Saturday, September 29, 2012

The King is Dead. Long live the King.


When a van hit Stephen King back in 1999 and nearly killed him, it created a ripple in the space-time continuum. In the alternate reality of Mr. King getting home from his walk safe and sound, we have a golden age of brilliant fiction from a seasoned writer in his August years. In the reality that we live in, however, we see a once-great word smith struggling to recapture the magic of his early work. Until now. With 11/22/63, my favorite blue-collar novelist has been born again. Hard. His characters have real blood surging in their veins, and King makes us care about them before reminding us that he is not afraid to spill that blood. His monsters are not of the supernatural variety that lurk under the bed and wait for us to turn out the light. They are the ones we see every day. The ones that have a few too many beers after a long day at the steel mill and come home angry and hit mommy. His heroes are just average guys and girls who could be monsters themselves if looked at in the right light.

This is a book about time travel. It is also a surprisingly moving love story. It has a satisfying ending that not only makes us contemplate the past, but presents a twisted, Faustian bargain to the hero: Would we destroy everything just to have what we want the most?

Ladies and gentlemen, the King is back. Long live the King.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The New Zombie Survival Guide


When you see your first zombie shuffling down Main Street, it doesn't necessarily mean there is an apocalypse on the way. If you see the same zombie standing up in front of a room full of pre-teens, convincing them that eating brains is the way to go, I would start amassing food and weapons, because dark days are ahead, my friend. Last night, I saw my first zombie:

It was open house at the school down the street, where my kids spend Monday to Friday learning about stuff. My wife and I did the requisite meeting, ate a hot dog and were then hustled into the Gymnasium for a "quick" presentation on UPower, brought to you by the parent's council. They normally hold a book fair in the library, but not this year. This year we got Sarah Westbrook talking in a mumbling rapid-fire about dreams, perseverance, and seemingly, The Worst Thing That Can Ever Happen To You: Not getting accepted as a contestant on Canadian Idol. There was some audience participation (from the few that were left after an hour of this). She asked us to share OUR dreams and say them right into the microphone. Somebody said "artist", someone else said "The best mom", when she got to me I said: "Sarah, in Ontario right now, my dream is to keep my job so I can continue to support my family and contribute to my community in a meaningful way."

Okay, I didn't say that. But I should have.

My two-and-a-half year old daughter started to fidget midway through, so I took her for a walk to the play equipment outside. There I ran into another dad who was wrangling his tweenage daughter out of there. "I couldn't listen to that anymore." He said, "All she talks about is me, me, me. My daughter doesn't need to hear that." I agreed. Sarah is probably a really nice person, but she was spreading the disease.

The book at the top of this post is going to become very important in the years to come. Think of it as the new Zombie Survival Guide.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good Man, Good Book, Good God, has it been this long?


Getting back in the habit of writing is no easy thing. Unlike bad habits, things that are good for me take an effort that eludes me most days. I read A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe a LONG time ago. It was a good book. Sorry I can't think of anything more insightful to say about it. If turn of the century Canadian history is your thing, than this is your "Guy"? How's that? Good enough? There is also a fancy picture of a horse on the cover standing beside some old buildings. Yeah, I like horses too. It's sad that he is all alone and if you are wondering where his owner is, I'm not sure. I don't remember if it tells you because I read this book almost a year ago.

What were you expecting? this isn't about current events. Unless you are currently interested in this book, I guess. In that case, go buy it and leave me alone.