Harry Potter 7 – The Deadly Hallows

Harry Potter has come to an end.

And a pretty emotional and potent one it was too.

Rowling delivered an end game worthy of the franchise. The book breaks down into three acts of which the first was very good, the third was excellent, and the middle was sluggish and over long. All during the middle section feelings I was reading filler or padding kept coming to mind. The tent section, for lack of a better term could have been compressed by half I wager without losing any story points. It seems like the book needed to be of a similar length to complement the other books in the series.

Despite that minor quibble, Rowling’s writing skills to weave an engrossing tale were in full display. The final act of the book is very powerful and elicits powerful emotional reactions. I admit to getting misty eyed during one sequence. The final confrontation is well played and very cinematic.

No doubt about it. Rowling delivered big time with this book.

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Pot Pourri

A smattering of a couple of things that have passed over my plate in the last while:

True Blood – a HBO TV series based on the Sookie Stackhouse series of books by Charlaine Harris. The series is situated in a Louisiana town of Bon Temps and the look of the show is appropriately gothic, steamy and sensuous.  In this world Vampires have come out because of the creation of a synthetic blood substitute – True Blood.

The title character Sookie is played by Anna Paquin who is a waitress at a local diner.  Sookie is telepathic which forces herself to isolate herself because of all the unwanted input she is receiving.  When a vampire moves into town and shows up at the diner Sookie is intrigued because, beyond the requisite allure of a dark and handsomely brooding stranger, she cannot read his thoughts.

To this point I have seen the first 6 episodes and am intrigued enough to continue watching but am ambivalent on long range engagement.  There are interesting mixes of genre staples going on ie vampires, mind-reading, & potentially werewolves – that is still up in the air, but I’m hard pressed to find a sympathetic character to hang my hat on.  Some of them are down right irritating, especially Sookie’s brother.  And the last episode killed off my favourite character to date.  So we will see.  Mark this one a trashy pleasure.

The Rifle by Jack Ketchum – I had the pleasure of rediscovering this short story this past week after reading it a couple of years ago.  Ketchum’s novel The Girl Next Door is a powerhouse book that has that ‘terrible car accident but I can’t help looking’ vibe.  That book tells such a shocking story that is so strong that I can recall it with great clarity years later.  The horror is so shocking because its based on true events with no supernatural elements.

The Girl Next Door is a slow descent into the bowels of Hell.  The Rifle is a bullet train there.  This short story is best left undescribed to the unitiated but I defy anyone who starts reading the story to predict where it ends up going.  A dark, dark piece that resonates even more strongly today than when it was first written back in 1995.  A real gut puncher.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle  – picked this book up based on recommendations by Stephen King and bev_vincent .  So far its very intriguing.  An interesting mix of the real and fantasy, whimsy and pathos. 

The Book That Was The Spark That Lit The Fire.

Occasionally a thread comes up at one of the web forums I frequent asking what book or books read as a child hooked one on genre fiction.

For me it was a combination of the many dinosaur books I devoured from my local library and this book.

This is the book that was the spark that lit the fire. I ordered it through my school’s grade school book program. The cover in the ordering pamphlet caught my eye and has stuck with me forever. As an eight year old it enthralled and hypnotized me. The ghost. Was he stalking the boy? The boy with the flashlight and shovel. Where was he going? Was he going to dig up a treasure or perhaps… maybe even a grave? And his head was tilted towards the tree where the ghost was hiding! Had the boy heard something? Seen something? And the name, ‘Dibble Hollow.’ It sounded so deliciously mysterious and spooky. Behind the cover lay pages with so many intriguing possibilities! All these thoughts set my mind racing and my heart pounding.

This was the book that flipped a switch in my brain. Once I devoured it in a reading frenzy, a universe of potential stories to read opened before me. From here came the discoveries of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Stoker, Shelley, Bradbury and later King, Straub, Matheson etc and so many more.

It all started with the image on this book cover.

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Ghosts on the Road

Here are the Ghosts

Finished 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Great collection, despite the hype exceeding my expectations. Some great stories – with a couple out of the box – Pop Art in particular.

Here is The Road

Zipped through The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I think if an author of lessor reputation or a relative newbie had tried to write a book in the same style – short, terse paragraphs with no dialogue punctuation – the book would have been dismissed outright as a gimmick.

Once acclimatized to the style it lent itself well to the starkness of the post-apocolyptic world and the existence of the survivors, in this case a father and his boy. It is a dark story that focuses solely on the relationship between father and son and makes no attempt to address the larger issues of why and how civilization collapsed.

The book is definitely worth reading as the relationship is so expertly explored and there are some amazing descriptive passages. But beyond a small ray of hope at the end, the big questions are left open and that sense of incompleteness diminishes the impact of the story to a degree, in my humble opinion.

Up next – Axis – Robert Charles Wilson’s sequel to his Hugo Award winning novel – Spin.

Lost – Bring On Season 4!

Wolfed down the Season 3 boxset of Lost. Season 3 really rocked watched it in marathon session mode. This season gets my nod as the best one so far. The twist done with flashbacks in the series finale was an excellent one – even though I caught it right off the bat when the episode first aired. One of the few times I have been on the ball in my life! Its a bold step and as the series finale title – Through the Looking Glass – suggests, a new dynamic will be in place for the remaining three seasons.

Nearly done Joe Hill’s short story collection – 20th Century Ghosts. An excellent collection of stories with some so original that it is taking me some time to process them properly. At the head of that list is Pop Art. It scans as ludicrous in parts yet always manages to pull you back because it is so poignant and touching. A helluva of a balancing act by Joe Hill.

Mr. Hands

Finished Mr. Hands by Gary Braunbeck. Uniquely structured and filled with some incredibly emotionally powerful sequences.

Up next – Brian Keene’s – The Dead Sea.