Monthly Archives: October 2012

Scared Witless

I was a small boy with a huge imagination. I often read late into the night, well past the witching hour. My home was a small cabin, not far removed from the desolate heart of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area. The elevation meant a ceaseless wind, all too often accompanied by the blood curdling screams of coydogs.  A peek out the window might have revealed stars scattered like body glitter across the black skin of the night sky. Or perhaps a swollen yellow moon.  Round and ripe.  An unblinking eye on the gathering mayhem.

At the time, my preferred form of artistic entertainment was the horror novel.  We’re talking about paperbacks discovered at the garage sales my mom haunted. Pages were often fragile and yellow, remniscent of ancient papyrus.   Have no doubt, dear reader, they cast a spell. It still lingers. Please allow me to share a few of my most demented discoveries.  I assure you, they’re culled from the creepiest corners of Castle Crandall, and bound to leave you scared witless…


Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. And you know what they say about fiendish fruit not falling far from the tree.  In light of this, get ready to be afraid.  It’s about a rock star well-past his sell by date, love gone sour, and a haunted suit acquired via online auction.  Perhaps you might consider packing a spare set of undergarments before you head down this road, and I double devil dog dare you to turn off the lights when you’re done.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer sums up Heart Shaped Box just right:

“A fast-paced journey on wheels borrowed from hell’s used-car lot, and there aren’t a lot of comfort breaks…The pictures [Hill] painted colored my dreams and darkened my mood even after I’d put the book down.”


There’s no need to worry if you’re jonesin’ for more Joe Hill after you’ve finished Heart Shaped Box.  As it turns out, Mr. Hill, much like his father, is apparently possessed by the spirit of prolific.  Even better, he’s not just a hard worker, my man’s got game.  And although all his works are worth taking a stab at, super librarian Jennifer “I Love Graphic Novels” Boyer wants to recommend the Locke and Key series.  As she ominously enthuses:

“Dark.  Atmospheric.  Chilling.  This graphic novel series by acclaimed horror novelist Joe Hill will stay with you well after you turn the last page.  In volume 1, Mr. Hill introduces the reader to the Locke family, who relocate to the family estate in fictional Lovecraft, Massachusetts after tragedy strikes.  Tyler, the eldest, along with his sister Kinsey, and their little brother Bode encounter a house filled with mysteries, including hand forged keys with mystical properties, and an ancient evil dying to get out.  Volumes 1 through 5 in a projected six volume series have been released, so check them out, and immerse yourself in this Eisner award winning series.”


Botanophobia refers to the fear of plants. Ridiculous, you say? That’s what I thought until I devoured The Caretaker of Lorne Field in a single psychotic sitting.  Penned by Dave Zeltserman, it’s about a family curse from way back when, and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. It’s about Jack Durkin and the wicked weeds he wages war with. Or is it just a figment of a rather colorful imagination?  Who knows?  You won’t.  This one messes with your head to the very last page.  But don’t take my word for it.  Maybe you’d prefer to check-out testimony given by The Midwest book Review:

“The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a fabulous amusing tale that grips the reader with a need to know whether the monster is real, a centuries old con, or generational lunacy.”


It’s alive! August 2, 2012 saw the release of Zeltserman’s thirteenth novel, Monster, a deft spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it’s the monster’s turn to talk, and critic and crowd alike are raving.  Author Ed Gorman calls it:

“A masterpiece of originality, beauty, ugliness, eloquence, wisdom and power”



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Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken ought to come with a warning label.  Something that reads like:

Reader caution urged.
May cause binge reading, loss of sleep, shock and awe.

At least that’s how it affected me.  As it turns out, many members of the Crandall Public Library Monday Evening Book Discussion Group reported similar symptoms.  Perhaps that’s why a young friend remarked that Unbroken was the illest work he’d read in years…  Bad jokes aside, the festivities began with the presentation of a short video, which served to introduce the cast and creator of Unbroken in a way that the novel did not.  For example, who would have guessed that Ms. Hillenbrand’s own story is one of survival?  That she is capable of such magnificent prose while battling a particularly nasty case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, renders the work even more impressive in my opinion.  In any case, conversational highlights include:

  • Redemption: Zero to Hero
  • War Crimes, Foreign Policy, and Justice
  • Religion as Psychology
  • POWs and PTSD
  • Suffering as Stimulus   


Laura Hillenbrand’s Home Page

NPR Interview

NY Times Interview

Wikipedia: Louis Zamperini

AAU Oral History

Relevant Reading

Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Relevant Video

On the Norden Bombsight

What’s Happening…

Karen “Fireball” Tinney wants to invite you to her Monday November 5, 2012 discussion of Tim O’Brien’s sensational novel The Things They Carried.   This multifaceted tale encompasses the American experience that was the Vietnam War.  Powerful stuff for sure!  But please don’t take my word for it.  No less an authority than The New York Times has called the work a “book of the century,” and went on to say that it:


“[B]elongs high on the list of best fiction about any war….crystallizes the Vietnam experience for everyone [and] exposes the nature of all war stories.”
–The New York Times–

Fine praise indeed, but it’s not just the critics who love this one.  It’s earned over nine-hundred 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.  Crushing crowd and critic alike, The Things They Carried is certain to generate an extraordinarily fine and impassioned discussion.  Copies can be found at the park entrance reference desk.   The festivities begin promptly at 7:00 pm, and are slated for the Crandall Room.     

Parting Thoughts…

I am hoping that you will join us for our November 19, 2012 shindig, when we throw Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife on the chatting block.  Mr. Hemingway has long been a favorite of mine, especially The Sun Also Rises, and I am really looking forward to this feminine take on Papa Hemingway.  The buzz about this one is fantastic, as it has received raves from crowd and critic alike.  I think Town & Country sums it up nicely:

“Told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a richly imagined portrait of bohemian 1920s Paris, and of American literature’s original bad boy.”



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