Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Paperbacks From Hell

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror FictionPaperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this book on display at a local Barnes & Noble & immediately swooped it up. I had just spent the afternoon at a nearby used bookstore taking pictures of weird & retro sci-fi covers–how could I not check this collection out?!

Author Grady Hendrix was merely another curious browser in dusty old book stores, trying to find the weirdest, most lurid forgotten paperbacks until his innocuous habit became a full-blown obsession with cataloging the explosion of horror novels from the 70s & 80s. His timeline kicks off with the publication of Rosemary’s Baby & ends with Clive Barker & the brief explosion of teen horror luminaries like R.L. Stine & Christopher Pike.

Hendrix is having way too much fun with this book, exploring the social anxieties of the decades & making a bunch of silly running jokes about how skeleton doctors are the worst doctors with equal enthusiasm. And if you are curious about his focus & are game to play along, you’ll have fun while reminiscing about some of those same mass market covers you probably saw in the supermarket while tagging along on your parents’ errands. In all seriousness, some of the books/authors that Hendrix outlines will tease you just enough that you’ll find yourself making a reading list against your better judgement. He’s convinced this reader to give V.C. Andrews a chance & to cause me to look at William Johnston’s Westerns with a skeptical glance. (I see you, weirdo, with your supposedly milquetoast jacket descriptions.)

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Books, Thoughts

Nostalgia Porn of the 90s, part 2

Maybe I noticed this because I think that everyone else lives in their memories of the 90s, like me.  But I came across this book cover & I get the nagging feeling that the cover artist watched a lot of The Pretender.  Because this certainly looks like Ryan Merriman, who played Young Jared.  Or some scary VR replica.  Brrr, the uncanny valley is unforgiving.



My Eclipse Song

Everyone else is listening to Total Eclipse of the Heart today, but I’ve got another one for you.  What about some amazingly anachronistic synth-driven ballad-hybridized music from Alan Parsons for a movie about a medieval knight & his lady & their true love?

That’s right, the soundtrack to the one & only LadyHawke!  Enjoy it & wonder why you haven’t watched this crazy thing yet!


Abandoned Sexy Clothes

I will only admit to this once & since I’m posting this on the Internet, I guess that makes it a permanent statement.  I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in all it’s weird, quasi-New-Age-y, yet surprisingly practical glory.  (I hate admitting to reading popular stuff; it’s a bad snobby habit from working at Borders.)  And I’ve also been using some of the suggestions to a degree, organizing & disposing of whatever doesn’t “spark joy.”  (I cringe at typing that out loud.)  But methodically facing down each item in every single drawer can be an interesting exercise in not only housekeeping, but memory.  Which brings me to what I’d left in the very bottom drawer of my bureau, hidden under workout clothes & long heavy scarves:  the abandoned sexy clothes of my 20s.

Hello, early aughts, I thought I’d left you behind. . .

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Watership Down

Watership DownWatership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading this classic this year, after realizing that some of the school kids at my public library were reading it for class. Why not? I figured & picked up a copy myself. Watership Down follows a plucky group of rabbits who leave when Fiver, a more mystical rabbit, receives a presentiment that their burrow is under threat. With his brother Hazel, the group sets off on a trek to find a peaceful home & have many adventures learning about the wide world & how other warrens have survived.

I’m glad to have finally read this & I do wish I had come across it when I was younger. I think it would have made a much more emotional impact. As an adult, I was more interested in the world-building Adams undertakes: the myths of the first rabbit El-ahrairah, the Lapine language. The scenes with Cowslip’s warren are tense & entrancing. But, as a detached reader, I soon picked up that nothing too terrible would happen to any of the named main characters. They might get wounded or change their perspectives but none of them would actually die–and this suspicion was borne out. With the resulting low stakes, reading Down remained more of an intellectual exercise than an absorbing read.

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