Monthly Archives: October, 2011

MJ Rose’s Backstory: Norman Chance

“You must promise never to reveal the source of what I am about to tell you.” “Of course,” I answered, still completely in the dark as to what the woman sitting next to me planned to say. The promise was made during a luncheon at Dartmouth College’s Hanover Inn where I was attending a conference […]

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Pocket Shorts Review: Scary Stories from Alfred Hitchcock, Part V

“Men Without Bones,” by Gerald Kersh, 1954 This one has my favorite windup and pitch so far, I think. In this case the story’s told to a nameless worker loading a banana boat in Puerto Pobre, Peru—interesting how so many of these narrators remain nameless, the better to grab you by the collar and make […]

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Extremely Non-Random Instances of the Phrase “Like Fire”

Yes, I’ve seen it. And no, I’m not all that thrilled. I’ve known all along that Amazon pulled the name for their Kindle from the same Voltaire quote I took Like Fire from, and there’s certainly more than enough good bookish theory in that one little statement to go around. But I cringe at the […]

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Pocket Shorts Review: Scary Stories from Alfred Hitchcock, Part IV

“Two Spinsters,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim, 1926 OK, so this collection has thus far managed to insult African Americans, Jews, and now Unmarried Women of a Certain Age who Have Been Jilted and Thus Driven Criminally Insane. I think that about covers this one, although Oppenheim does an especially gorgeous job of the lonely, wet […]

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Pocket Shorts Review: Scary Stories from Alfred Hitchcock, Part III

“Journey to Death,” by Donald E. Westlake, 1959 This one’s short, sharp, and to the point. It’s a tale of two men trapped in a sunken ocean liner, nothing more or less, and in lieu of any bogeymen or supernatural trappings you have insomnia, hopelessness, claustrophobia, darkness, and hunger. It doesn’t get much more stripped […]

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Pocket Shorts Review: Scary Stories from Alfred Hitchcock, Part II

Today’s picks involve some creepy justice and a blue-faced, yellow-eyed troll. Read on… “Camera Obscura,” by Basil Copper, 1965 The trouble with scary morality tales is that you pretty much know how they’re going to end: The unrepentant miscreant is consigned to some form of horrible hell, the only real variables being the type of […]

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Pocket Shorts Review: Scary Stories from Alfred Hitchcock, Part I

Sometime in the past year I dropped a well-earned 50¢ at a library sale and picked up a copy of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me—fortunately minus the dust jacket, which I think would have scared even me. I’m not a big connoisseur of horror stories, and somehow I suspect that the kind […]

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Pocket Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang Kevin Wilson Ecco, 2011 It’s not exactly news that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way; this premise has been examined by more novelists than you can shake a therapist at. And while the usual culprits in the universe of dysfunction—sex, anger, substance abuse, control issues—are certainly sufficient for looking […]

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“Yes, Dear”—Newspaper Guild, National Writers Union Call off Huffington Post Boycott

I’m getting accustomed to the idea of protests being a semi-permanent part of the landscape, but it’s helpful to remember that sometimes they have a life cycle and even see resolution once in a while. And then sometimes they just… fade away. Yesterday we had news from the Newspaper Guild and the National Writers Union/UAW […]

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Sad Men, Dead Critics, and a Book Riot: Three New Blogs

I need more blogs to follow like… oh, like I need more books in the home stacks, I guess. And yet, like the aforementioned books, that doesn’t seem to stop me. So I offer, herewith, three new blogs that I’ve been enjoying lately: Book Riot is the brainchild of Jeff O’Neal, proprietor of the thoughtful […]

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