Maggoty Bodily Fluid Soup: Michael Green’s The Jim-Jams

The Jim-Jams – Michael Green

Pocket – 1994

As soon as I heard of this rare, disgusting work of cosmic-horror, it jumped straight to the top of my to-read list..

Blue Turtle Island is an isolated holiday resort for old people. The small team of staff working there are in for a rough weekend. Not only has a gang of thugs sailed over with plans to mug the visitors, but there’s a weird… thing in the woods, and it’s having some rather strange effects on the creatures that come into contact with it.

It feel from the sky, and it seems to mess with the DNA of all lifeforms who encounter it, altering their physical structure and behaviour. Insects and small animals seem to morph into each other, and people get really messy. There’s lots of swelling, tumours, fluids, new orifices and more. Oh and there’s bugs in everything.

A plot centering on a bunch of old people is novel, but the real fun of this book lies in it’s relentlessness. It’s really gross. Think of all the horrible things that can happen to a human body, and then imagine most of them happening at once to the same body while that body is being infested with worms and spiders. There’s no great build-up here either. Things get gooey early on, and they never dry up.

There’s weird references to other horror writers in here. Different bugs are referred to as koontzes, bradburys and straubs. One character is called Farris too. Also, there is a direct reference to another horror author that had me laughing. One of the characters sees a mutated freak and assumes it’s an alien.”Feeling almost faint with excitement, Lana strove to keep in mind the courageous example of Whitley Strieber, a man she admired more than any other, an ambassador for all humankind who endured so many hardships during his encounters with Visitors from other worlds.”

The Jim-Jams reminded me of Edward Lee’s Slither. That one was also about people trapped on an island with gross mutating bugs. Both are very silly novels, but there’s enough self awareness and plot to keep them enjoyable. If you like Edward Lee, give The Jim-Jams a read.

This book has been out of print for almost 20 years, and it’s almost impossible to find. There’s no copies for sale online right now. I read it online at the Internet Archive, one of the greatest resources on the internet for people with an interest in books. The Internet Archive is currently in a legal battle with the biggest publishers in the world. You can show your support for libraries here.

The Travelling Grave and Other Stories – L.P. Hartley

The Travelling Grave and Other Stories by L.P. Hartley

Valacourt Books – 2017
This book was first published by Arkham House in 1947, but many of the stories were published years before that. In truth, I found it very boring. It’s mostly ghost stories, but none of them are particularly scary. The writing is quite dense at times too, and it usually didn’t feel worth the effort. It’s less than 250 pages, but it took me more than 4 months to get through it.

Here’s what I remember about the stories:

StoryMy thoughts (includes spoilers)
A Visitor from Down UnderA lad listens to weird kids’ games on the radio and a ghost comes from Australia to get him. Shit and confusing.
PodoloA creepy island. Somebody tries to kill a kitten? Maybe it’s a werewolf or something. I forget.
Three, or Four, for DinnerSome lads arrange to meet another lad, but he dies. Shows up to dinner anyway. Supposed to be droll?
The Travelling GraveA lad collects coffins. One can bury itself and does when a person is in it.
Feet ForemostA ghost can’t come into the house because there is a step or something. Not scary at all.
The CotillonA lad kills himself, but he goes dancing afterwards.
A Change of OwnershipA truly idiotic man gets upset because he was too much of a wuss to invite his boyfriend in for some sex, so he has a nervous breakdown instead and imagines he is a ghost or something.
The ThoughtA lad goes for a walk and gets confused. This went so far above my head. Hated it.
Conrad and the DragonPredictable fantasy story. Maybe for kids.
The IslandA lad gets caught by his girlfriend’s husband. At least one of them is dead.
Night FearsA lad gets scared while working the night shift. Short.
The Killing BottleA lad gets mixed up with another chap who murders people who hurt animals. Then the other chap kills his own brother. Who knows what becomes of the dipstick protagonist?
A lot of lads.

I have nothing else to say about this book.

This is probably a poor time to mention this, as the above review is hardly riveting reading, but I have noticed a dramatic drop in traffic to this blog recently. Google updated its algorithm on the 15th of last month, and it seems to have worked against me. I’m seeing roughly half of what I had been seeing for the last 3 years. This is quite frustrating, as (with the exception of the above post) the content on here has been pretty good recently. I have glanced through a few pages explaining search engine optimization, but the thoughts of spending hours trying to make sure my posts are tagged and titled appropriately seems horrendously boring. I’d far prefer to spend my time reading a weird book. I’ll probably update the layout in the near future to make the 400+ posts on here easier to sift through, but until then, do me a favour and share this blog with your friends.

Sex, Satanism and Cannibal Freaks: Mark Mirabello’s The Cannibal Within

The Cannibal Within – Mark Mirabello

Mandrake of Oxford – 2005 (first published 2001)

A friend recommended this to me a few weeks back. I found an ebook version online, but after reading the fourth paragraph, I ordered a physical copy. This is one I knew I’d want on my shelf.

We may think we are special – holy, honoured, valued – god’s chosen primates – but that is a fraud. The dupes of superhuman forces, we are misfits and abominations. We have no higher purpose – no saviour god died for our sins – we exist, only because our masters are infatuated with our meat.

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Mirabello is an academic. He has a Ph.D, and he has lectured at different universities. His fields of research are fairly wacky, but I have no reason to belief that his research itself is questionable. He has appeared on some ridiculous documentaries and talk shows about aliens and conspiracies. Having an education doesn’t necessarily make a person a good writer, but Mirabello’s credentials, along with what I knew of this book, made it seem very, very intriguing.

The narrative in The Cannibal Within is framed as a memoir that was presented to the author due to his academic standing. A crazy lady walks into his office and gives him a document describing her bizarre experiences. She was abducted by cannibalistic trans-humans after her and her friend performed a Satanic ritual. The unholy freaks eat her friend and then kidnap the protagonist and lock her in a cage in their underground layer for decades. They do really bad stuff to her, but she takes it rather philosophically. While recounting the utterly horrendous abuses she suffered, she quotes from and/or discusses the work of Yukio Mishima, Friedrich Neitzsche, Plato, Aleister Crowley, H.P. Lovecraft, De Sade, Goethe, George Bataille, Octave Mirbeau and Philip K. Dick.

Oh, and there’s a big part at the end of the book that talks about how the trans-humans evolved from brain eating cannibal monkeys. This sounded very familiar to me, and it was immediately followed by a quote from The Beginning Was the End, my favourite book. Hell yes.

Also, the Satanic ritual that kicks things off is supposedly taken from the Red Book of Appin. Anyone remember my post on that mysterious grimoire?

If you’re not familiar with this blog and/my reading proclivities, let it suffice to say that I have an interest in the above authors and texts. I felt very much that Mirabello had somebody like me in mind when he was writing this book. I can’t really say that it’s a brilliant book, but I also can’t pretend that I didn’t enjoy every page. I finished it in an afternoon. I really found it hard to put it down.

Who could resist?

When the book isn’t discussing the absurdity of life, it’s shoving giant mutoid cocks down your throat. There’s an awful lot of rape, in here, and the pricks doing the raping are all hilariously large. One of them is described as an “enormous fascist rod”. LOL.

Objectively, The Cannibal Within fails as a novel. It sets the scene, but doesn’t really go anywhere. The ending of the book felt like the point at which a team of marines, armed to the teeth, should have been entering the freaks’ burrow, Aliens style. I don’t need (or want) a happy ending, but I would have liked a bit more conflict. I suppose it would have taken a lot of effort to ramp up the gross-out sequences as a plot developed, but it would take that kind of commitment to make this a real masterpiece.

Mirabello, if you’re reading this, please write a sequel, a long one.

The Cannibal Within is splatterpunk for grad students. If you’re a misanthropic book-nerd with a penchant for the disgusting (and you probably are if you’re reading this blog) you will likely get a kick out of this horrid book. Honestly, I doubt anyone else will get past the first few pages.

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror- William Sloane

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror – William Sloane

NYRB Classics – 2015 (originally published as a collection in 1964)

This week’s book is The Rim of Morning by William Sloane. It contains To Walk the Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), Sloane’s only novels. Both books went through several editions in the 50 years after they were published, and some of the covers are awesome, but other blogs have done posts about that, and I have nothing to add. The books were out of print for the 90s and early 2000s, but NYRB put out this collection with a new introduction a few years ago.

To Walk the Night

Two lads witness a scientist spontaneously combusting, and then one of them marries the scientists widow. She is a babe, but she’s also a real weirdo. This puts strain on the lads’ friendship.

Stephen King wrote the introduction to The Rim of Mourning. From what I know about his tastes, I’m not surprised King liked this book. It reads like a combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Leiber’s Conjure Wife. It walks that line between sci-fi and horror nicely, and I really got into it after a few chapters. It’s suspenseful and very easy to read.

I found the ending a little underwhelming. The way the story is set up ensures no real surprises, but the explanation given (or at least hinted at) felt a bit flat. It was still enjoyable enough.

The Edge of Running Water

The second novel starts off fairly similar to the first. A lad goes to his friend’s house to help him with an experiment. When he gets there, he finds there are two women living in the house too. One is his friend’s sexy sister in law, and the other is a really annoying person who is helping with the experiment.

The nature of the experiment is not immediately discussed, but it involves a machine that makes a really upsetting noise. It turns out that the lad was trying to build a machine to let him talk to his dead wife, but he ends up making something much, much worse.

I quite enjoyed this book, but it’s very slow. The whole thing occurs over the period of 3 days or so, and I’m sure big chunks could have been cut. I enjoyed the brooding atmosphere though, and I found this one a bit creepier than To Walk the Night.

The supernatural elements of both books are not explicitly defined, and I think this is why these books get categorised as “cosmic horror”. They’re good. You should read them.

Elizabeth Massie’s Sineater

Sineater – Elizabeth Massie

Carroll & Graf – 1994 (Originally published 1992)

Avery Barker is a sineater, a man who ritually cleanses dead bodies of sin by eating a meal off their chest. He lives just outside of Beacon Cove, a small, extremely religious community in the mountains of Virginia. The service he offers is extremely important to this community, but it also renders him and his family as outcasts. The rest of the community believe that just looking at the sineater would be enough to kill a person. Unfortunately for everyone, Missy Campbell, the religious leader of the community, has gotten it into her head that the sineater has consumed too much sin and gone mad. Very bad things start happening, and it’s unclear as to who’s responsible.

The story centers around Joel, Avery’s youngest son and the only Barker to attend school. To make things complicated, he becomes friendly with Missy’s nephew, Burke. Joel is such a sympathetic character that I spent the whole book dreading that something bad would happen to him. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that this book isn’t going to end happily.

I really enjoyed Sineater. It’s dark, and parts of it are very gross, but the story is good, and the characters are fun.

Apparently sineaters were a real thing in parts of Britain. I don’t think they were ever shunned to the extent that Avery is in this book though.

Afraid: Tidbits of the Macabre
Crossroads Press – 2011

I read Massie’s collection Afraid: Tidbits of the Macabre a few months ago. I didn’t write anything down about it after reading it, but I remember quite a few stories about people locked in basements. It also had a weird story about a body part, I honestly can’t remember which, vacating its body. Cool. I enjoyed the collection well enough to want to read more of Massie’s work. Sineater was even better, and I plan to read more of her books in the future.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth Massie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma last year. It seems that she is recovering, but she lives in one of those countries where people have to pay for medical care. There is a gofundme page set up where people can donate to help with her medical costs. Help out if you can.

Thomas Tryon’s The Other and Harvest Home

The Other – Thomas Tryon

Fawcett Crest – 1972 (Originally published 1971)

The only thing I knew about Thomas Tryon’s The Other before I read it was that it was a bestseller in 1971. It was only as I read it that I realised how influential a novel it has been on modern horror.

Niles and Holland are twin 13 year old boys who live on a farm in New England. Niles is quiet and easily led, and Holland is… well, Holland is a real bad kid. Their dad died a few months before the story begins, and from the beginning it seems pretty obvious that Holland had something to do with this. My suspicions ran wild as I was reading it. I suspected there was going to be some big plot twist, and I was trying to figure out what it was, but the story takes its time and Tryon holds on to his details, only ever giving just enough to keep his readers engaged.

The pacing got on my nerves a little bit during the first half of the novel, but when the twist was revealed and things clicked into place, it all felt worthwhile. I’m sure lots of people who haven’t read this book already know how it ends, but I won’t give anything away. I will mention that I was surprised at how unpleasant that part near the end is.

It was that particularly nasty bit that made me realise how influential this book is. I would be very surprised if Brenda Brown Canary’s choice of setting and violence in The Voice of the Clown were not influenced by Tryon’s book.

I didn’t really like the part where the boys’ grandmother, a crazy old Russian woman, teaches them a trick where they can enter the bodies of other creatures. I guess this makes it easier to accept the potentially supernatural goings on, but it was also a bit weird and unnecessary.

I can imagine some readers getting halfway through this book and not bothering to finish it. That would be a mistake. The pacing and all of the mysterious little clues that are offered throughout the book all come together at the end. I thought this was a very effective horror novel. At times I found it mildly shocking and horrifying. Read it if you haven’t already.

Harvest Home

Dell – 1987 (First published 1973)

I waited for six months to read another book by Tryon. I didn’t dislike The Other, but it was a bit slow, and I usually prefer things short and snappy. Harvest Home is actually pretty similar in pacing to its predecessor, but I ended up absolutely loving this book.

This novel starts when the Constantine family moves to Cornwall Coombe, a quaint rural village where everybody knows everybody. The new family is settling in and everything is going well until the father stumbles upon a ritual in which a local child with a learning disability is forced to choose the Harvest Lord by studying the entrails of a freshly sacrificed sheep. He sneaks away and pretends he has seen nothing, but after this, he starts to notice other strange goings on in the town. It turns out that there’s some fairly bad stuff happening behind the scenes.

I really, really enjoyed Harvest Home. Again, Tryon holds back details in a masterful way. I found this approach even more enjoyable here than it was in The Other. I think it was because the protagonist in this one was a little bit more relatable to me than the boys in his first novel. The pacing is slow, but the writing and characters are enjoyable enough to keep things entertaining between the big revelations. There was one part where the main character gets really drunk and ruins a party. I had to go back and read this section a second time to make sure I had understood everything that happened. It felt rushed and muddled the first time I read it. Reading back, it became apparent that this was clearly intentional. The author used barely any full stops (periods) in the whole passage. It’s probably a well known trick, but I found it really effective.

Tryon was an interesting guy. He was a relatively successful Hollywood actor before he was a writer. That fact made me assume his books would be trashy, but these two weren’t. They were really good. It seems like Thomas Tryon was a real cool guy.

Teddy (Novelisation of The Pit) – John Gault and Ian A. Stuart

Teddy – John Gault/Ian Stuart
Bantam – 1980

I’ve read lots of books that went on to become movies, but only a few books that were based on movies. I liked the novelisation of Halloween because it added a backstory to Michael Myers that is not in the film. If I’m going to spend 4-5 hours reading a story in book form, I want it to offer something the 2 hour film version doesn’t. The second Halloween novelisation is a more faithful adaptation, and I found it very boring. The only other novelisation I’ve read was Zoltan, Hounds of Dracula, and I only bothered with that one because I was researching its author. The book was so bad that I never bothered watching the film. I know some people collect them, but I really don’t have much interest in novelisations. Despite this, I read Teddy last week. This rare and creepy book is is a novelisation of a screenplay for the 1981 Canadian horror film, The Pit. It is not a novelisation of the film that was actually produced.

Jamie is a weird 12 year old kid who, when he’s not getting bullied, spends his time making pornographic photo-collages involving the local librarian and hanging out in the woods near a gigantic hole in the ground that nobody else knows about. Oh yeah, and this hole is full of weird, hairy dwarf creatures. His family are about to move house, and his parents need to leave town so they can sign the appropriate papers. They hire Sandy, a local college student, to babysit Jamie.

Jamie falls in love with Sandy, and when he realises that she doesn’t love him back, his teddy bear convinces him to go on a killing spree, luring his victims into the woods and then pushing them down the hole.

It’s a decent story, but the book and movie approach it differently. While the movie isn’t exactly comedy horror, it’s so ridiculous that if you’re not going to laugh at it, you’re going to find it extremely boring. There’s a scene where the kid pushes a mean old lady in a wheelchair into a giant hole in the ground. In truth, I lost interest about halfway through and started playing chess on my phone. When I looked up a while later, it had changed from a story about a creepy kid to a bunch of hairy goblins running around causing mischief. The movie tries to do too much, and this lessens the effectiveness of the actual creepy parts. The actor playing Jamie is quite good, but his performance is not enough to save this awful film.

The book is far, far better than the movie. Jamie’s parents come across as bigger jerks here, and we get to witness more of the bullying he experiences at school. Yes, he is a weirdo, but he never really had a chance. He also seems more pervy in the book. There’s parts in here that wouldn’t have been legal to film. Teddy, who is obviously just Jamie, has a far dirtier mouth in the book. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt that Jamie is easier to feel sorry for in the book.

The novel also gives more background on the creatures living in the hole. It turns out they are the descendants of the Whately family, a group of sinister weirdos who moved from somewhere in New England. Surely that is a reference to Lovecraft’s Whateleys? They are supposed to have moved to Wisconsin in 1870, and the events in The Dunwich Horror don’t occur until after this, but I think we can assume these hairy goblins must be cousins of Wilbur’s.

Ian Stuart, the guy who wrote the screenplay that both the book and movie were based on has claimed that the monsters living in the pit were supposed to be a figment of Jamie’s imagination in his screenplay, but they are real in both the movie and book. I don’t know if the screenplay is still is existence, but I’d be interested to read it. I gather it was more serious than its products.

If you’re interested in watching The Pit, you can watch it for youtube for free at the moment. I wouldn’t bother if I were you. (I have no patience for bad films anymore.) Teddy was far better than the film, and it’s a pretty good read in and of itself. Copies are shockingly rare, but there’s an ebook version kicking around the internet if you’re not extremely rich and patient.

Guy N. Smith’s The Sucking Pit and The Walking Dead

The Sucking Pit

NEL – 1975

The Sucking Pit? More like… Fucking Shit. Guy N. Smith isn’t known for high-brow fiction. His Crabs series is infamous, and The Slime Beast has been reprinted by fancy publishers as an example of extreme pulp horror., but The Sucking Pit seems to have a reputation as his worst book.

After reading it, I can confirm that this is indeed very, very bad.

A man dies in his cabin in the woods, and when his niece comes to visit him and discovers his corpse she becomes possessed by his spirit. She then makes a potion out of hedgehog blood and this makes her extremely horny and violent. She starts living in her uncles cabin, and she throws her victims into a marshy swamp known as the Sucking Pit.

There’s a bit more to the story than that, but it’s not worth recounting here. This is a ludicrous pile of nonsense. I have enjoyed the other ultra simplistic crap that I’ve read by Smith, but The Sucking Pit was so monumentally stupid that I found it tedious. This is as low as it gets. This book both sucks and is the pits.

The Walking Dead

NEL – 1984

I read The Sucking Pit in an afternoon. Its sequel, The Walking Dead, is only a bit longer, but it took me almost 2 weeks to finish. Part of this was because I was busy with Christmas stuff, but it was largely due to the fact that I had very little interest in what was happening. I had to force myself through a chapter every night.

10 years after the events of The Sucking Pit, the Sucking Pit comes alive again, and all of the corpses it absorbed in the first book come back to life. The Sucking Pit has also developed the ability to call people to it so that it can brainwash them.

There was a scene in which a man is buried alive that was actually quite scary, but the rest of this book was absolute shite. The only other memorable bits were when a rapist cuts off his own cock and when a man decapitates another man after punching him in the erection.

I did appreciate the fact that this sequel did not try to make the events in the first book make any sense. It doesn’t limit itself with any such restrictions either.

The Sucking Pit is an infamously awful novel, and its sequel, while admittedly a slightly better book, is also very silly. I wasn’t disappointed by these novels, but they didn’t make me want to read any more Guy N. Smith either. I read four of his books last year, and I think I should probably wait a good long while before I go back to him if I expect to derive any further enjoyment from his writing. There is no subtlety or pretense in these books. They are as awful as they appear.

2022, The Year in Review

Normally, I focus on a book, author or theme in my posts, but once a year I do a post about this blog itself. If that seems goofy to you, piss off until next week. 2022 was a good year for me, but I simply don’t have as much time to blog as I used to. Work and family take up most of my day, and this year I also produced a series of podcasts and got involved in a few musical projects. (I also cursed and un-cursed a youtuber.) I’m still reading as much as ever, but I find it harder to find the time to take and crop book photos, research authors and actually write posts. There were actually a few weeks this year when I didn’t post anything! I have a huge backlog of half-written posts that will appear in the new year.

It’s funny looking at the site’s stats. The amount of visitors on this site has gone up every year, but the rate of growth has decreased substantially over the last year and a half. This blog has been online for almost 8 years now, and there has to be a limited audience for a blog on weird, old books, so maybe it has just reached it’s peak. Then again, the stats reveal more. The amount of on-site comments and likes has decreased dramatically. Maybe the quality of my blog has gone down in the last two years, but I also suspect that people aren’t signing in to to browse through blog posts as much as they used to. I’m not upset at the lack of likes, but it does make me feel a bit old fashioned. Has blogging gone the way of alchemy?

Some of the slow-down might be due to the fact that I’ve pretty much given up on promoting the blog through social media. Being on facebook makes me hate everyone, and twitter is a useless piece of garbage. The more active you are on those sites, the more prominent your posts will be in others’ feeds, and personally, I find this idea abhorrent. They are rewarding loudmouthed fools, and their owners are turds. No thanks. I’ll cut off my own cock before I start a tiktok.

A lot of what I read in 2022 was made up of stand-alone paperback horror novels. These things are usually easy to digest and don’t require serious analysis. Some of them were utter rubbish, but every now and then I’d stumble upon a Throwback or Blood Fever and really enjoy myself. I was delighted to finally read Pierce Nace’s insane Eat Them Alive (while suffocating with COVID), and getting my hands on a copy of Barry Hammond’s extremely rare Cold Front was one of the highlights of my year.

I also did a few posts on specific authors. I read several books by Alan Ryan, Thomas Piccirilli (Part 1, Part 2) and William H. Hallahan. I’m fairly certain that my posts on Kenneth Rayner Johnson and Eric Ericson are the most comprehensive articles about those writers currently available online.

My posts on Robert Bloch and Robert E. Howard finished my series of posts on the weird fiction of the members of the Lovecraft Circle. I also read and enjoyed Asamatsu Ken’s more modern work of Lovecraftian horror, Kthulhu Reich. I’m not sure where I’ll go next with this stuff. Maybe Ramsey Campbell’s short stories.

I did a few non-fiction books in 2022. They were all terrible, but The Beginning Was The End by Oscar Kiss Maerth was so terrible that it became my favourite book of all time. It’s a book about cannibal monkeys, and if you haven’t read my review of it, please do so right now.

Well, there you go. Another year older and grumpier. I wrote posts like this for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 if you want to take a trip down bad-memory lane. You can also check out my index page for individual links to the 500+ books I have reviewed here so far. Email me at dukederichleau666(at) if you have any recommendations or questions. I hope that this blog has been interesting. Happy new year!

Seán O’Connor’s The Mongrel

The Mongrel
Matador – 2018

A horror novel about a Dubliner getting stranded in the Wicklow mountains, written by a Dublin author who plays in heavy metal bands? I really wanted to like this book. Truly, I did. Unfortunately though, it’s not very good.

There’s 4 main parts to this story. The first part, the argument between the protagonist and her boyfriend, is unnecessary and could have been worked into a flashback in the second part where they go on a reconciliatory drive in the mountains. Show, don’t tell. The third section is passable survival fiction and provides the only excitement in the book. The pregnant protagonist is stranded in a broken-down car with with a hungry wolf outside. Things get gooey. The final section descends into utter nonsense. An utterly unbelievable supernatural element is thrown in, and the plot collapses in on itself.

I got the impression that Seán O’Connor wanted to write a book, so he sat down and tried to come up with a story to tell. The plot feels entirely forced. There’s elements that make no sense, and there’s bits that are painfully underdeveloped. How did Phillips best friend end up on Erin’s dad’s team? Why were Phillip’s knives in the boot of his car? A wolf killed her mom? (Ok, this bit is kind of explained at the end, but I actually eyes when it was first mentioned). The ending feels rushed and, quite frankly, stupid. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but another 50-100 pages of plot development could have made this book a lot better.

I don’t read a lot of modern fiction, and I feel like a jerk shit-talking an active writer’s work. I recognize that it takes more work to write a book than to sit here picking it apart, but this novel is an absolute mess. O’Connor has published three other books since this came out, so hopefully they are better.