I read books, I write about books, I would probably marry a book if I could find one who liked me enough. Three words to describe me mature, irresponsible, contradictory, unreliable...oh...that's four...
The Glob Who Girdled Granville & The Secret Lives of Actors
Peter Grandbois, whose first novel The Gravedigger is currently in pre-production as a major motion picture, was chosen by Barnes and Noble for their “Discover Great New Writers” Program, and named one of the best books of 2006 by Booklist. He is a professor at Denison University.
In the second of this series of monster double features, just in time for Halloween, we follow the Blob and the Thing from Another World in their efforts to live suburban lives not too different from our own. With the melodrama of their ‘50s B Horror days behind them, these monsters face existential crises that are both firmly rooted in the day-to-day of domesticity, while also affected outlandishly by their monstrosity. As Brian Evenson says, “At once playful and painful—you’ll never look at B horror in the same way again.”
The Creatures Walk Among Us
The original films: The Blob & The Thing from Another World, and too many more to name here. But particularly The Creature from the Black Lagoon & The Fly, featured in the first installment of this novella series. And if you like a range of anything from the intelligent campiness of a Mel Brooks’s film to the literary treatment of monstrosity in Stephen Graham Jones's ...It Came from Del Rio.
Gregory Glob, a blob working as an insurance salesman in a small town in Ohio. And The Thing from Another World, a fading emotionless actor trying to find love.
Gregory Glob could only be accurately portrayed by a gelatinous mass of special effects goo, or, these days, CGI. Though, damn, in the hands of an actor like John Goodman wearing minimal make-up, this story could yield a brilliant performance. Think Walter Sobchak meets Slimer.
The Thing is best imagined portrayed by the original actor, James Arness, unrecognizable in heavy make-up (as opposed to John Carpenter’s gory tentacled Thing going after Kurt Russel).
What’s so profound about this novella series is that the answer to that question is simply, don’t we all live here already? For all of the camp and fabulism, Grandbois’s skillful realism of the incredible helps us see ourselves in these monsters’ day-to-day lives, or perhaps helps us see the monsters that live in ourselves. As Stephen Graham Jones writes, “After reading this, you’ll see that you’ve had scales all along.”
[The Blob] kisses her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he kissed her eyes? We’ve always wanted to kiss someone on the eyes. It is not all about leaving. Some of us understand this. Yes, to leave our wives, our jobs, our families. That takes courage. But there are those of us who argue it takes more courage to stay. To stay and kiss your wife on the eyes. Poppycock! we want to tell them. It takes nothing to stay. And we are right. They know it, and we know it. But what goes unspoken, what we fear to mention even to each other is the kind of courage it takes to stay and change our habits. To stay and risk everything.
These books are must-haves, and right now you can get them from Wordcraft of Oregon at www.wordcraftoforegon.com (as well as via Amazon). Now I’ll depart from the second installment I’ve reviewed here to remind you that, as a part of a series, all three installments work in communication with each other. So, I think we’d be missing out if we read only one novella in the series, because some really interesting ideas begin to haunt us as we inhabit first one monster, then another, then another. There are webs of meaning between these novellas larger than any web I’ve seen since Earth vs. Spider!
Another impressive aspect of the writing here is its ability to entertain; to use sex, violence, and the cliché in new and interesting ways far beyond the abilities of the B-movies referenced throughout. The novellas read with the quick and slick appeal of the old B-movies they pull from, but inspire much larger ideas about our own lives. Reading these books is like pulling your ’57 Chevy up to a speaker post and staring at a silver screen, the smell of buttered popcorn on the breeze, only to glance at yourself in the rearview mirror and see a monster’s eyes. It might be disconcerting, but it’s a realization worth much more than the price of a movie ticket.
Bookshots review written for LitReactor.com by Chris Rosales