Posts Tagged ‘visceral’

Pet Sematary

October 26, 2011

Author: King, Stephen

Title:  Pet Sematary

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date: 2001

Number of pages: 562

Geographical Setting: Ludlow, Maine

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: A young family moves from Chicago to a country house in Ludlow, a small college town in Maine. The doctor, Louis Creed, his pretty wife, his sweet little daughter, and a toddler boy settle in quickly and make friends with a local, elderly couple from across the street. It all starts well but the first signs of menace can be felt when the neighbor, Jud Crandall, warns the Creeds against the dangers of the busy road that separates their houses, and then shows them an old “Pet Sematary” located in the back of their property. When the family cat gets killed, Jud secretly takes Louis and the corpse into the woods, past the “sematary” and into the old, supernatural Indian burying ground known for sending dead animals back, and sure enough, the cat appears alive. But is it really? What is the price of the resurrection? What are the limits?  What does the neighbor’s statement “sometimes dead is better” mean? The rest of this bone-chilling story rapidly descends into a psychological horror tale of unimaginable loss, macabre death, undead evil, and supernatural powers of a place that “went sour.”

Subject Headings: Undead, Pets, Pet Cemeteries, Loss (Psychology), Supernatural, Small town life—Maine.

Appeal: creepy, menacing, horrifying, visceral, disturbing, nightmarish, chilling, dark, morbid, ghoulish, revolting, heart-wrenching, compelling, character-driven, suspenseful, fast-paced.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: creepy, menacing, character-driven.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Stephen King Illustrated Companion: Manuscripts, Correspondence, Drawings and Memorabilia from the Master of Modern Horror by Bev Vincent: the book discusses King’s most iconic works and monsters, and tries to connect them to King’s personal experiences, thoughts and memories. Parts of the plot of “Pet Sematary” are based on King’s real-life experience and the connections are discussed in this companion book.

2) Encyclopedia of the Undead by Bob Curran: this book collects a wide range of vampires, werewolves, ghouls and monsters from around the world, traces their origins, and connects them to our psychology and archetypical fears.

3) Dark Woods, Chill Waters: Ghost Tales from Down East Maine by Marcus LiBrizzi: a collection of most chilling and menacing stories about Maine where deep, dark forests and harsh cliffs are reflected in the supernatural lore and stories of unimaginable horror and evil.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Walking by Bentley Little: a story of a chilling quest to uncover the source of a strange epidemic that turn people into walking dead and propels them to an unknown destination. Similarly to “Pet Sematary,” the story has a disturbing and menacing mood. It’s also fast-paced, character-driven and suspenseful.

2) Second Child by John Saul: a tale of an idyllic town of Secret Cove disturbed by a hundred-years-old legacy of an unspeakable evil act and channeled through a young girl, Melissa Holloway. The story is disturbing, menacing, fast-paced and addresses similar subject of disturbed “old evil” leading toward horrifying consequence.

3) The Good House by Tananarive Due: Angela Toussaint, the protagonist of the story, travels back to her family house to put a closure to the memory of her son’s suicide, only to realize that the town is possessed by evil ancestral spirits driving seemingly balanced people to suicide. Both “Pet Sematary” and this book are fast-paced and creepy horror stories about small town life, menacing supernatural and the psychology of loss.

Megan R.

Horns

April 6, 2011

Author: Joe Hill

Title: Horns

Genre: Horror / Audio book

Publication Date: 2010

Length: 12 compact discs (13 hours, 50 minutes unabridged)

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:
Ignatius Perrish seemed to have it all: a promising internship abroad, a devoted relationship with his childhood sweetheart, and the admiration of his family and New Hampshire community. Then the unthinkable happens: Merrin Williams, the love of his life, is found raped and murdered. Despite never being charged or tried for the crime, he is found guilty in the court of public opinion and lives in his own private hell.

After a particularly nasty bender, Ig wakes up to discover horns protruding from his temples. The horns give him the power of insight, compelling strangers and friends and family alike to confess their darkest impulses and feelings. While he uncovers the truth about Merrin’s death, he realizes just how dark human nature really is, and wonders if he should just give in to the devil inside of him.

Subject Headings:
Devil, Faith, Good and evil, Lovers, Revenge, Murder victims, Grief, New Hampshire, Telepathy, Monsters, Transformation, Brothers

Appeal:
Page-turning, descriptive, visceral, darkly humorous, compelling, violent, suspenseful, speculative, dark, bleak, engrossing, flawed characters, profanity, sexually explicit, flashbacks, unaffected language

3 terms that best describe this book:
Compelling, gruesome, cynical

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
King explores the darker side of human nature in this collection of four novellas, which include a rape victim taking revenge, a pact with the devil, and a murder victim that just won’t stay dead.
Similarities: Revenge, dark side of humanity, dealing with the devil

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta
Failed Hollywood filmmaker Eric Shaw is intrigued by a commission to produce a memorial documentary about billionaire Campbell Bradford, but finds himself in over his head when he arrives in West Baden, Indiana, Bradford’s mysterious hometown, a place that oozes with evil.
Similarities: Suspenseful and thriller-esque, well-developed characters, supernatural elements

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker
Action movie star Todd Pickett recovers from plastic surgery in a famous mansion, whose strange panoramic painted tiles unleash hellish creatures on the hunt for his soul.
Similarities: Dark humor, violence, morally ambiguous characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
But I Trusted You: And Other True Cases by Ann Rule
Exploration of criminal cases wherein the victims have been murdered by trusted spouses, lovers, friends, and family.
Similarities: Ig is suspected of murdering his lover, Merrin

People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck
A trained psychiatrist, Peck uses case studies, one of which details demonic possession and exorcism, to analyze ways that evil manifests itself in human behavior, and how one may combat it.
Similarities: Exploration of evil, demonic possession

The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna
The authors recount 10 contemporary tales of possession and haunting, also profiling the work of two active exorcists. They supplement the tales with historical analysis and an appendix of terms, rituals, and exorcism prayers.
Similarities: Demonic possession

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

Pride of Baghdad

June 21, 2010

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Author: Brian K. Vaughan;  Art by Niko Henrichon

Title: Pride of Baghdad

Genre: Graphic Novel (Adventure)

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 136

Geographical Setting: Baghdad, Iraq

Time Period: 2003

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

During a bombing raid in Iraq in 2003, four lions escape from the Baghdad Zoo after it is destroyed.  Now that their wish to be free has been granted, the pride must navigate the ruined streets of the city, searching for food and shelter, things that were previously taken for granted.  As they continue their journey, it becomes apparent that the real meaning of freedom is perhaps not as concrete as the lions once imagined.

In this graphic novel that was inspired by a true event, the voices of Brian K. Vaughan’s pride are enhanced by the art of Niko Henrichon.  Using primarily oranges and greens, Henrichon presents the streets of Baghdad as both a bombed out ruin and a wild jungle.  Throughout the city, the lions encounter a horse stampede, bombs and tanks, as well as an angry bear taking refuge in a once opulent mansion.

The personalities of the lions and other creatures are heightened by the art and their dialogue is matched by their expressions and mannerisms.  The backgrounds also add to the overall feel of the story, giving a dreamlike touch to the proceedings.  A two page spread of two lions gazing at the sunset from a building rooftop is both a breathtaking and surreal sight.

Subject Headings:

Lions; Animal liberation; Independence (Personal quality); Freedom; Captive wild animals; Iraq War, 2003; Survival; Iraq – History – 2003; Graphic novels; Comic books, strips, etc.

Appeal:

thoughtful, sorrowful, emotional, cerebral, turbulent, philosophical, ironic, provocative, intense, visceral, surreal, lush, visually stimulating, elegant, bittersweet

3 terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet; Profound; Powerful

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction

1)      Shooting War by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman

Anti-corporate blogger Jimmy Burns travels to Iraq to become a war correspondent who tell it like it is after he captures a terrorist bombing and posts it online.  He soon discovers that he may not be equipped to handle the realities of the situation in Iraq.

Similarities:  graphic novel, Iraq, influence of war, turbulent

2)      War Fix by Steve Olexa and David Axe

Journalist David Axe tells of his experiences in Iraq and the addiction of being in the thick of the battle in this pseudo-autobiographical story.

Similarities:  graphic novel, Iraq, influence of war, intense

3)      We3 by Grant Morrison

Animals used as experimental weapons escape their creators and have trouble adapting to their new found freedom.  Intense, thought-provoking and emotionally charged, this graphic novel also packs a punch visually, depicting the horrors committed by both the experimenters and the animals themselves, sometimes subtly and often graphically.

Similarities:  graphic novel, animals in peril, meaning of freedom, bittersweet

Non-Fiction

1)      A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

A tale of survival amidst chaos.

Similarities:  graphic novel, profound and powerful, depicts stories of the struggle for survival

2)      Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

The real life events that inspired Brian K. Vaughan to write Pride of Baghdad.

Similarities:  animals in peril, war in Iraq, influence of war

3)      From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth

Focuses on the suffering of ordinary Iraqis during the war and how one marine tried to save a stray dog named Lava by sending him to the United States.

Similarities:  animals in peril, influence of war, Iraq and Iraqi culture

Name: Valerie Kyriakopoulos

Finn

March 17, 2010

Finn: A Novel

Author: Jon Clinch

Title: Finn

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 283

Geographical Setting: Mississippi River; Lasseter, IL (Adams County); St. Petersburg, MO; Alton, IL

Time Period: Pre-Civil War

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Pap Finn is a drunk.  Pap Finn is also a murderer, kidnapper and thief.   Jon Clinch offers a realization of Pap Finn from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Finn is his story.   This volatile character is measured by crisscrossing the span of his life to reveal twisted endeavors and tender motives.  Clinch meticulously dovetails Finn into the tapestry of Twain’s enduring yarn while providing something whole and discrete:  a study of a vicious riverman caught is a swirl of misdeeds that conspire to ruin and extinguish him.

Subject Headings: Finn, Huckleberry, father and son, brothers, runaway children, fugitive slaves, women slaves, men—friendship, race relations, boys, paternity, dead, murder, Mississippi River, Missouri, adventure stories—American, coming of age stories

Appeal: character centered, violent, crude, compelling, measured, rhythmic, engrossing, visceral, evocative, graphic, picturesque, raw

Three terms that best describe the book: dark, lyrical, affecting

Similar authors and works:

Nonfiction
Was Huck Black?:  Mark Twain and African-American Voices by Shelley Fisher Fishkin examines the genesis of Mark Twain’s iconic character, Huckleberry Finn.

Inspired by Huckleberry Finn, Jonathon Raban satisfies a lifelong dream in the travelogue Old Glory:  A Voyage Down the Mississippi.

Borrow from the Pap Finn diet plan, eat like a bona fide Mississippi riverman with the help of Stan Warren and his The World’s Best Catfish Cookbook.

Fiction
More father-son dynamics are on display in Cormac McCarthy’s bleak and haunting The Road.

Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen brings new perspective to Matthiessen’s Watson trilogy in this single volume re-envisioning of the everglade epic about a sugarcane farmer and alleged murderer that was famously gunned down in the swamps of southwest Florida.  Another portrait of a deadman.

David Boring by Daniel Clowes approaches the everyday tedium of a character with a larger-than-life story.

Zach