One of the most obvious joys of being an independent book reviewer is coming across books such as William Darrah Whitaker’s My Life as a Sperm. Do you think you’d ever see that prominently displayed in a bookstore beside the newest humdrum romance novel that may be sweeping the nation? And that is exactly why I love what I do.
Whitaker’s tale has Buddy Price, a dead and slimy Hollywood agent, front and center as he meets the big G-O-D at the pearly gates of heaven. If you’re expecting Mel Brook’s Defending Your Life to unfold, think again. Nope – this heaven had a God who’s reached his max with the depravity of humanity and the clear inability for people to just get along. But, being the seedy, shifty agent he once was, Buddy manages to convince God to give him a chance to literally save the world. And God agrees. Let the fun begin.
It’s a bit difficult to provide my thoughts on John Gillett’s Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant because it is so unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s a fantasy-based, parable-laden, ambitious piece of fiction that manages to cohesively spin a tale that comments on everything from the trials of tribulations of coming of age to the importance of female empowerment. Oh, and there’s a talking eggplant who is like the Holden Cauffield of Grecian philosophy.
With the many types of books asked of me to review, it can sometimes be draining to read of stories that require much mental exertion and contemplation of underlying themes and commentaries. This is precisely why when I read Joseph Tatner’s “Floyd & Mikki: Zombie Hunters,” I was over the moon with its deft humor and wry dialogue.
Not knowing that “Floyd and Mikki” was the first in a trilogy, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that there are more journeys in store for these two hilarious characters. The novel itself finds Floyd on a life-mission to reach the only safe, zombie-free Mecca left on earth – New California Haven. Upon his long and arduous journey, Floyd provides observations and descriptions of a post apocalyptic world of sorts with intelligence and depth. It is on this solo journey, and in a small town where a light is emanating, that he finds Mikki, the soon to be other half of this duo. Uniting their efforts in reaching their safe haven, Floyd and Mikki rid the world of zombies one at a time along their pilgrimage. Encountering other survivors on their expedition, Floyd and Mikki find themselves learning about each other through these sometimes terse interactions with the others. Their mutual hardened passion for survival fuels their ambition to reach their goal of safety and survival.
In the hyper-kinetic world we find ourselves living in, hardly anything is original or unique. With every simple outing, we are bombarded with a mosaic of styles and of formerly popular fads. This fusion of styles has seeped into all of culture’s popular mediums; from music to film, from television to social media, having a voice means inherently having many former voices all rolled into one. It’s both exhausting and revelatory because no rules apply. This new paradigm is what is prominently used to great success in Aaron Black’s novella “Under the Shadow of Madness.”
Set in the exotic locale of Egypt in 1920, the plot has undertones of post WWI newfound peace. The plot further contains elements of the theme of alliance, the generally deemed formal ending of the war itself. Sentiments of hope and confederacy are catalysts to the novella’s collusion of horror, comedy and adventure.