An Unfinished History of Horror by J.F. Gonzalez
5/5 Star Review
I just finished reading Shadows in the Attic and I need to sit down a minute. I knew my fictional horror education was a little lacking, but I didn’t realize by how much until I finished this collection. Shadows in the Attic collects essays written by J.F. Gonzalez on the history of horror from ancient times up through the mid-1950’s. There is also a comprehensive essay on the splatterpunks and extreme horror writers. While I can say there were a lot of names that I recognized, though not necessarily read, for every name I did know there were ten that were brand new to me. Apokrupha Books has done a beautiful job with this collection, laying it out in a sensical and easy-to-read format. This should be considered a text book and an absolute must-read for any fan of horror fiction.
I’m not fortunate enough to have ever had the pleasure of meeting J.F. Gonzalez. I only know him through his writing, but I know that he meant a great deal to many people – especially to his family and friends. Shadows in the Attic taught me that we not only lost an amazing human being, we lost a true historian of the genre.
Shadows in the Attic contains an alphabetical author index of every author and their work referenced by Gonzalez, which I will be using as a checklist for my ever-growing TBR, but Apokrupha Books has gone and done one better. They have simultaniously published The Shadows in the Attic Reader: Foundational Classic Horror edited by Jacob Haddon. This reader is a collection of nineteen tales that were referenced in Gonzalez’s essays on classic horror. For anyone who feels a little intimidated and not sure where to begin in their horror literature education – this is an excellent place to start.
We also need to take a moment to appreciate the cover art on this set. Lynne Hansen did an absolutely amazing job with these sequential covers. When the books are stacked they form one house both on the front and back covers – they are stellar!
Do yourselves a favor and pick up this gorgeous set of horror history!
True Crime as a novel by Norman Mailer
5/5 Star Review
I recently fell down the rabbit hole when I discovered actor Josh Brolin’s Instagram page. I knew he was an actor, but what I didn’t realize is that he is also an avid reader and an immensely talented writer. During my fall, I discovered an article from a while ago that listed some of his recommended reading and The Executioner’s Song caught my eye. I’d not heard of it and I’ve never read Mailer, so I figured I would give it a go. I’m so pleased that I did.
The first thing you may notice about this novel is that it is a beast. At 1109 pages, plus a foreword, it’s a commitment. What I can promise you is the same thing that Dave Eggers’ promises in his foreword – this is the fastest 1100 pages that you will ever read.
The book follows Gary Gilmore on his journey as he is released from prison and his subsequent nine months as he travels down the road that leads him to murdering two people and being executed by the state of Utah. During the 1970s, Gilmore was a household name across the country. He was the first man to be executed after a 10-year moratorium on the death penalty in the United States. It sparked a nation-wide conversations on vengeance and morality.
I went into this book blind and I highly suggest you do as well. It’s a far more powerful read if you don’t have any preconceived notions about Gary or any of the people in his life. While this book is technically classified as a novel, it has been written as true to the facts as it could be. Based upon hundreds of interviews, letters, court transcripts, newspaper articles, and other documents, Mailer paints every player in this story as a well-rounded and important person. It’s important to remember that these are real people, with real problems, and morality is not black-or-white. Wherever you may fall on the death penalty or America’s criminal justice system, this book will make you question your opinions and ideals. It’s a powerful read that leaves you with a burning desire to discuss it.
This is a quintessential read for anyone who considers themselves a true crime reader or for anyone who thinks they have an unshakable opinion about our criminal justice system in the United States. Highly, highly recommended.