My publisher ChiZine is selling all their ebooks at 50% off until Sunday, March 15th, to make up for the technical difficulties as they switch ebook distributors for Kindle, etc.
That’s right, you can get each book for less than the price of a Starbucks drink. And they’re better for you than that Starbucks junk. Well, better for your body. The books are probably kind of harmful for your mind….
I was recently interviewed at The Interruption, where I talked with Sean Cranbury about “the problems with genre, the difficult confinement of literary fiction, and the freedom allowed by pseudonyms.” Bonus content: I also read from one of the crazier sections of my new book, The Dead Hamlets.
Jonathan Bennett wants it all. He wants his latest book, The Colonial Hotel, to be a thriller, a literary homage, a political intrigue, a romance and a story about the act of storytelling itself. What’s amazing is not his audacity but the fact that he pulls it off.
The Colonial Hotel is an adaptation of the Helen and Paris myth, set in an unnamed war-ravaged country and starring a couple of aid workers. The lovers are torn apart when rebels overrun their town, and their stories are told through letters to their child.
There is much to grapple with in The Colonial Hotel, even though the book is elegantly slim — Bennett actually reworked it from an earlier long poem. The international politics and personal drama of the separated lovers would be enough to carry most novels. But Bennett is known for complex, multi-layered books that most writers can only dream of writing. Reading The Colonial Hotel is like wandering the halls of an actual hotel, opening the doors of every room you pass and finding a different story inside each one.
The novel is set in the wreckage of colonialism, but Bennett is careful not to name the country. Readers are forced to decide where the events are taking place and why. The very act of reading becomes political, as readers become aware of and perhaps even question their own biases and assumptions. It quickly becomes clear that the “colonial” in the title of the book is carefully chosen.
In the hands of a lesser writer, The Colonial Hotel could easily wind up being a trite and tired political fable. But Bennett is a master writer, and he has the gift of a poetic voice as well. The novel is a literary wonder, with its spare but crafted lines singing in the reader’s imagination like an epic poem. It’s the sort of work other writers love, because it is a beautiful yet merciless story of life itself while at the same time honouring the fact that life is, at its essence, the stories we tell ourselves.
One of the best damned books I've read in years. This one has it all: the lyrical voice of a fallen angel, murder and resurrection, more historical detail than you can shake a surgeon's bloody razor at! It pulls the spirit of Frankenstein from the grave and then dances madly around in your imagination with it. If you don't like this, you must be dead inside. Which means the grave robbers will be visiting you shortly.
Owl and the Japanese Circus is a wild romp through mythology and pop culture, featuring a relic hunter who makes a habit of getting in over her head. Hey, what relic hunter doesn’t? The book has it all: vampires, naga, shapeshifting CEO dragons and MMORPGs. It’s even got a cat! Actually, the cat has kind of a major role in the book. It’s Indiana Jane meets Shadowrun meets True Blood meets… well, you get the idea. This is the kind of book where you need popcorn!
How do you categorize David Nickle? Horror? Dark fantasy? New weird? Old weird? His books are all of these things and so much more. So much more, in fact, that no one genre can contain him. What the world really needs is a David Nickle genre section in the bookstore. The problem is no one who entered such a mysterious section would ever return. Every now and then we’d hear their voices calling out from the shadows at the back of the aisles. But what are they saying. WHAT ARE THEY SAYING? Only David Nickle knows.
The Devil You Know follows Evie, a young reporter working on the breaking Paul Bernardo story. (For those of you who don’t remember Bernardo, he was a serial killer and rapist who terrorized the Scarborough area in the 1980s.) Evie is haunted by the memories of a childhood friend who was murdered — which parallels author de Mariaffi’s own life. She spends her time researching other murdered and missing girls, to the point where she spends more time with the dead than the living.
Evie is also being stalked by a man who lurks on her fire escape, just outside her kitchen window. Or is she? The stalker is a phantom, never truly seen. He may be a killer waiting for the right moment to strike or he may just be someone she’s dreamed up. To say any more would be to give away too much of the story.
The settings of The Devil You Know are modern-day gothic: a newspaper vault that bears more than a passing resemblance to a tomb, the eerily empty cottage at the edge of civilization — hell, the man on the fire escape invokes the spirit of the vampire at the window. It’s a creepy, eerie book, one that’s made all the more powerful because it makes you realize that this is simply the daily life for many women around the world. The Devil You Know is the devil we all know.