To the White Sea

images.jpgLet’s go back to the early 1970’s. I came home from work with a fresh, crisp paperbound copy of Deliverance by James Dickey.

I had stumbled upon Dickey in the public library and had read his first three volumes of poetry. Then he showed up for a reading at the university and I got more of a sense of what he was like: something that helped me understand his poems a little better (later I would drive across western Virginia and see the oceans of kudzu which also helped understand certain poems).

In graduate school Dickey visited one of my classes, reading his poems and answering student questions which he had probably responded to over and over through the years. I sat in the far back corner of the room nursing an intense desire to relieve myself in the men’s room but the dilemma was how to make it to the door, walk in front of Dickey or behind him. I walked behind him with a meek “excuse me” and was humiliated when one of my favorite contemporary poets humorously accused me of disliking his poems so much that I had to leave the room.

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Cut You Up In Little Pieces

images.jpgYou are probably aware that the murder capitol of the world is Cabot Cove. Ever since The Manchurian Candidate I have cast a jaundiced eye at Angela Landsbury and the pokey gendarmes of Maine. But that was just fun entertainment (meaning there wasn’t a lot of blood and gore) and Cabot Cove has easily been replaced by the unnamed town in Japan frequented by Goth chicks and body parts stapled to a tree.

While seeking to throw some variety into my reading, I came across a recent volume titled Goth: A Novel of Horror by Otsuichi. I’ve got a soft spot in my scary parts for Japanese horror and this one seemed ideal for a midnight snack. It all takes place in a small corner of Japan where severed hands are buried in the backyard like kimchi and an occasional ear or nipple stapled to the side of a telephone pole is not an unusual sight. But after a half-dozen of these bloody dismemberments and three or four instances of being buried alive on the side of the potting shed, one does wonder why there are no traditional murders in this town: shootings, knifings, nunchuckings, poisonings.

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May I Have a Large Container of Coffee

suzuki_edgeDon’t think of U2 band members but rather those popular books that became the Ring franchise at the movies. Yes, the author is Koji Suzuki and, although not a part of the Ring series, he has returned to the successful and highly profitable genre involving a highly technical reality that rapidly turns into unspeakable horror. The work in question is titled, Edge (with apologies to The).

World Literature Today gives a fine review of the novel.

In Edge, Koji Suzuki devises an inspired premise and pummels it half to death. Suzuki has been touted as Japan’s answer to Stephen King. Wrong. Suzuki may be the answer, but King is not the question. Suzuki lacks King’s gift for weaving seamless stories peopled with multidimensional characters. More important, Suzuki dislikes horror, describing himself in a 2005 interview as “the complete opposite of a ‘horror’ sort of person.” …

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