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review 2017-09-19 01:21
The devil asks you to sign
The Crucible - Arthur Miller,Christopher Bigsby

When ruling is based, and made stringent, on fear of an outside opponent, and someone has the brilliant idea of escalating yet to marking a personal opponent as an outsider, and it catches.

 

Might be easier to stomach going in without knowing how the episode goes and likely part of the reason that one was picked: no way really. Because no sucker-punch surprise horror can surpass the terror of inevitability, of seeing the evil the pettiness, the hysterical fanaticism and envy wreaths, knowing all the while the devastation it lead to.

 

I'm a bit discomfited by the part women play on this, saints or demons with little true humanity, but as a whole, a masterful depiction that ages all too well for my ease of mind.

 

Giles Corey, the contentious, canny old man, takes the badass-crown with his memetic "More weight". He knew what it was all about, and everyone could keep their saintliness debate to themselves. With Proctor the sinner and Hale the naive believer, they make a nice triad.

 

 

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text 2017-09-17 18:17
Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 143 pages.
The Crucible - Arthur Miller,Christopher Bigsby

This is just starting, and the ugly is already showing loud and clear.

 

 

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review 2017-09-17 12:08
More banter, and I'd have been set
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

In a stark time-marches-on fashion, this one is very much a politically incorrect book all around. Since I don't mind that, I was enjoying it, but at some point around a third in, Nora stopped participating in dialogues and got relegated to audience surrogate, and I wasn't having as much fun.

 

I don't know that I was invested much in the mystery

I figured Wynant had to be dead, and someone was impersonating him for money. His not showing up anywhere was obvious pretty early.

(spoiler show)

but I have to confess I stayed for the train-wreck the characters are. As a rule, I avoid noir because it relies too much on drudgery, dialogue error and backtrack, and it bores me. Here, everyone is so messed up or downright insane I could get my jollies from their hijinks (sometimes horror inducing ones), and I coasted the whole book on this amused sense that I was reading a cast of grotesques caricatures.

 

Call me morbid, I had fun.

 

 

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review 2017-09-05 08:26
Magnificently Unnerving
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

By the way, I went looking into the publishing date, and in typical wiki walk style, ended up learning about the difference between horror and terror. I need a new shelf, because this one goes into the second without question.

 

Points I can praise without spoiling (much):

 

The way everyone chats and snarks, cool as cucumbers while all the shit is going down. At times it made me laugh, at times I would tilt my head and wonder whether everyone was just crazy, and at times I would go back a paragraph wondering if I had miss-read

 

about the freaking blood/writing/thumping.

(spoiler show)

 

The dialogue (again), and how it crosses, goes over each others lines, interrupts, repeats, mixes conversations. Very natural. And sometimes confusing. You have to be engaged, because it goes fast.

 

Eleanor's thought process. Yeah...

 

All the commentary on social interaction. Jackson is a scary observant woman.

 

"She knew, of course, that he was delighting in exceeding his authority, as though once he moved to unlock the gate he would lose the little temporary superiority he thought he had—and what superiority have I? she wondered; I am outside the gate, after all. She could already see that losing her temper, which she did rarely because she was so afraid of being ineffectual, would only turn him away, leaving her still outside the gate, railing futilely. She could even anticipate his innocence if he were reproved later for this arrogance—the maliciously vacant grin, the wide, blank eyes, the whining voice protesting that he would have let her in, he planned to let her in, but how could he be sure? He had his orders, didn’t he? And he had to do what he was told? He’d be the one to get in trouble, wouldn’t he, if he let in someone who wasn’t supposed to be inside?"

 

Not able to comment on without spoiling:

 

The deep uncertainty that comes from viewing this story from Eleanor's head. Was she just that deranged, lonely, needy and possibly in-denial-lesbian? Or was she not deranged (the other are more or less foregone) and the house gave her a last push? There is also the opening, that if I were take on the context of Eleanor's situation, could mean that when all her illusions and daydreams were ripped from her, she had no avenue left but suicide. She could not cope with her absolute reality.

(spoiler show)

 

At any rate, an excellently written spook.

 

“God God—whose hand was I holding?”

 

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review 2017-08-22 07:26
Brilliant mind spook
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

This is an unsettling book.

Ripley is a non-entity, whiny, unimpressive. A nobody, as Marge very insightfully observes in a letter. Which makes him eerie, and by all rights not a character we should wish to root for. Yet from the middle on, I found myself anxious over the instability of his position. That's some writing for you.

The other way the book is brilliant is the subtle, but steadily rising, feeling that Tom is... not right. Even from page one there is this undefinable wrongness. Then there is some point around a third in where all the exclamation progress-posts start, and I totally got it when I reached it. That's one scary, sick puppy.

Think about it: he's a fast stepper, but he's no genius, and he likes to take chances; but he's a cool cucumber, and can mimic to convince even himself. No one realizes. Translate it to the real world now.

It is the horror of the uncanny valley, made all the scarier because we understated the only reason we know it is that we are reading from the inside of his head. Cheery though for before bed, huh?

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