Ron Rash writes short stories in the tradition of Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Daniel Woodrell. You might call it Country Noir. Rash’s characters are mostly poor, living day-to-day. Their lives seem to get worse every day. My two favorite stories in this collection are “Back of Beyond” and “Dead Confederates.” In “Back of Beyond,” a pawn broker deals with a meth addict. “Dead Confederates” features a pair of grave robbers. If your tastes run to rural Wal-Mart realism, you’ll like the stories in Burning Bright. GRADE: B+
(This completes the October 2010 portion of my Short Story Reading Challenge. I will read and review one short story collection per month in 2010. To find out more about the Short Story Reading Challenge, be sure to click: “http://theshortstorychallenge.blogspot.com/”>Short Story Reading Challenge.
Halloween is in the air so I thought I’d present a series many people don’t know about: the Borderland series edited by the talented Thomas F. Monteleone. The first volume was published in 1988, the second appeared in 1991, the third in 1993. They were published by White Wolf Books and distribution was spotty. Some people have never seen these books. White Wolf folded and the fourth and fifth volumes of the Borderland series were published by Borderland Press. The fifth volume was reprinted by Warner books in 2004 in as From the Borderlands, but the Table of Contents is identical to Borderlands 5. Contributors to the series included Stephen King, Ed Gorman, John Farris, Whitley Strieber, David J. Schow, Poppy Z. Bright, Harlan Ellison, Kathe Koja, Charles Grant, Joe R. Lansdale, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, and Peter Straub. The quality of these horror stories is high as you would expect from the reputations of the contributors. This is a little-known series that produced some scary horror fiction that would get you in the Halloween mood.
This just released 9-CD box set includes Bob Dylan’s first eight studio albums: Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Time They Are A-Changin’, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, John Wesley Harding. These albums were originally recorded in monaural, and then years later, re-mixed for stereo. Like the mono box set of the complete Beatle catalog last year, these remastered discs sound superb. If you’re a Bob Dylan fan, this is must-have box set of classic recordings. They never sounded so good! Long live MONO!
- Watch more Music Videos at Vodpod.
If you’re a fan of DC Comics, you’ll want to get hold of this massive visual history. DC Comics Year By Year takes you through 75 years of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and all the DC super-heroes as they evolved over the decades. You can’t find a more comprehensive history of comic book company than this tome. It’s a visual feast! I also enjoyed the informative foreword by Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics from 2002-2009. GRADE:A
Last Thursday night, Diane and I went to our local Regal Theater and enjoyed the HD cinecast of A Prairie Home Companion. If you’ve seen the Robert Altman film, you’ll know what to expect: Garrison Keillor singing silly songs and telling silly stories, a blue-grass group, a lovely woman singer, some dandy sound effects (you have to pretend you’re listening to this on a radio), and a country-western artist. It’s a formula that’s worked for over 30 years. For this particular performance, Diane and I both though lovely singer Sara Watkins stole the show. Her songs were terrific. So, of course, the next day I had to travel to BORDERS with a 33% OFF coupon and buy Sara Watkins’ solo CD. Sara Watkins is a member of the blue-grass band, Nickle Creek. In her A Prairie Home Companion performance and on her CD, Sara Watkin’s sings with a voice that’s clear as glass. She plays the fiddle and the mandolin. Listen to “Where Will You Be” below and you’ll hear some wonderful music!
In our ceaseless quest to stimulate the U.S. economy, Diane and I called on the wizards of Brady Flooring to install a new hardwood floor in our dining room. The dining room had been carpeted, but Diane decided that a hardwood floor would be more dramatic. After two days of hammers pounding and power saws keening, the Jacks Creek Gunstock flooring transformed our dining room. We love the rich color and the warm ambiance. If you’re thinking about a hardwood floor, I’d recommend you take a look at www.andersonfloors.com. This is a high quality product at an affordable price.
This fifth volume of Robert Silverberg’s short stories collects his work from 1980-1982. Silverberg was in his prime, writing award-winning novellas and producing dozens of excellent short stories effortlessly. I read most of these stories as they were published. “Our Lady of the Sauropods” is a puzzle story that involves seemingly intelligent dinosaurs. “Homefaring” explores the far distant future. “The Pope of the Chimps” features a scientist investigating the rise of religion among chimpanzees. Nothing was too extreme for Silverberg during these years. He welcomed the challenge to write about the unconventional. If you haven’t read Silverberg’s short stories, you’re missing one of the best writers in the genre. GRADE: A
Table of Contents
* Our Lady of the Sauropods
* Waiting for the Earthquake
* The Regulars
* The Far Side of the Bell-Shaped Curve
* A Thousand Paces Along the Via Dolorosa
* How They Pass the Time in Pelpel
* The Palace at Midnight
* The Man Who Floated in Time
* The Pope of the Chimps
* Thesme and the Ghayrog
* At the Conglomeroid Cocktail Party
* The Trouble with Sempoanga
* Jennifer’s Lover
* Not Our Brother
* Gate of Horn, Gate of Ivory
* Dancers in the Time-Flux
* Needle in a Timestack
* Amanda and the Alien
* Snake and Ocean, Ocean and Snake
* The Changeling
Jean Carper’s insightful book gives you an action plan to help prevent Alzheimer’s. Carper is a medical reporter who’s researched the latest approaches to dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Simple actions like drinking more 100% fruit juices (Carper recommends Concord grape juice) to increase blood flow to the brain and going on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can help postpone or prevent Alzheimer’s for some of us. Carper lists the danger signals of Alzheimer’s and where to seek treatment that will actually help. I found plenty in 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s to explore. If you want to maintain your cognitive abilities during aging, you’ll want to read this book. GRADE: A
Although this book isn’t forgotten–it’s just been published–many of the stories inside these covers have been forgotten. Loren Estleman should be part of any conversation that includes Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. Estleman’s long and varied career produced excellent mysteries, westerns, and short stories. Now, we have all the Amos Walker stories in one fine volume. The Amos Walker series brings Detroit and its environs to life. If you haven’t read this series, you’re missing some the finest private eye novels ever written. These 33 short stories capture the excellent writing and sharp characterization of Estleman’s novels. After reading the stories (published from 1982 to 2010) in Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection you’ll see why Estleman’s work compares with the genre’s greatest.