Summer time is a fun time to read! I’ve read a few books this summer, some good some not. Lets discuss.
Web of the City (1958) by Harlan Ellison
Web of the City is Harlan’s first novel and it is great! It depicts young street gangs in New York City in the fifties. The plot is a somewhat familiar one but in Harlan’s capable hands it’s compelling. The characters are vivid and the action sequences are exciting. It’s a harrowing trip into a violent world. It’s too bad Harlan didn’t write many novels (only three) because this book demonstrates he does it well. Read it!
The Jaguar Hunter (1987) by Lucius Shepard
This is a fantastic (both in the excellent and weird sense) collection of fantasy and sf stories. The stories range from short to novella length. Lucius Shepard is a pleasure to read. His prose is impeccable, his ideas are interesting, and his tales keep you absorbed. He puts his well-drawn characters into interesting settings that, in his extensive travels, he’s obviously visited himself. You get a sense of being there without being bored by excessive description. Shepard is one talented son of a gun. Highly recommended.
What crap! This book is a sequel to Laymon’s first novel The Cellar which I haven’t read nor will I. The story is typical monster fare with drab characters. The writing is stilted and downright torturous at times; peppered with pointless descriptions of boring minutiae devoid of any story or character development purpose. And the monsters are quite silly. There are a few moments of suspense that redeemed The Beast House enough for me to slog through it, but I don’t recommend it.
I’m a big fan of many of Sturgeon’s works and I can now add The Dreaming Jewels to that list of inspired sf. This book reminded me a bit of Ray Bradbury, for its carnival setting and Philip K. Dick for its questions of what makes us human. The characters are really the focus of this novel; they are unique and they grow and change through their journey. The dreaming jewels themselves are also a really neat sci fi concept, I won’t spoil it here. Sturgeon is a skillful writer that weaves serious, thought provoking ideas into entertaining stories, The Dreaming Jewels being a fine example. Get it!
Room is a “story ripped from today’s headlines.” It’s about a woman who is kidnapped and has a child fathered by her abductor. What makes this novel noteworthy is that it’s told from the viewpoint of the five year old child that has spent life in captivity. Room has been praised to death and has won multiple awards. I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about. The voice of the five year old narrator was inconsistent, seeming sophisticated beyond his years at times and sort of obtuse at others. The plot was interesting for the greater part of the first half of the book, and built up some genuine suspense in the middle, but unfortunately it fizzled out after that; the second half was quite tedious.