Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad

Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad
Ed. By Tom English

Dead Letter Press, 2008

The editor of this book Tom English has done the unthinkable job: made an anthology with that name and remained alive. However, it is said that during the editing of this weighty volume he has become obsessed, so that filled, and filled the book with murderous stories, until it reached gigantic proportions. The obsession with this book did not do good.

The editor wanted to pick up as many stories, where books, one way or another, directly or metaphorically kill people. Hence - a very wide scope of authors (although it's worth noting, there are not translated stories in the book and it is yet more frustrating: in the literature of other countries of the world, not just America and Britain, surely there will be significant stories about the books that carry the death) of Lovecraft and Hawthorne to the writers whose stories in this book are their first publications on paper. Obviously, the language of writers who worked a century ago is different from the language of modern horror writers. But here comes the snag: some young authors somehow try to stylize their language to Lovecraft's contemporaries, as if trying to give his works certain, perhaps, validity, thoroughness even. "I'm not worse than Hawthorne!" - exclaimed the young author. In principle he is right: in a story he picks the obsolete words, construct sentences, like the author of the XIX century, that's just more of these techniques is not going. If even nothing came out of reading Hawthorne without teeth gnashing, then the modern authors is also heavier. No other trump cards in reserve there, and to imitate Lovecraft - well, what kind of trump card it is?

Another flaw of this book is that plots of the stories are too similar to each other. It seems to be the murder books are all different, but their actions are similar to each other to extremes. A man got a book, he reads it, and bad things happen to him. Those stories that are at the beginning of the anthology were lucky: it is about funny to read them at least, but when the same story but with different scenery begins to repeat itself from story to story, it is no laughing matter.
However, all written above does not mean that the book is not worth reading: here thickness of the book right goes to help. In addition to the weak, less original stories, there are those that take your breath away for real.

In the "Pact Anthology" by John Teehan Devil comes to an editor (which is also not so simple) and offers him a deal. Naturally, the editor refuses: he does not print pact with the devil stories. However, the devil this time invented a new move: he wants the editor write a story to his anthology. And the editor will be the devil himself. Inventive story, which in this thematic anthology looks very cool. The story of Simon Strantzas "Leather, Dark and Cold" has not entirely original plot, but it can boast of what doesn’t have the overwhelming majority of stories: any kind of prescribed characters. Some authors in anthology are not so interested in their same characters, that sometimes it seems: the books in the stories have more emotion than men. Strantzas before to give his characters to an apparent devoured (figuratively) by the book, lovingly describes narrator and his friend Chris Pace, who lures the hero into questionable dealings with the book of mysterious origin. "Limited Edition" by Andrew Wilson is a story of woman and young man who met at a small sale. The woman collects all copies of the book "Dreams of the City. Its author is grandfather of her, a magician, and each copy of the book can bring harm to others. She with the man, narrator, attempts to gather under one roof all copies of the book to protect people.

The book is pretty grim, but among the stories there are such as to cause laughter. A thief in the story of Rick Moore "The Incomplete Works of William Shakespeare" does not think, when a man named Beck asks him to steal the incomplete collection of works of Shakespeare. He does not care what to steal, and he also spat at British genius, if only work was done. But when the book falls into the hands of the villain Beck and he implements his daring plan, grief-thief is ready to weep. While he is bitter, the reader has fun. Fans of leisurely unfolding stories will be happy with "Happiness" by Ian Shoebridge: in his story all who read a certain book, no longer adequately perceive the world around them. In "The Adder" by the author of numerous collections of short stories and poet Fred Chappell no one will be killed, but the wicked book is here too. And it chooses its victim - or rather, it accidentally becomes - Milton. Necronomicon, or Al Azif, is able to change anything in the book, standing next to it on the shelf. The narrator is aware of this, but he thinks that the Necronomicon is able to change only a specific instance, standing next to, but not in general all publications of the author. At the end of the story a mistake will be corrected by the hero's uncle, although character begins to doubt in this. Rhys Hughes is presented here by two postmodern stories. The final «Lem's Last Book» has some similarities with the Chappell’s, and, I think, the story itself is the fruit of this, of course, fictional book of Lem. In the other story, "Finding the Book of Sand", Book of Sand is literally an inexhaustible source of energy; it can sink up to infinity. True, the hero of a story doubts in the infinity of it and destroys it. (It should be said that Hughes, perhaps, is the most original author of this book) In Gary McMahon’s "Guidance" the book, bought by the protagonist in a shop in Germany, opens the eyes of a hero to his wife. One of the most penetrating stories of the book.

Angeline Hawkes’ story turns out quite disastrous, it is finished as a wish to many authors of the book: "Adapt to the times." In "The Guest Book" by Gary Fry there is absolutely no science fiction, but that is a good detective story. "The Dark and the Young" by Ian Rogers cheerfully begins, but after the middle, unfortunately, sinks into an incredible cliché. Barbara Roden tells in "Association Copy" well written story about childhood, revenge and forgiveness. Her story is perhaps the saddest in the book. Mark Leslie in the story "Browsers" originally opened theme of inattentive or hurried reading: a very strong story behind the curtain of the book.

Having enjoyed the book, I advise you to remove it away: if such a volume, and with that title, falls on someone’s head somewhere off the top shelf, it is quite capable of killing. No kidding.

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