Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

I don’t enjoy most popular horror and I don’t normally buy horror to read, but this book attracted me.  It has nice cover art (you can judge a book by its cover), and I had noticed it at the bookstore for some time before finally deciding to get it.  I might write more about this later, but for now my review from Amazon…

It seems some people just didn’t get this book.  I suppose I understand their confusion.  Its a very experimental book in how it combines autobiography and story all the while doing this as a collaboration.  Its impressive considering how difficult a challenge this must have been.
I liked it.  There were some deep insights in this book and they avoided giving easy answers or simple stories.  Its not exactly a novel, but I wouldn’t go so far to say the label doesn’t apply.  There are many stories within the book.  More importantly, its about the process of making stories out of life experience and making sense of life experience through story.
There is a cleverness to this book, but it didn’t seem pretentious to me.  What the authors set out to do necessitated cleverness.  I enjoyed how smoothly they mixed nonfiction and fiction.
I was satisfied enough with this book that I give it an overall good review.  It was worth the money spent.  It wasn’t perfect, but its hard to imagine any two authors collaborating to create something better.  I’ve never read anything that compares to this book and so reviewing it is difficult.  Fortunately, I had no expectations going in and so I was able to judge it on its own merits.  However, if someone buys it hoping for a normal novel, then they’d be dissapointed.
There is something specific that I appreciated the most.  Horror is too often limited to the perspective of the individual.  This book is about how closely related are love and fear.
Its a hard book to get a grasp of, but I think it will grow on me more and more.  I immediately read back through the book after finishing it.  I’m sure its a book I will return to many times.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

i will probably never read it, but it’s interesting how strongly this book has attracted you.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

Its a very unusual book that attempts to convey a very difficult subject matter. The authors are a married couple. The book is a collaborative work about the very collaboration that is their shared life together. They are very different people and yet seem to balance eachother.

All of their children are adopted, and for whatever reason they seem attracted to somewhat troubled children. One of their sons hung himself when he was 9 years old, an age when a kid can’t even comprehend death.

They clearly demonstrate their love for eachother and for their children. I’ve never been married nor have had children, but I was completely able to understand and empathize.

The book isn’t about horror vs love, but about how horror and love flow into one another, how love demands risking ourselves to the horrors that can befall those we love. This book has the emotional impact that it does because the stories they share are so personal. They give you about as much of a glimpse into their lives as is possible for an author to give.

The book also goes beyond just this. Its about what makes life worth living, what keeps a person doing what they do, what they must do. And its about feeling wonder. Life is hard to make sense of and even story can only go so far. This book is about the limits of life and about looking beyond these limits to see what is there… even when we are afraid or maybe because we are afraid.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

it sounds very powerful.

William S. Burroughs as a Character

William S. Burroughs as a Character

Posted on Dec 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
Burroughs is different from Philip K. Dick.  Whereas PKD was the first to use himself as a character, Burroughs had been made a character before he even was published himself. 

That would be a tough act to follow.  He had the shadow of someone else’s fame over him (Kerouac), and the popularity and mythos of the whole Beat movement.  Burroughs had to attempt to claim himself not only as a writer but also as his own person.  Fortunately, he wasn’t one to follow on the coattails of the fame of others.  He was certainly a way better writer than Kerouac, and he was quite distinct from all of the Beat writers.

Finding works that Burroughs is in is rather difficult.  I’m not sure how many books in which Kerouac placed a Burroughs character, and it wouldn’t surprise me if other Beats had also used him as a character.  Burroughs is much more a cultural icon than PKD.  I don’t know how to even begin to seek out fictional works that feature him, but I’ll offer what little I know at present.

As far as I can figure, William S. Burroughs first appeared as Bill Lee in Kerouac’s On the Road.  Burroughs used this name later in his own work.  He might of initially used it in Junky which he did intentionally to play off of Kerouac’s work.  He chose to continue this mythologizing.  He later used this name in other Works such as Naked Lunch which was supposedly a name given it by Kerouac.  I don’t know if there are any other names that Burroughs went by in his fiction or the fiction of others.

Novels:

The works of Jack Kerouac

Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas
(A recent novel that mixes the mythos of the Beats with the Mythos of Lovecraft’s Cthulu.)

Movies:

Drugstore Cowboy written and directed by Gus Van Sant
(Burroughs acts the character of a defrocked priest named Tom.  He is loosely playing a character that is a mix of himself and his own fictional characters.)

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Philip K. Dick as a Character

Philip K. Dick as a Character

Posted on Dec 27th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
Besides PKD making himself a character in his own work (ie VALIS as Horselover Fat), I wanted to list all of the books that have used him as a fictional character.  I decided to create this list because I haven’t seen a complete list anywhere online which is quite impressive considering how many websites relate to PKD’s work.  There might be more, but here are the only books I’ve discovered so far.

Novels:

Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas by Michael Bishop

The Word of God by Thomas M. Disch

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

Anthology of short stories:

Welcome to Reality: The Nightmares of Philip K Dick edited by Uwe Anton

Edit: I removed Philip K. Dick High by David Bischoff because I’m not sure that PKD is actually a character in it.  Maybe I’ll read it someday to find out.  It was this review I was looking at and he mentioned a book of short stories I added to the list.

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Fiction Books From My Past Vaguely Remembered

There are some books I’m trying to remember from my past.

 – – –

(1) When I was in 7th grade, I discovered in the school library an author who wrote a series of books. 

The story was about a boy and older man who is a wizard.  I believe it took place in the US somewhere.  The kid was essentially an apprentice, but there was nothing formal about it.  Even the wizard I don’t think dressed oddly.  It wasn’t like Harry Potter.  The wizards and witches were just normal people. 

In one book, the boy finds a small statue of liberty and removes it from a house.  It turns out it was cursed.  In some book (that one or another), the boy and the wizard are driving in a car and being chased by a witch also in a car (or at least I think the chase was enirely in cars, and the boy and wizard cross a bridge where the witch can’t follow because of the running water.  I read several of the books in the series and I wish I could remember who the author was.

 – – –

(2) The next book was after I graduated from high school and so was in the mid 1990s (probably 1996), but I don’t know when the novel was published. 

The story was about two guys who are friends and a girl.  I believe both guys were in love with the girl or else only one of them was in love with her at first.  One friend kills himself by jumping off a dam, and I remember the surviving friend later on visiting the dam and contemplating his friend.  As I remember it, the surviving friend and the girl hook up, but I can’t remember what happened to their relationship.  I believe this was going on in the summertime.  Near the end of the book, the surviving friend goes to a beach where he meets a guy who he looks up to.  The guy is very energetic and it later shown after he crashes that he has manic-depression.  It’s a coming of age story.  I suppose it was depressing, but I remember being very moved by it. 

If I remember correctly, the title was something like Save the Last Dance, Save the Last Dance for Me, Last Dance, or even maybe it was Last Summer… I swear there was a “Last” in the title somewhere, but I could be wrong (I might be mixing the title up with some entirely different book).

 – – –

I’ve done many websearches about these books.  No matter what words I put in the search, I can’t find the books I’m looking for.  I don’t know how to find books when one doesn’t know either titles or authors.  I’m writing this blog post in the hope that someone out there will notice it and give me an answer.

I sometimes really really wish I had a better memory.