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review 2018-07-17 02:35
An American Killing ★☆☆☆☆
An American Killing - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Ugh. It started off so well. The characters seemed interesting and the writing was okay and I was curious to know more about the powerful politician found dead in an apparently accidental case of autoerotic asphyxiation, but maybe was murdered instead. Then it all went to heck on page 18, when the first person narrator suddenly began swinging between present tense and past tense, the story became clogged with celebrity name-dropping, and it became painfully obvious that the author was drawing so heavily on the Ann Rule/Ted Bundy story that it completely kicked me out of the story. I did power through to page 50, but there’s no way I could bring myself to finish the book.

 

DNF on page 50. Hardcover, purchased years ago on a whim from a clearance table at a big box bookstore that has long since gone out of business.

 

Previous Updates:

7/15/18 – 15/368 pg

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text 2018-07-16 03:43
at 100 pages, hmmmm
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike

I thought I'd try something by Mr. Updike that wasn't Rabbit Angstrom-y.

 

This is the single worst writing from women's point of view that I've ever encountered. These women are the least believable I've ever encountered, and I've read some really bad books. I understand these witches are fantasy, but I can't believe witches would be so ridiculous. Nor can I imagine grown women who complain about getting their periods for a full five (5) days! Or women who think the way these "women" do about their bodies. Men, apparently, believe women are nothing but our bodies and our relationships to men. He gives them interesting professions, then he reduces them to insipid caricatures. 

 

Dear Male Writers - Woman Have Breasts and Vaginas. I'm going to write a book where the man's balls are all I talk about if I run into this again. Shockingly, our bodies and fear of aging are not the only thing we ever think about.

 

Argh. I'm very tempted to stop reading this. It's making me irritable. 

 

However, now the man has entered the picture, so I may try to continue, since I'm almost a third of a way through. But not tonight. I need some female comedy -- on to Netflix!

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text 2018-07-15 15:09
An American Killing - 15/368 pg
An American Killing - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

A serious writer like me gains notoriety when her books are made into successful movies with A-list stars, the same way nonserious writers gain notoriety. 

 

This book is off to a good start, in spite of the setting. I don't usually care for national politics/intrigue kinds of stories, but I think that's just going to be the stage for a murder mystery thriller. The main character is sort of fun, an unlikeable cynic for whom every human interaction is a self-centered negotiation. 

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review 2018-07-10 03:26
Ghostland - where we all live
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

Disclosure:  I accessed this book through my local public library's digital collection.  I do not know the author nor have I ever communicated with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of romance fiction and assorted non-fiction.

 

 

I truly enjoyed this book, and found the author's perspective both interesting and ultimately respectful of believers and skeptics alike.

 

It would be impossible, of course, for a single volume to catalogue all the thousands, perhaps millions, of alleged hauntings in this country.  Dickey can probably be accused with some justification of cherry-picking the examples he used to best illustrate his theories: among them that whether ghosts -- as the more or less embodied spirits of the dead -- are real or not, we need them.  And so we would have created them anyway even if they weren't real.

 

The aspect of the book that fascinated me the most was the way he deconstructed some of the most well-known and even well-documented hauntings, as evidence that it's in the creation of a ghostly narrative that fits what we collectively as a culture want the haunting to be that it comes alive, pun of course intended.

 

Because I'm not a fan of horror fiction -- it's all I can do to get through the least horrific Lovecraft for Halloween Bingo -- I can't say if the creation of a fictional haunting narrative follows that theory.  I do, however, think it applies to the gothic romance.  The haunting, the ghostly presence, has to integrate with the living characters in an organic way for the two stories to work with each other.

 

Recommended!

 

 

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text 2018-07-09 22:05
Reading progress update: I've read 253 out of 401 pages.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

This is proving to be one of those books that brings together a lot of old friends.  There are references to James W. Loewen and Frederic Jameson and Walter Benjamin.

 

Loewen, of course, is contemporary and accessible.  I can't recommend enough his Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America.

 

Jameson is less accessible, but then he is a theorist more than a commentator, imho.

 

Even before Dickey mentioned Walter Benjamin, I distinctly felt his influence -- his spirit? -- from The Arcades Project, a good portion of which I read in grad school.  I still have his Reflections, one of the texts for that particular (and particularly annoying) class, because the texts were far better than the instructor.  (Yes, I'm lookin' at you, Arthur Sabatini.)

 

I've reached the part in Ghostland that deals with haunted cities, and it's almost impossible not to have a slideshow of abandoned Detroit buildings running through my imagination.

 

 

 

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