Rich and Shane share some random shit they fucking love
Sometimes on the weekends, we talk to each other via Slack off and on all day, sometimes talking business and planning strategies, sometimes just bullshitting because we are brothers from different mothers and we have a ton of common interests. And during those bullshit sessions, we often talk about things we love and we thought you might love some of them too, so here we are sharing with a few with you each week. Check back every Sunday for more Slices. Our interests are many and our lists of favorite things are boundless.
Providence by Caroline Kepnes – Here’s a book–and an author–that came out of nowhere and took me by surprise. If ever there were a love at first paragraph experience, this is it. I hadn’t heard much of Caroline Kepnes prior to reading this, but that’s just because my dense ass wasn’t paying enough attention. Author of the breakout novels You and Hidden Bodies, Providence had the effect of making of Kepnes an instant author crush and an insta-buy whenever she releases a new book. Read her work.
Humble Pie Rockin’ the Fillmore by Humble Pie – When it comes to iconic rock bands of the late ’60s/early ’70s, there are probably none so much so as the great Humble Pie. Featuring two young phenoms in the form of Peter Frampton and the now deceased Steve Marriott, they were one of the greatest rock bands of their generation and this amazing album features–in this rock and roll junkies opinion–the absolute greatest live performance of an era of music defined by live performances. If you haven’t experienced Humble Pie, you should go eat some now.
“Windeye,” a short story by Brian Evenson – You only think you know what existential dread feels like until you read this story. Then you really fucking know. A couple years ago Laird Barron–see my next Slice–recommended the collection of the same title and this story, in particular, calling it one of the finest short stories he’d read in a long time. And the thing is when Laird makes recommendations, you listen. In this case, I am eternally grateful. My unresearched belief is that it first appeared in the Richard Thomas edited anthology, The New Black, but I could have that backward. Either way, look this fucking story up and expand your horizons of terror.
Black Mountain by Laird Barron – I’m also writing a review of this book over the weekend but didn’t want to wait to share the amazing. Horror writer Laird Barron is a horror reader’s crime author and Isaiah Coleridge is one of the most iconic noir figures of the century so far. In Coleridge, and in Black Mountain , in particular, Barron has created a kind of symbiotic connection between his crime and the cosmic everything, and this book bleeds menace and the promise of violence from every page. In other words, it’s fucking glorious, and if you haven’t read Barron’s crime fiction yet, unfuck that now.
Shadowland by Peter Straub – What’s my favorite book ever? That’s a hard puzzle to crack, but Shadowland, along with two other Straub novels (future Slices), would damn sure be on it. A horrifying coming of age story full of magic, dark wonders, and one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve ever experienced in the form of Flanagan. If you’ve not read this book, then you haven’t truly experienced Straub and that’s a goddamn shame. Read this book and complete yourself.
Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer and I can’t think of a better book to read as the days grow longer and the weather finally warms up than Stephen King’s Joyland. Set in 1973, Joyland follows college student Devin Jones over the course of a summer while he works at the titular amusement park in North Carolina and blends a coming-of-age story with a murder mystery and some slight supernatural elements. I read this shortly after it came out in the summer of 2013 and I don’t know if it was the time in my life that I read it, but there is something magical that permeates every page of Joyland and it’s my favorite book by Stephen King. Say what you want about King’s writing style, but he is a natural born storyteller and this novel is him at his best. King crafts a great atmosphere in this novel and combines that with a sense of nostalgia for a novel you can truly lose yourself in. I won’t get on my soapbox for too long, but for everyone who thinks King has “sucked” since his earlier horror novels, you’re wrong. Sure, some of his later books didn’t work for me, but Joyland and 11/22/63 are genuinely excellent books that exemplify all of the traits that made King a literary legend. King is known as the “King of Horror” and is one of the genre’s biggest names, but I’ve enjoyed seeing him explore other types of stories. While 11/22/63 and Joyland both have elements of horror, you could rip all of that stuff out and these would still be two engaging, well-told stories. If you haven’t read Joyland yet, definitely grab a copy. It’s a perfect summer read for horror fans.
Hop Along “Sister Cities”
Hop Along is an indie-rock band from my hometown that I’ve been a huge fan of since high school. This single was recorded as part of the Shaking Through series that Weathervane Music puts together. It was subsequently included on their latest album Bark Your Head Off, Dog and while that version of the song is great, nothing touches the raw energy of this recording. Frances Quinlan has a powerful voice that has drawn countless comparisons to Janis Joplin. While I see where those comparisons come from, the fact is Frances’ voice is incredibly unique and she is one of my favorite rock vocalists. Not only have I watched this video on a countless loop because the song is that good, but “Sister Cities” origin inspired Shane and I to create an exciting new project for Ink Heist. We are currently planning the first installment and can’t wait to share it with you!
Regular Ink Heist readers will remember that we recently ran a month long feature on the stories contained within Cutting Block Books’ The Seven Deadliest. Well, I just finished reading it and all I can say is….wow. The novellas that make up this collection are truly outstanding and they are the type of stories that will stick with you long after you finish them. One of the most impressive things about The Seven Deadliest was seeing how each of the authors approached their sin and took a more nuanced approach to them as opposed to what may have immediately come to mind for readers (myself included). I don’t want to delve too deep into the content of the stories as I will be working on a more in-depth review, but there is a great deal of variety throughout The Seven Deadliest and regardless of what type of horror you’re into, I think you’ll love this anthology. I also dug the “behind the scenes” aspect of the authors describing their approach to their stories. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite, but I will say if you just can’t wait for the new season of Black Mirror, Richard Thomas’ “Ring of Fire” is just the story you need. I doubt Ink Heist is even on his radar, but if by some miracle Charlie Booker ever reads this, hire Richard to write an episode!
I originally wrote about Katsu’s historical horror novel The Hunger for my “Favorite Reads of 2018” list, but I was recently thinking about this story again and had to include it on my staff picks just in case readers missed my list the first time around. Katsu takes the real life plight of the Donner Party and imbues it with a sense of desperation and evil that will leave you guessing for most of the novel as members of the group start disappearing. Is there something supernatural going on or is the weirdness a result of the stress and hunger they face cut off from civilization? The less said about the plot the better, but Katsu’s original take is a breath of fresh air and even when I thought I had all the answers, I was still pleasantly surprised by the twists Katsu weaved into the story. It would have been easy to use the Donner Party story as a backdrop for a zombie or cannibal novel, but Katsu does something truly unique. This is an essential addition to your horror library, especially if you dig historical horror fiction as much as I do!
Horror short films can be an extremely effective medium for delivering scares with maximum impact, kind of like novellas or short stories for horror fiction. By far one of the best and most memorable I have ever seen is Ben Steiner’s highly original The Stomach. I saw this on Shudder a few years ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Blending elements of noir and horror, The Stomach introduces viewers to a medium named Frank, who is growing tired of channeling the dead for his clients and the toll it takes on him physically. He begs his brother Tom to let him quit, but a local gangster has other plans in store for Frank. This is one of the most imaginative horror films I have seen in recent memory and it packs one hell of a punch in it’s 15 minute runtime and some chilling body horror effects. The idea of people communicating with the dead is nothing new, but Steiner’s ability to blend multiple genres and his approach to the scenes with Frank are entirely original and put a fresh spin on the genre. The short is available on iTunes and Amazon for 1.99 and it is worth every penny. There was talks of The Stomach being made into a feature a few years back, but I haven’t been able to track down any recent updates. This would make a killer full-length film, but even if all we get is this short, it’s still essential viewing.
That’s all for now. Check back next week for more Sunday Slices. Find your new favorite thing!
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