Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Heart-Shaped Box

Read any scary books lately? Yes, I know, forget Stephen King - Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and all the other global warming books are the REALLY scary books! But as to novels, I've read a couple in the past year that are both well-written and scary. The Keep by Jennifer Egan is an excellent modern take on the haunted house tale, with just enough postmodern trickery (unreliable narrator anyone?) to appeal to the literary snob in me. The Ruins by Scott Smith is a suspenseful thriller that morphs into a chilling horror novel, all set near the tourist heaven of modern-day Cancun.

Before Joe Hill was revealed as the son of Stephen King, he had published a well-reviewed story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, in Britain and his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box. Hill/King wanted to establish himself as an author without the help of his famous Dad. Of course, now that we know this it is much easier to say, "Why, yes, Heart Shaped Box reads like early Stephen King." What I like is that Joe Hill uses cultural references from the post-Boomer era, including the title of his book (from the Nirvana song). The book itself is about an aging rocker, a lover of the macabre, who buys a ghost on Ebay. For a thousand dollars Judas Coyne becomes the owner of a dead man's suit, alleged to be haunted by a ghost...

Here's the author himself talking about his book:


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