The horror

I took Mr. Shereshevsky with me on my Vegas trip, along with a newly acquired mini-magnetic chess set. But though I futzed around with the set, some openings, etc, I confess I never cracked the endgame book.

Instead I picked up a book in the airport. In those situations – confronted by a 5-hour flight – I gravitate toward more mindless fare to pass the time. In this case I wound up with the 500-page horror novel The Ruins, by the same fella who wrote the book that turned into the critically acclaimed Bill Paxton – Billy Bob Thornton snoozer flick A Simple Plan.

I don’t really read horror much, or see many horror movies (the most recent I can recall seeing in its entirity was probably the execrable and derivative Event Horizon, featuring a complete mail-it-in performance by Laurence Fishburne) but the popularity of the genre intrigues me. The Ruins has cover raves from Stephen King and others. And unlike the very little Dean Koontz I’ve had the misfortune to scan, The Ruins is *very* well-written. I don’t say that casually. The guy can write.

But it’s ultimately unsatisfying. Icky, yes, but not really disquieting as promised. That’s a pretty significant difference.

If you want something disquieting, disturbing, palpable, plausible, order a copy of my former boss Lew McCreary’s novel The Minus Man (later made into a less-disturbing movie starring Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, Sheryl Crowe and others). Now that’ll make your skin crawl. Especially if you work for the author.


10 thoughts on “The horror

  1. Sorry to hear that the author of A SIMPLE PLAN hasn’t done nearly as well with his latest. Well, chances are you’re not going to find a decent literary book in most airport bookstores so it sounds like you did the best you could. I like to see good author’s working in moth-eaten genres like horror because these fields need to be re-vitalized and taken back from the hacks that are proliferating like blowflies over the corpse of a cow. Believe me, THE RUINS is miles beyond the usual crap the genre of horror produces.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. Hey Howard – finished the nonfiction part (which is great) but not the fiction yet. Actually one of the pleasures of Engaging Pieces is that it’s so modular so you can start where you like, read as much or as little as you like, and get back to it when you like :) Didn’t take it to Vegas because I knew I’d knock it out in the first hour of flight and then be stuck carrying it around (I prefer to travel as light as possible). The Ruins was sufficiently disposable that once I finished, I simply left in the Charlotte airport on the return trip.

  3. Hey, I thought “A Simple Plan” was great! But then again, we were interrupted halfway thru by a fire alarm in the theatre and had to evacuate. Months later we saw the rest on DVD, but I have to admit we lost the bubble and it didn’t to have the same intensity…

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