November 29, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Nine

Day Twenty Nine: Black Christmas, Lee Hays.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking horror classic which has enjoyed an incredible resurgence over the past fifteen years or so. A few years ago I was shocked to find this novelization on eBay. 

It's a very short read and is based on the original screenplay so certain scenes are slightly different. There is some expanded character development and some brief perspective from Billy's point of view! It's about that time of year again for a visit to the Kappa Gamma house.

This book is pretty hard to find, but it appears on eBay every now and then.

November 28, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Eight

Day Twenty Eight: Duel: Terror Stories by Richard Matheson.

Quite possibly my favorite author. This is a great collection of some of his short stories, but honestly, every compendium of his stories are great. 

This one contains "Duel" and my favorite, "Trespass", which was also made into a TV movie called The Stranger Within. As I've mentioned several times with these authors, go ahead and read everything they've written.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 27, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Seven

Day Twenty Seven: House of Stairs, William Sleator.

Five kids find themselves trapped in a bizarre environment: a world made up entirely of flights of stairs, forming an incomprehensible labyrinth. The kids are forced to interact for survival. 

Amazing young adult sci-fi by one of the best, most creative authors, the late William Sleator. The book reminded me of the 1997 film, Cube.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 26, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Six

Day Twenty Six: Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Raymond Carver.

Another one of my top favorite authors. His stories really get my mind reeling - I love the open-ended, often ambiguous narratives. Humdrum people doing humdrum things that often open up into strange situations.

"Neighbors" and "Are You a Doctor?" are absolutely amazing.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 25, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Four and Twenty Five

Day Twenty Four: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Laird Koenig.

Some people might not realize that the cult 1976 film starring Jodie Foster was based on a novel. The film is incredibly faithful. A spooky, morose and, at times, touching thriller filled with mysteries and features the fantastic, brave character named Rynn - a real survivor.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

Day Twenty Five: Beast in View, Margaret Millar.

This 1955 thriller was reissued with a TERRIBLE cover, but don't let that prevent you from picking up this fascinating and tricky mystery. 

The less known going into this, the better.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 23, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Three

Day Twenty Three: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.

One of my top five favorite authors. This collection is a great introduction to the world of Lovecraft.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth was my first taste of his writing and I never turned back. He's another author that you should seek out and read every single word of their writing. So many incredible images!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 22, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty Two

Day Twenty Two: The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin.

I was obsessed with this book in elementary school despite the fact that I was completely perplexed by it. It wasn't until middle school that I finally began to understand the puzzles and comprehend the overwhelming mix of oddball characters. 

A truly one-of-a-kind book for kids who are looking for something completely different.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 21, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty One

Day Twenty One: My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles.

This anthology contains the amazing novella, Two Serious Ladies, which is another John Waters recommendation. 

It's a really funny, witty and odd chronicle of two women who embark on separate adventures where they basically discover the joys of "slumming". Features lots of incredible dialogue, for example - "I have gone to pieces, which is a thing I've wanted to do for years."

Copies can be found on Amazon.

A fascinating article on Jane Bowles can be read here.

November 20, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twenty

Day Twenty: The House with a Clock in Its Walls, John Bellairs.

An early entry point into my lifelong obsession with everything gothic, supernatural and horror-themed. I love the world and characters that Bellairs created - loveable old warlocks, grouchy villains and totally spooky situations made me a huge fan. 

His books also introduced me to the work of one of my favorite illustrators: Edward Gorey

Perfect reading for these cold temperatures!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 19, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Nineteen

Day Nineteen: Fancies and Goodnights, John Collier.

My definition of a novel is getting a bit loose but I have to recommend this terrific collection of bizarre short stories. His odd sense of humor and darkly comic stories have been adapted into Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes, so that should be an indication of what to expect.

"Evening Primrose" is the first story I read of his and I instantly fell in love. You will, too! 

Fun fact: Seek out the LP recording of Vincent Price reading two of Collier's stories, including "Primrose". The perfect combination!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 18, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Eighteen

Day Eighteen: Bad Ronald, Jack Vance.

If you've seen the famous 1974 TV movie, be sure to seek out the original novel which is considerably darker and more perverse. Ronald's dream world is explored in more detail, as well. 

The premise and ideas felt so inherently 1970s that I was really surprised to find out that the original copyright was 1955! 

The book is incredibly rare and expensive, but Kindle copies are available on Amazon, which is how I read it and explains why I don't have an actual copy of the book to photograph!

November 17, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Seventeen

Day Seventeen: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, Chris Van Allsburg.

Again, not a novel but this incredible enigma of a book will change your life and make your imagination explode. 

Sort of the Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Stills of children's books. 

"Under the Rug" is my favorite!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 16, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Sixteen

Day Sixteen: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe.

The only known novel by Poe, this epic seafaring adventure is a witches' brew of adventure, horror and, at times, surrealism. 

A bit of a difficult read, but well worth the effort. The sequence with the "death ship" is amazing.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 15, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen

Day Thirteen: Playmates, Andrew Neiderman.

Fun thriller about a woman and her daughter who are taken prisoner by a kooky backwoods family.

Some really suspenseful moments. This was made into a lame movie with Burt Reynolds and Angie Dickinson called The Maddening (don't get too excited, it's pretty bad). 

This book was even reprinted with that title, so pick it up if you see it!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

Day Fourteen: The Mystery of Chimney Rock, Edward Packard.

Ok, so it's not an actual novel...leave me alone. This book changed my life as a kid and kickstarted my love for reading. It also served as a catalyst for my overactive imagination. 

The story has terrific atmosphere with memorable and creepy endings. You'll never forget Melissa the cat! 

Copies can be found on Amazon.

Day Fifteen: The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin.

I don't need to give a synopsis for this one since the story and title are now so ingrained in popular culture. 

One of my top favorite authors - you need to read every single thing he's ever written. 

He is truly missed.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 12, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Twelve

Day Twelve: Tales from Jabba's Palace, edited by Kevin J. Anderson.

An unusual recommendation for sure, but if you are a Jabba the Hutt freak like me, you will absolutely love this collection of short stories.

Each story is devoted to a memorable (sometimes obscure) character but each tale is linked to a larger narrative...a murder mystery! A really fun book.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 11, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Eleven

Day Eleven: Teddy, John Gault.

This is the novelization of the brain-damaged movie, The Pit. If the movie had turned out as amazing as the book, it would have won awards. 

A lot darker in tone and includes more scenes involving the evil Teddy. The crown jewel of my collection.

This book seems almost impossible to find. I was lucky and found it at a used bookstore here in Atlanta. Keep your eyes peeled!

November 10, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Ten

Day Ten: A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole.

An incredibly funny book that chronicles the adventures of snooty slob, Ignatius J. Reilly. 

It features a veritable circus of oddball characters and situations. It's no surprise that studios have been attempting a film version for decades.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 9, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Seven, Eight and Nine

Day 7: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Horace McCoy.

A bleak slice of life tale of desperate people in a desperate time. It can be viewed as either a depressing and terse character study or as an existential nightmare. 

This was made into an incredible and unforgettable movie in 1969.

Copies can be found on Amazon

Day Eight: Jaws 2, Hank Searls.

Fascinating sequel that is completely different than the film and features an interesting point of view from the shark's perspective. Solid and suspenseful. Don't pass this one up. 

Copies can be found everywhere.

Day Nine: The Tall Dark Man, Anne Chamberlain.

Fun thriller about a bratty little girl who is notorious for telling lies. She witnesses a murder and no one believes her. Now the guy is after HER. This is kind of like what Rear Window starring Taffy Davenport might be like.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 6, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Six

Day 6: Branded Woman, Wade Miller.

A fun, pulp thriller told from a unique female perspective. You won't soon forget Cay Morgan! 

Lots of lush atmosphere and twisty plot turns. I'm shocked that a film version was never attempted. It seemed tailor-made for hard-boiled actresses like Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck or Lizabeth Scott. 

Available from the fine folks at Hard Case Crime.

November 5, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Five

Day 5: The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut.

I was a late bloomer with reading Vonnegut, but between Welcome to the Monkey House and this book I became an instant super fan. 

I'm not even going to attempt to describe the surreal plot but Vonnegut has that special knack of making abstract concepts accessible and entertaining. I'm sure if you are a fan of reading it's unnecessary to sell you on the rewards of his work!

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 4, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Four

Day 4: Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff, William Inge.

Found out about this incredibly filthy book from John Waters. My jaw was on the floor throughout the entire duration of this lurid journey of a frustrated school teacher and her discovery of her sexual "self". You will never look at a radiator the same way again.

A film was made of the book in 1979.

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 3, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Three

Day 3: The Deep, Peter Benchley.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this adventure tale of sunken treasure, drug lords, scuba diving and moray eels. I couldn't put it down! 

Much better than the film, obviously.

Copies can be found at any used bookstore.

November 2, 2014

Novel-ember: Day Two

Day 2: Rendezvous in Black, Cornell Woolrich.

One of my top five favorite authors. This story is sort of the male version of Woolrich's The Bride Wore Black. A man goes on a mission of revenge against the men who accidently killed his fiancĂ©e. His plan in doing this is incredibly extreme. I won't spoil it! 

You should read everything that this man has written. 

Copies can be found on Amazon.

November 1, 2014

Novel-ember: Day One

I'm starting a new daily series entitled Novel-ember. Every day this month I will post a favorite fiction book from my collection.

Day 1: Crawlspace, Herbert Lieberman.

One of my top favorites. An elderly couple find a man living under their house. They wind up adopting him as a sort-of surrogate son. Fascinating, touching and chilling.

A TV movie was made in 1972 that is pretty faithful to the material.

Copies can be found in most any used bookstore and in various formats on Amazon.