Monday, October 31, 2022

Undead in Tenochtitlan: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


I'm not a huge vampire fan for the most part, but having read some of Moreno-Garcia's other work and seeing that some of the vampires go back to Aztec times, I figured I'd give Certain Dark Things a shot for spooky season this year. It was great! 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Mini-Reviews of Spooky Stuff for Spooky Season, Part One

Halloween is here! And this spooky season I've been finding so much spooky stuff it's scary! It's so much I couldn't reasonably give full reviews of all of it, so here are some mini-reviews of some of the spooky stuff I've been enjoying in the last month or so. Look for Part Two soon!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Slashers and Human Experience: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones


"Horror's not a symptom, it's a love affair" 

-My Heart is a Chainsaw, p. 174.

Jade, the main character of Stephen Graham Jones's My Heart is a Chainsaw, is a half-Native teenage girl in rural Idaho. She loves slasher movies so much she cites them constantly and hopes, in a weird sort of way, that some killings in her hometown are a real life slasher. I'm maybe not quite a big enough slasher fan to fully appreciate this book, but I loved Jade's extra credit papers on the history of slashers that were interspersed between the narrative chapters.

Like many horror fans, I appreciated Jade's POV as the weird kid (horror is a genre for weird kids of all ages). While Jade may or may not have some legitimate mental health issues, I also appreciated the exploration of how horror can be healthy part of fans' lives. As she tells one adult, "Horror's not a symptom, it's a love affair" (p. 174).

This gets at a big philosophical issue in horror: Why do horror fans like all this gruesome stuff? Why do we like to be scared by things we know don't exist? This novel takes it a step further: Is it still fun if it does start to happen in real life?

Another issue I've been thinking a lot about with regard to the 5th century Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu: to what extent is our very perception of things dependent on our past and our interests? Vasubandhu goes pretty deep with this (maybe to the very existence of the external world, or at least our concept of it), but the novel can prompt a similar thought: to what extent is there really a slasher here, given Jade's interest in slasher movies that organizes her whole experience of the world? Or is she reading too much into what could be a series of random murders?

All of this kept me going, especially as I was getting to know Jade in the first 200 page or so, but I have to admit that at times in the middle of the book the plot dragged a bit for me, and I wondered if there's really quite enough story for a 400 page novel. Not that it was unpleasant to read, but I at times wanted to get things moving a little faster (maybe a couple fewer red herrings would do it?).

Still, I really enjoyed spending some time with this character, the slasher stuff is fun, and the larger mythology it sets up is worthy of further exploration. But don't worry, like any slasher worth its mask, this one is reportedly getting a sequel!

See my Goodreads review.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Random Thoughts, Part 19: Randomize Then, There are Other Thoughts Than These

My long-running random thoughts series continues with Part 19! And since this is Part 19 and I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's Dark Tower series (where this number figures heavily, at least in the later books), I figured I would riff on my favorite line from the series (even though this quote randomly comes from the first book well before the 19 stuff took off... but that's more fittingly random, I suppose).

I haven't posted one of these since May, and the random thoughts stop for no blog, so I have even more random thoughts than usual. It looks like I got up to the totally random number of 502 with this post! How random!

And as always: plenty of memes for your random memetic enjoyment! Enjoy!