“Christine” (Post 3/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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[56] Reference:

Sheb Wooley was singing “The Purple People Eater.”


Shelby Fredrick “Sheb” Wooley (1921 – 2003) was a character actor and singer, best known for his 1958 novelty song “The Purple People Eater.” He was also in High Noon, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Rawhide. Wooley is also credited as the voice actor who produced the Wilhelm scream sound effect.

[57] Reference:

Both of them played chess as if maybe they thought Ruy Lopez was some new kind of soft drink.


The Ruy Lopez, also called the Spanish Opening or Spanish Game, is a chess opening named after 16th-century Spanish bishop Ruy Lopez de Segura.

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“Christine” (Post 2/3)

Christine 02

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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[25] Reference:

Loads up the Nibroc dispenser with paper towels.


The first properly mass-produced paper towels were Nibroc Paper Towels, first produced in 1922 at the Cascade Mill on the Berlin/Gorham New Hampshire line (I am mentioning this because I have been by this mill a ton of times and I’m delighted to have this piece of trivia). William E. Corbin, the inventor (and later mayor of Berlin, New Hampshire) used his own last name spelled backward for the brand. When he died, he was called “the father of paper towels.”

[26] References:

A couple of times I had gone with him on sunny summer afternoons to marinas along King George Lake and Lake Passeeonkee.


From context, it sounds like Dennis is talking about lakes near the Pittsburgh area. There is a Lake George in New York, but it is an eight-hour drive from Pittsburgh.

Looking up Lake Passeeonkee only brings up references to Christine.

I think King made up both for the book. Continue reading

“Christine” (Post 1/3)

Christine 01

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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Stephen King’s 1983 novel. I read a lovely first edition.

2 out of 5 stars. 

Times Read: 3

Seen the Movie: No

The Plot:

High school football-star Dennis and awkward, acne-cursed Arnie are best friends. The summer before their senior year, Arnie impulsively buys a run-down 1958 Plymouth Fury. When Arnie becomes dangerously obsessed with the car, Dennis uncovers its past and finds an evil at work on his friend.

Or, the killer car story.

I accept the premise. My problems are not with the ridiculousness of the plot. I will not ask how or why Christine exists. She does and that’s fine.

I am going to ask why this book runs nearly five hundred pages, why it switches from first person to third (and back again), and how it justifies leaning on nightmares and visions instead of real action. (No one dreams as on-the-nose as Stephen King characters. No, sir.)

Christine is uneven and indecisive, more first draft than finished product. King would have had a solid novella on his hands if he had edited it down to the essentials. Instead… Continue reading

“Cat’s Cradle” (Post 2/2)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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He held a glass of champagne, which was included in the price of his ticket. That glass was to him what a fishbowl would have been to a normal man, but he drank from it with elegant ease – as though he and the glass could not have been better matched.

The little son of a bitch had a crystal of ice-nine in a thermos bottle in his luggage, and so did his miserable sister.

(p.80) Continue reading

“Cat’s Cradle” (Post 1/2)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 classic. I read a 1970s Dell edition. I wish I knew who designed the cover. 

4 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Atomic bomb creator Felix Hoenikker has left his last great invention to his three children: Ice-nine, with the power to destroy all life. His children muck it up, of course.

Cat’s Cradle might be Vonnegut’s most pop-culture-referenced book. I’d heard of ice-nine before I ever read it (not that I had idea idea what it was). Vonnegut’s invented terms for his invented religion have also taken on lives of their own. He establishes this religion, Bokononism, effortlessly (also handling a large cast) in less than two-hundred pages.

There are also 127 “chapters” fit into those pages; more like snapshots and set-ups/punchlines than a traditional narrative.

If you’re looking for plot, motivation and character depth, Cat’s Cradle will fall flat. As a thought- and conversation-starter, it’s wonderful.

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“Something Happened” (Post 3/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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It is not true


It is not true that retarded (brain-damaged, idiot, feeble-minded, emotionally disturbed, autistic) children are the necessary favorites of their parents or that they are always uncommonly beautiful and lovable, for Derek, our youngest child, is not especially good-looking, and we do not love him at all. (We would prefer not to think about him. We don’t want to talk about him.)


[39] Reference:

Virginia is dead too now and would be a peeling water bag of emphysema and phlebitis if she were not.


Phlebitis or venitis is the inflammation of a vein, usually in the legs.


I can feel my thigh bone connected to my ass bone on this wooden chair. I can feel this hand and forearm of mine lying on my brown desk blotter.


For the first and only time, we are given information about how Slocum is conveying his story to us: writing at his desk.

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New Short Story Alert!

Spring 2017 cover

cover art by John E. Richards; design by Ignacio Carrion

The great Hello Horror has included my short story “The Inventor” in their Spring 2017 issue. The magazine is free to read (and they have quite the back catalog, so get on that, horror fans).

The issue contains nine short stories, four poems, three micros and the conclusion of a serialized novel, which I need to go back and read all of.

I had a fantastic time reading the stories today and I’m going to pitch them to you because I think you should read them, too. (If my pitches fall flat, blame me, not the author.)

All the stories are extremely readable, but I marked my three most-recommended with *** next to the title.
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