This is easily one of my new favorite books. I read his novel Heart-Shaped Box the summer before last, and just this past month read (and reviewed!) his short story collection. Joe Hill can do no wrong for me at this point.
Horns is a novel that picks up on one of the worst days of Ig Perrish’s life: it is the one year anniversary of the brutal murder of his girlfriend, Merrin Williams. Not only is the love of his life dead, everyone in town thinks he’s the one who killed her. He wakes up with a hangover and a set of horns sprouting out of his forehead. The horns at first terrify him — when people see them, they confess their most appalling desires and sins to him. He soon discovers their true power, though, as he realizes his horns are the perfect way to find out what really happened to Merrin that rainy autumn night.
Ig slowly turns into a dark antihero, his horns growing all the time, but you are rooting for him from start to fiery finish. What’s a human without flaws and desires anyway? Ig starts to embrace his demonic new life the closer he gets to the revenge that he hopes will set him free.
This novel is full of sly references to evil, heaven, and hell through youthful flashbacks, cherry bombs, pop culture, trumpet-playing, half-heard church sermons, and a mysterious tree house that seems to somehow hold the answer to everything. While it is thrilling and horrifying in parts, it is also a heartfelt story about Ig’s family, childhood, and the one woman he loved so much, he turned into a devil without her.
My coworker lent me this book, since her and I share a singular love of crazy, ridiculous cats and both have two that own our homes. Kitty Cornered centers around Bob and Linda Tarte, who own over fifty pets on their property, most of them various birds such as their barn full of ducks.
They notice a stray kitten hanging out in the woods near their home, a white and black kitten who seems terrified of humans but oddly drawn to them.
Over the course of coaxing the cat (Frannie) out of the woods, they find themselves with a fat tabby named Lucy, a caramel cat named Tina, and a huge silly cat named Maynard, in addition to the two house cats they already have.
If you have a a few pets, especially some unusual personalities, you already know the story well: the first moments of connection are moments you will never forget, animal power dynamics are complex and fascinating, and vet visits are completely anxiety-inducing. Bob, Linda, his six cats, and his menagerie of bunnies and birds create quite a lovable ensemble.
This is a fun story that takes mundane activities like buying cat food or watching a cat climb stairs and turns them into hilarious shenanigans.
Cat picture above from Bob’s website, www.bobtarte.com. There are reviews of his other books there, as well as pictures of the Tartes’ animals.
These are the cats that run our home, Nibbler (right) and Jade.
A collection of short stories that range from ghost stories and paranormal oddities to father-son stories or peculiar tales of friendship that are more heartwarming than blood-chilling. It is an eclectic mix that reads very quickly — most of the stories are about 15-20 pages long, with one in the middle about the ghosts of trees (“Dead-Wood”) being only 2 pages and the final story “Voluntary Committal” being exceptionally long. If you like speculative fiction regarding movie theaters, baseball, superheroes, giant locusts, cardboard boxes that lead to other worlds, mind games in the middle of the woods, childhood, and horror movie cliches played to pitch perfect, you are sure to enjoy this book.
My favorite stories were “20th Century Ghost, “Pop Art,” “Better Than Home,” “My Father’s Mask,” and “Voluntary Committal.” “Voluntary Committal” is a haunting, haunting story. You may never listen to The Ants Go Marching 2 by 2 the same way again.
There is even a story hidden in the Acknowledgements at the end!