Sunday, July 07, 2019

Book reviews: DAMNED and DOOMED by Chuck Palahniuk

(FOOTNOTE: These reviews previously appeared in my Instagram feed.)


1. DAMNED (2011) by Chuck Palahniuk

What the hell is it about "Hell" that has attracted so many poets, writers and artists for thousands of years? (Dante, Hieronymus Bosch, Sartre to name a very few...)
Perhaps it's misanthropy, or guilt, or a mix of both - I don't know...

Anyhow... In the black comedy DAMNED, Palahniuk throws a teenage girl into Hell. She's forced to work in a telemarketing call center to torment the living.
(Well OF COURSE telemarketing is based in Hell. No sane person would argue with that.) Our heroine eventually decides that Hell isn't nice (she's right) and starts a rebellion against Satan.

The novel ends with "To Be Continued..." and there's a sequel, DOOMED, which is reviewed below.

I think this book is obscene, tasteless and thoroughly unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15. It also made me laugh a lot. Perhaps I have bad taste. Also, the plucky heroine and her band of rebels are sympathetic characters - especially the British punk rocker.




2. DOOMED (2013) by Chuck Palahniuk.

At the risk of spoiling the plot: DOOMED is what Neil Gaiman's GOOD OMENS would've read like if it were written by Chuck Palahniuk (the author of FIGHT CLUB).

This is a sequel to the novel DAMNED (which has been reviewed elsewhere in this feed).

The protagonist, who died and went to Hell in the previous book, is now back on Earth as a ghost. She must stop the nefarious plot of Satan... but of course it's not quite that clear-cut and simplistic. Things get weird, confused and icky.

I laughed out loud several times while reading DOOMED. I also squirmed as many times. You have to be aware that Palahniuk almost always tries to make the reader both laugh and feel very uncomfortable.

DOOMED won't make much sense unless you've read DAMNED first. And it's definitely not for everyone. Recommended for Palahniuk fans... and people who haven't forgotten what satire really means in these strange times.







#chuckpalahniuk #damned #doomed #bookstagram #fantasy #horror #satire #bookreview #bookreviews #bookbloggers #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammer #books #book #literature #novels #novel #hell #satan #damnation #afterlife


Friday, July 05, 2019

5 sätt att hjälpa en författare


Det har sagts förut, men tål att sägas igen.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Recension av REX OMEGA på Instagram

Bokbloggaren i_min_bokhylla har postat en väldigt positiv recension av min nya roman REX OMEGA.

Läs recensionen HÄR.

REX OMEGA finns på biblioteket och i de flesta nätbokhandlar.

Book review: THE LEGION OF TIME by Jack Williamson


THE LEGION OF TIME (1938 magazine serial; first book publication in 1952) by Jack Williamson.

This is the kind of pulp-magazine sci-fi that inspired today's blockbuster movies: Fast-paced adventure with nonstop action, flat characters, a dash of romance, imaginative settings, plus one "Big Idea" as the motor of the plot.

The plot could be summarized as "The Magnificent Seven in a time machine." The idea of a legion fighting across time has cropped up in pop culture now and then, but THE LEGION OF TIME is the granddaddy of them all - it originally appeared as a 1930s magazine serial in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION.

Author Jack Williamson used the (then) fresh and unexplored theme of quantum mechanics, and came up with a truly original plot: There are two competing alternate futures, fighting each other by trying to alter the past. This being pulp fiction, one future is Good and the other one Evil.

The "good" future gathers a crack team of scientists and soldiers from the past,
with the American protagonist as its leader - the "legion" of the title - to help find the "hinge point" in history that determines which future will come true...

It's a fantastic idea, but it's squeezed into a pulp serial that was obviously written very quickly. The book contains far too much fighting at the expense of plot, character development and depth.

Though Williamson had talent, this short novel will seem overly simplistic to modern readers - like a very violent YA book, with outdated gender roles and crude ethnic stereotyping.

I recommend THE LEGION OF TIME for three reasons. One: It's got a great idea that could have been used better. Two: aspiring writers should study it to learn what works and what doesn't work today.

And the third reason: THE LEGION OF TIME is an escapist adventure and it does "carry the reader away" by its sheer momentum... and "Sense of Wonder."


I think there ought to be more escapist adventure fiction for present-day readers, and perhaps this book could teach young writers how to create such stories.

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Monday, July 01, 2019

Book review: THE DEVIL'S PARTY by Colin Wilson

THE DEVIL'S PARTY (2000) by Colin Wilson.

Well, this book left me underwhelmed.

When it comes to gruesome accounts of insane, violent cult leaders, brazenly dishonest charlatans and mass delusions, THE DEVIL'S PARTY delivers - in spades. Wilson writes in a plain, lucid prose about the rise and fall of Messianic cults - some of which you probably have come across in the news.

But when he tries to explain why and how these cult leaders gained such fanatical followings, and why the cults often ended in self-destructive violence, my skepticism starts tingling...

Wilson's explanations flirt with pseudoscience and mysticism. He finishes the book with grandiose claims about the hidden powers of the "unconscious mind" and comes off almost - but not quite - as one of the charlatans he describes in his own book.

Also, he promises to explain the psychology of cult followers but fails to do so. That's my biggest disappointment, because there's a mystery that really needs explaining.


The "big idea" of THE DEVIL'S PARTY is that you don't have to be crazy to become a cult leader, just insecure - and once people start worshipping you as a Messiah, this will drive you paranoid and crazy. (Well, duh.) Which is a perfectly reasonable argument, supported by evidence - but instead of delving deeper into this and using evidence, he goes off on an unrelated tangent about "untapped" mental powers that really isn't justified in the context of the book.

Recommended? Not really. If you want to read up on Messianic cults, there are plenty of other books.

FUN FACT: Colin Wilson also wrote the novel THE SPACE VAMPIRES, which was filmed as LIFE FORCE (1985) - a glorious mess of a movie.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookbloggers #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammer #books #literature #colinwilson #cults #davidkoresh #waco #cult #jimjones #charlesmanson #thedevilsparty

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Book review: THE SIBLING SOCIETY by Robert Bly

THE SIBLING SOCIETY (1996) by Robert Bly

From time to time, the matter of "masculinity" becomes a public debate. What does it mean to "be a man?" How does a man earn his adulthood? Should society change its demands on men? There will never be an end to this discussion.

In the 1990s, Robert Bly gained enormous attention with his book IRON JOHN, where he tried to give "modern" men a myth, or story, to help them figure out the mental growth and change they needed to develop a mature sense of self.

Bly is a poet, not a social scientist.
His approach is that myth, ritual and story are tools to instruct young men on a quasi-unconscious level. There's a whiff of "New Age" thinking about this, but I take his argument seriously: We need these tools.

In the book THE SIBLING SOCIETY, Bly further develops the theme of "reaching mental maturity." He is worried that modern Western society has not only lost the "rites of passage" that instruct young men that they must stop being kids - it's actively encouraging men to never grow up, leading to stunted development and unhappiness.
 

Note: Bly is not the reactionary you might expect. He clearly accuses commercial interests for denigrating the value of maturity and "infantilizing" men. (For example, he means that Western movies are a prime example of glorifying immature males.)

Recommended as "food for thought" rather than as a cure-all.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #robertbly #thesiblingsociety #mensissues #menshealth #masculinity #mythopoetic

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Book review: HANDLING THE UNDEAD (Hanteringen av odöda) by John Ajvide Lindqvist

HANDLING THE UNDEAD (2009) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
(Original Swedish title: HANTERINGEN AV ODÖDA (2005).)

John Ajvide Lindqvist became a bestseller writer with his horror novel LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (a book so creepy I could barely finish it - and I mean that as a compliment!).

HANDLING THE UNDEAD was released after that monster hit (pun intended), so naturally expectations were high.
 

And it may not be bestseller material, but I really appreciate that Lindqvist did not try to repeat himself. The "undead" of the story are neither zombies nor ghosts. The story is not really about them, but about the living - about how we grieve and/or fear the dead, and how society tries (unsuccessfully) to control that grief and fear.


There is also an element of dark satire, when the Swedish "cradle-to-grave" welfare society tries to treat the undead as just another "social problem"... with unforeseen and ghastly results. (A "cradle-to-beyond-the-grave" society, if you wish...)

I think this novel is good. In places, it's even great. However, HANDLING THE UNDEAD comes just short of greatness. It seems to run out of steam towards the end, and the conclusion feels somewhat rushed.


It's creepy for sure, and refreshingly original, but... perhaps it could have offered a little more.
Recommended for readers of horror and weird fiction.

#bookstagram #bokstagram #johnajvidelindqvist #handlingtheundead #hanteringenavodöda #horror #urbanfantasy #ghoststories #skräck #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover