11.09.2014

Swan Song by Robert McCammon



Once upon a time, the Cold War made the U.S.A. a nation of nuclear neurotics.  The probability of nuclear war was taken so seriously here that public schools drummed its terrifying possibility into our heads with such practiced, prolonged and one might say paranoid intensity that Armageddon might as well have already detonated deep inside our impressionable minds, enduring as we did, those what were supposed to be surprise but became oddly rote classroom disaster drills that gave everybody involved in the collective safety charade a short-lived sense of security even as they purported to "prepare" us for that inevitable blinding light and shockwave inferno that one day would incinerate us all into kiddie crisps.  The question wasn't if an ICBM would pulverize us, but when?

Deluxe Dark Harvest first edition of Swan Song, 1989
Swan Song, published and set during what turned out to be the Cold War's waning twilight of the mid-to-late 1980s, showcased the absolute worst possible scenario in the event of an all out nuclear blitz. Not just slow miserable death, but cruel physical deformities that were like outward manifestations of the bizarre metastasis overtaking so many hopeless and ravaged minds.

I've read the nearly 1000 page novel twice. I love it.  Kudos to Robert McCammon for taking what even around the time the Berlin Wall fell was already a tired post apocalyptic premise and breathing some beautifully foul life into the oversaturated genre. I like it better than Stephen King's The Stand by far.  Funny how it turned out for the survivors of the ensuing nuclear winters in the States that the likewise decimated Soviet Union had never been their worst enemy after all.

11.08.2014

The Usual Mistakes by Erin Flanagan



Make no mistake, Erin Flanagan's first short story collection, The Usual Mistakes, is unusually great.

Easily one of my favorite book covers of all time.  I do love those beautiful tatts.  I love as well ... that "nostring". Love also her more subtle earring -- a nice nuanced touch. Thank you, Erin Flanagan (I do know that's not you on your debut book cover, but hey, I love you anyway) because you wrote a fabulous first book, in your stirring collection of short stories. I may actually scribble something more specifically about a few of them (if not all of them) very soon....