Sunday, August 18, 2013

#32: Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

A New York cop on the edge of burnout sees his partner killed; suddenly hungry for revenge, he gets involved in a case involving a strange and prolific serial killer in Warren Ellis' Gun Machine.

Ellis' first novel, Crooked Little Vein, was a glimpse into the weird underbelly of America; this novel aims closer to traditional mystery elements, with a little of Ellis' weirdness layered over it.

Ellis may be better known as the author of cult comic book series like Transmetropolitan and Planetary, where I first became acquainted with his work.  And therein lies the problem; I fear that fans of Ellis' unique comic book writing might find Gun Machine too bland, while casual mystery readers will find it too offbeat.

For me, however, it was just about right.  Recommended for those looking for a different type of mystery read.

I borrowed this from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#31: Joyland by Stephen King

In the 1970s, a young man spends his summer working at a southern amusement park at the end of its era; today, he contemplates that memorable summer of longing and death in Stephen King's Joyland.

Joyland is an unusual novel for Stephen King in a lot of ways. First, it was written for the Hard Case Crime line, a paperback series of lost noirs and original titles in the same vein; and second, despite having a ghost story at the center, and several characters who seem to display psychic powers (including a carnival fortune teller and a sick child), King firmly roots Joyland in the crime novel tradition.

Despite its unusual pedigree it is a solid thriller, infused with melancholy.  King writes in a sure-handed way and offers up a large-scale, cinematic conclusion.

I bought this for myself with an Amazon gift card and read it quickly.  Recommended for King fans and general readers.

Friday, August 9, 2013

#30: False Negative by Joseph Koenig

In 1950s Atlantic City a reporter who fell from grace ends up writing for true crime magazines; when he stumbles across a murdered woman on a lonely beach, he tries to resurrect his career and solve the crime in Joseph Koenig's False Negative.

This is another in the Hard Case Crime series, the eclectic series of lost noirs and similarly-themed contemporary novels, and has been of special note as the return of cult author Joseph Koenig, who had not published a book in several decades.

False Negative is a very tough noir, with many unpleasant elements for those with more delicate reading sensibilities.  But it is well-written with a good sense of time and place, as well as a compelling story from beginning to end.

I got this for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.  Recommended for fans of the Hard Case Crime line.

Monday, August 5, 2013

#29: X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker by Alex Cox

British filmmaker Alex Cox writes about the making of a handful of his films, including the cult classic Repo Man, and also shares his filmmaking tips and general philosophies in X Films:  True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker.

As a person who has written some b-movies, I am a big fan of Alex Cox and his ethos (including his definitive writings on Spaghetti Westerns). However, I do think this collection of essays and stories would be of interest to anyone who follows independent or cult film.

Cox's frank stories and colorful adventures, frequently at the margins of mainstream Hollywood, are a fascinating read.  I would consider this collection, along with Robert Rodriguez's Rebel Without A Crew, John Russo's Making Movies, and Rick Schmidt's Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices and Extreme DV a must-read for independent filmmakers.

I was surprised to find this at a go-away price on Amazon; when I was finished with it, I mailed it to a friend who is also an independent filmmaker.  Recommended for the like-minded.