Category: Books

Review: Love You to a Pulp by CS DeWildt

Incredibly dark, violent, not infrequently disgusting tale of a glue-sniffing sort-of private eye in the backwoods of Kentucky hired by a man to find his daughter–but, well, this isn’t a book where plot matters much, though there is quite a bit of it. It is more a series of nightmarish, truly horrific scenes of sex, violence, suicide, being trapped underground, having your head bashed in or your arm ruined…and on and on. DeWildt writes well, which is why the book is compelling despite its oppressive darkness. The scenes shift between the present and the private eye’s deprived (and depraved) past, with a whore for a mother, forced to fight for money by his father like a pit bull or fighting cock, and his doomed love for a girl he meets in the woods. If you are repulsed by such things, you wouldn’t have read the review this far, so you might want to just dive right in. But there are better writers of this sort of stuff, such as Anthony Neil Smith, whose plotting is sharper, writing even more compelling, and characters more fleshed out. Also, while DeWildt’s book creates an impressive rural atmosphere, there is no real sense of place. It is supposed to be Kentucky, but it could be any left-behind part of America where primal passions are in charge.

Review: Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

This powerful set of short stories by an Argentinian writer deserves the hype it seems to be getting. These are original works that pull you (at least if you are an American reader) into a world that is like ours only on the surface. Beneath it lie the local traditions and superstitions that form the core of some of these stories. Even when the story seems to deal with more mundane male-female difficulties, Ms. Enriquez writes in a voice that leaves us wondering if the story may veer off into horror–or worse. Perhaps the best story in the book, “Adela’s House”, is definitely a horror story, but its grounding in reality, as told through a childhood experience, makes it much more effective and harder to forget. There are lots of other discoveries to make in these twelve stories. None are weak. Some are superb. I highly recommend it.

Why You Should Join LibraryThing!

As you can see from looking at this site, I’m a big fan of LibraryThing, which I honestly call the world’s greatest website. Perhaps it’s not good that I’m so obsessed with it. Since joining in May of 2008 I’ve catalogued all the books in my house, my ebooks, and other books I have read that I don’t own or have given away. I have also written reviews of every book I have read, as well as lots of older ones I had read before. I’m up to almost 1500 reviews.

There is another site you may be aware of called Goodreads, which is now owned by Amazon. Although I’m a great fan of Amazon, I am not a fan of Goodreads. First, it is just an ugly looking website. Where LibraryThing is elegant, a bit old-fashioned in its typography, Goodreads is just a slick, modern, boring site. I don’t get an ounce of pleasure from using it, although I am a member. On LibraryThing, I spend hours helping out as an amateur librarian, standardizing book titles, combining editions, combining authors (for instance an author who writes under several names), and generally making the site better for everyone. I am obsessive about making the cover of my book in LibraryThing match the cover on my actual copy (either physical or ebook). I have scanned in hundreds of covers myself.

So here’s my plea: ┬áIf you are a Goodreads user, please take a few minutes and step up to LibraryThing. A lifetime membership is just $25 and it will reward you many times over. I would also suggest getting lifetime memberships now for your kids. It will encourage them to read and give them a place to record their thoughts on a lifetime of books. I only regret that LibraryThing wasn’t around so many years ago when I would lie in bed before breakfast on Saturday morning reading my latest Hardy Boys adventure, back when they were real books; not the rewritten, shorter travesties they publish today.

Your membership(s) will help to support a site that is not part of some corporate conglomerate. You’ll have the chance to score free books from their monthly giveaway. And you’ll end up loving it as much as I do. You can start using it and catalog a few books without a membership, by the way.

LibraryThing is constantly improving. It will also let you catalog music and movies if you want to do that. I haven’t done so yet, but I’m sure I will. Please check it out.

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