Book Reviews, Novels

William Eastlake’s the Checkerboard Trilogy, or, Lyric of the Circle Heart (1956 – 1963)


Go in Beauty (1956)

Eastlake_GIB_cov.pngWrite what you know. Golden advice, and Eastlake devotes his first novel to these words, writing deeply of the white-red divide that’d banished the Navajo culture to the ‘Checkerboard’ region, as well as the role of the writer, of art, the relationship shared with the outside world, and, surprisingly, the land itself, devoid of culture except as a current morphological and ecological influence. Unfortunately with Go in Beauty, Eastlake gave too much focus to world of the artist, which doesn’t always mix well in the scheme of things. It helps stress the cultural dead-end meetings, but something indeterminable about this hurts the novel’s impact, especially comparatively with the thematically-similar trilogy closer.

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Book Reviews, Novels

blood and guts in high school blood and guts in high school blood and guts in high school blood and guts in high school blo

Blood and Guts in High School‘s (BAGIHS) narrative is a collage of drama, rough pornographic illustrations, dream geographies, angst- and art-fueled journal entries, a book report reinterpreting (and deconstructing) the Scarlet Letter (1850), language-learning exercises, poetry, &c. Whatever the format — whatever the readability — BAGIHS seems to follow young Janey’s short-lived maturation and self-education in a world that offers her and her sort nothing but condescending, appreciative inequality.

I tend to have trouble with transgressive fiction, but Acker’s work is something special. She was brilliant — really had a knack for both tearing apart literary canon and social injustices; she was delightfully odd; and she was really, really, justifiably grumpy.

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Book Reviews, Novels, Video Games

Game Write: Harvey Smith’s Big Jack is Dead (2013)

Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we look at Harvey Smith’s first novel, Big Jack is Dead, a personal story about a slightly-sociopathic software developer returning to rural Texas to see his abusive father put to rest.

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Book Reviews, Novels, YA

The forgotten sci-fi sibling of Goosebumps — Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear (1997 – 1998)

a series of 12 novellas

During the peak of the ’90s Goosebumps craze, LucasFilm contracted John Whitman, then an editor for HighBridge Audio, to tap into this rich market with a six-part series of Star Wars-themed horror novellas. Whitman’s work on adapting countless classic Star Wars stories into audio dramas, complete with John Williams’ scores, sound effects, and multiple actors, was counted as a boon for the YA market, where the audio-drama format would have contributed to framing quick, punchy stories full of action and suspense.

The result was Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear, a quirky combination of classic Star Wars tropes ‘n’ cameos, original characters that can best be described as Saturday Morning Cartoons,* and untethered gore. Six books turned into 12, and the series lasted with modest (but decreasing) success through 1998 when John Whitman and LucasFilm both decided to move on.

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Book Reviews, Novels

M.R. Carey’s Fellside (2016)

A different beast than M.R. Carey’s previous novel — the wonderful 2014 zombie-drama, the Girl with All the Gifts — Fellside takes a far more introspective and personal direction. Advertised as a ghost story, the horror of Fellside increasingly bleeds into the background, leaving room for a story of crushing guilt, identity, empathy — and an exposé on privatized prisons.

Jess Moulson’s life climaxes in a loss of control; as heroin addiction and an abusive, enabling partner extend themselves too far, she loses herself in an act of violence while overdosing. She sets fire to all the memories she has of her partner in hopes of removing the negative influences on her life, but the fire immediately spreads to the house as she passes out amidst the flames. Her partner escapes without much harm, but she’s severely disfigured from the accident, and a young boy who lived upstairs is dead of smoke inhalation.

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Book Reviews, Novels, Video Games

Game Write: Sheldon J. Pacotti’s Gamma (2016)

Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we look at Sheldon Pacotti’s newest novel, Gamma — the first new piece of fiction from Pacotti since he entered the game industry with Ion Storm’s Deus Ex in 2000 — and a fascinating look at a near future ruled by biotechnology and growing social unrest.

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Book Reviews, Novels, Video Games

Game Write: Marc Laidlaw’s the 37th Mandala (1996)

Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we look at Marc Laidlaw’s 1996 horror novel, the 37th Mandala, a tale of new-age charlatans and Lovecraftian beasts, recently reprinted for the first time since 2000.

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Book Reviews, Novels, YA

R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps [#s 51 : 62] (1992 – 1997)

a series of 62 novellas, #s 51 to 62

[#s 1 : 10 | 11 : 20 | 21 : 30 | 31 : 40 | 41 : 50 | 51 : 62 ]
Check out the rest of the series using the links above!

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Book Reviews, Novels, YA

R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps [#s 41 : 50] (1992 – 1997)

a series of 62 novellas, #s 41 to 50

[#s 1 : 10 | 11 : 20 | 21 : 30 | 31 : 40 | 41 : 50 | 51 : 62 ]
Check out the rest of the series using the links above!

Continue reading “R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps [#s 41 : 50] (1992 – 1997)”

Book Reviews, Novels, YA

R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps [#s 31 : 40] (1992 – 1997)

a series of 62 novellas, #s 31 to 40

[#s 1 : 10 | 11 : 20 | 21 : 30 | 31 : 40 | 41 : 50 | 51 : 62 ]
Check out the rest of the series using the links above!

Continue reading “R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps [#s 31 : 40] (1992 – 1997)”