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I now have three favorite books.

‘The Great and Secret Show” by Clive Barker is my personal benchmark for horror and horror mythology.

“The Physiognomy” by Jeffrey Ford is, for me, the perfect blend of weirdness and dark fantasy.  This book changed the way I think about writing.

“Lullaby” by Chuck Palahniuk was also brilliant.  The themes of life, death, construction and deconstruction (among others) was threaded perfectly throughout the story.  One thing I LOVED is that Palahniuk is twisted but not in a gratuitous manner whatsoever.   Are all Palahniuk’s books this great?  I can’t wait to find out.   Oh, and if you know the proper way to pronounce his last name let me know.


J.G. Ballard

“A marked change had come over the forest, as if dusk had begun to fall. Everywhere the glace sheaths which envelope the trees and vegetation had become duller and more opaque. The crystal floor underneath was occluded and grey, turning the needles into spurs of basalt. The brilliant panoply of colored light had gone, and a dim amber glow moved across the trees, shadowing the sequined floor.”

Just an example of how beautifully Ballard wrote. I finished “The Crystal World” the other day and it became one of my favorite books. His words flowed like poetry and the story moved along effortlessly. I can’t wait to read more of his work.

Now I wait for the “The Atrocity Exhibition” to arrive from Borders. It’s on backorder and I get the occasional “we haven’t forgotten you” e-mail but it’s been a month now. I think I’ll check out “Empire of the Sun” as well.

The Crystal World

The novel tells the story of a physician trying to make his way deep into the jungle to a secluded leprosy treatment facility. While trying to make it to his destination, his chaotic path leads him to try to come to terms with an apocalyptic phenomenon in the jungle that crystallizes everything it touches.

At first glance I wasn’t to excited to read this book that Jeff Ford gave me to read. He’s been trying to expand my reading horizons and the first book he let me borrow was “Dangerous Laughter”, which quite honestly I had to force myself to get through.

I had never heard of J. G. Ballard and the book was published in 1966 so what was there to get excited over?

Well I’m about 1/2 done and this book is great. I have never read such enjoyable characterizations before. And his pacing and suspense are great as well. Best of all he is grandiloquent and pulls it off nicely.

I haven’t finished it yet but I highly recommend the book. Has anyone heard of any other good books by Ballard?

Dangerous Laughter

Jeffrey Ford lent me “Dangerous Laughter” by Steven Millhauser to expand my horizons and hopefully improve my writing. Millhauser does write wonderfully but o far most of the stories in this book are not my cup of tea.

Cat n’ Mouse

At first I was like ‘what the hell?’ It seemed like a Tom and Jerry rehash at first but it came together quite nicely. I actually liked this one. Never thought a deeper meaning could be applied to a cartoon.

The Disappearance of Elaine Coleman
Didn’t care too much for this one. It ended with a fizzle for me.

The Room in the Attic
Loved this one. Very nice build up and well crafted characters. I thought the ending was great.

Dangerous Laughter
This was a cool idea that actually lit a spark in me which led to my writing a story of my own. However, I didn’t care to much for the execution of this story and there was a lot of repetition of the laughing which grew old quick for me.

The Dome
The story had some nice metaphor but the main idea led nowhere for me. I got it but didn’t care too much.

I know, I know these reviews are vague with close to zero detail but I do not want to ruin the stories for anyone who may want to read them. I have a few more to go so my overall opinion of the book may change.

I can see why this book was recommended to me. It is thought provoking and extremely well written but it’s just not for me so far in regards to action and pacing.

Have you read Millhauser? What do you think?