Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wordy Wed: Pooh Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts

Three guesses who still hasn’t read any books recently! I did start on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, in preparation for seeing the play next week. I also just got a bag of Robin Hobb books that Rocket G’ovich left for me at the Stoneheart household last time she was up. But there was also a little extra something that I discovered when I opened up the bag: a book emblazoned with the nightmare-inducing visage of David Blain. My reaction was automatic: “Curse you, G’ovich! Curse you!” Upon confronting Rocket, I learned the bitter truth: the David Blaine book was actually an artifact bestowed on them by Clan Flunky. The plot thickens! Flunky Lover says that the book was a gift for the G’ovich’s eldest child; Rocket claims that it was not meant for my eyes. And yet, there it was, in the bag, just waiting, silently gathering its malevolent force to burrow its way into my subconscious. Now, as faithful blog monkeys, you might be tempted to place the blame on Dr. G’ovich who has such a storied history of messing with your good Cap’n Monkey’s mind; however, a fact that I have not yet had the privilege of sharing with you is that Flunky Lover has a history of trying to affect individuals’ dreams through the use of subliminal tactics . . . and by “individuals” I do mean myself.

Back in college, F.L. decided to experiment with her mindbending techniques on yours truly, and was so confident in her prowess that she even told me she was doing it. Her goal: to make me dream of a certain, shall we say, “off-beat” dorm resident. I swore it would never happen; more fool I. I found myself confronted with traps everywhere I turned: pictures with the off-beat one standing in front of a bulletin board with the word “Dream” circled on it; letters addressed to me with the words arranged to form the off-beat one’s initials; constant questioning from F.L. about how I slept. But, paranoid and neurotic as I am, my will was strong, and I was able to fend off F.L.’s dastardly tactics. Until, that is, earlier this year when, in a moment of unconscious weakness, my guard was lowered, and the off-beat one made a cameo in a dream about the Parkerites. My first thought as I awoke: “Flunky Lover has won.” I considered hiding it from her, but knew that it would be of no use; the conditioning was too deep, and I was sure that all it would take was a carefully planted trigger phrase to get me to come clean. Yes, when I confessed that I had finally crumbled, she feigned ignorance, protesting that she had forgotten all about the dream scheme, but I knew it was all an act. And, after being confronted with the nightmare-provoking David Blain, I now realize that it was only the first step in the road to world domination, the road that would lead to The Spawn of Flunky.

Or, y’know, maybe the book just got put in the wrong bag.

Anyway, in lieu of any current book reviews, I’ll go ahead and give you the latest in my horror novel musings.

Once again, I’ll follow the structure from Monster Movie Mon. And, once again, I don’t have anywhere near as much source material to draw on.


Following a strange electrical disturbance yesterday morning, Pooh-Bear Parrothead is fearful that her new house is haunted. Coronela and I have both assured her separately that her dogs would be sure to sense any evil spirits, but I don’t think she was too convinced. So, I dedicate the following ghostly novel reviews to Pooh and her phantom TV-turner-onner.

The Shining by Stephen King: One of my favorite novels, period.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: Excellent atmospheric ghost story. Do not judge it by the ill conceived 1999 movie version with Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Bag of Bones by Stephen King: One of the better of King’s more recent novels. Word of advice: read Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca before reading this one. It’s not strictly necessary, but there are quite a few references to it sprinkled throughout, and besides, Rebecca is an excellent book in and of itself.

Honorable mention: Expiration Date by Tim Powers: Not strictly a horror novel, but this fantasy by one of my favorite authors is all about ghosts. If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out Powers’ Last Call, about the mystical side of poker playing, and Earthquake Weather, a sequel which has the actors from both novels meeting up. And speaking of Powers, I forgot to mention his wonderful Stress of Her Regard in my vampire novel post. Although, I suppose the lamia in it is more of a vampiric spirit, rather than an out and out vampire, so maybe it fits in better here anyway. The big draw of this one for me was its historical setting, and its main characters: Lord Byron, Shelley, and Keats, who all draw their poetical inspiration from the lamia as it sucks out their life forces. Evil spirits and famous poets, what more could a genre-hound English major ask for?


Can't think of any outright "zombie" novels I've read. They might pop up as background for some voodoo doings, like in Tim Power's excellent On Stranger Tides or Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' California Voodoo Game, but out and out walking dead novels, I've read nary a one. I am, however, currently enjoying the heck out of Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comic book, which follows a group of survivors in a Romero-esque post-zombie-apocalypse world. The advantage this serialized story telling format has to the Zombie films is its ability to delve deeper into the struggles of trying to rebuild society in the face of overwhelming horror; most zombie films, due to their limited time frame, end either on a horribly bleak, fatalistic note, or by resolving the immediate problem of the protagonists without addressing the larger situation.

The more I think about it, the more I’m sure that I don’t know of any plain ol’ zombie novels. If you know of any good ones (or good ghost stories, for that matter), post away.


anna said...

I think a few of the Piers Anthony Xanth novels are about zombies. They aren't really horror though, and not too sure you would call them great.

Poohbear said...

Haha...if only I'd known my sticking the David Blaine book in the bag would cause so much commotion. It just got left at my house, so I put it in the bag with the other books. expect me to read something other than Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read it, but it's about zombies.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Here I am maligning Clan Flunky and Clan G'ovich, when it's really all Clan Stoneheart's fault! Although, I suppose Pooh-bear could have been subliminally coerced . . .

Or maybe she was possessed by the ghost :)