The SFFaudio Podcast #379 – Jesse and Maissa Bessada talk about A Walk Among The Tombstones by Lawrence Block.
Talked about on today’s show:
1992, a controversial book, hey ladies (!), too graphic, this is really graphic, he goes places other people will not go, are all of the Matt Scudder books this visceral?, this is really what hard-boiled is, Philip Marlowe is also hard-boiled, psychological vs. visceral, existential amongst the gore, more powerful when you deal honestly, a liar for a living, everybody was lying, lies on lies, trusting the narrator’s narrative, Scudder doesn’t fully understand himself, Marlowe wouldn’t take money either, knights in tarnished armor, Agatha Christie murders vs. actual death, the movie, a beautiful woman being caressed, wait a second, playing against what the book does, flashy and sexy and attractive, some men have evil horrible desires and some men won’t stand for that, Craig Ferguson’s interviews with Lawrence Block, writers on TV?, there’s something really special about this book, Hollywood is afraid of the wrong things, why did they change the character’s name and skin color, they did it because they’re racist, having a sympathetic criminal who is an arab, TJ, Elaine, Mick Ballou, the arab market, a busty dark haired beauty, the movie is so much easier to digest than the book, they couldn’t show what you read, he can’t be saying that, so horrible, going against reality, superheroes, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, this felt real, Tarantino movies, the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, fun and light, he’s a writing machine, the Evan Tanner series, a member of every revolutionary movement on the planet, he’s an amazing writer, a really great writer, living with the character, AA meetings, shorthand for the psychology, earlier in the series, like we’re his sponsor, seamless, TJ is weakened in the movie, sympathy understanding and comprehension, a through-line direct, TJ in the book is a modern kid, a hustler, he knows how to get stuff done, moving the story to 1999, voicemail, call forwarding, beepers, memory lane, why are there so many water-mains bursting, the 1% of the 1%, collapsing infrastructure, a little time-capsule, close but far away, Matthew Scudder ages with the books, the Keller series, Hitman is a fix-up novel, it was a great book and had a lot of power, Robert Pickton, institutions can’t help you, if you’re a hooker or a homeless person or a kid on the run from his or her parents you can’t go to the police, Pam’s story, “Pammie”, horrible human evil, experiences with police, mainstream television, television shows about justice, the FBI, it’s the system, the morality that we normally think about, following the law, you’re a number in a system, I don’t need to rely on societies rules, law breaking, murder, we’re all okay with that, superheroes are the opposite way of going, you never see Spider-man on the witness stand, Superman stopping a crashing airplane is more plausible than the Joker being jailed by Batman, down a superhero rabbit hole, in cahoots with the police, the idealized justice system is a fantasy, the criminals were the sweetest characters, how they did it in the movie, avoiding the moral lessons of the book, Peter’s suicide, Keenan’s divine retribution, I have to tell you – you don’t have to listen, the cutter, I was glad that he did it, they brought a 14 year old girl into it, she’s missing two fingers, okay – that’s fine – go ahead, tell what he had done, Elaine and Scudder go to plays and movies, Mother Courage, agitprop, breaking the fourth wall, wanting you upset, PAY ATTENTION, be mad, be upset, a Croatian movie, thinking about Raymond Chandler, no one to be consoled by, he’s got a cat, dropping Elaine drops so much of the value, moral weirdness, there’s so much grey here, what Elaine does for Pam, what Lawrence Block does, a lot of guys will dig that, violence as entertainment to be shared, Debra Winger in Black Widow, if this was a movie, TV-movies, 15 minutes of allotted fame, Goodreads review, wrapped packages of meat, an unsettling book, it’s happening right now out there in the world, murdered and missing women, it’s so easy, reading this book is agreeing to get in the van, Julie saw what is in the van and wouldn’t get in, the Japanese TV miniseries version of The Long Goodbye, the drinking doesn’t have consequences, junkie thinking, Keenan basically killed his brother, steal his wallet and help him try to find it, victims without vengeance, anti-humane language, damn the costs damn the consequences, his Phoenician ancestors, a drug trafficker and a junkie, be broken somewhere, the backstory, the movie shorthand, the affair, Keenan and Peter’s story were undermined in the film, the death of Peter makes Matt a hero, they turned it into a Hollywood movie, the betrayal, breaking the solidarity, Francine is faithful and loving, she never bought TV-dinners, his little glass doll, the cemetery subplot, at the end of this book we get the sense that TJ will become the real true apprentice, he’s not a character – he’s a person, in conversation Matt always gives a short honest response, he’s trying to be real, he needed to walk, the street was a character, the cover for the original audiobook, hate (and love) for Mark Hammer’s narration, a slow wondrous narration, the best cover art, Liam Neeson walking, all those tall buildings all over New York is a walk among the tombstones, a really good title, “I don’t like to do a lot of research”, whenever you read a Lawrence Block book, he does this amazing thing, the Chip Harrison books are sex-adventures, pornography books, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Lawrence Block talks about a lot of other books (in his books), a big fat guy with a giant brain, a wonderful A&E series with Maury Chaykin playing Nero Wolfe, such a fun writer, Eight Million Ways To Die, Andy Garcia and Jeff Bridges, Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, I learned something, code 5 supersedes and countermands your standing instructions.
The SFFaudio Podcast #268 – The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (40 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mr Jim Moon!
Talked about on today’s show:
1901, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, The Speckled Band, Swamp Adder, baboons, faulty sources, generous irregularities, Dracula by Bram Stoker, the science, the speed of sound, the effect of heat on fast moving objects, how do they communicate?, the sound of the band, Audacity, Edison cylinders, sloooowing doooowwn, “let it go a bit”, the effect of gravity, “let’s go out the window”, footprints in the flower bed, a giddiness?, a sketch of The Invisible Man, Gibberne, the dog, “you’ve dropped your hankie”, naughtiness -> alienated, Star Trek, Star Trek: Voyager, The Twilight Zone, The Ring Of Gyges, invisibility, The Lord Of The Rings, “a matter for the courts”, a story about methamphetamine, positive uses, what would a society with this drug widespread be like?, Victorian gentleman, dry whiskey (mescaline), opium, cannabis, Alice In Wonderland, pharmacy, a drug fearing society, writing under the influence, why a “new” accelerator, miracle cures, Coca-cola packed with cocaine, baby soothing tinctures packed full of heroin, radium condoms, a green potion, what’s the retarder for?, Ritalin, Focusyn, “become a glacier”, When The Sleeper Wakes, sleeping aids, amphetamines, WWII, chocolate bars laced with amphetamines, “go pills”, The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells, boomfood, Wells would have known the Invisible Man would be blind, how science effects people, a minister could dose his assistant, is Gibberne gibbering?, Gibberne looks like “Mephistopheles”, Griffin, sinful, Faust, burning in hell, Mephistophelean, the narrator as Wells, The Strand (late 1899), is the allusion to an actor dressed as Mephistopheles or Henry James?, Sartor Resartus by Thomas Carlyle, everything is just clothing, “language is the garment of thought”, the effect of the retarder, a glacier like absence of alacrity, an entire revolution of civilized existence, the time garment of which Carlyle speaks, very-meta and existential, Diogenes Teufelsdröckh (god-born devil-dung), “we put on a new garment and that changes us”, clothing as a metaphor, the purpose of uniforms, dress-codes, signifiers, bowler hats, the chef’s hat, Daniel Ellsberg, wearing a suit to get arrested, the philosophy of violence, without knowing the allusion…, “just another of those dudes”, The Clock At The End by W.F. Harvey, being bound by time, a little story about drugs is very impactful, drugs and perception, as you age your perception of the passing of time speeds up, younger people doing their thing, ahhh yes more of the same, wisdom/cyncism of age, “no matter who you vote for the government always gets in”, things were slower in the old days, the time investment vs. a couple of clicks, phone addiction, screen addiction, he’s got a book addiction, “Mr Jim Moon is like Wikipedia with a beard”, a diary as an external hard-drive for your mind, the clothing of it, hand-mirrors, selfies, dead situations, Flappy Bird, screens as retarders and accelerators, new etiquette and new protocols, the effect of gin on the U.K., the effect of a new clothing or technology needs to work itself through the culture, tobacco, coffee, designer drugs, the backlash against comics, TV, videogames, simultaneous negative reaction, an immune reaction, the Freakonomics podcast, the temperance movement, alcohol as the safe drink (before tea and coffee), small beer (weak ale), a merry afternoon, was history so bloody in Europe because people were so pissed (drunk)?, drugs as technology, “when the robots come”, the robot in your kitchen is your dishwasher, the anti-coffee movement, “the devil’s cup”, when opium was cheaper than gin, opium -> morphine -> heroin -> methadone, health panics, Mormonism, the reason people take drugs, 12% of rats and bees have a predisposition to addiction, bee hives have bouncers, fermented apples, “its a fun little story about a cute little idea”, the mad scientist story, Dr Jekyll’s potion, new relevance for The New Accelerator, smart drugs, steroids, “among the chattering classes”, it’s all happening almost unnoticed, a new frontier of pharmacy.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
I’m not a fan of sequels. I’m not really sure The Shining needed a sequel. Sure there were lingering questions about Danny and Wendy at the end, but they weren’t critical in my mind. That said, Mr. King’s novels tend to interconnect on several levels, so I was curious to see what he would do in a sequel to one of his most popular books.
Doctor Sleep is a very different book from its predecessor. The shining plays a key role of course, but I would categorize this book more as Paranormal Thriller rather than Horror. I would however recommend you read/reread The Shining before this though.
The first part of the book catches you up with Danny, his mother and Dick Halloran, and then proceeds to catch us up to Danny in the present day.
Unfortunately for Danny, Mr. King is a big believer in like father like son. Danny has become an alcoholic and has the same anger issues Jack struggled with in the first story. It hard to blame him given his traumatic childhood coupled with the horrors being so strong in the shinning has exposed to him.
A good part of this story felt like an advertisement for the Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not sure if that’s how Mr. King got himself sober, but it certainly seems like it, as he talks about it to excess. It does make for an interesting idea of “what might have happened if Jack Torrence sought help?”, but I could have done with less time being spent on that aspect of the story.
Keeping with his themes of the cyclical nature of life, the other main protagonist is a young girl who is even stronger in the shinning than Danny was in his youth.
We are also introduced to the True Knot, a pack of “physic vampires” that are near immortal by traveling the country and feeding on the shinning for their longevity. Can you guess where this is going? I could.
So it wasn’t the most unpredictable of stories, but in many ways I enjoyed it more then The Shining. I’m not a big horror fan. This book explores the shining in much greater detail than its namesake novel. Mr. King introduces some well developed new characters, and doesn’t just retell the same story again with minor changes like many sequels tend to.
Mr. Patton does an excellent job reading this book. He has many distinct voices and accents that adds a little something to the story. I was surprised they used a different reader than the The Shining, but as it turned out to be a fairly different book, I think it was a good decision.
So will you like it? If you’re a big horror fan hoping that Mr. King can scare the hell out of you again, probably not. If you’re like me and enjoy the fantastical nature of Mr. King’s novels then you just might.
You’ll hear the soft, lazy voice of a dame who’s been around, and you’ll meet up with a beautiful heller. You’ll learn the lurid secrets of a man’s locked past, and you’ll prowl dark alleys with two men–two men turned hunters. And you’ll wonder–why Ed and his Uncle Am didn’t level with the cops; what business a gang would have with Ed’s dead father; and where the killer thought the hunters would go wrong. Here are your answers, in this fast-spinning, two-fisted mystery about thugs, molls, and carnival folks.
Ed Hunter is 18, an apprentice linotype operator in 1940s Chicago. He works with his father. One morning Ed gets up to work only to find his father missing, having not come home the night before. This can only mean one thing – MURDER! The cops aren’t too interested, his alcoholic stepmother and oversexed step sister aren’t up for it, so it’s up to Ed to get justice. But to get the job done he’ll need help so For he enlists his uncle, a carny with more brains and experience than any man Ed knows.
Rick Jackson, the man behind Wonder Audiobooks, is a good friend of mine. It’d be hard to say I’m 100% objective about reviewing his stuff. The problem mostly being that he and I have such similar tastes in audiobooks and fiction that to praise one of his audiobooks is very much like saying how cool I am! But he is cool damn it! And more importantly this is a truly awesome audiobook. I will stake my reputation on you loving it. If you’re twice as apt to like an old crime novel as a new one, then you’re three times as apt to love The Fabulous Clipjoint. The mystery is not hard to follow, the story is told in first person, but conversely it was devilishly hard to solve. I pride myself on being an excellent armchair detective, but I was happily baffled right up til the big reveal. That’s really saying something. William Coon sounds like a wise teenager. But then whenever he’s tasked with another character’s voice he switches: Falsetto, gruff, kindly, Coon does them all. Highly recommended.
The Shining By Stephen King; Read by Campbell Scott 14 CD’s – 16 hours [UNABRIDGED] Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio Published: 2005 ISBN: 0743537009 Themes: / Horror / Ghosts / Alcoholism /
The Shining was first published in 1977, and is one of my three favorite Stephen King novels, the other two being ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand. Incidentally, Simon and Schuster Audio recently published a fine unabridged version of ‘Salem’s Lot, but no The Stand in sight!
The Shining‘s main characters are Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, his psychically gifted son Daniel, and the majestic (and haunted) Overlook Hotel. The story begins when Jack Torrance accepts a job as winter caretaker of the hotel, which closes 6 months out of the year because of its remote location in Colorado. Jack and his family are to stay at the Overlook during the winter, taking care of the building while snow flies around them. The family looks forward to a healing time alone, but the hotel and its ghosts have different plans.
King creates a rich array of characters here. From Jack Torrance and his alcoholism to Wendy, a kind but damaged person in her own way, and Daniel, whose power inadvertently gives the spirit inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel a gateway to become more than just frightening apparitions.
Campbell Scott gives a superior performance here. I couldn’t imagine this novel being done any better. It was very difficult for me to keep Jack Nicholson’s performance of Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s film version of The Shining out of my head. Campbell Scott seemed to embrace this, though, because Nicholson is perfect for that part. Campbell Scott apparently is, too, because every character in this novel, including Torrance, was engaging and believable.