The book up for this month is one I started last month because I knew I would need extra time to finish it. The book is JR by William Gaddis, written in almost entirely dialogue with no scene breaks or chapters, and coming in at 726 pages. Published in 1975, JR tells the story of Edward Bast, a composer working as a school music teacher. He befriends 11-year-old JR Vansant. JR appears to be an economic savant, and without Bast realizing it he is pulled into the young man’s capitalist machinations. A novel that feels like the cacophonous and biting satirical work of filmmaker Robert Altman.
The Croning (2012, Night Shade Books)
by Laird Barron
Don Miller has a memory problem. Throughout his adult life he has had strange experiences and encounters, yet now an octogenarian, they are only just returning, spurred on by a series of bizarre events occurring at his rural home in Washington state. His wife, Michelle, is an anthropologist who, even though retired, still jets off to attend lectures and academic conferences. His adult children are busy in their own lives, and this all leaves Don time to reflect. He begins to recall conversations with his grandfather, a man seemingly involved in clandestine affairs. He remembers weird encounters with a young man while milling about the home of a recently deceased colleague. Then there was the incident in Mexico back in 1958…
After a month long sabbatical, save for Twin Peaks updates, Pop Cult’s engines will start firing up again. To start out, our book club selection will be Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. It was recently announced that HBO will be adapting the book into a series to be helmed by director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Key and Peele). The book is described as:
“Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours […]
A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.”
Join us to read this interesting examination of the racist elements within the worlds of Lovecraft and America.
The Fisherman (2016, Word Horde)
Written by John Langan
Abe lost his wife to cancer after only two years of marriage. Dan lost his wife and two children in a car accident. These two men have bonded in their grief by fishing in and around the Catskills and the Ashokan Reservoir. One day Dan suggests they try Dutchman’s Creek, a body of water Abe isn’t familiar with and can’t seem to find on any of his maps. Dan seems to know where the creek is and on a rainy Saturday morning, they head out. A fateful stop at a diner in the area leads to them to hear the story of how Dutchman’s Creek got its name and a warning to stay away from this place.
For July, my book will be The Fisherman by John Langan, recent winner of a Bram Stoker award. The book is described thusly:
“In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.”
Join me, won’t you?
Universal Harvester (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)
Written by John Darnielle
The town of Nevada, Iowa doesn’t have much going for it in the late 1990s, apart from the Video Hut. Twenty-something Jeremy works full time there while living at home with his widower father. Life is pretty quiet until customers start returning videos with hesitant complaints about “something wrong with the tape.” Jeremy finally sits down to watch these movies and finds sudden cuts to home video footage spliced in. These strange videos reveal a possible dark secret one of the townspeople is keeping. Jeremy begins to share these film clips with his manager and other people close to them causing more and more people to become entangled in the darkness surrounding his town.
This June, Pop Cult’s book club choice will be Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (Mountain Goats).
The official blurb for the novel reads: “Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut. So begins Universal Harvester, the haunting and masterfully unsettling new novel from John Darnielle, author of the New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Nominee Wolf in White Van”
Hopefully a nice companion piece to the small town horror of Twin Peaks. Join me, won’t you?