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2.15.2011

A Few Quick Thoughts...

I just finished reading The End of the World, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, and The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010, edited by Paula Guran. The books share at least a couple of commonalities: both are excellent values ($12.95 for the former; $19.95 for the latter), and both need a thorough copy editing. Almost every story in either text has a typo or two, and many stories are simply riddled with them. These small mistakes don't diminish the impact of the stories, but they do present minor annoyances and I'm a little surprised that so many made it through in these professional publications.

Greenberg's anthology is divided into five sections, each dealing with different aspects of the apocalypse. The stories represent a solid cross section of 20th Century interpretations on the end of the world, with a couple inclusions dating from the 1940s and 1950s. There's only a single entry, however, by a female writer (a good story by Nancy Kress). That's a bit disconcerting, as I enjoy the different perspectives on the subject that are shared by writers from either gender. I passed over a few tales, but on the whole I liked it and would recommend it at that price (Skyhorse Publishing).

Guran's anthology is a titanic effort. It includes dozens of stories and checks in at almost 600 pages, much of it excellent fiction. The editor's endnotes were illuminating and the stories seemed to build toward the macabre finish, Michael Marshall Smith's haunting "What Happens When You Wake Up In the Night." I liked Kurt Dinan's "Nub Hut" very much (excellent, chilling short look at the dangers of isolation and esoterism), Joe Lansdale's "Torn Away," John Mantooth's "The Water Tower," Gemma Files's "The Jacaranda Smile," Ramsey Campbell's "Respects" and "The Crevasse," by Dale Bailey and Nathan Balingrud, as well. The best tale in this bunch is the Stoker-winning "In the Porches of My Ears," by Norman Prentiss. It's a tender, sorrowful dip into voyeurism, a story that dashes reader expectations in the last 100 words to dizzying narrative effect. This, despite the errors in copy editing, is a shelf tome--you'll find yourself dog-earing it long down the road, I think--recommended...

The Rite (2011) is a pretty pedestrian horror film, and an average analysis of faith. It's a nicely shot film that trots out a laundry list of cliches (young priest with a crisis of faith needs to discover himself in time for the greatest fight of his life, being the largest) and includes a few tense moments, though no real anxiety. It's my first time seeing Colin O'Donoghue (he looks just like Jake Gyllenhall). Basically, he makes one facial expression (pained) until the final act, when he busts out with a little emotion. He's severely overmatched in a few contained scenes with Sir Anthony Hopkins (Father Lucas Trevant), whose skin changes color like a chameleon. Who knew demons preferred blue? Hopkins is good, not great, but it's a delight to see him changing voice tones late in the film and prancing around his Rome cottage. It's a pretty good Saturday night pizza flick (although I know my wife will fall right asleep during it--it's one I went to by myself on a Friday matinee), but that's about it. C/C-...

I'm re-reading Boy's Life for the third time, and I'm always amazed by the story's first thirty pages. The pacing and the ability to sketch time and place and build character--this is expert storytelling at work here. Love Robert McCammon's work!

2 comments:

Aaron Polson said...

I loved "The Crevasse" when I first read it in Lovecraft Unbound. A real chiller. Too bad about the typos...seems to be all to common these days.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Morning Aaron,

Yeah, I've been noticing them in increasing amounts myself. The Florida Times-Union is pretty bad with stuff like that. That, to me, is pretty inexcusable.

For some reason, I always hold journalists to a higher standard. I know what the fiction writers are trying to say, and I give them the benefit of the doubt that something just slipped through. But with the paper? I think that sucker should be pretty danged clean!

Typos don't bug me too much with fiction, but when there are loads of them, it can become a little distracting.

Congrats on the recent acceptances!