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Jamie Davis Writes

On My Bookshelf: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

I have had this finished book sitting beside my desk all summer. While I always enjoy the experience of reading something new, my impression was that this book was a frustrating reminder to me that I don’t understand time travel, and this is why I haven’t blogged about the book.

Tonight, for reasons I will not go into, I now know the truth. It isn’t that I don’t understand time travel at all! The issue was that I don’t understand time travel as the author has written it! 

That’s a big damn difference.

The kalachakra, the ouroborans, those of us who loop perpetually through the same course of historical events, though our lives within may change – in short, the members of the Cronus Club – forget. Some see this forgetting as a gift, a chance to rediscover things which have already been experienced, to retain some wonder at the universe. A sense of deja vu haunts the oldest members of the Club, who know that they have seen this all before but can’t quite remember when. For others, the imperfect memory of our kin is viewed as proof that we are, for our condition, still human.”

But Harry remembers. He is born, lives, and dies, and lives again all over, but it is the same life. The biggest rule seems to be not to tell anyone where or when he’s from in too much detail (to avoid getting killed).

The living seems to be a curse to Harry (and many of his peers). Time is wasted. People are bored. No one cares about anything, because it doesn’t really matter when you are caught in the loop. But, some of them are free in the knowledge that nothing they do really matters. Some of them can manage to swallow a vapid life.

One of the major themes is that the search for meaning in life is hopeless. This sounds like a sure doom and gloom read if you know that going in, but I don’t interpret it that way at all. I think it is only when you realize that it is hopeless, that you can finally be free. It kind of takes the pressure off to just relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t sweat it too much, we’re all just coming around the bend again anyway… I get that. Freedom in the big empty.

I will concede that I don’t know or understand what a quantum mirror is, and have no interest in learning.

On My Bookshelf: Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone, by Stefan Kiesbye

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Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone.

I think I read this because I came across an interview of Paul Tremblay (the author of “A Head Full of Ghosts”) either saying he had been reading this book or recommended it or some such. I must be entering a “Halloween Reading” mood.

The book is gripping / horrifying / crass all at the same time. Christian Bobinski is the narrator of sorts, returning to the small village of Hemmersmoor (in Germany) where he grew up for a funeral. He is now aging, and the stories are those of the children he grew up with. “Time is of no importance.”

Many of the character narratives had me writing “What the Hell?!” inside the book. The stories are intertwined, but they aren’t telling one master story, if that makes sense. They are sort of piece-meal. Because some of the subject matter isn’t pleasant, I found it hard to care about the characters. Some of them are real assholes.

Christian is the most engaging of all, a child murderer, though never caught. Was he possessed? We don’t know if he continued the murders as an adult or not. Two stories are worth the price of admission alone. The first, is Christian’s narrative of his sister Ingrid’s death in the beginning, and his dealings with Rico (a/k/a THE DEVIL HIMSELF). The second story, is around the middle of the book and is told by Linde. She encounters the lost heir over at the manor house in a maze on the property and it is FANTASTIC. I could read an entire book about the discovery of the mad Professor in the lost hedge maze of a grand/yet deteriorating mansion on the moor. Hands down one of the most engaging short stories I have read in a long time.

It was evocative of Alice and the Mad Hatter. I like it when insanity is fun, not scary. “Time is of no importance.”

I liked both of those stories a lot. I can see why the book has been compared to “The Brothers Grimm.” Those fairy tales weren’t for children either.

 

On My Bookshelf: Johannes Cabal the Detective, by Jonathan L. Howard

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Johannes Cabal The Detective

I have finished the second book of the series. Johannes Cabal still retains his same dry, witty character, and I am still excited to read the remaining books in the series. Cabal is just so clever. However, I would say that while I could absolutely gush about the first book, I do not feel inspired to gush about the second book.

Leonie Barrow is back, and this time, her character is a bit annoying, and I can’t really even remember why she was here. Count Marechal makes for a worthy adversary, but let’s face it, how do you top the first story where Cabal beats the devil and wins his soul back? Perhaps it isn’t fair for me to compare the two books!

Maybe the detective story set on board an aeroship didn’t work for me just as a personal preference? I thought the story on board was a little slow for my liking. I did appreciate gathering a bit more back story on Cabal’s family life, and thought it was hysterical that he was being groomed to go into the family business (as a lawyer) before his wife died and he became a Necromancer.

I did enjoy this installment, it is just that the first book was really a knockout unexpected tale of SHEER AWESOMENESS, and my honest reaction is that the second one just didn’t make me feel the same. Sigh. Maybe the third book will knock me out again!

 

 

 

On My Bookshelf: Vicious, by V.E. Schwab

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Vicious, by V.E. Schwab

This was one of those spontaneous purchases based on Amazon’s recommendations. A superhero novel? Okay, I will try it. I don’t want to imply that I didn’t enjoy it, but my sense is that I would have loved it even more if I was a 14-year old boy. It is also hard for me to follow (sometimes) a story that is told backwards. That said, I did find it to be a highly enjoyable fast-paced read, and one that also explored some heavy themes that will leave the reader thinking about the story for days after the finished reading.

Namely, which one of the EO’s is a good guy, and which one is a monster? Victor’s character has elements of trying to control his monstrous tendencies. Eli, on the other hand, believes that he is doing the Lord’s work (which is even scarier). The book kind of reminded me of that old show “Heroes.”

The lines between the good guy vs. the bad guy are blurred. Just like life. We all go a little mad sometimes.

 

 

New York / Halloween Art at The Whitney – Even Later Summer Road Notes

Manhattan Road Notes.

Whitney Museum of American Art 

First of all, as usual, the art that I think is “Halloween Art” is not marketed as such. But c’mon, man!

I forgot to take a picture of the placard, so the one below is just self-titled by me:  “Eat Your Heart Out.” I think that pretty much sums it up. Dig the claws!

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Eat Your Heart Out

Gratuitous skeleton art. Self-explanatory.

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The Shadow
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Summer Days

I actually find Summer Days by Georgia O’Keefe to be quite peaceful and inspiring. It’s a life / death / rebirth type of thing. Plus, I love those desert southwest mountains.

My Egypt

Edward Hopper’s A Woman in the Sun qualifies as Halloween art because of the color of the light coming through the window, shining a sliver of afternoon death into the room. That light is the color of death. I don’t know how I know, but I know it. I saw it in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and on another afternoon once, when I was much younger. Now I saw it in Hopper’s painting. I wonder if he knew it too.

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A Woman in the Sun

This last one is not obviously Halloween art, but this is the scariest thing I saw. Leidy Churchman has painted the view from 432 Park Avenue, a 1,396-foot-high luxury condominium completed in 2015. The placard goes on to say that the building “sparked an outcry over … the stratospheric cost of its apartments,” and “hinting at the glaring divide between the ultra-rich and ordinary New Yorkers.” Let me tell you something. I would take the ultra-rich view over the poor person’s view AFD (I’m looking at you, Skyliner).

tallest-residential-tower-in-the-western-hemisphere
Tallest Residential Tower in the Western Hemisphere

What scares me is this recently growing trend in the media to perpetuate the cultural belief that “ordinary” people should have a hatred of the rich. I find that completely unacceptable and plain stupid. Why all this rich shaming? When was the last time a poor person gave you a good job, and opportunities for growth and development? I’m so sick of this ignorant crap everywhere I go lately! I really haven’t gotten political on this blog, but my visit to New York is bringing some things out in me that need to be said to any liberal imbecile who happens upon this page. My message to you? Quit hating people who are achieving things, you bunch of losers! Keep your heads down and work harder. Make something. Build something. Have an idea and develop it. Or better yet, go live in Venezuela and see how that works out for you.

Hate the rich? Are you insane? I love them. I want to learn everything they know and become one. I don’t want to drag them down to my level. I want to rise to their level. That’s the difference between a liberal and a conservative. We want to pursue or make our own opportunities. We don’t expect someone to hand us money because we were born or because we need something. If we need something, we will go out and work and get it. If we are sick or hurt, we figure out how to work anyway. Rise, bitches. Rise. Or get the hell out of America. I’m sick of paying for your CUSSING safe rooms and supplementing your so-called “living wage” that you think everyone is entitled to somehow.

Okay, that’s all. But I’m not taking it down. And guess what? If you leave me an asshole comment, I’ll just code you to SPAM. So eat it up. Liberals.

Next.

Soho / Chelsea Market / Greenwich Village

Too crowded, but fun to walk around in the neighborhoods for a bit. The Moleskine store –  where I am LOVING yellow! Fiore’s pizza – 165 Bleecker Street. Best slices we’ve found in the last three years. Lombardi’s? Eh. Sal’s? Get the hell on with your flat pepperoni. I’m telling you. Fiore’s. They even had that grandma.

New York Public Library 

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Statue outside the NY Public Library

Beautiful museum-like space, with a gift shop and a small cafe, but I swear to God, we did not see one book the whole 30 minutes or so we walked around exploring. I don’t get it. We did see one giant door that was chained up. I wish I took a photo. It must be where all the New York liberals hid the books that offended them. The experience actually really pissed me off. Because I love libraries, and this my friend, was not a library. It was a commercial monstrosity. Quite frankly, it was a bullshit library, and 5th Avenue is just awful smell-wise and crowd-wise. It’s like being shuffled and beaten in a bad dream, all with the constant stench of human excrement and urine forever stuck in your nostrils. I fully intend to NEVER darken the streets of 5th Avenue again. I’ve never smelled anything like it.

Brooklyn Heights / Brooklyn Bridge Park / Cobble Hill

This was actually the highlight of Labor Day to me, walking through this neighborhood. I wish I took pictures of the views from Brooklyn, looking at both bridges, and from the park in Brooklyn Heights, looking over towards Manhattan. I highly recommend that if you have never ventured over to Brooklyn, you need to do it ASAP for a beautiful neighborhood walk. Really picturesque and almost quaint, even. And, there were no stinky smells in Brooklyn. Zero, none, not one.

At the corner of Henry and Amity Streets in Cobble Hill, a building caught my attention. I looked up and saw the sign:

the-polhemus-memorial-clinic-in-brooklyn
The Polhemus Memorial Clinic, Brooklyn

The abandoned Polhemus Memorial Clinic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Imagine that, an abandoned hospital catching my attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Adventures, Aftershocks – Jerome Grand Hotel and Rolling Hills Asylum

Nothing kicks off a holiday weekend like giving Amazon more of my money, so I placed my $1.99 orders and saddled up to the old computer to catch up on what I’ve been missing on the paranormal show front in this year’s Season 3 episodes of “Ghost Adventures, Aftershocks.”

Jerome Grand street view

I love to watch the shows that cover places I’ve been to myself. The Jerome Grand Hotel episode had me wanting more footage of the actual hotel. Chris Altherr gave a very heartfelt recounting of his saving Bagans from the descending elevator (the same one where Claude Harvey died). Lonnie Anderson, and his wife, Renee, were fun to catch up with through the show, and I liked that they actually gave a positive story of an additional encounter that Lonnie experienced in his shop (located inside the Clubhouse). Kim Brasher, I can’t even talk to you right now, but I will be sending you a signed author’s copy of “America’s Most Haunted Hotel,” here in the next few weeks to thank you for the interview you gave us.

Rolling Hills Asylum
Rolling Hills Asylum

As to Rolling Hills, there were two new photos that I had not seen before that I found quite compelling. One was said to be of Roy, and the image showed a man’s torso, but not his legs. He was “standing” in front of a desk. If the photo were of a visitor, the legs of the desk would not have shown through! The other was a “scary” white face image outside the window of Emma’s room (45 feet off the ground). This was compelling to me because it reminded me of the photo I took at The Kehoe House in Savannah. I too, took a series of photos of the same window, just like this set that came out of Rolling Hills, and the face captured in both photos at these different locations shared very similar qualities. I have seen photos such as these one other time, and they were taken in the upstairs window at St. Albans in Radford, VA. I am no lighting expert, but of these three photos and three locations, the subject windows are all too high (seemingly) off the ground to be subject to any streetlight or headlights of passing cars.

Normally, I don’t get excited about other people’s “evidence,” but when you see something that matches what you’ve taken yourself, it makes you wonder.

Mostly, it makes me wonder why they are on the outside looking in, and if there can be any implications drawn by their positions. Are they not “allowed” in the building?

 

On My Bookshelf: Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, by Jonathan L. Howard

Never before has a deal with the devil been such rollicking good fun!

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer

Howard’s portrayal of Johannes, and his vampire brother (Horst), makes for a hilariously dark read that takes you from graveyards, from town to town, and directly into the pits of hell itself. Johannes is a scientist who previously made a deal with the devil to learn the art of necromancy. Now, he wants his soul back and makes a second deal with the devil in order to win it back. One that involves a dark carnival (read as inspired by “Something Wicked this Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury) in which Johannes must get one hundred souls signed over to the devil in order to win his soul back.

You will see just how far over the line Johannes is willing to step as far as getting evil/corrupt people to sign over their souls (people who are arguably damned anyway) vs. tricking innocent souls into signing their lives away. It makes for an interesting ponder over what you might be capable of doing to others if it meant saving yourself or someone you loved. Would you damn an innocent in order to save yourself? If you say that you wouldn’t, I bet when push came to shove, you would. The fight for self-preservation in order to live is very strong, and is an ingrained instinct that would be hard to change, even if you wanted to.

The writing is full of wit, and the darkness of the subject matter is balanced with the humor of both the situations themselves, and by the dialogue between the characters.

I loved it! We learn at the end of this book exactly why necromancy is so important to Johannes. He doesn’t want to create a zombie army to do his evil bidding, nothing like that. The point isn’t that he wants a bunch of animated corpses to provide free labor to work in his lab. He has a reason for wanting what he wants that isn’t based on an evil desire to harm the world, and this reason is what makes him a sympathetic character.

This is the first book of a series, and I have already ordered the remaining books, with the exception of the fifth (because it hasn’t been released yet).

Montana – Late Summer Road Notes

Montana

Montana – Beautiful. Livingston, Bozeman, Emigrant, Big Sky. We will see you again soon.

Yellowstone: Apparently, where the dumbest people in the world congregate, to elbow each other while fighting over the opportunity to photograph buffalo alongside the road. It concerned me greatly that we found our way among them. 35 mph for 3 hours. Can we please have this day refunded to our life bank?

Jackson, WY – Grand Tetons and the Snake River. Taggart Lake secluded hike. Beautiful patio dining at Signal Mountain Lodge.

Idaho Falls – a dignified standoffishness. Steak bites with gorgonzola sauce. Greenbelt river walk.

Salt Lake City – the Mormons seem to be doing very well with their cult out here. Butternut squash on a patio. Ruth’s Diner.

Scenes from Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Dale Chihuly installations. A date night in Atlanta. One gorgeous walk.

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NOT Chihuly! Natural beauty.

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