Category Archives: Lee Thompson

Rabid Reads: "Shock Totem #4" edited by K. Allen Wood

Shock Totem #4
edited by K.Allen Wood
131 pages
Shock TotemPublications (2011)
ISBN9781463754709
Lee Thompson was charitable enough to give away a few copies of ShockTotem’s latest issue and I was lucky enough to snag one. When itcomes to periodicals, I buy the electronic versions exclusivelybecause of shipping costs to Canada, so this was a real treat. Ibought and read a Kindle edition of Shock Totem #1 not toolong ago and was eager to read some more.
This time around there was a very diverse ensemble of authors fromvarying backgrounds, with established names like Weston Ochse, aswell as first publications for authors like Tom Bordonaro. There’salso a couple of interviews, one with Kathe Koja that turns into anopining on the state of publishing today, and a chat with one of thisissue’s contributing authors, Renny Sparks, that includes discussionabout her music career. And one of the missing sections from digitaleditions is the book review portion, with some interesting looks onbooks, films, and albums by John Boden, Robert J. Duperre, and thewitticisms of Ryan Bridger. There’s also a brief essay by headhoncho, K. Allen Wood, that provides a surprising punch to thestomach.
As far as the stories are concerned, this issue begins with a tragicgem by Lee Thompson called “Beneath the Weeping Willow,”about Davey, a young autistic boy’s ordeals within his family as heand his older brother, Jacob, cope with the break-up of theirparents’ marriage. The story is told in the rare second-personperspective, which is a hard nut to crack, but Lee seemed to have theperfect story in which to use it. As for the relationship betweenDavey and Jacob, it’s heartbreaking and all too believable.
From there, we jump into the absurd with the debut story of TomBordonaro, “Full Dental,” about an office worker at hiswit’s end over the demonic coworkers he must work alongside. Tomwanted to approach this story in the same way you might approach asketch comedy routine, and I think he hits just the right note withthe juxtaposition of bloody mayhem and office politics.
I think my favorite story of the bunch came from a very short storyby Michael Penkas called “Dead Baby Day.” Now, before youget your quills up, the title is a tad misleading. It’s really abouttwo brothers. Unlike, Lee Thompson’s Davey and Jacob, Michael’s Lukeand Mark don’t have quite so caustic a relationship. Mark does ribhis little brother about his origins as they lay in their beds. Youknow how big brothers are sometimes: a-holes. Well, Luke’simagination starts running wild when Mark tells him about Dead BabyDay, which happens to fall on Luke’s birthday. Creepy, funny stuff.
There’s plenty more packed into the 130 pages and is a kind ofthree-ring circus for dark fiction. Don’t like the clown car? Thenstick around for the lion tamer. And make sure you read Cafe DoomCompetition winner’s story, “Fade to Black,” by JaelitheIngold. It feels a tad predictable at first, but the ending remediesthat.
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Filed under book review, horror, Lee Thompson, Rabid Reads, Shock Totem, short stories

Chasing Tale for September 29th, 2011: Ray Bradbury, Shock Totem, Sarah Waters …

Where the heck did summer go? Man, that was fast. Oh well, autumn is my time to shine, as opposed to summer which is my time to swelter. This time of year is great for another reason: Halloween!
I don’t go crazy over Halloween, but it is a very cool holiday when you think about it. As a kid, you get to disguise yourself and prowl the neighborhood with friends and extort junk food from strangers. Try that any other day of the year and you’ll be labeled a delinquent. And as a man, you get one day of the year to dress up as your favorite Sailor Moon character without that specter of shame hovering over you at the supermarket. Did I write Sailor Moon? I meant Iron Man–yeah, Iron Man.
Kids have to be careful these days, though. The streets are dangerous with bullies and pedophiles, and apparently apple juice if Dr. Oz has anything to say about it. It was a safer time back in my day, when the worst I had to worry about was a razorblade in my candy apple. Ah, memories.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – I’ve wanted this one for a while, mentioning it way back in Wish List Wednesday #52, and actually found a copy at a used-book shop. I’ve seen plenty of copies of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, but this was the first copy of Something Wicked I’ve ever seen on a store shelf. About f–king time if you ask me. And I do believe this will be my Halloween read this year.

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by A. Gordon Smith – I recently hosted a giveaway with this book as the prize courtesy of Macmillian Publishing. I’ve had it on my wish list since last year, since YA horror doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as I’d care to see. I finally received my review copy in the mail, so I’ll have to tear into it soon.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – I mentioned this book in WLW #74 and actually had a chance to borrow it earlier in the year, but I still wanted my own copy. Thankfully, I found a hardcover copy of it at the annual library book sale. It was the only one of the few books I bought that I had on my watch list, the rest I just grabbed at random and got out there due to the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. I hate crowds, so I count myself lucky to have gotten one book I wanted.
Shock Totem #4 edited by K. Allen Wood – I won a signed copy of Shock Totem’s fourth issue from Lee Thompson, one of its contributing authors, and a rising name in horror. I recently read and reviewed the inaugural issue of Shock Totem, which was first published back in 2009. And that issue really got my taste buds craving more of the macabre. I suspect this will satiate my appetite … for a little while. I’ve already read a couple of the stories (Lee’s included), and this issue might be even better than the first.
That’s what’s new on my bookshelf. What did you add to yours?

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Filed under Alexander Gordon Smith, book shopping, books won, Chasing Tale, Lee Thompson, Ray Bradbury, review copies, Sarah Waters, Shock Totem