This time on The Black Laser Reads we are digging into Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic gothic horror tale of postpartum depression, internalized misogyny, and gaslighting from an era which predates all those terms.
I like this story a lot. I first encountered it in my creative writing class at Cabrillo College just before the pandemic. It’s clever and effective and efficient. There is not an extra word in the whole story. And, while it was originally published in 1892, it still feels quite modern. The language didn’t give me nearly the challenge that Bartleby did.
Please listen and enjoy.
The text for this episode came from Project Gutenberg. If you are interested in reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” yourself, you can download a public domain e-book here.
The next couple episodes are probably going to be on the shorter side with the holidays coming up, but if I can find some time, I’ve got something special in my pocket. Come back and check it out!
The Book of Accidents was my first Chuck Wendig novel. I’m not even really sure how I happened upon it. Perhaps some reddit thread or one of the various book websites that pop into my view while wasting time on the internet. Regardless, I found it. I purchased it. I read it.
And I liked it! And my wife liked it. I generally know while reading something if Sarah is going to click with it. Some stuff—particularly the deep genre science fiction and fantasy books—just isn’t for her. We have different tastes on some things. That’s ok! But when I encounter a novel that has strong horror vibes, a good hook, and a fun mystery to work through without wallowing in bleakness, I can be pretty sure she’s going to enjoy it.
The Book of Accidents is one of those books. What starts off as a story of a man reconciling the death of his estranged father evolves into an inter-dimensional, cosmic mystery. And, boy, what a ride. I don’t usually care about spoilers. It seems to me that the fun of something is the journey, not the destination. But this book has a whole lot of fun twists that I didn’t anticipate and won’t ruin for you. Sarah wanted to talk about the plot while she was reading it, but I refused so as not to ruin the revelations that lay in wait. It took some significant willpower on my part.
The novel absolutely rips along with a tempo that never gives you a moment to stop coupled with short chapters that often kept me up way too late to finish just one more. Wendig here rivals Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 or any Brandon Sanderson novel in keeping me awake reading. It’s rare that a novel can keep me up for longer than 5 or 10 pages at night, leading to me often dragging out novels for much longer than strictly necessary. But I flew through this book in only a few weeks. Fast for me.
If I had one complaint about the book, it’s that Wendig likes to reference real world media, much like Stephen King, to whom this book’s style owes quite a bit. The characters can’t help but mention this month’s popular meme or Dungeons and Dragons or whatever. It’s a quibble, and it is probably just a personal thing, but I’ve never liked this sort of reference. It takes me out of the story’s world just a little, breaks the spell just enough. I like my fourth wall, damn it. If you’re going to break it, do it for something worth more than making a comment about your favorite table top roleplaying game.
Would I recommend this one? Definitely. If you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced horror novel, get it. If you’re not looking for those things, but still enjoy a well-written mystery story with some supernatural elements, get it. If all this sounds like the most uninteresting thing in the world to you, I don’t know, go listen to a TED Talk or something.
I’ve read Lovecraft and Poe and Shelley and Stoker and Matheson and Staub and Rice.
I’ve read a mountain of horror fiction and seen hundreds of horror films, but I feel like I am still missing out.
Stephen King is great, but his books aren’t scary. Clive Barker is inventive and gory, but I feel like sometimes he is better in films where he can drive his ideas with visuals. Joe Hill is writing some incredibly smart, fast-paced horror fiction, but I’ve read all his books. Shirley Jackson wore the Victorian-Horror-In-The-1950s crown, but she’s not producing new work. Lovecraft set the tone for thousands of writers to follow, even if he has some real problematic race ideas in his writing.
So. Who is out there writing our era’s great horror fiction? Who is creating terrifying new worlds and driving people insane? Who is haunting the manor halls with the unjustly dead? Who is condemning the souls of the greedy to eternal torment? Who am I missing? Someone must be doing all this, right?
Last night Nina sent me this video in the e-mails and asked if it reminded me of the film House. I replied that it is very clearly inspired by the psychedelic Japanese horror weirdness of House, especially obvious with the cartoony rotoscoping.
Basically, this music video is a funny tribute to a movie that I think everyone with half an ounce of taste should see. If you haven’t seen House (or in Japanese Hausu), get off your ass and do it. You can get the Blu-ray from Netflix, watch it streaming on Hulu Plus, or just buy the damned thing on Amazon. It’s that good. Imagine if Kwaidan ate an entire sheet of blotter acid and you pretty much have House. Doesn’t that sound enticing? I know it does. In fact, long time readers of this site have already seen bits of the film.
The only thing this video could have had to make it better is an animal portrait spewing blood.
This is not news, but a thought I had while waiting for Michael to show up. Any thoughts? A prime example is the last post. Within the very first paragraph I had blasphemed. Pretty awesome right? Here are some more examples.
This was the background to my Blackberry for a long time.
It’s Lucifer falling from Heaven.
Here’s the photo that greets you when you try and unlock my current phone.
Not evil, but pretty unsettling. And bad ass.
Here’s the background I had until I changed it yesterday.
Here’s what I changed it to.
Pretty awesome, huh? I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of other examples around here too. It’s funny, right? I don’t know why I am compelled to make everything I touch slightly more evil, but I am. There it is. Just a thought.