review: The Dead Zone

book review…

The Dead ZoneThe Dead Zone by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely one of my favorites by King. If you are a child of the eighties (or older), gen x, you will get a real nostalgia kick what with all the references to American culture 1970’s. The characters come to life, the storylines thread well and weave into a fine fabric, and it’s not too gory or over the top with fantasy, less supernatural more psychic powered, and overall the book is pretty timeless. The movie’s not bad, either, what with Chris Walken. This ice cream cone is vintage Stephen King and stand alone sweet!

fear and the medulla

Back in the desperate place the mind likes to take me, where the thoughts are all discouraging and fear walks unaccosted across the oblongata, tamping the vessels until blood pressure rises, I see that I am troubled and finally say a prayer, as my breathing heads for the shallows where the shore has disappeared…

from King’s ‘The Dead Zone

what saved me, this time, was drawing the Dead Zone, the paperback, up to my face, my nose tucked in towards the spine, and closing my eyes and inhaling deeply the scent of the pulp, which transported me body and soul into a lovely forest, some forgotten place and time,  from which this pulp was hewn.

the ides of march upon us, here is my wish…
may we overcome all our fear, live long and prosper
– KatYa, 2017

books

MAZE – an ebook

AUTHOR: Katya Mills
PUBLISHER: Amazon / CreateSpace, 2015

SUMMARY: In modern day America, there are those — indiscernible from you and me — who thirst after (human) fear. Ame, in her twenties and the heroine of this tale, has fallen in with them. As a youth she had the same light in her eyes and androgynous form, which marks them. She was abducted and taken to Oakland, California, where she comes to terms with her own dark heritage. Her love interest, a resilient young punk named Maze, skateboards into her life and together they roam the streets, seeking and extracting fear from Ordinaries. Conflicted by her own violent nature, Ame has become nevertheless intoxicated by her new life and associations. Meanwhile, lurking around the boarding house where Ame and Maze stay, a Malafide is busy trapping and hollowing out Ordinaries and leaving them shells. Ame discovers her little sister Kell, in the grips of a terrible addiction. Just as Ame seems to have found her rhythm in the chaos of this new world and city, Kell disappears. Then, searching for her sister, Ame unravels a secret buried on the tapes of a security camera, which threatens to uproot her once again.

cover of Maze
BACK STORY: I wrote this novel as a way of making sense of a decade living in Oakland, California, which is where it is set. I consider it a creative nonfiction of sorts, but I pubIished it as a fiction, having touched up many of the characters with superhuman capabilities. Having an emotional connection to a place is the foundation off of which I like to build my fictions. Submission of this book won me a table at the Sacramento Library’s 2016 Author Festival. This is my third publication, and sequel to my novella Grand Theft Life, which you can read for free on Smashwords @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550226 I consider Maze a freestanding book, and Grand Theft Life makes for a good introduction.

review

Book Review

Requiem for a DreamRequiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Selby Jr. follows four characters as they descend into the madness of addiction, in new york city, a journey the author knows well, having become addicted to morphine when he was suffering from tuberculosis as a merchant marine (and years later, heroin, which he recovered from in the late sixties). Harry and Tyrone are buddies caught in the lifestyle, embracing it at first, copping and selling dope, kicking back to enjoy the high, dreaming of some impossible free-wheeling wealth and luxury on top of some zion of dope… forced to face the danger in the streets, inevitable mishaps and kicking in the joint. Marion is Harry’s girlfriend, a wannabe artist who likes a small habit which grows and grows, only to push away all her old life’s ambitions and interests. The love affair is mostly content to stay in the confines of their apartment, saddled by the sad business of easing back, high and dreaming, making plans to open an café together, nodding and sleeping, happy plans in the head… then falling on hard times looking for money and drugs to fix. May have to get creative about it. Don’t expect a picnic, here, if you read Last Exit To Brooklyn (or saw the movie), you know this is a cautionary tale and all of it’s out in the open. I just love how Selby Jr.’s run-on prose moves freely in and out of headspace and lands like a kick in the gut between personalities. And how the characters seem to get over on themselves. Sarah is Harry’s mom and lives alone and dreams into the television and wants to be the lovely picture she once cut, to fit in that old red dress, and fancies she might lose some weight and make it in television. She starts on diet pills and goes mostly downhill from there. As flawed and impossibly dreaming as these characters are, the book was a page turner because I was not simply ambulance chasing, no, I really gave a hot damn about all 4 players and hoped against hope that they might figure themselves out and find a way out of hell and back to some decency and love and happiness. You never know. Addiction isn’t always a life sentence.

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2. Girl Without Borders

THE BOOK:  Girl Without Borders PUBLISHED IN: 2013 THE AUTHOR: Katya Mills THE EDITOR: Katya Mills THE PUBLISHER: Amazon.com SUMMARY:  Chicago. West side. Follow the paths of three young lovers, at…

Source: 2. Girl Without Borders

First Tuesday Replay, Nov. 1

THIS FEATURE HAS A TWO-FOLD PURPOSE: 1. TO ALLOW THOSE RECENTLY ADDED TO OUR FOLLOWER’S LIST TO LEARN ABOUT BOOKS THEY MIGHT HAVE MISSED AND 2. TO MAKE SURE PREVIOUSLY FEATURED AUTHORS AND THEIR WO…

Source: First Tuesday Replay, Nov. 1

franny and zooey. book review

Book Review: Franny & Zooey

Franny and ZooeyFranny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Franny and Zooey. What was the book about, anyway, if not about what we do to ourselves in a world of criticism and judgment, when we get carried along that way and lose sight of what our indy purposes are, if not about what happens to a family that was once seemingly so united and celebrated for its little unit of togetherness and genius, when it deteriorates and gets cut up by suicide and sending some to war and leaving the rest to smoke and think and worry and carry on in pursuit of something or in pursuit of not pursuing anything, detachment, if not about the funny window into a messy nuclear home life and the quirkiness of moms and sons and sisters, if not about prep schools and homecoming football games and lunches and fainting spells… if it wasn’t about all that, to me, it was about something a bit more thoughtful, less fanciful, more serious even grave, gravely concerned with how we go about our lives faced with the butchers and fat ladies, the disappointments, the faded dreams and painful realities, the fakers finally unmasked and left with what if i’m a faker too, the horrifying naked truth somewhere… and alot of this was also covered in the Catcher In the Rye, so you know it was Salinger in that little bunker on his property in NH where he stole away for weeks at a time in his infantry boots and clothes, probably touching his dogtags from time to time not knowing day or night, night or day, trying to get off the edges and into the heart of something even if it left him with no peace of mind, celebrated in a world he once wanted to celebrate him then reclused himself from, the painful residuals of an earlier attachment, having to detach but going on writing all the same and living a pretty damn long and pretty well respected, earned kinda life… not caring about being prolific or getting his work out even while he was alive necessarily… and i love that about the man and the work… and what i most love about Franny and Zooey whatever it was about, was the smallness of the book in my hands, and the spareness of the cover, the clever east meets west font… but most of all, just the way the two grown kids got around-about-way to the heart-centered business of helping one another out. That’s what i loved about it most of all.

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book review

Review: Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party

Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner PartyOrdeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stewart focuses on forming an accurate logistical picture of the travels and trials of 87 members of the Donner Party against a harsh environment, whose wagon train came together around July 1846 near the Great Salt Lake and headed to California over a newly inspired yet little tested route over a dangerously steep pass in the Sierra Nevadas, which the trusted and well-traveled Hastings recommended they try in order to save 300 miles had they taken the known (and therefore safer) emigration trail around the mountains. Unfortunately the going is rough in Utah and Nevada, and they are doomed to hunker down and camp beside what is now known as Donner Lake. This tale of tragedy and triumph ends in April 1847, after several relief parties (often comprised of family members of the original caravan) made successful rescues over the course of the long and brutal winter featuring several devastating storms packing snow 30+ feet in some parts. Amazingly, 42 of the 87 characters (many of whom are painted in thin brushstrokes by the author, but just enough to begin caring about them) make it out of the mountains and down to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, a lush valley ripe for settling, and the promised land which was the basis for most of the families making the trip in the first place. Many, including the Donners, had been farmers in the midwest, and envisioned taking a grand adventure in a well-orchestrated way (books and goods and kitchen utensils and blankets all packed into wagons driven by teams of oxen with cattle and pack animals behind) providing comfort for the many women and children, some as young as one year old. The families were mainly of Irish and German and English descent, and we get a glimpse into the different and resourceful ways they survive, as the elements ultimately cause each family to fall back on itself for support. As a city dweller in the 21st century, I could only marvel at the kind of grit and determination displayed by these pioneering folk 200 years ago. As the winter progressed, the snowbanks rose far above the chimney tops of the cabins they built lakeside. Game was scarce. Only timber and religion were of endless supply to them. The ones who were snowed in at the camps had mostly to combat slow starvation and cramped conditions. They lived off of rawhide before resorting to cannibalism as a last resort on the well-preserved bodies of the dead in the snow. Some went mad. The ones who ventured out from time to time in last ditch efforts to cross the towering pass to the 100 mile or so stretch of canyons and valleys which lay on the other side to take them down to Sacramento, showed incredible tenacity and spirit. Others were selfish and cowardly, and abandoned all scruples in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Such was the kind of language the author used to recount the stories. A bit old-fashioned but powerful nevertheless, and kept me reading well past my bedtime!

Here are some vivid images circling my mind still, well portrayed by the author. A man wrapped in blankets propped up against a snowbank beside a campfire, smoking the last of tobacco after saying goodbye and courageously telling the hikers to go on without him, and left behind to die alone in the mountains. Five women who made it over the pass on snowshoes, coming into an Indian camp looking like skeletons on broken frostbitten feet and half-clothed, being taken into warming huts and given acorns to break the starvation. A father returning two months after leaving his children in the camp, on a relief mission funded by the rudimentary California-Mexican government, and finding his 8 year old daughter sitting on the edge of the roof of the cabin he built for them, her feet scraping the receding snowbanks. In the time he was absent, he had survived war, flood, fire, starvation, cold, and thirst. Unlike the others, his entire family would survive the ordeal and live to tell. Another image of a group of nine hikers, long starved, mostly young children, holding on for dear life in the midst of a snowstorm in the mountains, 30 feet down in a hollow made by a campfire which grew and ultimately sunk down into the snow by the heat, and made a space large enough for all of them to climb down into, to stay warm until days later when they were found. One who had died there had their liver and heart taken for boiling for sustenance of the remainder. Solitary men and women at Sutter’s Fort, finally arrived, gazing back to the foothills every day, wishing and wondering whether their loved ones were still alive on the other side.