Books Read in August

Onto another month of reading. Here are my thoughts.

Aliya Whiteley — The Beauty
Brian Evenson — Last Days
J.R.R. Tolkien — The Hobbit
Suzanne Collins — Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins — Mockingjay
Michael Wehunt — Greener Pastures
Michael Griffin — Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone
Cassandra Khaw — Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata #1)

Aliya Whiteley — The Beauty

The Beauty is a collection of two weird fiction novellas, “The Beauty” and “Peace, Pipe.”

The former a dystopian, gender-bending story a clan of men who discover yellow mushrooms growing from the graves of the women who passed on from the disease. The mushrooms become the women in another form, and soon the men aren’t men and the women aren’t only mushrooms.

The latter is story about a man whose in quarantine after a mistake he made with an Earth-like planet, and he speaks to a pipe in the wall that replies in a language he doesn’t know but eventually learns and who becomes his companion through the work he must do.

Basically, both stories are quite weird, but I really enjoyed both, “The Beauty” more so than “Peace, Pipe.” The book reminds me of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation series, and also Brain Evenson’s Song for the Unraveling of the World.

If you enjoy the Weird, pick this up.

Brian Evenson — Last Days

Last Days is about a retired, one-handed police officer who’s recruited (though more like kidnapped) to investigate a murder in a compound of cult-like amputees, who believe they become more God-like the more amputations they have.

In Evenson fashion, the setting is a bit weird, but that’s what I liked about it. It read like an old fashioned detective noir, with a twist of the uncanny. Though I’ve noticed in this book and Immobility, Evenson favors people with disabilities and comedic relief duo, though in neither story is the protagonist in a laughing matter situation.

I enjoyed Last Days, and I plan on continuing through the Evenson catalog.

J.R.R. Tolkien — The Hobbit

So much has already been said about this book, I’m not going to say much about it besides I wish I would’ve read this when I was younger, because I surely would’ve enjoyed it much more.

Suzanne Collins — Catching Fire

Like The Hobbit, so much has been said about this book that I’m not adding much to the pool. Overall, I liked it. It was fast-paced, entertaining, and kept me glued to the book until the last page. I look forward to Mockingjay.

Suzanne Collins — Mockingjay

Like Catching Fire, this’ll be short. I enjoyed Mockingjay, but not as much as Catching Fire or Hunger Games. It seemed that Collins wanted to wrap up the series quickly and although the ending was nice and tied all the loose ends, it felt rushed.

Michael Wehunt — Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures is Wehunt’s debut short story collection containing eleven stories all within the weird fiction/surrealism genre.

To be blunt: I don’t know how Wehunt’s work isn’t any more popular, or how he’s not a bigger name in the weird fiction/horror scene. His stories remind me a lot of Brian Evenson’s in Songs for the Unraveling the World and Michael Griffin’s in The Lure of Devouring Light/The Human Alchemy.

But, what makes it different is that his prose is so specific, so on-the-nose, like every word is perfectly chosen to describe moods and settings, and all the extra “fluff” that comes with some weird fiction/cosmic horror work wasn’t (purposely or naturally) included.

I really enjoyed this collection, despite a few stories took a bit longer to fully grasp (like “A Discreet Music”), and if you enjoy the Weird or surreal, definitely purchase this book.

Michael Griffin — Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone

Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone is a weird fiction novella about a newly divorced 50-something man who has to adjust to the bachelor life living with his friend in his boathouse, and who, soon meets a woman in the woods while he treks back to his car from fishing, and she brings about the change he believes he wants.

This is a re-read. I read this book back in 2017 when released, and I enjoyed it now as much as I did then. It’s psychological, medium-paced, and really digs deep into the psyche of a man who wants change, but has to learn how to accept change and not fall back into old patterns.

Although there is nothing bad about this book, I could really tell the improvements Griffin has made with his writing, if you compare this to his newer novella Armageddon House. His prose is tighter and more precise, and the feverish psychological unknown/madness more honed.

If you enjoy Griffin’s work or are a fan of he Weird, highly recommend this novella.

Cassandra Khaw — Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata #1)

Hammers on Bone is a Lovecraftian noir novella about a PI whose hired by a child to take out his abusive father, and without giving spoilers, it’s not an easy job and the PI ends up with the short stick out of the deal.

This is a re-read, again. I read this back in 2018, and have been meaning to pick up the sequel A Song For Quiet for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it. Overall, the novella is witty, gritty, and fast-paced. I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time I read it.

If you’re looking for Lovecraftian noir, absolutely purchase this.

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