Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Page 69: Escape From Dinosauria

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....






In this installment of Page 69, 

we put  Vincenzo Bilof and Max Booth III's Escape From Dinosauria to the test!













Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?

Jamie Rock, a professional mixed-martial artist, is having dinner with the owner of Dinosauria Resorts, and her boyfriend, Jordan. They are in an upper floor suite in the high-rise, when a pterodactyl crashes through the room. The dinosaurs on this island were supposed to be safe…




What’s Escape From Dinosauria about?

When cage fighting champion, Jamie Rock, visits the infamous Dinosauria Resorts with her boyfriend, she's expecting an annoying weekend filled with autographs and raptor rides. What she doesn't expect, however, is for a group of terrorists to attack as soon as she lands on the island. Apparently not everybody is too happy with the way Dinosauria is being managed, and some will do whatever it takes to destroy it from the inside out. And Jamie's reluctantly stuck in the middle of it all, kicking as much dino-ass as she can. She doesn't want to be a hero. She just wants a cold beer. Unfortunately, she'll have to go through an entire army of genetically mutated dinosaurs to get one.




Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

Jamie is reluctant to be any kind of hero or role model; she shuns the spotlight and just wants to live a normal life, despite her ability to dominate a fight. This page thrusts Jamie against the rather unreal, violent contest that threatens to take everything that she once believed to be normal away from her; in addition, Jamie has always been able to find her own solutions to everything that challenges her, which includes walking away from the idea of romance. In this scene she is helpless, challenged by a force that will change how she thinks about herself and what she truly wants out of life. As Jamie, from this point on, must find a way to escape from an island overrun by genetically-engineered dinosaurs, she must also escape from any false perceptions of herself (the top of page 69 is actually the middle of a paragraph).








~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PAGE 69
ESCAPE FROM DINOSAURIA



What the hell happened? She had to stand. The fight wasn’t over. She was still in this.

Jamie rose to her feet, steadying herself against the door. The huge dinner table was gone, replaced by a monstrously large bird. She had been hit pretty hard by the glass chunk. The room spun. She had to get back to her corner. The bell needed to ring. She needed one more round. Just needed a moment to get her shit together.

She let go of the wall and stumbled forward while the room shook violently. The massive bird was not a bird at all, but a leathery lizard with wings. She knew what she was looking at but she couldn’t admit it to herself. Its body broken and bleeding, the creature groaned and its beak opened to reveal rows of sharp, curved teeth. Its crested head lifted a couple inches and dropped weakly. She thought about baby dragons.

One black eye closed on the side of its head. A thick red tongue full of blood rolled out of its toothy jaw. Glass shards were embedded in its scaly flesh and blood seeped from hundreds of wounds, pooling over the carpet of shattered window beneath it.

Yeah, she knew what it was called. Every kid in America who had the privilege of going to school knew what a pterodactyl looked like. And here it was. A dying pterodactyl.

“Jamie,” a voice groaned.

Jordan’s hand stretched out from beneath a leathery, bat-like wing. She bent down and nearly fell flat on her face. Her strength hadn’t returned and she had to wipe blood out of her eyes. The room was still shaking and the wounded dinosaur moaned louder.

Gripping his hand tightly, Jamie tried to lift the heavy wing and became light-headed again. She lost her grip on Jordan’s hand and stumbled backward. She couldn’t fall again. She had to keep standing. Jordan needed her.

The room tilted again and Jamie slipped on a glass shard, its edges cutting into the pads of her foot. The sharp pain was easy to ignore, but falling to her knees again was something she cursed herself for. Her hands were cut by more glass, and maybe her knees, and maybe her ankles; she was bloody but she wasn’t beat. She had to stand again.

“Jamie!”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



From Detroit, Michigan, Vincenzo Bilof has been called “The Metallica of Poetry” and “The Shakespeare of Gore”. With a body of work that includes gritty, apocalyptic horror (The Zombie Ascension Series), surrealist prose (The Horror Show), and visceral genre satire (Vampire Strippers from Saturn), Bilof’s fiction remains as divisive and controversial as it is original. He likes to think Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Baudelaire would be proud of his work. More likely, Ed Wood would have been his biggest fan. 

During the day, Bilof repairs arcade machines in semi-operational billiards clubs, or he chases his children around the house in between episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 
You can check out his blog here: https://vincenzobilof.org/






Max Booth III is the author of four novels. His mom has read at least one of them. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and an ongoing columnist at Litreactor.com. He works as a hotel night auditor in a small town outside San Antonio, TX. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at www.talesfromthebooth.com.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Buried in Books - My New Precioussssess



Because I can't possibly read every single book that finds its way into my home IMMEDIATELY, though I fully intend to die trying, allow me to show off our most recently acquired precioussssess...





For Review




JD Wilkes
March 2017
Two Dollar Radio

In a forgotten corner of western Kentucky lies a haunted forest referred to locally as "The Deadening," where vampire cults roam wild and time is immaterial. Our protagonist and his accomplice—the one and only, Carver Canute—set out down the Old Spur Line in search of the legendary Kudzu House, where an old couple is purported to have been swallowed whole by a hungry vine. Their quest leads them face to face with albino panthers, Great Dane-riding girls, protective property owners, and just about every American folk-demon ever, while forcing the protagonist to finally take stock of his relationship with his father and the man's mysterious disappearance. 






Gerald M O'Connor
February 2017
Down & Out Books

All families have secrets. Most go untold…

In the summer of ’96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of eighteen, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies. Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a tender tale of heartache and displacement told through a wry and courageous voice. Set in Ireland, it’s a timely reminder that the world hasn’t moved on just as fast as we fancy. Now, in this emotionally charged story, Gerald O’Connor explores conditioned guilt and its consequences in a country still hiding from the sins of its past.





Sam Shepard
Narration by Bill Pullham
February 2017
Knopf Publishing

This searing, extraordinarily evocative narrative opens with a man in his house at dawn, surrounded by aspens, coyotes cackling in the distance as he quietly navigates the distance between present and past. More and more, memory is overtaking him: in his mind he sees himself in a movie-set trailer, his young face staring back at him in a mirror surrounded by light bulbs. In his dreams and in visions he sees his late father sometimes in miniature, sometimes flying planes, sometimes at war. By turns, he sees the bygone America of his childhood: the farmland and the feedlots, the railyards and the diners and, most hauntingly, his father's young girlfriend, with whom he also became involved, setting into motion a tragedy that has stayed with him. His complex interiority is filtered through views of mountains and deserts as he drives across the country, propelled by jazz, benzedrine, rock and roll, and a restlessness born out of exile. The rhythms of theater, the language of poetry, and a flinty humor combine in this stunning meditation on the nature of experience, at once celebratory, surreal, poignant, and unforgettable.




David S Atkinson
January 2017
Literary Wanderlust

Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.

Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop…one way or another. Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.
 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Page 69: Before

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....







In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Carmen Boullosa's Before to the test.







What is Before about? 

I published Antes (translated now as Before) in 1989. I remember with precision where and how I (hand)wrote every line. Some at the theater bar we ran then, at the small space where we stored our provisions, a mini-attic; the ceiling was so slow that it was impossible to stand up; I set the wine boxes to be used as my desk and chair (movable both, for we had full house almost daily), and wrote while the play or the show was on stage, and ran down the ladder the minute the applause began, ran up after I closed the cashier, while the last customers were still sitting around their drinks and having fun. Other lines I wrote when we closed the place (at 2am) and arrived at home; I stayed awake working till my children woke up (at 6 or 7). I had it clear it was a ghost story told by the ghost herself, written by a poet (me) in the voice of a female of my generation but whose life had stopped short two decades before, a girl who would have been a poet, for she cared most of all about words. Now, for me today, Before is still a ghost story, and it is my remembrances of the years I wrote it. It is my children when they were very small, my then compaƱero who rests in peace, my friends, the artists that worked with us, the plays I wrote, the packed place, the smell of it all (a mix of tobacco, alcohol, fried Mexican goodies that Chabela the cook, who also rests in peace, prepared for the customers)... And because the ghost’s my generation, it is also my city’s childhood. Too much, I guess.



Please set up Page 69 for us. What are we about to read? 

In the first couple of lines, a ghost, who is the main character and the narrator of the book, ends talking about a treasured memory she has, makes a break and starts presenting to our eyes what dreams are, and were, for her. We learn something interesting: ghosts sleep and dream. Lucky her: I sleep so badly, insomnia is my thing...





Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the books is all about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme? 

Yes, and no. The "theme" might be "fear." And here we don’t have fear but a bit of oxygen. It’s a breath inside the book, a breath of words, words give her the only way to be alive.






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PAGE 69
BEFORE







~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Carmen Boullosa is one of Mexico's leading novelists, poets, and playwrights. The translation of her novel Texas: The Great Theft (Deep Vellum, 2014) was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, and won Typographical Era's Translation Award. She lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Steph Post's Guide to Books & Booze


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 




Today, Steph Post is throwing all the booze at her upcoming novel Lightwood




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




By the second scene of Lightwood, we see our protagonist, Judah Cannon, fresh out of prison and getting lit at The Ace in the Hole. His hometown bar will serve as the backdrop for several key moments in the story, including being reacquainted with the love of his life, Ramey, and getting a Cannon family beat-down in the parking lot. As with my first novel A Tree Born Crooked, bars are an integral part of Lightwood. The only other watering hole in the rural north Florida town of Silas, Limey’s, also serves as a backdrop to the Cannon family saga, and with devastating consequences. Needless to say, my characters, for the most part, are drinkers. They like their beer by the case and their whiskey straight. They don’t have time for fruity cocktails or neon shots that will make you puke rainbows.

But if they did…

If the characters of Lightwood walked into a bar and the only thing on the board was a shots list… here’s what they’d be ordering.



Judah Cannon- Snake Bite (Yukon Jack, Lime). He’d grumble about it, but he’d take it, because hey, it’s alcohol. It’s almost like drinking straight whiskey, if you ignore the pucker of lime. And the name is quietly badass, just like Judah. Not flashy, but definitely still dangerous. And although Judah himself won’t be the recipient of a rattlesnake attack (that’s saved for another character) he does have his sights set on Sister Tulah: the wiliest snake of them all.  



Ramey Barrow- Kamikaze (Vodka, Triple Sec, Lime). Ramey would not bitch about having to order a crazy shot. She’d smile, wink at Judah and throw the shot back. Ramey is kamikaze herself: wild, unpredictable and yet still firmly in control. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it, even if the outcome could mean staring into the face of death itself. Ramey may be fun, but more importantly, she is fearless.




Sherwood Cannon- Black Russian (Vodka, Kahlua). Like his son Judah, Sherwood would choose one of the more unaltered shots, but he’d go straight for the darkest one. In age and appearance, Sherwood might be unassuming, but he’s got the temperament of a Russian mob boss and a criminal track record to back it up.



Benji Cannon- Jolly Rancher (Amaretto, Melon Liquor, Grenadine). The youngest Cannon son wouldn’t just take his hot pink shot, he’d order a round for the entire bar. Benji is the life of the party, the only uncorrupted Cannon, and he probably ordered this shot to impress some blonde sitting three stools down.




Jack O’ Lantern Austin- Red-headed Slut (Jager, Cranberry, Peach Schnapps). Though not necessarily a slut, the leader of the Scorpions outlaw motorcycle gang is definitely a red-head. He didn’t earn the nickname “Jack O’ Lantern” for nothing.




Brother Felton- Oatmeal Cookie (Baileys, Goldschlager, Butterscotch Schnapps). Poor Brother Felton. He’s spent his entire life under the domineering thumb of his Pentecostal preacher aunt and the guilt of letting a drop of alcohol pass his lips would be killing him. Still, one of his few secret vices is junk food and sweets, so he’d manage to take a few tiny sips of his Oatmeal Cookie, but only when he thinks Sister Tulah isn’t looking.




Sister Tulah- Four Horsemen (Jack, Jim, Johnny, Jose). Sister Tulah is more than a little obsessed with the apocalypse, when she isn’t busy trying to make money and control her myriad business interests, so she’d naturally gravitate towards the Four Horseman shot. She might even order a double. There would be no furtive sipping for Sister Tulah, however. She’d most likely raise the shot glass and then let it smash to the floor to prove her point about alcohol being a sin. And then she’d trample over the broken glass and exit the bar without looking back.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Lightwood- Polis Books- January 10th, 2017



Steph Post is the author of the novels Lightwood and A Tree Born Crooked. She was a bartender for years and hated making shots. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and teaches at a performing arts high school, which is a lot like bartending, except for the fun alcohol part. 

Visit her at www.stephpostfiction.com or look her up sometime and buy her a drink. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Christopher Chase Walker on Being Indie

On "Being Indie" is a blog series that introduces us to a wide variety of small press authors and publishers as they discuss what being indie means to them.





Christopher Chase Walker is the author of The Visitor which released on November 25th, 2016 (Cosmic Egg); and Now You Know (Acorn Independent Press 2012)


Christopher was born on a Maryland army base the same day Apollo 12 returned from the moon. 

Since graduating university (College of Wooster) with a BA in English Literature, Christopher has lifted heavy objects at a fine arts auction house, mixed Bloody Marys at a Chicago bar, and for the past nineteen years raised millions for charities in the United Kingdom and United States. 

He lives in Brighton, England, in a narrow house near the sea.















Seven or eight years ago, a good friend, who was working on a novel of her own, asked me, ‘If your writing was music instead of fiction, what band would you be?’ It was a teenager-y question and, perhaps because of that, I thought it great fun. And I knew right away, if not which band, the direction or niche my answer would be: indie.

Mention the word ‘indie’ and music is the first thing that comes to mind. Then film. Then books. It’s not a hierarchy. But it’s music that always fronts the list – and with it, music magazines and music weeklies, pull out posters, good haircuts, brainy poses, bookish quotes, shyness and swagger, singles and snogs and youth.

It makes sense, for, across the arts, indie music came to me first. Importantly, indie music also came into form when I was doing the same and, in early adolescence, beginning to look beyond the 50s and 60s music of my parents’ generation and the meat-and-potatoes rock (sometimes soft and stringy, sometimes hard, sometimes countrified) and disco that dominated Cleveland radio in the late 70s and early 80s.

Initially it was bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, New Order and the Cure. Later it was the Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, and Suede. Friends – know that indieness helped establish conversations, the basis of many substantial friendships – introduced me to Sammy, Guided by Voices, Pavement and The Clientele. The music hit me in the gut: I had no choice.

What is critical about these bands – however popular they might have been or grew to be – is that they weren’t making music for everyone, but for themselves and for a small group of like-minded people whom they knew, or could at least guess, like fabled lands, existed here and there, and could be reached with luck, a hard slog and risk.

And the music labels for many indie bands – Creation, Rough Trade, Big Cat, Nude, etc – could be rough-edged, unconventional, sometimes ramshackle, often run by one or two people and a few mates or contacts who operated on instinct and passion and risk, rather than by an executive board concerned with strategy and scale and financial return for already wealthy investors.

It’s similar with many independent publishers, to a point. Today, indie publishers operate with a higher degree of order than the old indie music labels did, and want to make a success of things. But their interests, at least to me, lie more with wanting to publish something that excites them and they feel needs to be read, rather than something that you’ll see – or at least has a calculated shot at – topping the charts come Christmas, or at any other time of the year. That’s their beauty.

When I’d finished writing The Visitor – and after it had been proofed and edited and then run past three people whose opinions I trust (a musician on indie labels, an indie filmmaker and the same friend, a script-editor, who had asked me the which-band-would-you-be question) – and I thought the novella’s manuscript was clean enough to submit, I drew up a list of publishers. All were indie.

It’s a guess, of course, but I didn’t think any of the major publishers would be keen, if mainly because I thought The Visitor would only appeal to pockets of readers, rather than everyone and their great aunt and uncle. You also don’t see many novellas being published by the big publishing houses; they’re the somewhere in-between a short story and a novel oddball. If they were music, they would be EPs: too long to be a single, too short to be considered a full album.

Equally, it was important to trust my gut: I simply wasn’t interested in major national or international publishers. It was indie from the word go. Which is why, in reply to my friend’s question, I named the Jesus & Mary Chain as the band I’d like to be, if I was writing music instead of fiction.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

C. McGee Takes It To The Toilet



Oh yes! We absolutely have a series on bathroom reading! So long as it's taking place behind the closed  (or open, if that's the way you swing) bathroom door, we want to know what it is. It can be a book, the back of the shampoo bottle, the newspaper, or Twitter on your cell phone - whatever helps you pass the time...



Today, C. McGee takes it to the toilet! C.'s first novel Exteriors And Interiors is available now from Roundfire Books. His forthcoming novel Feral Chickens will be out next year.  More of his writing can be found on CMcGeeWrite.com. Raised in Minnesota he currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, Beth, and their daughter, Jo.  



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I love reading. I love the toilet. You put those two things together and you basically have a recipe for sublimity. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend a half an hour. Unfortunately, Reading-On-The-Toilet does not feel the same way about me.  My love is unrequited. Actually, it’s worse than that.  Reading-On-The-Toilet straight up hates me. I know because it gave me hemorrhoids and you don’t give painfully swollen anal veins to someone you love, you give them to someone you despise. What a bastard.

I actually remember the exact moment that Reading-On-The Toilet revealed his true feelings. It was a summer day. The sun beamed down on us as we sat absorbed in Hemingway’s swift, muscular prose. Together we turned page after page, soaking in the sunlight that beamed through the window, keeping one another warm.  It was a romantic afternoon the likes of which one dreams. Then swiftly the dream became a nightmare.  As our afternoon together drew to a close, I turned and looked down in order to assess the size of the present that I had left behind for my lover, but what greeted my eyes was not a well formed brown package resting serenely beneath a layer of clear placid water, but rather a loosely shaped pile of shit residing at the bottom of a basin spider-webbed with ribbons of blood. It was a horrific sight the likes of which I had never seen. Indeed, the unprecedented nature of the scene left me both flummoxed and frightened. Desperately I combed my mind for explanations but none came, at least not right away.  I suspect understanding took me longer than it should have because I didn’t want to believe the truth, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had been betrayed … but I had. 

Reading-On-The-Toilet had turned against me. He had stabbed me from behind, in the behind.  It was devastating. Is devastating. Neither my asshole nor my heart have ever fully recovered. I expect they never will.  I hate Reading-On-The-Toilet for that, for ruining me, for ridding me of my romantic notions. Still, I can’t help myself. Part of me is still in love with him, and that part of me won’t let the rest of me leave, not completely.  That’s why I still go back. Not often, just every now and then, when I feel like something is missing.  

But I’m careful when I do it.  I never linger. I keep it short and sweet.  Non-fiction exclusively, usually short essays by Hitchens or Sedaris, maybe an occasional comic by Allie Brosh; but no novels, no fiction of any kind.  It’s too risky. I’ll get engrossed and lose my bearings. End up coming to ninety minutes later butt-hurt and heartbroken once more.  I can’t do that. Not again.


Friday, January 13, 2017

David Bowie Reading Challenge: Post Apocalyptic and End-Times Tasks




I really love reading challenges because of the way it stretches your reading comfort zone, but I've always sucked at actually completing them. This year's Reading Challenge is built around David Bowie's discography. And it's a doozey. So I thought it would be cool to set up a series where we can recommend books to one another that can use against some of the tasks. 

Since I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic and end-times novels, I thought it would be fun to start with those.





Brian Evenson

X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one—or many—but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X. He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.

But when he discovers the existence of another—above ground, outside the protection of the Warren—X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.


An amazing novel that probes deep into what it means to be human and whether what you think you are, and what you truly are, really makes that much difference in the long run. This novella, which takes place in a warren of sorts many, many years in the future, is a follow-up to Evenson's Immobility but works very well as a stand alone.


Can be applied against
  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • Bombers (Hunky Dory, 1971) - Read a book about nuclear war or a book that features an apocalypse
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future
  • Sunday (Heathen, 2002) – Read a book that is narrated by a survivor of some apocalypse


Can also be applied against
  • Future Legend (Diamond Dogs, 1974) – Read a novelette
  • Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family (Diamond Dogs, 1974)– Read the last book in author’s bibliography
  • Ashes to Ashes (Scary Monsters, 1980) – Read a book that is a follow up or sequel
  • Within You (Labryinth, 1986) – Read a book in which a character has multiple ‘personalities’ within themselves 
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Leon Takes Us Outside (Outside, 1995) – Read a book that contains diary or date entries




Brian Francis Slattery

In the not-distant-enough future, a man takes a boat trip up the Susquehanna River with his most trusted friend, intent on reuniting with his son. But the man is pursued by an army, and his own harrowing past; and the familiar American landscape has been savaged by war and climate change until it is nearly unrecognizable.

Lost Everything is a stunning novel about family and faith, what we are afraid may come to be, and how to wring hope from hopelessness.

Lost Everything takes its readers on a slow, sleepy crawl across the Susquehanna River in a not-so-distant post apocalyptic future where civil war and severe storms, brought about by economic hardships in the face of global warming, threaten to bring the country to its very knees and take the lives of anyone stupid enough to get caught up in between. It's what's left when everything else has been taken. It's what drives a person to continue to fight for their lives when there is really nothing left to live for. It is a powerful and persuasive second look at what might be most important to us. It forces you to reevaluate what you would take with you when you can't take it all. And it pushes you to look at those you love in a painfully new light.



Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • Bombers (Hunky Dory, 1971) - Read a book about nuclear war or a book that features an apocalypse
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future
  • Sunday (Heathen, 2002) – Read a book that is narrated by a survivor of some apocalypse

Can also be applied against

  • The Prettiest Star (Aladdin Star, 1973)– Read a book with an adjective in the title
  • Across the Universe (Young Americans, 1975)Read a book in which the main character has to travel a long distance
  • Red Sails (Loder, 1979) – Read a book that takes place on a ship or boat or features one as a means of transportation
  • Move On (Lodger, 1979) – Read a book that features someone who is constantly on the move
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Looking For Water (Reality, 2003) – Read a book that features water in some way
  • The Next Day (The Next Day, 2013) – Read a book that takes place in the near future




Sandra Newman

In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her nomadic tribe live off the detritus of a crumbled civilization. Theirs is a world of children; before reaching the age of twenty, they all die of a strange disease they call Posies--a plague that has killed for generations. There is no medicine, no treatment; only the mysterious rumor of a cure.

When her brother begins showing signs of the disease, Ice Cream Star sets off on a bold journey to find this cure. Led by a stranger, a captured prisoner named Pasha who becomes her devoted protector and friend, Ice Cream Star plunges into the unknown, risking her freedom and ultimately her life. Traveling hundreds of miles across treacherous, unfamiliar territory, she will experience love, heartbreak, cruelty, terror, and betrayal, fighting to protect the only world she has ever known.

Sandra Newman has crafted a fascinating and frightful alternate future, one that pulls you straight down into its very heart, though it's the unique language of Ice Cream Star that holds you there tightly. It's heady and ballsy and manages to break every dystopian barrier there is with a sophisticated ease.



Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future
  • Something in the Air (Hours, 1999) – Read a post-pandemic novel
  • Sunday (Heathen, 2002) – Read a book that is narrated by a survivor of some apocalypse



Can also be applied against

  • Janine (Space Oddity, 1969) – Read a book with a female protagonist
  • Across the Universe (Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book in which the main character has to travel a long distance
  • Algeria Touchshriek (1. Outside 1995) – Read a book in which the title is the character’s name
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Survive (Hours 1999) – Read a book about survival or in which a character beat the odds
  • The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (The Next Day, 2013) – Read a book with stars in the title
  • God Bless the Girl (The Next Day Extra, 2013) – Read a book written by a female author
  • So She (The Next Day Extra, 2013)– Read a book told from a female’s point of view




Benjamin Percy

In this post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.

Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.

Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.
 

While The Dead Lands is most certainly a post apocalyptic book, it also reads like an epic fantasy. So much so that at times, I had to remind myself that it was taking place in an undisclosed future (or possibly a very distant past?!) and not some alternate world. Part Station Eleven (sprawling epic, years after an apocalypse, relics of the old world stored in a museum), part LotR (minus the elves and dwarves but with just as many bad ass battles), and part history lesson (Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea - there are so many parallels), The Dead Lands can sometimes come across as a book that doesn't know exactly what it wants to be. And while there were moments where I felt Percy was trying to take on way too much, or was losing his focus, in the end he did a really nice job pulling it all together.


Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future
  • Something in the Air (Hours, 1999) – Read a post-pandemic novel
  • Survive (Hours, 1999)– Read a book about survival or in which a character beat the odds

Can also be applied against
  • Andy Warhol (Hunky Dory, 1971) - Read a book that is an homage to something else
  • The Prettiest Star (Aladdin Star, 1973)– Read a book with an adjective in the title
  • Across the Universe (Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book in which the main character has to travel a long distance
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you





Carola Dibbell

Inez wanders a post-pandemic world, strangely immune to disease, making her living by volunteering as a test subject. She is hired to provide genetic material to a grief-stricken, affluent mother, who lost all four of her daughters within four short weeks. This experimental genetic work is policed by a hazy network of governmental ethics committees, and threatened by the Knights of Life, religious zealots who raze the rural farms where much of this experimentation is done. When the mother backs out at the last minute, Inez is left responsible for the product, which in this case is a baby girl, Ani. Inez must protect Ani, who is a scientific breakthrough, keeping her alive, dodging authorities and religious fanatics, and trying to provide Ani with the childhood that Inez never had, which means a stable home and an education.

With a stylish voice influenced by years of music writing, The Only Ones is a time-old story, tender and iconic, about how much we love our children, however they come, as well as a sly commentary on class, politics, and the complexities of reproductive technology.

God, did I get lost in Carola Dibbell's vision of dystopian New York City. Coupons replace cash; swipes and spit tests replace photo ID's; phone calls and messages are received on Boards (which are both personal devices and outdoor, ATM-like machines); and public transportation consists of bubble cars, unreliable wind-powered trams and boats, and hovering magnetized trains. Giant domes encapsulate wealthy neighborhoods as a feeble attempt to protect against the threat of death that lives in every breath. It's a stark and gritty world where babies are conceived in basement laboratories and sold as "viables" in the global underground market. 

The Only Ones was one of many post-pandemic novels I had itched to get my hands on. It hinges itself on more than just surviving the unsurvivable. It tackles more than just rebuilding society. Dibbell's novel sticks its hands into the evolutionary food chain and calls into question the roles of man and god. 

It's a story about understanding your worth and overcoming your "heritage". It's about embracing motherhood, even if you don't know what that is, and the near-obsessive desire to give your children a better childhood than you had. 


Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future
  • Something in the Air (Hours, 1999) – Read a post-pandemic novel
  • Sunday (Heathen, 2002) – Read a book that is narrated by a survivor of some apocalypse




Can also be applied against

  • Janine (Space Oddity, 1969) – Read a book with a female protagonist
  • Kooks (Hunky Dory, 1971)– Read a book about parenthood or that revolves around parenting
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Survive (Hours, 1999)– Read a book about survival or in which a character beat the odds
  • God Bless the Girl (The Next Day Extra, 2013) – Read a book written by a female author
  • So She (The Next Day Extra, 2013)– Read a book told from a female’s point of view
  • The Next Day (The Next Day, 2013) – Read a book that takes place in the near future





Edan Lepucki

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant. 

Terrified of the unknown but unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and irrepressible resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

Edan has done something wonderful within a somewhat "been there, read that" genre. As a fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature, I've experienced just about every end-of-the-world scenario. From meteors to zombies to plagues,.. and while there is nothing wrong with that, I have a deep appreciation for the slow, unobtrusive way in which Edan ushered in hers. How scary to imagine growing up in a world where, little by little, we are pushed back towards the dark ages. Internet and electricity are spotty at best, colleges teach its students to farm, people trade gold for the silliest trinkets.

Through California, Edan addresses our biggest fears as she offers its characters the opportunity to rebuild society, and right past wrongs. Will they continue down the dark path that brought about their own undoings or move humanity forward in new and unexpected ways?

For the record, had my husband and I been characters in this book, fleeing the same dying city, we'd be dead within a week of exposure to the elements, dehydration, and us stupidly gorging out on poisonous berries or some ridiculously dumb infection by hangnail. We're just not cut out for the end of the world as we know it. Do you think it's too late to influence my kids into becoming crunchy granolas? This novel makes me fear for their future.


Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future

Can also be applied against

  • Janine (Space Oddity, 1969) – Read a book with a female protagonist
  • Kooks (Hunky Dory, 1971)– Read a book about parenthood or that revolves around parenting
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (Young Americans, 1975) – Read a book that is written in third-person
  • The Secret Life of Arabia (Heroes, 1977)– Read a book in which the protagonist is keeping secrets
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Algeria Touchshriek (1.Outside, 1995) – Read a book in which the title is the character’s name
  • Survive (Hours, 1999)– Read a book about survival or in which a character beat the odds
  • God Bless the Girl (The Next Day Extra, 2013) – Read a book written by a female author




Clayton Smith

Three years have passed since the Jamaicans caused the apocalypse, and things in post-Armageddon Chicago have settled into a new kind of normal. Unfortunately, that "normal" includes collapsing skyscrapers, bands of bloodthirsty maniacs, and a dwindling cache of survival supplies. After watching his family, friends, and most of the non-sadistic elements of society crumble around him, Patrick decides it's time to cross one last item off his bucket list. He's going to Disney World. This hilarious, heartfelt, gut-wrenching odyssey through post-apocalyptic America is a pilgrimage peppered with peril, as fellow survivors Patrick and Ben encounter a slew of odd characters, from zombie politicians and deranged survivalists to a milky-eyed oracle who doesn't have a lot of good news. Plus, it looks like Patrick may be hiding the real reason for their mission to the Magic Kingdom... 

A post-apocalyptic novel that makes fun of itself and every book or film that's ever come before it? Uh, yes please!

Clayton Smith knocks it out of the park - The Magic Kingdom's parking lot, to be exact - with this hilarious tale of two BFF's who've managed to survive the apocalypse (which was brought about by Jamaican 'Flying Monkey Missiles' if you can believe it) by apparent sheer dumb luck. Time and time again I found myself wishing I could hop inside Clayton's world and tag along with these guys.Sprinkled throughout with pop culture references and served with a heaping dose of well written dialogue, I'm naming APOCALYPTICON the must-read book of 2014 for fans of post-apoc literature. Give yourself a break from all the end-of-the-world doom and gloom, and get your read on with this insanely incredible post apocalyptical novel with a huge heart. And HELLO?! Have you seen the cover? If my review's not enough to make you pick this thing up.... that cover sure as hell should be! 


Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • Bombers (Hunky Dory, 1971) - Read a book about nuclear war or a book that features an apocalypse
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future

Can also be applied against
  • We Are the Dead (Diamond Dogs, 1974) - Read a zombie novel
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (Young Americans, 1975) – Read a book that is written in third-person
  • Across the Universe (Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book in which the main character has to travel a long distance
  • Never Let Me Down (Never Let Me Down, 1987) – Read a book in which a character places their faith in something
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Survive (Hours, 1999)– Read a book about survival or in which a character beat the odds
  • The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell (Hours, 1999) – Read a dark comedy



Eric Shonkwiler

Years from now, America is slowly collapsing. Crops are drying up and oil is running out. People flee cities for the countryside, worsening the drought and opening the land to crime. Amid this decay and strife, war veteran David Parrish fights to keep his family and farm together. However, the murder of a local child opens old wounds, forcing him to confront his own nature on a hunt through dust storms and crumbling towns for the killer.

Shonkwiler's sparse prose moved patiently across the page, building tension as it went, as raw and cutting as the dust storms that plagued his characters in this "apocalyptic western" debut. Nothing I read in the following eleven months even came close. It's a bleak tale of the beginning of the end of the world. Of a family man who feels the weight of everyone's worries on his shoulders. Of this man who, regardless of consequence, is determined to make sure everyone is alright, even if it means hurting the ones he cares about most. It's a tale of survival as much as it is one of destruction. And Shonkwiler pulls it off effortlessly. It's a killer read. It does all of the things you want it to and some of the things you don't. And that's what makes it so powerful. That's what makes it THE one.


Can be applied against

  • We Are Hungry Men (David Bowie, 1967) - Read a book about a global catastrophe
  • After Today ( Young Americans, 1975)– Read a book that takes place in the future

Can also be applied against
  • Please Mr. Gravedigger (David Bowie, 1967)– Read a book about murder, or that prominently features a murder
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (Young Americans, 1975) – Read a book that is written in third-person
  • No Control (1. Outside, 1995) – Read a book that someone recommended to you
  • Thru These Architect’s Eyes (1.Outside, 1995) – Read a book that uses punctuation oddly
  • The Next Day (The Next Day, 2013) – Read a book that takes place in the near future



If you like this post and would be interested in seeing more like this one, let me know!