Since the launch of my back catalog re-releases, I’ve wanted to take the Black T-Shirt Books brand further than simply putting out my own stuff.
Well, today is the day that dream becomes a reality. Scott Cole and Patrick Lacey are two of the most original voices in horror and bizarro (in Scott’s case) fiction, and I am delighted that their new titles are launching today as part of the Black T-Shirt family.
Both of these books are now available in ebook and paperback, and both authors will have copies with them to sign and sell if you’re lucky enough to be attending Scares That Care this weekend. Even if you’re not attending: please support the charity if possible.
Here’s a rundown of each, click the cover to purchase:
A Debt to Be Paid is exactly the kind of horror I enjoy. It’s not “throwback” in the smarmy “did you get the reference I just made?” way, but it does feel apiece with something that could have been published as a supermarket paperback (a slim one, it is a novella, but the Black T-Shirt edition is loaded with extra stories). A Debt to Be Paid is It Follows meets that popular internet myth of shadowmen, plus a little bit of financial crisis allegory. You’re going to love it. Please buy it in ebook or paperback right here.
Scott Cole has one of the best imaginations I’ve ever witnessed in action. I’ve talked about how much I love his novella Superghost, but I think this collection is going to be the book that puts him over the top. Scott is a master of super-short fiction, and in Slices he offers up 34 demented and disturbing tales that pack more punch than stories 3x their size. Which isn’t to turn you off if you don’t like flash fiction, because Slices offers quite a few longer tales as well. This weird and wild collection should be on your list if you like Tim Burton, David Lynch, or think the two of those directors should get together and eat a liverwurst sandwich. Buy it in ebook or paperback here.
Both titles are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program, if you wanted to read them that way for free. And the Matchbook program, where if you buy the paperback, you get the ebook for free.
If you pick up one or both (preferable) of these books, it’s worth repeating: Amazon reviews are what help keep us in business, and we appreciate every single one.
Desperate for some creepy reading for when you’re at the beach? I’ve come up with a list of five (it’s actually seven, but don’t tell anyone) novels and audiobooks. You can check that out over on my YouTube channel. If you haven’t hit that subscribe button, I’d love it if you did.
Beyond that: I want to here from you. Consider signing up for the mailing list if you haven’t by clicking the “Free Short Read” button at the top of this page, I’ll send you an exclusive ebook for your troubles.
Disclaimer: Yeah, there are like fifteen hundred other reviews of this book bouncing around the internet. I know. But I went to a store and bought this last week, so you’re gonna have to indulge me while I put down some thoughts.
There are very few nonfiction books written about horror films that aren’t either: a) breezy, fan-written overviews of the genre, which are generally full of hyperbole and geek-bias or b) so overly academic that they preclude enjoyment. In Shock Value, Jason Zinoman solves this problem by approaching his chosen material as both an intelligent fan (the guy wrote for the New York Times and Vanity Fair) and by focusing the majority of his attention on the interesting—and often untold—human stories behind the production of these films.
Zinoman’s area of interest is the dawn of “New Horror” in the 1970s. As you probably know, there’s not a whole lot left to say about Halloween, The Exorcist, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, or Rosemary’s Baby. These films have been poked and prodded, reconstructed and deconstructed under every possible critical and academic lens. Wisely, Zinoman chooses to take a closer look at the creators of these films over in-depth analysis of the films themselves. He examines both the cultural climate of the time in which these men were working and their relationships to each other (relationships which range from playful thematic discourse to professional symbiosis to downright adversarial). Through extensive and candid interviews with filmmakers like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and a host of their collaborators Zinoman creates intriguing miniature portraits of the men themselves, but also to tell the larger story of the movement they forged. These are men we don’t hear from a lot (promo material for DVDs barely counts, and that’s not the kind of engagement they give Zinoman). Many of their stories are quite fascinating and will often offer deeper insights into their work.
Worthy of special mention is the large swath of time Zinoman takes discussing the life and work of the late Dan O’Bannon. It’s great that this lesser-respected, semi-kooky, but very important figure in genre cinema gets to tell his side of the story one last time in the pages of Shock Value. For me, this alone was worth the price of the book.
How much enjoyment you yourself will derive from Shock Value, probably depends on your level of open-mindedness and readiness to interact with a text that you may not agree with at all times. The hardest of the hardcore horror fans will probably find much of the ground covered to be familiar, and even if they don’t they will possibly take offense to Zinoman’s frank appraisal of horror post-the advent of New Horror. The author approaches the men he’s studying in a very smart way, and is very quick to point out how well-read his subjects were as young men. By the time he reaches his conclusion he makes two fairly controversial assertions. First he points out the unfortunate trend that many of these filmmakers were never able to top their early (and in most cases, first) works. This is unpleasant, but it’s also pretty objectively the truth. Zinoman then implies that the reason there has never been another boom in horror comparable with the 1970s, is because once the conventions of the genre were established, the genre fed on itself (and only on itself) until stagnation. Zinoman attributes this decline to the fact that while Craven and Carpenter took their ideas of what was frightening from the works of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, younger filmmakers were getting their same conceptions exclusively from Craven and Carpenter.