Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Tale of two Shakespeares...ANOTHER CONTEST!!!

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of...

Cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for dough, Willie agrees to deliver a single giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, making himself an unwitting target in Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen years old and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard's life is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome... This, at a time when adherents of the "Old Faith" are being hanged, drawn, and quartered as traitors.

Seemingly separated in time and place, the lives of Willie and William begin to intersect in curious ways, from harrowing encounters with the law (and a few ex-girlfriends) to dubious experiments with mind-altering substances. Their misadventures could be dismissed as youthful folly. But wise or foolish, the bold choices they make will shape not only the 'Shakespeare' each is destined to become... but the very course of history itself.

Sex, drugs, and Shakespeare? Sounds like my kinda book!

I'm giving away five (5) copies of My Name Is Will, courtesy of Hatchette Book Group. To enter, just leave a comment with your email address or another way of reaching you. For an extra entry, mention your favorite Shakespeare play or novel about the Bard. You can also mention a movie about Shakespeare if you must, but that will only count for half an extra entry. *ha ha just kidding* As usual, no p.o. boxes, and your address has to be in the U.S. or Canada. Drawing will be on July 6.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death-a Review

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston. If you enjoy pulp crime fiction, you simply must read this one!

When I finished it last night I knew it was really special, almost genius. It might be pulpy noir, filled with characters like the protagonist, a loser who gets a job cleaning up after violent death for a living and gets involved in tawdry affairs with low-lifes, but it is brilliant. I actually enjoyed this one more than the ones about Joe Pitt, Vampire detective (no vamps were in THIS novel, except maybe the human kind who prey on emo).

Anyway, after I got used to the style (no quotation marks for dialogue, instead a hyphen just before the dialogue; broken sentences, like real life conversations), I could hardly bear put it down.

And the characters! Chev, L.L., Theodora, Dingbang (-BANG! IT'S BANG!), Po Sin, Gabe, Jaime, not to mention the almost unbearably antagonistic protagonist Web! Memorable, funny, tragic, all too human and real, like a fist to the gut or a brush of fingertips against the nape of the neck. Huston's writing is sharp, hard, but lyrical, almost poetic.

I wish I could write like him.

Highly recommended.

Edited to add a caveat: There are a LOT of four-letter words in this novel. Also gore and bodily fluids of one kind or another. Also some sex. If you are easily offended, you might want to pass this one up.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Graveyard Book - a Review

Okay, so I started listening to The Graveyard Book on audio, read by the author, yesterday afternoon. I was planning to listen to it for a couple of hours, then stop while I did a few hours of weekend chores, then read one of the three paper books I have on hand before going to bed at a reasonable hour.

It never happened.

Instead, I was enthralled by The Graveyard Book and found I simply could not turn it off. So I did a couple of chores with iPod in hand and earphones on, then stayed up until way past midnight to finish it. When it ended, my first thought was, "I can see why it won that award!" My second thought, that it was over too soon, brought a moment of regret until I remembered it was on my iPod so I could listen to it again (and again and again).

The story opens as a man called Jack, having broken into a house and murdered the man, woman, and little girl who live there, climbs the stairs to the top floor nursery to finish off the job by killing the baby. The baby, whose given name we never learn, is a very precocious 18-month old boy who, having been awakened by a strange sound in the night, has already climbed out of his crib, bumped his way down the stairs, and gone outside to explore the night through the door Jack left open. The baby crawls up the hill to an ancient graveyard, followed closely by the knife-wielding murderer. There, he is taken in by the ghosts of Mister and Mistress Owen, as well as the ghosts of those buried there, along with a mysterious man named Silas who vows to become the child's guardian and protect him.

I loved the story, the characters, the fascinating worlds of the graveyard and beyond, and the voice of Gaiman as he told about Nobody Owens (called Bod) and his strange "family" of ghosts and goblins and other strange creatures. Providing as footnotes the dates of birth and death and epitaph of the ghosts as they were introduced was, strangely enough, a charming touch. It was funny, poignant, scary, and exciting in turn, delivered up by the clever pen of one of the most deservedly popular authors around today.

Highly recommended!