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Search tags: never-weird
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text 2018-05-31 15:25
Short Story Month Draws to a Close: Free Short Fiction
 

I kicked off Short Story Month by offering my short, "Mr. Tucker & Me," for free, and I am closing out Short Story Month by offering my short, "Mr. Tucker & Me," for free.

 

You can also still grab another of my shorts, "Tipping," (at no cost to you) at your favorite Amazon online store.

 

And, as always, my little ditty, "It Came From Hell and Smashed the Angels" is free to download just about anywhere you go.

 

My weird fairy tale, "I Will Tell You About Knoist," is FREEish, if you choose to sign up for my (spam-free) New Release Mailing List. But, if you don't want more e-mail, you can just go to the HorrorBabble YouTube channel and listen to an audio version of this story for FREE.

 

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review 2018-05-30 19:57
The Body Library - Jeff Noon
The Body Library - Jeff Noon

[...]a novel is a labyrinth; a labyrinth is a novel. That's a truth well hidden behind conventional narrative. But a certain kind of reader, we believed, would relish the challenge of this new book.

 

Well, Jeff Noon's The Body Library is by no means the most labyrinthine novel I've read, although it has a maze in form of a high-rise; nor is it the most challenging. It is, however, a satisfying genre-bender, offering a compelling mystery and some smart meta-discussion about stories and storytelling.

 

The year is 1959. After the events in A Man of Shadows, private eye John Nyquist has found shelter in the town of Storyville. Just like the name suggests, Storyville is a city made of many tales, supervised by the Narrative Council, which is situated at Kafka Court, because of course it is. Nyquists own story starts when he wakes up next to a dead man – a man he apparently has killed himself. The circumstances of this murder are quite mysterious, as the dead man has been the subject matter of Nyquist's latest investigation. Still confused, Nyquists begins to investigate the strange high-rise where he woke up and meets a woman, Zelda, a prostitute hired by the recently deceased. Soon both find themselves the target of other occupants. A man with a face of scars is looking for answers Nyquist can't give, a young boy is not as harmless as he seems, and something in the high-rise seems to be casting a spell. Nyquist and Zelda can get away, but lose all memory of what exactly happened to them. Soon after, Zelda winds up dead. It looks like suicide, but Nyquists suspects murder and pledges to find Zelda's killer. Meanwhile, the Narrative Council comes knocking and wants some information about a certain body in a certain high-rise... And that's really just the start of it.

 

Noon described The Body Library as an example of Avantgarde Pulp. It's a detective story in close embrace with the uncanny. I found it a more successful endeavour than it's predecessor. Nyquist second adventure is at the same time more and less classic noir, offering a stronger plot and stronger ties between plot and surrealism. Maybe it helped to finally have a sense of time: The events take place in an alternative 1959, something I didn't get from A Man of Shadows (it's possible I just missed it, but I don't think the year was ever mentioned in that book). The Body Library is also more Noonian (and if this isn't a word, it totally should be).

 

The hardboiled detective tropes are all in place, but convincingly executed: Nyquist is still the epitome of the noir private eye, taciturn, melancholy and into the ladies, and spends a good deal of the book being beaten up (and worse). But he gains some personality. His prime feature is his stubbornness: Once he's committed to a task, he just won't let go. Of course, a pulp story also needs a dame, some goons, an enigmatic femme who could be fatale. Star of the show is the city itself though, Storyville, where every life is a tale and every tale is alive, where the novelists spin stories and the taletellers deliver verbal accounts of adventures great and small, where whisper poets whisper and shadowy agencies specialise in erasure. In such a setting, it's no great surprise – and no spoiler – that the core of the mystery is a book, the titular The Body Library, and that its mystery is tied to avantgarde techniques of storytelling - like the cut-up technique, of which the title is just the first example.

 

Creating atmosphere and unforgettable pictures has always been Noon's strong suite, and here he delivers again. The Body Library is ripe with vivid images, from bodies crawling with words to glowing Alphabugs to pages seeping blood (here you can find a few pictures by Alex Storer inspired by this book. I think they complement it quite well). A story about stories is bound to become incredibly meta, and Noon uses this to great effect, too. He incorporates myths and legends and some nods to his older works; places wear the names of great writers and poets, the Narrative Council is a neat addition that Kafka would be proud of, and while seeing characters discussing their own fictionality is not entirely new, I find it always entertaining. And thus the book left me excited for whatever adventure Nyquist encounters next.

 

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text 2018-05-30 16:02
Short Story Month is Almost Over: FREE Shorts!

Short Story Month is drawing to a close, and I'm bidding it a fond farewell by offering up for free two shorts: "Tipping" and "Mr. Tucker & Me."



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review 2018-05-15 15:37
A Man of Shadows - Jeff Noon
A Man of Shadows (Nyquist Mystery) - Jeff Noon

A city of light, everlasting day, burning brightly before your eyes.

A city of unending night, vacant starlight twinkling in the black.

The dusk inbetween, reaching out with foggy fingers.

A man, a girl, a murderer, and time tick-tick-ticking away.

 

 

 

So, Jeff Noon is writing New Weird now. And it's weird, but Jeff Noon writing New Weird is decidedly less weird than Jeff Noon not writing New Weird. There's not one mention of Robos having sex with Dogs, for instance.

 

A Man of Shadows is almost all atmosphere, with very little story or character development getting in the way. Nyquist is the most generic of all generic noir detectives, strung along by circumstances, with hardly any agenda of his own. The girl, her father, the murderer, everybody else? Hardly there, shadows indeed. Events unfold slowly, ever so slowly, far too slowly to say if they make even the tinies lick of sense in the end. Probably not.

Now, Noon is very, very good at creating atmosphere. Dayzone, Nocturna, and the Dusk build the vivid background for some tremendous set-pieces. But I couldn't shake the feeling that I've read all of this already, and better. Not only in various works of noir and hard-boiled; Nyquist train-ride through the Dusk reads like something that Stephen King discarded from The Mist. And I haven't read much Miéville - I can't say how this here relates to The City and The City for instance; I've read enough to know that both books use the concept of „unseeing“, and enough to suspect Miélville outmatches Noon when it comes to combining atmosphere with an actual story.

 

A Man of Shadows isn't bad by any means; I just think it would work much better on screen than on page.

 

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review 2018-05-03 18:45
WALK THE SKY by Robert Swartwood & David B. Silva, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Walk the Sky - Robert Swartwood,David B. Silva,Matt Godfrey

 

WALK THE SKY is a nice little weird western tale that put me in mind of the work of Joe Lansdale. Which is another way of saying this story is a lot of fun!

 

We start off with George and Clay traveling by horseback and coming across a young boy who is on the verge of death. As events unfold, the reader learns the boy has narrowly escaped something in a nearby town, (DED!), a town in which George and Clay must stop for supplies. Soon after their arrival, all three end up in jail and are introduced to the mad reverend and his posse. Will they get out of jail? What does the crazy reverend want from them? Will anyone survive? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I loved the western aspects of this story as well as the bits of native American folklore which were woven in. It was nice to read something different than the same old, same old. Even though some popular western tropes can be found here, the authors seamlessly pulled them together with some unique and original storytelling, much as Joe Lansdale does in his westerns. The only thing missing was that oddball humor of Lansdale's, but this wasn't meant to be a funny tale.

 

I listened to this on audio and as always, Matt Godfrey brings it home with a compelling style that only brings honor to the writing.

 

WALK THE SKY is one of those rare pieces of work that successfully straddles genres and brings to the reader a fine sense of satisfaction at the conclusion. Recommended to any fans of westerns, weird westerns, and to horror fans alike!

 

*I received the audio of this book free of charge from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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