Booth Nine by Adam-Troy Castro- One of my favorites of the whole anthology. A sci-fi thriller about a guy who visits viewing booths at a XXX store and how a virtual video vixen gets her revenge.
- The Safety of Unknown Cities by Lucy Taylor- Sodom and Gomorrah meets hermaphrodite meets evil sorcerer. My other favorite.
- Violent Silence by Paul Mayersberg- A poolside desperate housewife meets dangerous stranger and they get down in a cabana. (It’s much more intriguing than it sounds–don’t judge me!)
- Equinox by Samuel R. Delany- Bisexual pirate love! Need I say more?
- Baubo’s Kiss by Lucy Taylor- A vacationing lesbian stumbles upon a mythical goddess and magic ensues.
- The Age of Desire by Clive Barker- A secret lab experiment goes horribly awry and an insane man with an insatiable sexual appetite is unleashed. Loved this one.
- L’Enfer by Alice Joanou- A kept man and his mistress visit a hidden erotic club and things turn violent. Very Jack the Ripper-esque.
So, I guess seeing as how 11 out of 30 stories were very well-written or entertaining, 1/3 of this HUGE book was really good. These were all worth reading. The rest were either boring or rambling. Don’t expect arousal though, because these aren’t smut. They’re graphic, but they’re more erotically-themed short stories than out and out raunchy porn.
4 virtual video vixens of 5
(I think I’m just going to work “virtual video vixen” into as many conversations as possible from now on…)
I was really really disappointed with this book. It was like that 2008 movie Jumper–amazing concept, terrible execution. Zadie Smith gathered a couple dozen well-known writers to do short stories/character sketches but they really fell short of the mark. I mean, I know that they weren’t supposed to be stories that focused on the plot–character development was the whole point–but even as such they were boring and pretentious.
I only found a few stories that were worth my time:
- The Liar by Aleksander Hemon-a brief retelling of Jesus’ crucifixion.
- The Monster by Toby Litt-about a creature who can’t see himself and all he knows of his appearance is based on touch.
- Soleil by Vendela Vida-one of the better-developed sketches that actually made me interested in learning more about the wild-child “aunt” Soleil.
- Theo by Dave Eggers-a lonely and jilted giant seeks solace in the beautiful mountains.
The rest you could totally skip and save yourself the yawning. I just felt like so many of the stories were written to sound extremely pompous and egotistical. I don’t like associating with snobby socialites, so I’m not interested in reading about them either. I don’t care about your Upper-East-Side-bagels-and-lox-can’t-find-a-good-nanny-problems. I want to read about someone real. Real problems and real courage.
It reminded me too much of A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff, which I hated.
Maybe I’m shallow. Maybe I haven’t started crying into my gin and tonic at 10am and I just don’t understand. Who knows?
All I know is that I won’t be reading this ever again.
2 vagina-faced monsters of 5
Seeing as I’ve been on Chelsea’s Excellent Vacation since July, reading about Death’s Excellent Vacation was no stretch.
(As a side note, sorry for being AFK so long. I’ve moved back to the US and have been scrambling around seeing anxious friends and relatives).
Like many of the books I’ve read in recent months, DEV is an anthology of fantastical short stories by some pretty talented names. I had several favorite stories, including:
- Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris- Sookie and Pam are at it again. Strippers, elves, murderers, and vampires, OH MY! (If I were them I would stop listening to Eric…)
- The Boys Go Fishing by Sarah Smith- An elderly super hero is forced out of retirement when a bunch of mutant kids are dumped on his doorstep. I liked this one because I pictured Morgan Freeman as the main character–you’ll see what I mean.
- The Innsmouth Nook by A. Lee Martinez- A goofy tale of two guys opening a bed and breakfast in a town straight from the Black Lagoon.
- Safe and Sound by Jeff Abbott- Let’s put it this way: Nancy Grace covering the Natalie Holloway case meets supernatural disappearances.
- Seeing is Believing by L.A. Banks- Old swamp voodoo brings a young couple together, but there’s more than meets the eye.
- Thin Walls by Christopher Golden- SUCCUBUS, OMG! Just wait til you read the mouth/vagina description… *shudder*
- The Heart is Always Right by Lilith Saintcrow- A story about gargoyles in the modern world that was so captivating, I’m hoping for a series to be spawned.
There were a handful of others, while cute and entertaining, were just not as gripping as those listed above. They were either too corny or just emitted the paranormal romance vibe too strongly.
I highly recommend this anthology and it’s going down as a new favorite. Read it to stave off post-Halloween withdrawals.
4 horny demon dogs of 5