Sunday, March 02, 2014

Savage Harvest

Michael Rockefeller disappeared, and was presumable killed, in  New Guinea in 1961. The official cause of death was drowning (or possibly being consumed by sharks or crocodiles). Unofficially, many people have speculated that he was actually killed and eaten by a  cannibalistic headhunting people called the Asmat. In Savage Harvest, Carl Hoffman travels to New Guinea to investigate the matter.

As this was an event that happened over 50 years ago in what is essentially a swamp among close-mouthed and (in the 60s) fairly primitive people, it should come as little surprise that Hoffman didn't manage to find any definitive proof. He does however dig up some fairly substantial circumstantial evidence. This includes documents from the Dutch government (who ruled the area at the time of the disappearance)  and a fair amount of information on the culture and religion of the Asmat.

For readers who are interested in odd history, the grotesque, and foreign people, this is a book that's well worth reading.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Simon Iff Stories & Other Works

Since I'm trying to do reviews more often, it's time for another one. This time, it's Simon Iff Stories and Other Works by Aleister Crowley. I found it surprisingly enjoyable.

The Simon Iff stories are mysteries, which to be honest reminded me of nothing so much as G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories.Don't get me wrong, Iff and Brown are to very different characters with very different worldviews. However, both of their methods of deduction revolve around am understanding of the darkness of the human soul more than any clue hunting.

There are some problems with the stories. "An Old Head on Young Shoulders" just left me confused. "Not Good Enough" was one of the most racist stories I've ever read. Despite this, I found the collection interesting.

The "and Other Works" from the title is a collection of stories called Golden Twigs based off of Frazer's Golden Bough. I probably would have enjoyed them more if I'd actually read Frazer's book. They aren't bad, but I didn't like them as much as the Iff stories. Still the book is worth getting just for the Simon Iff stories.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Abberant

I really want to try to update this blog more often, so I'm going to do something I normally wouldn't--review a book that will probably get me into trouble. No, I don't think reviewing Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Aberrant is going to cause NSA thugs to kick my door down, but there is a strong chance that it will lead to my being harassed.

I'm not going to mention this person by name, because he may be an odious, little troll, but he does know how to find mentions of his name on the Internet.  I will mention that he runs "Lake Fossil Press"--hence the title of this anthology.  You can find his name by googling his press, and you can find anything you want about him by googling his name.

If you've done that, you've probably discovered that this"writer" and "editor" can't write or edit worth shit. He also likes to harass people. In this anthology, a lot of the people he harasses have gotten together to show that they can write better than him, put together a better anthology than he can, and sell more copies of their book than he's sold of all his books put together.

In doing so, they have put together a pretty good anthology. There are quite a few stories with thinly veiled versions of the troll in them.  My absolute favorite of those stories, and probably the anthology in general, was “Apartment B,” by Stinky Cat, which had me laughing out loud the whole time I was reading it. Jerrod Balzer's “Nat Poopcone vs. the Beast of Fossil Lake” was also very funny and weird. “What’s Your Beef?” by Mark Orr was also a good story of this type, though less of a humor story and more a tale of a gruesome demise.

Besides the stories with parodies of the troll, there are also quite a few regular works as well. There are two extracts from longer Ramsey Campbell works, which I now want to read. There is a cool weird fiction piece called “The Ziggurat of Skulls” by Joshua Dobson. There's a good fantasy story called “The Dank” by Doug Blakeslee. There are quite a few horror stores--too many to mention, really.

Overall, this is a good, diverse collection. It's well worth shelling out $2.99 to get this on your ereader.