Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cool Shit to Read

This week I'm branching out into book reviews. Enjoy!

Double Dead (Chuck Wendig) - I'm so fucking jealous of this concept. Wendig takes cliche one (zombie apocalypse) and cliche two (random loner vampire) and tosses them in a blender. What he poured out (after presumably using the frappe setting) was an utterly original blood-and-guts smoothie.

Random loner vampire Coburn is vicious, gleefully amoral, and predatory. The fact that Wendig witholds his back story (his does provide the payoff late in the novel) doesn't hurt your ability to relate. It's so damned fun having the camera on Coburn's shoulder you don't really give a shit what's driving him emotionally. And that's part of his arc. In the beginning, he is only driven by his base desire to feed.

The basic premise is he wakes up from a multi-year slumber to find that the zombie apocalypse has occurred. Zombie blood can't sustain a vampire so he now has to become a "shepherd" of sorts for the human survivors he encounters. This forces him to be a little bit human for the first time in a century.

Skippy Dies (Paul Murray) - My old agent suggested this novel after reading mine. To enjoy Skippy, I had to first get over being terrified that Murray had basically done what I was trying to do much better than I could. No one else would have that problem.

Fourteen-year-old Dublin Catholic school student Skippy dies in the opening scene, and the rest of the book takes you back to the circumstances leading up to his death. Then it continues to the events after it. I've never seen a plot structured this way. Plus, you have to give Murray credit for writing a brilliant comedy about a child's death. Actually, the trick is that the book never really commits to comedy or drama, it just has funny and tragic moments weaved throughout, like life.

His descriptions are brilliant. He describes puberty in Catholic school perfectly. "One day everyone was talking about drinking and sperm." That's the kind of wit Murray has throughout the book. It's almost 700 pages but you'll never notice - every single section is equal parts entertaining, thought-provoking, and hilarious.

A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance of Dragons (George R.R. Martin) - By now, if you watch HBO you know Martin will kill absolutely any character. No one is safe. I'm jealous of anyone who hasn't read these books because it was that much fun reading them for the first time.

Martin does two things better than any fantasy writer to date: he reminds us how gruesome and brutal the middle ages were and he shows us the beauty of grey. There are no good guys and bad guys. Jaime Lannister, who crippled a child just to cover up the fact he was fucking his own sister in the first book, becomes sympathetic in these books. There isn't a hard right or wrong, just people with agendas, announced and hidden.

If I had to describe the "Song of Ice and Fire" series simply it would be this: Lord of the Rings with moral ambiguity and a lot of sex.

That's all for now. Go read.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Writing Resolutions

My guess is every other writer who blogs is writing one about new year's resolutions.

Well, fuck it, here's mine. For the pile.

2012's is the same as 2011's - get paid for your work.

I missed my goal last year. Here's to giving it another shot.

I actually have a good win-loss record with writer's resolutions.

2008 - Write regularly. Win!
2009 - Get used to rejection. I'm blogging right now despite having no followers yet. Win!
2010 - Get something published. Took me 'til December to get "The Gay Bomb" on but thanks to miss Courtney Eldridge, win!
2011 - Get paid. Loss. So I'm 3-1. Fuck it. Trying again. (Although I did land my second credit, "Friends and Pyromaniacs," in issue 3 of The Quotable. So I'm giving myself 4-1. Not like it's the NFL or anything.)