Reviews: 1/22-1/28

The Black Painting
by Neil Olson

I really enjoyed this book. It starts with a body, which is always the best way to start a book. The main mystery, however, is locating the missing painting that seems to cause death and destruction whenever it’s seen. We follow two characters: Teresa, a granddaughter of the deceased; and Dave, the private investigator who investigated the theft of the painting years before.

It’s a very subtle book, with general unease filling it out instead of thrills a minute, but it’s a book that keeps you reading and wanting to read it until the end. Definitely recommended.

Adulthood is a Myth
by Sarah Andersen

A collection of comics from “Sarah’s Scribbles” that deals with adulthood, people, and not wanting anything to do with either of those things. The comics are short and pithy and will definitely make you laugh. (My personal favorite was one with her cat being, well, less than protective.)

Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language
by Emma Byrne

I fucking love this book. It’s a really fascinating study into what makes us swear, how we swear, and why we swear. It’s also a very quick read. The author mostly talks about British English, which has far more varied swears than we have in American English (thanks, Protestant Puritan values!), but does talk about AE, too. Note: there’s an amazing little side note description of the differences between a tosser, a wanker, and a twat that is highly valuable and should be remembered for everyday use.

The book covers the social aspects of swearing, the neurological aspects of swearing, a brief chapter on Tourette’s Syndrome (in a chapter called, Why This Shouldn’t Be a Chapter) that does an impressive job explaining what TS is and how we can all be more aware and compassionate about it (hint: swearing makes up very little of it), a chapter on chimpanzees and their ability to form language including swearing, a chapter on swearing in the workplace, and a chapter on gender and swearing (yep, it’s about like you figured, men hate women swearing).

It’s just a fascinating little book that I know will be going onto my shelves for future reference. I recommend it to fucking everybody.

Button, Button
by Richard Matheson

A collection of short stories, Button, Button features twelve stories written over a period from 1950 to 1970. Each one is different in tone and structure in a way most short story collections (and authors) fail to achieve. The titular short story itself is only eleven pages long, but packs into itself a keen uneasiness that is so familiar of Matheson’s work.

One of my personal favorites was The Creeping Terror, or A Touch of Grapefruit, that details the growth of Los Angeles as it slowly takes over the country one citrus tree at a time. It’s a particularly amusing piece amongst the general uncanniness of his typical stories. (My favorite part being the footnotes he gives from scientific journals and newspapers, particularly one by a Fritz Felix DerKatt on the new phenomenon of “Beach Seeking” in his article “Das Beachen Seeken”.)

I picked this up at a Goodwill for a buck and it was money well spent, let me tell you. I definitely recommend this collection to anyone looking to get into Matheson.

Hell Hound
by Ken Greenhall

Well, well, this is an odd little book. It deals with a murderous bull terrier named Baxter who plots his own upward mobility by pushing his first owner down the stairs, then moving in with the young couple across the street. When their affection for him is upstaged by the arrival of their baby, the dog makes another “accidental” death occur which sends him to the home of a thirteen year old Nazi boy.

The book is kinda banana nut crazy, flipping between point of views within paragraphs and sometimes in the next sentence. We get the inner thoughts of most every character, and find that many of them are rather despicable, Baxter the dog especially. It is interesting from a technical standpoint how the book is broken down between parts, chapters, and sections, which makes for a very easy read. The content itself is the hardest to deal with.

I’d have to read another one of his books before I’d give a strong opinion as to whether I like the author or not, but the book is certainly interesting, and one I’d recommend if you want to read a short ’80s horror novel.

About Fleet Sparrow

Writer, Reader, Critic, Bear.
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