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Month: August 2016

Book Review: A Collapse of Horses (2016)

by Christopher Novas

A COLLAPSE OF HORSES by Brian Evenson
Published by: Coffee House Press
Release date: February 9, 2016

Have you ever seen a shadow on the highway pass by your car faster than your eye could follow? Have you ever seen shapes you thought were human, but on a closer look weren’t? The perception of reality, the exploration of consciousness rendering the world accurately (to whom, no one is sure), the choices we make or choose not to make, amongst many other questions and concerns are found in A COLLAPSE OF HORSES.

The opening story “Black Bark” follows two men, Sugg and Rawley, out in the expansive west escaping some sort of conflict earlier in the narrative. Sugg has been shot in the leg, has been bleeding for some time and is waiting for refuge at a cabin just around the bend. It continues on and on, bend after bend this supposed cabin never comes into view. They stop at a cave, a “good luck charm” goes missing, and Sugg starts to tell the story of Black Bark—a piece of wood that is found in some man’s pocket with no reason as to how it got there. From there, the flickering fire, the man bleeding half to death, and story of Black Bark brings the reader to a sense of dread and terror. An outstanding opener for this collection.

“A Report” is a Kafka-esque story of man who has made some sort of report to an authority figure, presents it, and is subsequently thrown into a prison. Why? Well, our protagonist is unsure. Was it a missing detail, a lack of information, was his presentation subpar? All of these questions are swirling in his mind, all the while being systematically tortured both psychologically and physically, with no real explanation to his predicament. The tricks the mind plays in trying to stay sane in an insane environment, the pained and tortured returning that pain twofold, threefold, becoming the instigators of another’s misery.

The titular story “A Collapse of Horses” follows a man who comes upon a stable of horses all lying on the ground, are they dead, sleeping, barely breathing? He has never seen horses lie down. An accident happens at his place of work, and his skull is cracked in the process. He awakes to a home that stretches and bends, is unsure of the number of children he has, and he tries relentlessly to return to the horses that are neither dead nor alive. This is a story of a man’s slow descent into madness.

“A Seaside Town” is an excellent example of what Evenson can do with the Weird. Throughout the story reality transmogrifies, shaping horrors that are seen and unseen in the worst ways imaginable. Without an accurate word count, it’s a novelette or novella that just needs to be read to fully appreciate the quiet terror that unfolds in this story. It’s unsettling.

Possibly my favorite story in the collection is “The Dust” a science fiction story with elements of noir, mystery, horror, and thriller all packed into one novelette/novella. It follows a crew of space miners digging into a meteor for resources to bring back home. A never ending dust slowly accumulates within their mining station, and this is the least of their worries. A depleting reserve of oxygen, and the death of one of their crew members follows. You would think that Evenson would dive right into sci-fi aspects of this story, but he pulls them back and tells a tale of paranoia, betrayal, murder, and survival in the cold, black reaches of space. Evenson took a scalpel and tore into my brain with this one. It haunted me for days.

“Any Corpse” begins with: “When she woke, a shower of raw flesh had fallen in the field.” I don’t need to say any more.

I could continue on about all of the stories in this collection, but this post would go into the thousand of words. To put it simply, Evenson is a writers writer. His shadow is large in the American landscape. He is a genuine master of paranoia and the uncanny. He challenges his readers by disrupting their perception of reality, what tricks the mind plays at any given time, to any given person with the right circumstances (or none at all). He guides to the deepest reaches of your mind, leaving you in the depths of dread.

Buy A COLLAPSE OF HORSES direct from Coffee House Press
Amazon
Indie Bound
Barnes & Noble
Visit Brian’s website

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Song of the Day — August 3, 2016

Nasty Nigel is 1/6 of New York collective World’s Fair, and 1/3 of Children of the Night. He recently debut his first official solo release El Ultimo Playboy: La Vida y Tiempos De Nigel Rubirosa. He’s a unique voice in NY rap, with a very carefree attitude to most things, but underneath it all he’s a sensitive young man with a variety of things to say on his life, NY (specifically Queens), and the common struggles of the everyday New Yorker. In today’s song of the day you’ll see a look into the more critical side of Nasty Nigel, and his excellent feature Cities Aviv with heat provided by producer Black Noi$e. Here’s a cut off El Ultimo Playboy:

A review of the project will be forthcoming.

Nasty Nigel on Twitter
World’s Fair on Twitter
Children of the Night on Twitter

If you enjoyed this, you can download the project HERE

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Movie Review: Batman – The Killing Joke (2016)

by Christopher Novas


Release date: August 2nd, 2016
Run time: 77 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Animated

The new Batman animated feature film has been marred by controversy to say the least, but I’m not getting into that, and instead want to offer you a proper review for the film. The Killing Joke starts off with a 30-minute Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) filled prologue to the real gritty Killing Joke story. In this half of the film, we have interesting moments with her character—seeing her in college and balancing her crime-fighting alter-ego, trying to deal with romantic feelings for Batman whilst keeping true to her idea of what it means to fight crime, and dealing with a sociopathic criminal created for this film: Paris Franz.

Many fans have stated their distaste, and outrage at the notion of Batgirls’ budding romantic relationship with Batman, and I agree, to a point. You see, comic book fans constantly wish that there were big, monumental changes for a character, series, etc and when writers deliver one and it’s not to its appropriate to its immediate history or “makes sense for his/her/its character”, it’s as if the apocalypse has started. It’s constantly looking back to the future instead of towards the future. Personally, I have no problems with this new development in the Batman/Batgirl dynamic, it was just handled so lazily. Barbara Gordon pines for Bruce’s affection and it’s highlighted in her interactions with her gay best friend (that on it’s own is a huge cliche) while working as a college librarian. Throughout the film she waits on his phone calls, constantly seeks his approval in all things, Bruce is emotionally distant throughout the entire story even to the point of ignoring her phone call in one scene, and all of this frustration and one-sided romantic tension on Barbara’s part ultimately culminates with the two having sex on a rooftop after a nasty encounter with some criminals. Some critics have pointed out that because of her younger portrayals in the comics, and “it doesn’t make sense to her character”, that this is a big no-no.

I ask you, did we see the same film, and do we live in the same world? In today’s society many young women enjoy older, more experienced partners for any number of reasons. People constantly argue that they shouldn’t because they’re so young and don’t know anything yet fail to recognize that women are constantly shown to be more mature and handle themselves much better than their male counterparts. In any case, all of the interesting parts of her character development on screen is eradicated and reduced to being a plot device, and portrays her as a jilted young lover as opposed to a fully realized character.

All of this backstory is simply mute because it does NOTHING to the overall story by the start  of the original Killing Joke plot. We all know what happens at this point: the Joker, escaping from jail returns to torture Batman and Detective Jim Gordon to make his point that anyone can have a bad day and be changed forever. He cripples Barbara Gordon in her home, and ends with the vague notion of having raped Barbara (which stays as vague in the film). It’s conclusion is that Batman may or may not have killed the Joker in the story’s finale.

I loved the animation in this film, as it stays true to much of it’s comic book roots. Tara Strong, Mark Hamill, and Kevin Conroy are incredible in their return roles as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, The Joker, and Batman/Bruce Wayne, respectively.

What could’ve been an incredible animated film hurts an already damaged, iconic comic book, and has absolutely nothing to contribute to the original story. It was great on its own storyline, but feature film it is not.

Buy The Killing Joke on Blu-Ray and DVD on Amazon

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