Those Above by Daniel Polansky

by Dusty Wallace

Daniel Polansky’s “Those Above” is like an idling Lamborghini. The sound of the engine makes you believe that rubber will be burning at any second, thunderous speed following shortly after. And even at idle, it’s still a sight to behold[CONTINUE READING]

Disintegration by Richard Thomas

by Dino Parenti

Richard Thomas’s Disintegration is a noir novel with roots in Chandler and Himes, but with the modern psychological ambition and sledgehammer vigilantism of Richard Price and Dennis Lehane…[CONTINUE READING]

Exigencies, Edited by Richard Thomas

by Dino Parenti

Merriam-Webster defines an “exigency” as follows: 1) that which is required in a particular situation, 2) a state of affairs that makes urgent demands…[CONTINUE READING]

The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

by Dusty Wallace

When writing “The Shotgun Arcana” R.S. Belcher apparently forgot to have sophomore slump. His debut novel, “The Six-Gun Tarot,” introduced us to a town named Golgotha. A frontier town only accessible by a 40-mile desert, Golgotha harbors ancient relics both divine and evil…[CONTINUE READING]

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

by Dino Parenti

Distilled to its essence, Gillian Flynn’s third novel, Gone Girl, is a vivisection of a marriage, performed in a surgery theater where we’re the audience. And as with any live paring open of the human animal, veterans will nod knowingly while greenhorns may wretch into their hands at the amount of gore they thought they’d prepared for in advance…[CONTINUE READING]

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

by Dino Parenti

Gillian Flynn’s second novel, Dark Places, takes the promise of her debut, Sharp Objects, and doses it with higher stakes and a deeper empathic perception that wholly inoculates it from the sophomore jinx…[CONTINUE READING]

Burnt Tongues, Edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas and Dennis Widmyer

by Dino Parenti

Though earlier examples have existed, only to end up banned or destroyed, transgressive literature is often cited as germinating with the Marquis de Sade in the late 1700s, before spreading (some would say “metastasizing”) with the works of Emile Zola, Henry Miller, and William S. Burroughs, and more recently, trafficked throughout the novels of Irvine Welsh and this very anthology’s co-editor, Chuck Palahniuk…[CONTINUE READING]

Echo Lake by Letitia Trent

by Dino Parenti

Letitia Trent’s, Echo Lake, the flagship novel release from Dark House Press (who gave us the neo-noir anthology, The New Black, in May), is an atmospheric, moody traipse through the hard soil of memory and dark pasts that would just as soon remain buried, unmolested by prying eyes and modernity’s judgment…[CONTINUE READING]

After The People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

by Matt Andrew

What do an old-fashioned movie theater, a thrift store hoodie, an old fruit box, a butterfly, and a hand-held, laser-emitting, thermometer have in common?

In Stephen Graham Jones’s latest collection of short stories, they’re all everyday items he uses to keep you awake at night…[CONTINUE READING]

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

by Dino Parenti

One of the limits reached by Mireille Duval Jameson, Roxane Gay’s obstinate lead character in her debut novel, An Untamed State, is the harsh realization of how a father can chose principle over blood when his daughter’s very life is within his power to promptly rescue. It is a trauma nearly as rending to her heart as the one done to her body…[CONTINUE READING]

Gravesend by William Boyle

by Matt Andrew

You’re sitting at an intersection and you see two semi-trailers approaching each other in the cross street, exhausts pouring smoke as they push the odometers to the limit. A fiery collision is imminent. There’s no room to swerve. You cringe and want to avert your eyes, but morbid curiosity wins as you sit and wait for the carnage, wondering if it will be possible for any living soul to survive the catastrophe unfolding before you…[CONTINUE READING]

The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

by Dino Parenti

What one realizes soon after starting Stephen Graham Jones’s The Least of My Scars, is that based solely on its subject matter and physical length, economy of execution must rule the day, or it won’t work[CONTINUE READING]

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

by Dino Parenti

At some point in most novels, a paragraph or single sentence, cleverly situated in a way that isn’t expository, etches in thumbnail the major theme of a work. The better ones find ways to incorporate it as direct function of character, as in the following:[CONTINUE READING]

The New Black, Edited by Richard Thomas

by Dino Parenti

The concept of noir, the French word for “black,” has existed in contextual form since the advent of the written word. From the bleak, apocalyptic warnings of The Old Testament, to the cannon of Shakespeare, to its eventual codifying as genre by American and British authors starting in the 19th century, most notably with Doyle and Poe, writers have sought to popularize and render irresistible all the dark, shifting drives scuttling under the human hide…[CONTINUE READING]

The Stud Book by Monica Drake

by Dino Parenti

What kind of animal doesn’t mate? Georgie made it look easy! Nyla did this when she was practically a kid. Dulcet taught kids how to fight off pregnancy like it was a raging epidemic. Sarah’s thoughts regarding the frigid female snow leopard playing hard-to-get with a male’s sexual overtures; her searing indignation towards reproductive apathy shortly after her fourth miscarriage…[CONTINUE READING]

Tenth Of December by George Saunders

by Dino Parenti

At one point the narrator-father of the story The Semplica Girls Diary makes the exasperated claim: Limitations so frustrating. A more candid alternate title for George Saunder’s latest story collection, Tenth of December, couldn’t be more apropos, for at the core of this superb collection hums all the silent gnashings of inferiority and inadequacy, of characters thwarted by systems, by deficiency, by war against a presumed spiteful universe pulling out the rug for their temerity to try and rise above their stations…[CONTINUE READING]

S by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst 

by Dino Parenti

Stop me if you recognize the following plot elements, perhaps from a popular television show of not-so-long-ago: a multi-level mystery, cryptic islands, strange markings that crop up everywhere, repeating numbers, a persistent undertow of whispers, vaguely familiar characters with questionable motives, malleable timelines, red-herring clues, conspiracies that cross time and generations, lethal black substances…[CONTINUE READING]

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