Friday, November 30, 2012

#14 Jonny Gibbings - Malice in Blunderland

if im gunna write a review of this book im gunna do it write. first tings first, some of the writing is going to bother u. thats the only distraction i had in the book. Its not written with perfect english, grammer, etc,. Okay... I can't do that anymore. :-)

The book is awesome. It reminded me a lot of Snatch for some reason, maybe because of the characters and the locale. The main character gets pretty much just thrown into traffic, figuratively speaking, and is on a mission to get his name cleared. I mean, once you've been mistaken for being a serial rapist, been beaten up, and I don't even want to talk about the sex with the wheelchair bound woman, you're going to have a story that a lot of people want to read.

Not only is the book a delight, had me laughing out loud throughout the whole thing, but the guy who wrote it is NOTHING like the guy in the book (other than some of his grammar, but that's excusable). He's a huge supporter of the literary arts and a fantastic writer.

Go read his interview here, his blog here, and his book

As a special side note, the best review of Malice in Blunderland on Amazon is, "This is the most sick book i have ever read . Please do you know any book like this one ?" I just think it's perfect. Thank you, dablin! :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

#13 Chad Kultgen - The Average American Marriage

When I interviewed Chad, back in January, here, I said that, "he's one of the first honest voices of men in their late twenties/early thirties." Well, now he's going a little older, a little darker, and somehow, a little more honest (I honestly didn't think that was possible after reading The Average American Male).

Chad paints a picture here that a lot of people know is true, but never want to admit. He says what we all want to say, but don't want to believe. He shows you in this two-hundred some pages what it's like to be married, have kids, and keep moving forward in a life, even if it's not exactly how you pictured it. Don't get me wrong, he's going to bring the humor, you're going to laugh a lot throughout the book, but this one isn't going to let you limp away when you're done, you'll be crawling.

In this novel, you'll go through what it's like to look at women as objects, masturbate to phone porn, and watch your kids grow up while you're still growing up yourself. Unlike his other books, I left this one with a little less of a smile than I did coming in. That isn't to say that this is a bad thing, it just has an ending that's a little more solemn than I was expecting.

I guess the thought I have after reading the novel, and his acknowledgements page, is that marriage and kids aren't on the list of priorities for Mr. Kultgen... and that's okay. He gives us an honest and brutal view of what life could become if we let it.

Go pick up his other books now and when this one hits in February, it'll be a fun break from whatever life you lead. Before or after kids and marriage.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#12 Lidia Yuknavitch - Dora: A Headcase

If Chuck Palahniuk was a teenage girl, I'm pretty sure his name would have been Dora. That's the only Chuck reference I'm going to do here, because Lidia stands all on her own in this phenomenal new novel. If you're looking for a book that has completely captured what it is to write with a strong voice, Dora: A Headcase is your book. She knocks it out of the park with this one.

When I read her first book of short stories, The Chronology of Water, I was knocked on my ass. The first story in the collection made me cry and from there, it was a roller-coaster (man, do I hate cliche's) of emotion. In all honesty, I was expecting another book like that. I didn't read up on what Dora was about, I didn't read the synopsis, and I was almost nervous to start it, because at the time, I wanted to read a happy-go-lucky book. Guess what, I got it! Kinda.

This bad boy girl, is told from Dora/Ida's point of view, as a teenager, who likes drinking, drugs, and Obsidian (go read it, you'll understand). There's violence, a tip of the hat to Sigmund Freud, over-the-counter drugs, drinking, chicks, and an artsy video about a penis that I don't ever want to think about again. It's about divorce, love, loyalty, doctor/patient relationships, friendship, and redemption. It's a ridiculously easy read and when it's over, you're relieved and a little sad that it's over.

Go pick up the book, thank Lidia, and then tell all of your friends!

Thanks Lidia!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#11 S.G. Browne - I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus

Andy's back!

If you loved Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, you're going to love this one. It's written with the same fast wit and imagery that we've grown accustomed to with S.G. Browne's work and I couldn't be happier having the chance to read it before the release date on October 30th, 2012.

We start off the story with Andy, in a zombie research facility in Portland, Oregon. He was the leader of a zombie uprising, after which a lot of new zombie laws were put into place. There's a tip of the hat to A Clockwork Orange and the Christmas movies of our past. Unlike Scott's other books, this one doesn't have the traditional love interest, but you still feel warm and fuzzy, don't worry about that! 

The best part about this book is that it's truly a Christmas Story. It takes the new view on zombie's that Browne did in the past, puts the Christmas twist on it, and it still holds up. In all reality, when I first heard that he was doing this, I thought it would be a cheesy, if not cheap marketing ploy. He quickly re-affirmed exactly why I enjoy his work so much after I sat down and read the book in one sitting.

It's a quick 200 pages and if you're looking for your fill of zombies, holiday cheer, and some breathers getting what they deserve, Scott's done it again with this one. Go pre-order it, here!

Also, if you're in NYC, he'll be reading at the KGB bar, tomorrow night (10/17/2012) at 7pm with John Kessel!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#10 S.G. Browne - Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel

$3.99 hasn't bought me this much joy since happy meals in the 90's. If you like reading about the things we take for granted, new ways of looking at everything from luck to zombies, or wondering what it would feel like to be a shampoo bottle, this book is for you. Let's be honest, I love Scott's work. I think the guy is brilliant. I haven't had my fix in a few months, because he's between novels, so this book cured me of everything that ailed me.

It's only available through Amazon, right now, but you can purchase it for the e-readers, on most of your phones, and/or the computer program. Make it happen.

It's about 136 pages, so it will most likely be a one-sitting book, unless you want to take your time and really savour each story (I wish I did). Other than the stories themselves, my favorite part of the book is that Scott gives you a personal glimpse of where each story came from or how it came to be, after each piece. I love hearing authors secrets, it's the reason I started Mourning Goats, and this book is a gold mine!

Go read a sample and buy the book, here:

After you've got your fill of shorts, get the novels, you won't be let down.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

#9 So Different Now - Ben Tanzer

I'm hooked on this guy. Opened up his book, So Different Now, last night and it was finished an hour after I woke up this morning. When I first started reading this short story book, I thought that the stories sounded familiar, because a lot of them are focused around the locations and subject material from the earlier reviewed book, My Fathers House, then I read further.

This isn't a short story book, or even a linked story book, per se, it's a book about a bar named, Thirsty's. It's about seeing little vignettes of our life fly by, but no matter what, there's a location that is always 'home.' Do you have this? I'm pretty sure Ben's is Thirsty's.

In short, So Different Now is a super fast read, and it'll knock you on your ass. Every story is poignant and ridiculously well written. Like Ray Carver, Tanzer knows how to show little pieces of our life that make us who we are and crush our expectations.

Thanks Ben,


Monday, May 7, 2012

#5 My Father's House - Ben Tanzer

In short, this is a novella about accepting that it's okay to be successful, and it's beautifully written. The book runs a gamut of emotion and there are points that you're angry at the main character, there are sections where you're so sad for him that it hurts, and when you turn the page on chapter 70 to finish the book, you're proud of him and if you've ever thought about writing, you want to go sit down at the computer and start making it happen.

If I can offer any recommendation, it's read this book while you're on the treadmill at the gym. Not only will it keep your mind off the burn, but it'll inspire you to go further, the only thing I can apologize for is the looks you'll get when it's not sweat falling down your cheeks, it's tears.

The book has short chapters, wonderful writing, and it's a roller coaster of emotion. If his other books have half the power of this book, he has a new fan for life. Thank you, Ben.


Monday, April 9, 2012

#4 Cataclysm Baby, by Matt Bell

Mudluscious Press, 2012.

This collection of prose vignettes are arranged in an abecedarian series with triplets of names for each letter. The stories all portray parents in post-apocalyptic, dying worlds dealing with surreal circumstances – mutated babies, dying gene pools, hostile landscapes. Even though the characters and situations might appear alien, the emotional struggles of these characters are very human. Parents worry about feeding their children, keeping them safe, keeping them happy.

Often, Bell’s choice of titular names resonates with some theme of the story. “Cain, Caleb, Cameron” is the story of a baby born with teeth, born ‘hungry,’ trailed by the mostly devoured corpse of its twin. In two short pages, Bell manages to tap into primal issues of parenthood as the parents must decide whether to continue to feed this baby:

At home, it is my wife who cries, while our firstborn sucks her tit fry, while his rows of teeth puncture her skin, pock-mock her areola. And how to respond when she complains of his always-hunger, when in an empty voice she begs me to allow the bottle instead?

But look at our son, I say.

Look how tall he’s grown. Look how strong.” (Bell 7).

Many of the children of these stories are born mutants, born different from their parents in some meaningful way, usually physical. The parents struggle to come to terms with their disappointment while also letting go of their increasingly unrecognizable offspring. In “Edgar, Edric, Eduardo,” the narrators live on the floor of a jungle, “too bloated to climb” to the fruit and freedom above (11). They send their child to scavenge for them, “teach him to climb, to imitate the monkeys that screech from the branches” (11). This encouragement is actually their undoing. At first, he brings them food, which is easy for him because he’s “made for this world to which we cannot adapt” (12). Later, though, the boy meets others, and the question becomes: for how long will he continue to remain with his parents in their dying situation? And aren’t these the issues all parents must deal with? Letting their children go off to succeed in their own lives while also wanting them to stay?

“Justina, Justine, Justise,” is one of the more striking stories involving a man being punished for infidelities by his children. “For the first crime my daughters took only my thumb,” Bell begins (29). For each transgression, another punishment. Bell mirrors this idea in “Yaretzi, Yasmina, Yatima” which chronicles children born as nothing but wind: ghost children who torment their father for his indiscretions and force him to build increasingly tall towers in order to reach his mother, presumably in heaven.

Many of these stories are more in the horror genre, in which parents live in fear of their children as they grow more and more unrecognizable. In “Svara, Sveta, Sylvana,” the father is so focused on his sick wife, he allows their rodent-like children to burrow free. He has no faith in these children; he believes they’ve abandoned their mother and is desperate in his faithlessness, which leads him to dig into the basement to follow them, while his wife is dying upstairs.

There are moments of real talent in these stories. Though some of the themes and situations do overlap, the majority of the stories hit home with striking effectiveness, and it’s impressive that Bell is able to genuinely surprise and delight the reader with his creativity (again and again) while working within the constraints of the collection’s structure. He also attempts certain structural tics with some of the stories – beginning each paragraph with the same word, for example – and these can distract on occasion, but when he settles down and just tells the stories, he’s at his best.

Matt Bell’s been making a name for himself through his formally inventive fiction, and this collection certainly adds to that. Mud Luscious Press has, likewise, been making a name for itself by publishing groundbreaking work for a few years now, and they’ve outdone themselves again. Cataclysm Baby is, at times, a touch graphic if you’re squeamish, but it’s a solid book well worth the read. I’m eager to read more of Bell’s work.

-CL Bledsoe

Saturday, April 7, 2012

#3 Everybody Says Hello by Michael Kun

When someone I know asks me for a book recommendation, I usually throw out The Locklear Letters, by Michael Kun. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read and if the person asking me isn't a big reader, it's an easy novel to get through. That being said, I now have two books in the funny area to share with friends. Michael has a follow-up novel that brings Sid Straw back to the page!

Everybody Says Hello is written in the same format as The Locklear Letters; letters from our main character, Sid Straw, to people across the country including his nephew, bosses, parents, magazine subscription departments, motel managers, transvestites, his ex-girlfriend, the securities exchange commission, Heather Locklear, and many more!

I feel like one of the best parts about these two books is what isn't said. Mr. Kun has a talent for telling us exactly what we need to know about the story without inundating us with all of the letters that Sid receives or any external dialogue. If someone told me about the novel and said, "it's funny letters from one guy to a bunch of people," I would have a hard time understanding where the story would actually come out, but Michael has no problem doing just that. With false imprisonment, defamation suits, and a lot of out-of-court settlements, you'll have a fantastic time reading this novel.

It's a one or two sitting book that will have you howling, pick up a copy next week (April 15th)!

And finally, Michael has been gracious enough to offer us a signed first edition of the book to the best comment on this post in the form of a business letter, where the body of the letter is no more than 250 words, state why the you should win the free copy of the book. Letters must include an addressed recipient, a  closing,a reference to at least one celebrity that you know personally (whether you do or not in real life), at least one sexual innuendo, and a declarative sentence that celebrates the entrant's local sports team.

Good Luck and Eat Wheaties,

The Goat

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

#2 Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne

If you’ve read either of S.G. Browne’s other novels, Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament or Fated, you’re going to walk into very familiar territory with Lucky Bastard. Scott has an extremely original voice in everything he’s written and Lucky Bastard does not disappoint.

Browne takes the normal supernatural elements that we’re so fond of in his books and invents a whole new realm. With every page, you’ll feel the twists and turns coming at you non-stop. The book does not let you put it down and you start questioning everything from your own morals to if such a luck poacher could actually exist. Scott has a way of seeing a world that doesn’t exist and hands it to you very matter-of-factly. He has an amazing talent for story-telling.  

Lucky Bastard is a fantastic mix of noir and light-hearted humor. It’s a fast-paced, witty, book and I’m sure that if you haven’t already fell in love with the guy’s writing, this novel will push you over the edge. When you finish the book three things will happen. 1. You’ll want to listen to some Barry Manilow. 2. You’ll question everyone that wants to shake your hand. And 3., You’ll be sad that you’re finished reading.

Lucky Bastard is going to be released April 17th, by Gallery Books. Also, look forward to his new short story book, Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel, coming out on March 27th!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#1 Zombie Bake-Off by Stephen Graham Jones

Terry is a single mother, raising two children, a daft brother, and the staff of the local coliseum.  As the Events Coordinator, she oversees the day to day operations of the building and the conferences and shows that fill arena.  Zombie Bake-Off opens as Terry's disrespectful children are left at school in the morning, where Terry has to muscle her way through the drop-off lane to get to work on time, and deal with the other judgmental mothers that cluck their tongues in her general direction.  When she gets to work, she has to make sure her brother, Chapman, the security guard, and the rest of the staff at the coliseum for that matter, is on task as laziness and complete disregard for common sense compete for dominance.  For Terry, this is every day.

The story here, however, is that on this particular day, a swarm of women are wandering the floor of the arena at a cooking show, featuring Beatrice, a blind woman that's able to distinguish the ingredients of everything fed to her, as her sense of taste is heightened where her sense of sight has failed her.  This attraction is further bolstered by the presence of a television crew filming for a televised cooking show starring a flamboyant Kent.  Unfortunately for Terry, before she's even able to get to work, buses pull into the parking lot of the coliseum, their doors swing open, and out fall the muscle-bound, tattoo-clad wrestlers of a federation that are scheduled to perform in the double-booked building later that night.  They're early, and they have no intention of staying off the arena floor, and out of sight of the prim and proper attendance of the cooking show already in progress.  

Add in a dash of day-old doughnuts and you have a recipe for pure disaster.

Stephen Graham Jones cleaves flowery narrative and leaves out complicated, unnecessary dialogue.  What is left for the reader is Zombie Bake-Off, a combination of his love for a local arena, baked goods, and zombie stories.  In a literary world now jam-packed with tales of love disguised with glittery vampires, shirtless werewolves hellbent on obtaining pricey real estate on the California coast, and Presidential monster slayers, Jones tells a simple tale of a zombie horde reigning terror on the few humans left inside a building, trapped, and forced to take a stand.  The simplicity of this novel is a refreshing nod to the George Romero movies of old.  It isn't complicated by any stretch of the imagination, by shoe-gazing girls with no backbone to speak of, or plot points that are created to increase word count.  Zombie Bake-Off is simply what it is, creatures eating people.  It's an action packed festival of blood and guts, and as an extra bonus, there's a small love story that doesn't detract from anything at all.  This is what Twilight would be like if it had balls, what The Walking Dead would be without the boring, whiny characters. 

Review by Sean P. Ferguson

Sunday, January 29, 2012