Showing posts from October, 2016

Halloween reads

If you follow me on Twitter (@arbitraryreader, y'all), you will have seen that I'm trying to watch 31 horror films over October. It's been fab, but it has taken a chunk out of my reading time. For those of you who aren't compelled to take part in arbitrary challenges, may I make some recommendations for scary books to take you through the Halloween period:

THE CLASSIC: I love reading classic literature as it often provides an insight into the ideas and tropes that influence our modern favourites. This is particularly true of horror. Can you imagine the genre without Stoker's Dracula or the gothic psychological horror of Poe? It's just so important. My choice here is not quite that old, but I think it contains imagery that all horror fans will recognise, imagery that has particularly influenced the way haunted houses look on the big screen. It's The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It's got psychological horror, a creaky old house that seems to …

I'm into the Ds!

It's true: Cataract City by Craig Davidson marks the move of my arbitrary reading challenge into the Ds. Also true is that, like my last arbitrary read Sweetland, this is a Canadian book. Randomness produces clumps, amirite?

Googling Cataract City brings up quite a lot of information. It looks like this was quite a big release when it was first published in 2014, but it's one that completely passed me by. I also didn't know that Cataract City is a reference to Niagara Falls though, so I'm probably just uneducated.

Oh shit! Davidson wrote the stories that inspired the film Rust and Bone! I love that film!

Ok, I'm excited now.

The story seems to be about the life of the town behind the touristy facade, a life which is much rougher than the beautiful scenery might suggest. 

What? Craig Davidson is also horror writer Nick Cutter? I also did not know that. 

From the reviews, there does seem to be an undercurrent of horror to this book, with a hypermasculine culture being port…

Bitter Sweetland

Despite being only about 300 pages long, it took me well over a week to read Sweetland. It was unusually slowgoing, hard to read more than about 30 pages at a time. Thankfully, this was not for bad reasons, but because the style of the writing and pacing of the story encourage a slow read, wanting the reader to turn over each sentence in their minds and to allow the plot room to breathe. This is not a book for speedreaders.

I found the slow pace frustrating at first until I discovered that the pace was hugely important to the story. Sweetland is about a small island near Newfoundland, a place where life runs at a much slower speed than it does on the mainland. Inhabitants are being encouraged to leave for the sake of a large payoff but Moses Sweetland, one of the older residents who has spent most of his life on the island, is holding out, unwilling to leave the only life he really knows. Moses' existence is not a cluttered one: he fishes and shoots for much of his food, resting on…