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  • Kurt Dinan

4 – A Story Sale and Some Book Reviews

First, a quick thing about me – I wrote “Plink” two (maybe three) years ago. It’s always been my favorite of my short stories. I sent it off to Cemetery Dance where it proceeded to sit waiting for a thumbs up or thumbs down for two years. Finally, my iritation and impatience got to me and I entered it in the short story contest run by the World Horror Convention in Austin last month. And I lost. And I was pissed. But then Nick Kaufmann, one of the judges, pulled me aside and said how much he enjoyed the story and to get it back out there. When I got home, I pulled some favors and got the okay to send it off to Pete Crowther at Postscripts. He bought it the next day. Can’t beat that. It’ll either be published in the winter of this year or spring of next year. Can’t wait.

And now, what I’ve been reading:

Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism by David Nickle Chizine Publication’s parade of excellent books continues with Nickle’s Eutopia. Unsettling, original, and surprising, Eutopia is…hell, I’m terrible at explaining books in a way that makes them sound interesting. Here, I’ll cheat – this is from Chizine: “The year is 1911. In Cold Spring Harbour, New York, the newly formed Eugenics Records Office is sending its agents to catalogue the infirm, the insane, and the criminal—with an eye to a cull, for the betterment of all.” And that’s all I knew when I started reading, thinking, “eugenics, cool topic”, then Nickle comes out of left field with this thing (maybe not the best word for it, but you understand my point), Mister Juke and I realized the novel I had in my hands sure as hell wasn’t what I expected. Love when that happens. Nickle’s a damn fine writer and Eutopia is a damn fine novel.

The Samaritan by Fred Venturini I met Fred in Austin a few weeks ago at the World Horror Convention. Gotta tell you, the guy is nuts. In a good way, but nuts. He was talking with Paul Tremblay and Stephen Graham Jones at the time, and he handed me a free copy of his book. I dragged him up to a party on the fourth floor where he talked about being stabbed and set on fire, then made a bunch of “your mom” jokes. My friend John Mantooth pulled me aside and said, “Who is this guy?” I said, “Fred.” So when I started The Samaritan, I had no idea what to expect, was even a bit hesitant. But man, oh man, this guy can write. What starts off as “outcast in high school falls in with a cool guy who takes him under his wing” turns into a bizarre novel of organ regeneration and the drive to do good by people. Venturini is obviously influenced by Chuck Palahniuk a good bit, but I have to tell you, this book has more heart and rings truer than Palahniuk’s stuff. Looking forward to more from Venturini.

Last Days by Brian Evenson Guess I’m a little late to the party on this one since it came out last year and was all the rage. Still, am glad I found out about Last Days now. Amputees, detective noir, and a great quantity of dark humor. Loved it.

In the Woods by Tana French Well-written, interesting, funny, and ultimately a massive letdown. How in the world did an editor allow French to end this novel the way she did? The book has two mysteries in it – one from the main characters past when he was a child and a current one from when he is a police detective – and only one of them is solved. Ridiculous. I think it was Mickey Spillane who said the first chapter sells the book, the last chapter sells the next book. In this case, I won’t be buying another of French’s novels. I just can’t trust her to deliver. Too bad, too.

Good People by Marcus Sakey My friend Michael Cook had been telling me for a year now to read Sakey’s stuff. I finally relented and picked up Good People. Truth be told, I was dubious. I’ve read a handful of “good people finding bad money” novels before. What could Sakey do that others hadn’t? Fortunately, the answer is ‘a lot’. Sakey’s novel is filled with dread. I really wanted these people to get away with their lives in tact, probably the best compliment I can give it. I’ll definitely be hunting down other Sakey novels.

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