Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jack O' The Hills by C.S.E. Cooney

There are certain authors that, after you've heard them read, you'll forever after hear their voices in your head whenever you read their work. It was impossible for me to read C.S.E. Cooney's chapbook, Jack o' the Hills, without adding those sly little inflections and feeling the undercurrent of manic energy that accompany all of her performances. So I can recommend the book to anyone ... but only with the caveat that it still doesn't compare to hearing it read by the author herself.

The book collects two short stories, Stone Shoes and Oubliette's Egg, concerning a trickster named Jack Yap, his giant brother Pudding and the contents of a most unusual egg. It's high dark fantasy in which even the most grotesque and sinister of elements are rendered through words into something beautiful.

You can order the book in print or as an e-publication here. And if you need convincing, check out her story, Pale, and from a Sea-Wave Rising, at Apex Magazine. Or her poem, Dogstar Men, at the same site. And as far as live performances go, try Ride of the Robber Bride in the Spring 2011 issue of Goblin Fruit.

She's currently working on a novel and once it's published, this chapbook is going to be one of those rare collector's items that goes for big money on E-bay. Honestly, if you're looking for fresh voices in dark fantasy, you'll want a copy of this one.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Doom Patrol 22 - Final Issue

This week saw the end of Keith Giffen's run on Doom Patrol. While the series had its flaws, it was one of the few comics I still bothered to pick up regularly. Since the 1960s, there have been something like seven or eight writers doing his or her version of the Doom Patrol every few years. My favorite run on the series (and, in fact, one of my favorite comic series of all time) was the Grant Morrison version in the early nineties.

I've noticed that the best versions of this team are those that present them as heroes who wish they were dead. Maybe not every minute of every day, but there is a death-wish undercurrent even in the kid-friendly 1960s versions of these characters. These were people whose powers separated them from the rest of the world, left them unable to maintain secret identities (much less normal jobs). They were people with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. In the best versions (Arnold Drake's, Grant Morrison's and Keith Giffen's), the Doom Patrol comes off more like a support group than a crime-fighting team.

Of course, given the nearly fifty years of history enjoyed by these characters, it's certain that a new book will be launched in a few years. Until then, there's always the back issue bins. Farewell to a fine book done by a fine writer.