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Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Keith Roberts

Not for Me

Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children - Lee  Thompson

A book which I ultimately just decided wasn't for me. The overall novel wasn't outside the sort of thing I look for in a horror novel, but the plot unfolded a little slowly for my tastes and there were other problems. It felt like it should have been a short story. The characters also didn't appear to be plausible within the context of the various situations. It was like: "You know that I think about it later over this cup of coffee, I should probably have done something about those four dead and mutilated girls I saw them just burying in the woods after I got whacked on the back of the head, and while I'm on it, I wonder what's up with my relationship with Kat and what about that brother I killed." Just doesn't ring true, like what or how real people would do or react to a particular fact or situation.

Characterization is key in a novel like this where the novel is mostly driven by their reaction to the outre elements when they are introduced. The setting here is a so-called typical town, not one of the levels of purgatory where you would already expect more unnatural behaviour in people. Robert McCammon and Stephen King are masters of this subgenre, and even Gary Braunbeck and Muriel Gray do a better job of this when they dip into it. I just ultimately didn't buy the inner thoughts, actions, or dialog and therefore the characters became something two dimensional who didn't involve me in the decidedly eerie goings on.

I'm sure there are plenty who will be entertained by this novel and presumably the rest of the Division Mythos novels, just not me.

The Solitudes

Aegypt - John Crowley

The first novel, this one, in the four part Aegypt cycle by John Crowley is usually referred to as The Solitudes now, anyway my paperback has this written on its cover without any reference to Aegypt.  And no I don't have the wrong book.

Worth It

Voyeurs of Death - Shaun Jeffrey

I really enjoyed this collection but just couldn't get above 3 stars. There are a number of really good stories and no real stinkers and some real novel ideas in the plotting of some of the stories. I guess what holds me back is there really are few higher level things going on, nothing that makes you particularly thoughtful about any of the stories. Still, there's something to be said for a good tale well told.

Once again gr is effed up for this book in the database.

Lulu and One Better

Lulu And One Other - Thomas Tessier

A reluctant 4 stars, definitely rounded up from 3.5.

Nightsuite is a solid four star Tessier story that consists of three little seemingly disconnected sections that end up to be all too connected in the end. Enigmatic and weird in only the way Tessier is; he can be outrageously bizarre or just hint at it.

Lulu, the title story about Joseph Roth's muse, is actually a more straightforward affair, as Tessier goes, and gives off a more Kafkaesque atmosphere rather than the bizarre weirdness that Tessier usually gets into (but not always). The story makes a lot of sense on a subliminal level so there isn't that enigmatic quanta that gives so many of Tessier's stories their visceral emotional jolt in the end. I had read this story somewhere else before an, although memorable, I was not overly impressed on re-reading. A grudging 3.5 stars.

A funny little chapbook from Subterranean I'm not sure of its provenance since I acquired it second hand,; not sure if it originally came with something else or what not.

La Bahut Noir

The Black Cupboard - Claude Seignolle

A guy's life is ruined after he buys a piece of ugly furniture.

Picaresque Tall Tale Horror

The Wanderer - Timothy J. Jarvis

I'm going out on a limb and five starring this one.  There are so many aspects to this thing that you could write a dissertation. 


Where to start?  Well it's one of those story in a story in a story things.  There is a framing story about a missing horror writer, and there's this manuscript that might be a novel but it may be from another universe, but wait, I've got to tell you this story before I go on, and that reminds me, I might as well tell you this while I'm at it...  That's the way this novel goes, around and around.  The reference in the appendix to Ouroboros is particularly apt.  Part tall tale, part picaresque, the story bounces back and forth in time, digressing at times only to loop back to where you just left off.


The creepiness is heightened by the shockingly sudden introduction of some particularly nasty grue or body horror into what seems like a fairly exciting yet conventional adventure tale.  And then bizarre things happen in the middle of the mundane while things just move along.


A great and unique horror read.


The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath - H.P. Lovecraft, I.N.J. Culbard

Another good adaptation of Lovecraft by Culbard. Because he uses images he does not include all of the text, which has its advantages and disadvantages, so the reader should be familiar with the Lovecraft novella before looking at this. It would definitely have lost some understandability without prior knowledge. But this is the audience Culbard is aiming for anyway. If you want all the words, look to Jason Bradley Thompson's graphic novel The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath & Other Stories which has the disadvantage of not having color.

Culbard, like Thompson, has the positive of being a faithful adaptation without any additions or embellishments (or any "updating") to the Lovecraft story. Those graphic novelists that have tried to out-Lovecraft Lovecraft have usually failed. Better your own original or at least original Lovecraftian story.


The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss - Edmund White, Walker Percy, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Haruki Murakami, Karen Joy Fowler, Julio Cortázar, Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, Jonathan Lethem, Robert Sheckley, Oliver Sacks, Russell Hoban, Thomas M. Disch, Shirley Jackson, Flann O'Brien, Kelly Link, Geo

Two problems with this book. First, the title is misleading since only about 1/5 or the stories (and a couple of essays) deal with what I would call amnesia, the rest could mostly be loosely defined as mind or memory stories, and about 1/10 just don't belong here. They must have been editor favorites that Lethem had been dying to use somewhere. This wouldn't be a big problem if most of the stories were exceptional. I'm not adverse to genre bending but I expect a book like this that calls itself out as a particular thing, is that thing.

The second problem is they're not exceptional overall. These stories are overall average and a few below average. Most were just dull. There were only one or two that really grabbed my attention and became more memorable (he, he). Even the Lethem contribution starts great and then just devolves into (alleged) cleverness.

The only thing I'm sure of is in about 2 years I will have developed amnesia whenever someone asks me anything about this book.


Get in Trouble: Stories - Kelly Link

I received this as a free galley, however not from the publisher.

Reading progress update: I've read 236 out of 432 pages.

The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss - Edmund White, Walker Percy, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Haruki Murakami, Karen Joy Fowler, Julio Cortázar, Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, Jonathan Lethem, Robert Sheckley, Oliver Sacks, Russell Hoban, Thomas M. Disch, Shirley Jackson, Flann O'Brien, Kelly Link, Geo

Damn little about actual amnesia in this "themed" collection of stories and essays.

Beautiful Rocks

Annals of the Former World - John McPhee

John McPhee could write a prose poem about a pebble.  Oh, he has.  Monumental in scope and decades in the making, it covers all the science, humanity, and history of geology in one grand gesture.  Dense and delightful at the same time most of the huge book takes place in the time that encompasses the history of the earth and in space not far from Interstate-80 in the US (and what lies beneath).  Densely confusing at times in dealing with the periods geologists et al use to describe the eons and rock types of earth's history.  Helpfully the endpapers graph it all to the reader's relief.


Won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Lukewarm Haunting

The Green Man (New York Review Books Classics) - Michael Dirda, Kingsley Amis

Okay novel that loses something by being a bit dated and having a ghost story that lacks much suspense. The fact that we never really like the main character doesn't help.

I'm not sure if the things about threesomes, lesbianism, and adultery were still considered edgy in 1969, but they lack any excitement today except to the most prudish.

The entire thing just seemed somewhat tepid to me.

Left or Right?

Chiral Mad 2 - Michael Bailey, Erik T Johnson, John Skipp

This anthology was a Down Syndrome charity effort, as was Chiral Mad its predecessor. These charity things can be somewhat dodgy in that there is a lot of "emerging talent" in the new stories and many of the A-list talents supply reruns. This collection however exceeded my expectations and actually got better as the book went on.

Fortunately for me I had only previously read one of the retreads, but there were only four out of 28 stories.

Advertised as psychological horror I would characterize this as plain contemporary horror, contemporary weird, a pretty wide array of stories, from the grim to the just bizarre. There are even a few ghosts thrown in but these too are of a decidedly modern ilk. There are no happy endings. I only thought two stories (out of 28) were weak, in being somewhat naive in plot and execution. Everything else was three or four star material, a few I would call five star. The book starts off with a bang and you never really get a letdown stretch.

My copy is a print on demand trade paperback and it has a few issues, an above average number of typos, missing words, etc. The usual reliance on machine proofreading errors. Not horrible, just noticeable. Somewhere along the line the ink jet printer got a little thirsty and left a number of pages with fuzzy gray instead of black letters. The entire font and layout left the book looking like something you printed out on you laser printer. Still, I'm a content kind of guy with this sort of thing so I didn't take down the rating for this kind of thing.

The cover art is fabulous but it still comes out looking like a textbook when you put it on the shelf.

After all this, I loved it.

Truly Appalling

The Influence - Bentley Little

There was a hint of the charnel house when I picked this up. I made it to page 48 before I got to the real biblio-necropolis. I had to hold my nose to continue. I had to tie a damp rag around my head to press on. Alas, I could go no further, the stench was too great...


Horror ritin fer Jethro Bodeen.


Sorry if I offend anyone who likes this sort of thing. Mine is going on eBay.


The Survivor (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Dennis Parry, Mark Valentine

A pretty good possession yarn. The characters are drawn like those of a modern Dickens tale. The time is between the wars and the place is a dreary East Anglia. Influenza plays a role as almost another character, it certainly drives the first half of the novel. Bouts of humor hide the tragedy which is unfolding in the background.


Unlike a lot of possession stories the actors here don't long remain clueless as to what is actually happening. While they recoil at the idea, the evidence overwhelms their incredulity as the innocent Olive displays more and more thc character (and voice) of her departed and odious uncle. The trick is Parry doesn't paint the Uncle James as completely despicable. He shows an ounce of humanity and tenderness towards Olive which seems to belie his character once he reaches the other side of the grave. The story turns on everyone's attempts to rid Olive of the demon by appealing to the remnants of its paternal affections. Despite all this only Lady Ponds seems to understand the seriousness of the situation and how it will affect everyone, not just Olive.


Parry has an excellent grasp of metaphor that keeps the prose fluid. He also has a joust with class and manners which while not exactly Victorian, often keeps the characters from collaborating effectively when they need to. Whether this has any effect on the outcome is left up to the reader.


Nice introduction by author Mark Valentine. Valancourt Books does a nice job of resurrecting these hard to find gems.


Miss Homicide Plays the Flute - Brendan Connell

Wickedly funny and just plain wicked. Connell is a master of language and with his encyclopedic mind every phrase is both a delight and a challenge. If you can keep up the reward is there and the book actually becomes somewhat of a page turner that you have to slow yourself down in order to savor.

It is rare that you feel like an entertainment that is so enjoyable is also elevating as well.