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Showing posts from August, 2012


Seeing Peter Straub speak at Readercon this summer forced a revision of my reading list. Bump R. Scott Bakker down a few notches, bring Koko from the bottom of the queue. Koko reminds me a lot of Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs." Both slunk out of the same dank cave in 1988. Both stalk the same haunted, decrepit rustbelt scenery, and both track serial killers with an uneasy mix of sensationalism and clinical detachment. Meeting for the purpose of visiting the Vietnam Mermorial in Washington DC, four veterans take time to consider the deaths of journalists in the far east. Each of the victims has been mutilated in the same fashion, each tagged with the killer's name: Koko. The four veterans, believing this killer a member of their unit, travel to Singapore, Bangkok and then back to the jungle of New York to track down the killer. Not to stop him, but to save him. This synopsis leaves out the best parts of the book which are the slippery suggestions that Koko

Pottery Barn

I was all set to write this post about finishing Peter Straub's Koko (which is an amazing book, by the way) when I turned my head and saw my apothecary table on the set of "Friends." Then Rachel and Phoebe started talking about my table and how it's so unique. Then Ross buys the same table and has to cover up the fact that he bought it at Pottery Barn. I bought my table used, I didn't even know it came from Pottery Barn. I'm not upset by that, I'm just surprised. I guess what I'm trying to say is it feels weird to have a celebrity sitting in front of my couch.

Flash Fiction: Faces in the Woods

This is adapted from the first chapter of a novel I wrote called "Dreams and Monsters," the original works was nearly 5,000 words, this gets pretty much the same point at 600. The barn was in the same state of decay as the house. Trees had burst through its windows and roof, straining against the confines of the structure to capture their share of the sunlight. A rich, sour odor filled the air and that more than anything made me call out for my brother.  He had his back to me and he didn’t even turn around as I sloshed through dry leaves towards him. He was staring into a copse beyond the barn, not moving. I almost followed his gaze, I swear I almost did. Even after everything Mom and Dad told me, I almost looked at it too. "Don't you take him!" I screamed. My feet kicked up leaves behind me. The leaves were everywhere, falling, tumbling in the dappled sunlight. Spinning around my brother where he stood frozen. His mouth was open, and drool ran from the

Flash Fiction: Two men and a Slot Machine

This is a snippet of a work I'm still idea mining for called "Surveillance." I liked the idea of two professionals engrossed in the physical processes of a machine. Sort of a computer but a computer as I remember them (badly) from the 80's. He went into Boreman's office after lunch. Boreman was busying typing at his terminal, occasionally switching the feeds displayed on the screens along one wall of his office. One hazard of the job was that even a vice-director like Boreman couldn't ever get away from the most basic function of the agency: watching. The screens were always on, always tugging at his attention. The task distorted the office. Boreman seemed to recognize this, bringing in paintings of landscapes and potted plants and slapping a big green pad for his desk. He had an approved landscape painting mounted behind his desk. Although he didn't rate a window, he had installed blinds to cover where one might be. Boreman wanted visitors to see a

Reading Response to “The Colonel”

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not Hannah Arendt was correct when she described the “banality of evil,” let’s use the phrase while meditating upon Carolyn Forché’s excellent prose poem, “The Colonel.” That, essentially, is what Forché is attempting to describe in her visit to an unnamed leader of a country presumably in Latin America. The Colonel is not a fanged monster dwelling in a dank cave. The Colonel lives with his family in a comfortable estate, capable of enjoying the finer things in life, good wine, conversation, and even poetry. His family behaves as families do, the son going out for the night, the daughter casually listening in. When The Colonel finally reveals his methods for ruling a country difficult govern, we are shocked by the ordinary, dismayed by the normality of what is going on. What spills from a “sack used to bring groceries home,” is described as being dried apricot halves. Lured in by the ordinary, we the readers read the rest