Monthly Archives: May 2013

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

The Master of the Macabre continues his thrilling recent run of form with this supernatural mystery. Main protagonist Jake Epping is a frustrated small-town English teacher in Maine. One day he is handed an essay written by one of his adult students explaining in horrific detail how the man’s father butchered the rest of his family back in the 1950’s. The essay has a profound effect on Jake. Shortly thereafter he is introduced to a time portal by the owner of a local diner and decides to use time travel to alter the student’s fortunes and also prevent the assassination of JFK, the date of which provides the book’s title and today remains one of the blackest marks in American history. However, upon arrival Jake soon realises that changing the past can have untold consequences for the future…

11.22.63

Word has it that the Master of Horror first started writing this weighty tome as a young teacher way back 1973 (which makes you wonder how much is at least semi-autobiographical), but at the time didn’t feel confident enough in his own writing ability to be able to do it justice. For that reason, it took forty years or so to materialize in its current form. In a way, that is an exercise in time travel in itself!

The back-story suggests that King painstakingly researched and pieced together various aspects of American and world history in order to accurately portray the time period the lead character travels back to, and builds a life in. And he does a great job of it, too, giving the whole book an authentic retro feel as he constantly draws comparisons between modern America and that of the pre-JFK era. As always the characterization is top-notch, and there are even cameo appearances from several characters from his other popular works, most notably some of the teens from the modern masterpiece, IT. Now a little older and wiser than when we last met them.

Being a long-time fan I have devoured most of what King has written, and in my opinion this ranks as one of the best and most accomplished additions to his bulging library. Listed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times, 11/22/63 is now available as mass market paperback, the timing of which, I imagine, is partly to prime the market for the imminent release of Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to The Shining. For newbies and old fans alike, this supernatural thriller is not one to be missed.

This review first appeared in the FREE Morpheus Tales review supplement (issue 21).

Available here: http://morpheustales.wix.com/morpheustales#!supplement/c14cx

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DeadPixel Publications

 

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It’s very hard for writers to get themselves noticed in the current climate. The self-publishing bubble means that there are more books in the market place now than ever before, but who even has time to wade through all the shit to find the diamonds?

Writer’s are becoming increasingly more proactive and astute, as they are forced to come up with ever-more inventive ways to get their work in front of people. It’s not enough to write a book. That’s a great start, but if you don’t do the extracurricular stuff your book will sink like a stone and all your hard work will be for nothing. We don’t all do it to be rich and famous. Most of us realize the odds of that happening are pretty remote. But a little recognition for what we do is appreciated far more than the casual observer (or reader) can ever imagine.

The challenge lies in giving people the option to take an interest in our work. Because, why should they? We are all busy people, living our lives. I know from experience that something has to be pretty remarkable these days to hold anyone’s interest.

This is why we’ve done some of the work for you.

Introducing… DeadPixel Publications.

The brainchild of a very talented and successful US-based independent writer called Robert Brumm Jr, who I first met a few years ago when I reviewed his first book, Desolate, for Morpheus Tales magazine:

http://morpheustales.wix.com/morpheustales

It was Robert’s idea to form a collective of like-minded individuals, who would cross-promote each other’s work under the umbrella name DeadPixel Publications. This, at least, would take some of the legwork out of finding great books. We’ve done that part for you. There’s a load of them in the same place. As well as some special offers, information about the writers and their work, tips and advice for other writers, and even some free stuff. No strings.

Come visit us!

http://www.deadpixelpublications.com/index.html

Join the revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Have Kindle, Will Travel

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I travel a lot, not just for work but also for pleasure. Until recently I lived in China eight months of the year so didn’t have access to my book collection. It was also difficult to pick up new reading material. The ‘classics’ (Shakespeare, Bronte, etc) are widely available in the major cities but beyond that, pickings are very slim indeed. Many times in the past I have found myself in that awful (for me) position of… having nothing to read. At which time I resorted to reading anything which had English writing on it. It can be very unfulfilling to read your own luggage labels over and over again!

To avoid such an eventuality I took more books with me than I needed. Still, space and weight restrictions meant I was limited to a handful of paperbacks and a few magazines. This invariably led to a heated internal discussion every autumn about what to take, and what to leave behind. I usually wanted to take things I hadn’t read before, but in doing so you run the risk of ending up with a dud or two.

Books, even paperbacks, are heavy, and take up a lot of space in your luggage. They can also cause other problems. Last year my suitcase was flagged in Shanghai Pu Dong airport, and a stoney-security officer wanted to know why I was carrying so many books. A question to which I could only respond, “Er… I like reading?”

Looking slightly confused, the Chinese security officer carefully leafed through each book in my suitcase. I don’t know exactly what he was looking for. He also found some Cheddar cheese in my luggage, which he took issue with not knowing what it was, and a switchblade knife, which he had no problem with whatsoever.

Books, no. Cheese, definitely not. Concealed knife? Absolutely fine!

Slowly, the solution became obvious. Buy a Kindle. I had been reading ebooks on my laptop for a long time, and had long been impressed by the availability, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of them. The problem with reading off a laptop was practicality and convenience. You can’t read your laptop on the toilet! Well, you can, I guess. But where would you balance it when you are washing your hands? The floor of a Chinese toilet is no place to put an expensive piece of electronic hardware.

So, I recently took the plunge and invested in a Kindle. Then followed a little transferring of files, some internet searches, a spot of downloading (legally, of course!) and within a couple of hours, I was holding virtually my entire book collection in the palm of one hand. Yes, we all prefer actual books, but the truth of the matter is, they are not always practical. And after a while they get smelly.

Kindles are the future.

 


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