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DISINTEGRATION: A Windy City Dark Mystery ~Richard Thomas

Monday, June 15th, 2015

This is one of the darkest books I have ever read.  It was so black that I just could not believe that the author was so prized and that folks were praising this story.  The beginning was so confusing and disorienting that the reader knows right away that the main character is either very mentally ill or a drug addicted and is in such tremendous pain it is hard to keep turning the pages and going forward.  It does resolve into a coherent story more that half way through and yet I did not find this reassuring or satisfying.

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him, Disintegration is a stunning and vital piece of work.”—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting (from Amazon’s book page)

Thomas’ biography on Amazon

BIO: Richard Thomas is the author of seven books: Three novels, Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections, Tribulations (TBA), Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), and Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press); as well as one novella of The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers 6. He has won contests at ChiZine, One Buck Horror, and Jotspeak and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

I found the book to be horrifying and hard to read as the underworld and maybe Russian Mafia are exposed for the rest of the world to see and comprehend.   It was so hard to read and I had to keep putting it down and leaving it alone for hours at a time.  I now have it completed and see that it has a huge 5 star rating on Amazon already and the critics are loving how hard hitting it is and surly.  Apparently, I may be the only one who does not like this dark a read.   Maybe I am naïve and just have a high need to ignore this section of our society and pretend it does not exist.   I was so happy when the book was complete, finished and the read done.    I do agree that the book it hard hitting and sticks with the reader long after completion.

So this confusing man is writing the story and sharing with the reader this tough existence he is experiencing.  His assignments are shoved under the door and so he heads out to begin killing people, smoking dope, drinking and drinking and drinking and rarely eating.   He talks about his family being killed in a car accident through listening to his answering machine in little semi – revealing bursts.  Life hardly matters to him he is blind and doped up all the time and full of anger and rage.  Near the end of the book he has figured out what has happened to him and he kills his source.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advanced copy of this book for review and I can honestly say I read it cover to cover.   There are folks really enjoying this dark read and Thomas’s writing but I do not know if I can recommend this book to anyone.

Related:
The Organ Takers  
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century ~Claire Prentice

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

“Claire Prentice is an award-winning journalist whose work has been published in the Washington Post, the London Times, the Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, BBC Online, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire.” (From the promotion materials of my uncorrected unproofed advance readers copy of this book)


The LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is about an historic event which occurred in 1904-1905.  It is a true story and the author has done considerable research and study to share the story of this event in our history.  It is about the journey of 51 members of the Igorrote tribes of the Philippines becoming one of the “Human Exhibits”   with the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’ Luna Park.   Millions of people, MILLIONS came to see the village the Igorrote people built, the dancing, the singing, the dog-eating feasts and the nearly nude head-hunters in the exhibit.  A great showman taught them to perform and entertain the public, so that the humans on the other side of the fence would throw coins and buy their trinkets and souvenirs.   They came to the USA and were told they would be paid $15 a month, could keep their souvenir money, they would assist their families back home when they returned in a year.

Dr. Truman Hunt transformed himself from doctor in the Philippines to one of the greatest showman, marketing aficionados, and con-men of all time.  His scheme and his sideshow troupe made Hunt a very rich man.   He ended up on the run with the tribe because of his huge lifestyle, the pursuit of ex-wives, his alcohol consumption and the dogged agents of the American justice system.   He hid the Igorrote in squalor and paraded them in other parks when he needed more funds.  Hunt cheated them out of all their promised money and  the US taxpayers finally had to foot the bill in order to get the tribe back home.

THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is well written and it makes history come alive  revealing the true story behind the experience and it is quite entertaining.  I know my history buffs will enjoy this storytelling adventure and relive the role of the amusement park heyday in our history.  As a well told story full of historic detail, I would give it 5 stars.

As a reader, I thought it was a terrific tale compassionately told and I, personally, would have enjoyed it more if it had been just a magazine article length.  It actually made me feel ill about the way these individuals were treated and that the pubic was so driven to observe the Igorrote people.  I tried to think of the troupe as entertainers, educators and then Hunt’s people would stride into the scene and exploit their efforts time and time again cheating and enslaving these people.   Of course, it doesn’t help that we are still stuck in this human trafficking mode as entertainment and abuse.  I was reading this story as young unarmed men are being murdered in the streets and we worship guns and violence. As voters are being cajoled by lies and untrue stories and our President is being belittled and disrespected loudly – all for money.  THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is a sordid reminder of how easily people can be controlled – and the con-artist wins.  In this century, it appears to me that our behavior is worse.  The entertainment needs to be bigger and more violent and our appetites grow.  Who are the savage dog-eaters?

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND for review.  The book will be available for purchase on October 14, 2014.  It would make quite the gift for your historic reader.

http://claireprentice.org/  

“At its heart, THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is a story that makes us question who is civilized and who is savage.”  (From the publicity pages in my uncorrected, unproofed advanced e-copy)

Related:
The Devil In the White City (Bikingarchitect.com)
The Riot Within 
We Have Met The Enemy
NEW Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change

DIALOGUES OF A CRIME: a Novel ~John K. Manos

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

“Guilt.  A different sense of themselves.  I don’t think there are all that many people who can kill someone and just never think about it again.”

“’It’s not just a matter of chance,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘It’s where you are and the people you’ve got around you too.’  He realized that this line of speculation applied more often than not and in more situations than he cared to acknowledge.”


Dialogues of a Crime starts off with a young college boy being arrested in a drug sweep of college campuses in 1972.   Michael the young man in question is a hard working scholarship student in Illinois who is unjustly sentenced by a judge and an incompetent Public Defender to 30-90 days in a medium security prison. They are determined to teach him a lesson.  Ten days after arrival Michael is brutally beaten and raped by 3 prisoners and spends the remainder of his time to serve in the Infirmary.  As Michael is leaving the prison, he passes the 3 evil perpetrators and suggests that two of the men will experience a gruesome death in the future.

Those gruesome death threats are played out and 20 years later the third perpetrator who was not threatened is hoping to save his skin in another murder case and re-opens the investigation into what happened.  He speculates and accuses.  The State Attorney’s Office sees an opportunity to take down a Chicago area Mafia boss, because Michael’s best friend since 4th grades is the son of this crime family leader.

The majority of the book is the interrogations of all the people involved.  So the book is a series of conversations which happened in 1972, 1994 and 2003. My Kindle Fire HD reader said that it would take me 11 hours to read this book (about 300 pages)   It is the kind of book I dislike so I pushed the accelerator to the floor and finished it in 5 hours.  I know that there are many of my readers who just love this suspenseful kind of story and the psychological underpinnings; how so many ideas become leads and how the information gets interpreted and individual discoveries.   I completed my first internship in a County Sherriff’s office, I worked in a drug rehab center, and I have talked with more rape victims in my counseling work than one can imagine.  It is hard to free my mind of this kind of knowledge and I find no fascination in this particular kind of read.   Dialogues of a Crime reminded me how brutal humans can be to each other.  I had to watch a fun lecture before I could go to bed and find rest.

I am left with the same question that Michael has throughout the book, he asks his Mob friends why they all talk like the mobsters in the movies and what is the point of that imitation?   Yes! What is the point of the stereotypical, imitational language?

tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours shared this PDF copy with me for review.  The psychological interpretations and the investigations are interesting. The writing does not get in the way and was the part I thought was quite good.    It has left me feeling so sad and wrung out; I will let other readers decide for themselves about Dialogues of a Crime.

Related:
The Dirty Murder Book
The Accident 
The Condor Song
The Contractors