Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Handful of Books...and Rome.

Off to Rome in a couple days, putting together the luggage, I don’t have a Kindle or related e-reader, so a handful or more of books will make their way with me, stuffed in between the underwear and shirts. A few, not exactly the Desert Island collection, but stuff that seems essential right now.

For example: my favorite Lucius Shepard book is, A Handbook of American Prayer, but that one’s going in storage, in one of the double handful of boxes I have here--yes, that’s all I have, 9 file boxes of stuff, 1 box for the computer, a couple of pieces of art, that’s it! A life in so few boxes, perhaps because so much of what matters to me is via my words, in my head, interpretations of memories, extrapolations of future paths altered from the real; seems I'm always downsizing, though it's less by choice and more by necessity. When I left Oregon a few years ago, I took what I could fit in the car. The rest of the stuff? Goodbye!

Or perhaps I'm just not into material things...hmmm...

Anyway, my point is, perhaps not the Desert Island collection selections, but Shepard's still represented on my journey with The Best of…and Viator Plus (which I’ve yet to read).

What else?

A smattering of darkness: both of Laird Barron’s collections, Joe Pulver’s Blood Will Have Its Season, Matt Cardin’s Dark Awakenings, Ballard’s (almost) Complete Short Stories, Barker's completely complete--ahem--Stealth version of The Books of Blood.

A few more…

Strange busy times, looking forward to Words Words Words in Rome: reading and writing, the minor revision tweaks of my second novel (primarily condensing two chapters into one and some nips and tucks otherwise), as well as some short pieces in need of attention; there's also a bio of a famous poet that my girlfriend, Alessandra, and I will be writing. And my third novel, dealing with Percy Bysshe Shelley's most prized possession... And this blog! Oh, my...consistency, and lots of ellipses, eh? Gotta cut those out. Hmmm...

So, this quickie, touching base, saying hello, hope your world is running smoothly, and back to situating everything and letting the words stew in my head, awaiting release in another time zone.


Books, clothes, and the...essentials...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shuffling Boxes with Brighter Death Now.

Very busy shuffling boxes around and snorting dust, writing’s been lean for a couple weeks, though I’m of the mindset to wrap up a couple short pieces, a couple poems, and do the tweaking revisions for the second novel, The Wilderness Within; it doesn’t need much, but I want it all done now!

But as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way…


I’ve mentioned Brighter Death Now a few times in my fiction, I even have a story, “I Wish I Was A Pretty Little Girl”--one of the handful of best short stories I’ve as yet written, a warped (of course, what with a title like that), surreal excursion into deeply scarred psychological terrain--which tweaks the title of one of their noisy death industrial tracks, “I Wish I Was a Little Girl.”

What? Oh, yes, I am warped as well.

Here’s a review of the CD that song appears on and, yes, a you tube clip of the song for your listening, um…pleasure? Displeasure? Curiosity at least.


May All Be Dead (Cold Meat Industry)
:A power electronics annihilation of the soul:
"I make no subscription to your paradise!" Distorted and raging, the statement defines where Cold Meat Industry ambassador of death and degradation, Roger Karmanik (BDN), stands with the CD release of this 2 LP set from early 1999. It bursts from my speakers, having been grafted on to the beginning of the first track of this sordid collection (re-recorded here, the original version was included on the bonus 7" that the lucky few received with the LPs). With grinding insistence, "I Hate You" commences. The seething machinery throb and clipped vocal attack of this track, doused in spite and portioned out in rapid fire repetitious, chain-link succession ("I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate…"), drags the listener, screaming, through the deluge of true vehemence. What follows, adorned in repetition and smelling of the sewage of the sick-minded, sonically and thematically, annihilates the soul. There's "I Wish I Was A Little Girl" and its sadistic fantasy fulfillment amidst the weary, piston driven machinery rumble and squeal. The diseased noise belch upon which a psychotic stalker/killer fantasy is played out during "Behind Curtains." The monotonous decay of self during the existence as excrement fantasy that is "Payday." "Oh What A Night," twisting lifelessly among the bloodied sheets of caustic noise that unveil the morning after death fantasy. And the immoral finale, disintegrating into the perverse clutches of the schoolyard fantasy that unfolds during "Fourteen," amidst machines that flutter and plod forth in search of depraved gratification. Throughout this exploration of Roger's mental abattoir, each track, like the fantasy it portrays, externalizes the mentally corrupt worldview that a world gone mad inspires. Because Roger's paradise is the warped fantasy presented here, on May All Be Dead. Insidious in ways most cannot comprehend. -JC Smith

Friday, June 3, 2011

Riffing on a New Master: Laird Barron

Gonna riff on Laird Barron, the finest new writer of horror fiction to come along in a couple decades at least, because I’ve been wanting to write something about him for a while, and, since my brain is wired that way right now, kind of a stream-of-consciousness need to say something, well…let’s see what pours out.

Laird Barron, demonic genius or simply giggling madman? His stories pack such wallop as to knock the willing reader sideways, slipping into his lair of grim damnation, where ancient forces toy with us--humans--because we deserve the toying; where forever stretches not only forward, but behind us, the rear view mirror cluttered with oily tendrils and lunatic aspirations, and sprinkled with the sick glee of those in pursuit.

Resonance in horror fiction is often risible, the foundations for many tales lack depth, substance that resonates beyond the page. Barron, on the other hand, the other one, or the other one, the one holding the bloodied pen or smearing grue on the keyboard, packs his stories with such fathomless depth as to dip us in the viscous substance and allow it to seep into our pores.

This resonance has teeth.

This resonance perseveres…

His characters face horrors that transcend not just time and space, but perception. Reality caters to no laws. The deep hallucinatory vibe that paints many of his stories in the blackened hues of the dead rainbow snuggles into the brainpan and prods with insistence.   

Anything is possible.

That’s always been my primary guideline when writing fiction: anything is possible. Clive Barker once wrote, “I forbid my mind nothing.” Well, Barron’s taken it a few steps--or light years--beyond even that. His mind is a place of rare brilliance, peering in on monstrosities not only of the flesh, be it alien and disturbing, though still human--mutations or weird evolution, depending on perception, leer from the nooks and crannies and dark pockets of his world--but of mind’s twisted in such ways as to allow these monstrosities room to roam freely. The psychological nuances--though often with the minds scarred from being witness to that which no longer lurks in the shadows, but has slunk out into view, to shake one's hand--pack unnerving ooomph that we all can relate to in some human way.

Read “Hallucinogenia,” “Mysterium Tremendium,” “The Imago Sequence,” The Forest,” “The Broadsword,” “Old Virginia"--read them all!  The impact for me was profound. I heard bells tolling; I sensed the malicious chords being strummed; the music was dissonant and unnerving, yet I could not turn it off because it was in my head now, the external force of the words finding a fresh mind to corrupt.

His words sang to me and I listened, oh yes: I willingly paid the price…

That’s what I get with much of Barron’s work, this sense of a fullness of imagination, of every sense gathered in union, participation; of being pushed to new and unexplored terrains within the mind. But as with Lovecraft and Barker and a few others before him, Barron’s able to inspire such strange dread I cannot resist its lure; my mind is opened as an chasm, wanting to be filled with his pitch black tales.

So, I read on. And On.

The work resonates because it does not depend on that which came before. It may be imbued with it, of course, but writers like Lovecraft, Barker and Barron pay fierce attention to their own ideals, their willingness to not only look under the sheet we’ve pulled up to our eyeballs, but to play with whatever lurks there, to get to really know and understand it on a level most writers simply cannot imagine. His personal history amidst the wilderness--he used to run the Iditarod and has noted his youth in Alaska was harsh, filled with extreme poverty and worse--plays a key role in his getting the vibe right, getting it real.  Here's a link to an interview in which he outlines some of the rough times:

Or perhaps the work resonates because writers of that ilk have got better style, man. 

Barron’s got two books out so far, The Imago Sequence & Other Stories , and, Occultation and Other Stories. They are not simply recommended, they are mandatory reading!

A hundred years and more from now, when historians specializing in Horror look back, they’ll note the masters--Poe, Lovecraft, Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith, Barker, etc., and near the top of that list will be Laird Barron. Why? Because he’s that good. We are lucky to be present as his work unfolds. Trust me on this, buy those two books and look forward to what follows with deep anticipation because Barron’s the real deal. Barron’s work is timeless; Barron's work is classic.

Okay, well, that's me crackin' open the noggin' and letting what's inside pour across the keyboard.  Ragged but fun, I hope and, again, be sure to check out his work. You will not be disappointed.