Recently, I was asked to participate in a book cover challenge where you need to spend ten days posting the covers of books you loved. I’m 5 days deep, and figure this is as good a place as any to collect some of my musings. Please note, because these are Facebook posts (or at least copies of Facebook posts), they’re really just quick rambles. As such, consider yourself warned about the Grammar…
Day 1: Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
A friend tagged me in a post asking me to post the covers of ten books that I really love over the next ten days. So, here I am. I have to go with Lord of the Flies first. This is just a brilliant, brilliant book. Written as a response to the atrocities committed in WW2 (on both sides), it’s a grim, violent and beautifully written novel that peels back the veneer of civilisation and reminds us all that ‘the rules’ are the only things stopping us from spearing and dropping boulders on each other. Also, convince me it’s not a horror story.
Day 2: Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King.
Day 2 in this 10 books in 10 days challenge. It’s proving hard to know what to pick. I tend to read anywhere between 30 and 50 books a year (if I count audiobooks) and there are just so many I love and so many ways to approach this.
Today, I’ve gone for Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. I think I read my first King book when my Uncle John left The Dark Half with us after returning to England. I probably should have posted that one, but I’m gonna need to be selective and this one has art by Bernie Wrightson – and a werewolf – so you know…Anyway, it was also made into the seminal werewolf film, Silver Bullet, which was in turn made into an awesome Black Dahlia Murder song called The Fog. I could totally complete this challenge using nothing but King books, but I’ve got a real soft spot for this one.
Day 3: The Fisherman by John Langan.
Day 3 of 10 of this novel challenge. I’ve gone for something fairly recent this time. The Fisherman by John Langan. This book is a brilliant exploration of grief and otherworldly dread that’s reminiscent of classic horror novels like Frankenstein. Langan himself describes it as a riff off Moby Dick. It’s the story of two men who fish to deal with the grief of losing their respective wives/families. They travel to an uncharted lake mentioned in one of the grandpa’s diaries. When they are warned away from it, that warning comes in the form of a flashback to a time of frontier America and the chaos a sorceror caused in a small town…it all comes together in a frightening climax featuring arcane magic, faustian exchanges, monsters and attempted murder. This was one of those ‘holy shit, it’s sooooooo good’ books.
Day 4: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
Today’s book. Day 4. Fight Club. You all know the movie and many of you will have read this, but it is an absolute ball-snorter. It’s only short, but goddamn is it powerful. Obviously, it’s not cool to talk about Fight Club, but it’s even less cool to talk about disaffected males in today’s society. We tend to sweep that under the rug because white suburban males still to this day enjoy copious amounts of privilege, but to those males struggling to live up to the expectations of toxic masculinity, this is a massive disservice. (Note, it’s not saying they should also strive to be toxic males, it’s saying look at what the expectations of toxic masculinity do to young men.) It’s not by accident that the men in this novel learn to build relationships with each other that are emotionless, distant and ‘efficient’. Neither is it an accident that these men learn to bond through physical violence. And, of course, it’s only natural they band together and lash out at commercialism, paternalism and capitalism. They’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day they’ll be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars (and alpha males). But they won’t. And they’re slowly learning that fact. And they’re very, very pissed off. Bloody read it already.
Day 5: The Troop by Nick Cutter
Day 5 of this book cover challenge. Going modern again. The Troop by Nick Cutter. You’ll pick up some pretty strong parallels with LOTF here, but that’s okay. LOTF itself was modelled on The Coral Island by RM Ballantyne. This one sees a group of boy scouts stranded on an island off the coast of Canada when a ‘hungry’ man arrives on the island they’re camping on. Turns out this dude has escaped from a military lab and he’s infected with a weaponised tapeworm and the scout leader is a surgeon when he’s not wearing a scarf and woggle. Anyone who knows anything knows that in a novel like this, you remove the adults as quickly as possible and you do it with extreme prejudice. Knowing he’s there, the military quickly quarantine the island. With a group of boys that includes a bully and a sadist left behind, this one is equal parts turf war, gross-out body horror, violent fight for survival, and heartbreaking bildungsroman. Vivid imagery abounds and as a result, some of the scenes are still seared into my brain, not least the one where two starving teenage boys find a sea turtle stranded on the beach. I’d love to see this one added to school reading lists. It may be my favourite book of the last twelve months.