Review: Pearl Jam’s Vs. by Clint Brownlee

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Vs. is the sound of a band on fire. The same confluence of talent, passion, timing, and fate that made “grunge” the world’s soundtrack also lit a short fuse beneath Pearl Jam. The band combusted between late 1992 and mid-1994, the span during which they planned, recorded, and supported their sophomore record. The spotlight, the pressure, the pace-it all nearly turned the thriving act to ash.
Eddie Vedder, the reluctant public face of the band, responded by lashing out lyrically. Jeff Ament, Mike McCready, and Stone Gossard, who beheld success with varying degrees of anxious satisfaction, attacked their instruments in solidarity. Dave Abbruzzese welcomed the rock-star lifestyle, and left his mark on the record with more than just potent percussion.
Vs. roils with fury-and at times, gently steams-over the trappings of fame, human faults, and societal injustice. The record is a thrashing testament to Pearl Jam’s urgent creativity and greater-good interests, and the band’s logistical calculations behind it drew a career-defining line in the sand. It promised the world that Pearl Jam would neither burn out nor fade away. This book weaves research, little-known details, and band members’ memories into a definitive account of how Vs. set them on a path toward enduring integrity and relevance.


I have been enjoying the 33 ⅓ books for a while now, most all of them about albums I barely know anything about. I like to pick titles of music that has been on my radar but not on my playlist. This gives me the reason and opportunity to explore different great albums and listen to new artists and genres. Pearl Jam’s Vs. is not one of them.

When Vs., Pearl Jam’s sophomore album came out, I was sixteen. I had listened to Ten a little over six hundred and thirty nine thousand times by then (only a slight exaggeration), and so I was interested in this album before it even came out. I was a teenager filled with new hormones and angst, and the only thing that helped was hours and hours of music. I bought Vs.  close to the release date and listened to it nonstop. I am reading this book with an intimate knowledge of the album, the time period, and I remember some of the details when they were brought up by Clint Brownlee, like the (media exaggerated) “feud” between Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, how they released the album on vinyl a week before it was on compact disc (My teenage self actually made fun of this at the time because who will ever listen to vinyl again?), and of course the boycott of Ticketmaster. I knew these things but did not know the deeper meaning behind these events. Brownlee does a great job getting to the bottom of the emotion and pressure on the band to make an album greater than Ten and how they did not let it destroy them, even though it came very close. The entire book brought up so many memories and also enlightened me on some of the turmoil around recording it that makes me have a better understanding and appreciation of this album.

I like the structure of this book, the way that Brownlee lumps the songs into chapters by theme or meaning. I also like the exploration of the more political songs, like “Rats” and “W.M.A”, which I always knew was a major statement about racism, but I did not think much about how they were a mainstream act using their popularity to talk about justice and the unfair disparity between white and black men. I knew that I liked these songs and that they were important, but I did not know how important they were to the band, to be able to use their platform to address issues that are important to them. 

There are some interesting stories filtered through the book about Vedder’s attitude and behavior, about the dynamics of the band, and about the reception of the album. I listened to Vs. a few times while reading this, and I will say that reading about it opened my eyes to how much depth Eddie Vedder’s lyrics are, and I felt like I was learning new things about an old friend. This is a great addition to the 33 ⅓ books. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Abstainer by Ian McGuire

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An Irishman in nineteenth-century England is forced to take sides when his nephew joins the bloody underground movement for independence in this propulsive novel from the acclaimed author of The North Water.

The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting revenge.

Stephen Doyle, an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War, arrives in Manchester from New York with a thirst for blood. He has joined the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland by any means necessary. Head Constable James O’Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester, and connections with his fellow Irishmen are proving to be particularly advantageous in spying on Fenian activity. When a long-lost nephew returns from America and arrives on O’Connor’s doorstep looking for work, O’Connor cannot foresee the way his fragile new life will be imperiled–and how his and Doyle’s fates will be intertwined.

In an epic tale of revenge and obsession, master storyteller Ian McGuire once again transports readers to a time when blood begot blood. Moving from the gritty streets of Manchester to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, The Abstainer is a searing novel in which two men, motivated by family, honor and revenge, must fight for life and legacy.


This review originally appeared at

In 2016, Ian McGuire made a splash with his novel The North Water because the plot was about finding an attacker who rapes and murders a boy on a whaling ship. This novel is very difficult to read. McGuire’s use of description makes the horror less on the pages as much as it is in the characters. I did not care much for the novel, but I really remembered it. It has been such a strong presence in my head that I was interested in reading McGuire’s follow up, The Abstainer, when it was released late last year. 

The experience with The Abstainer is much different than McGuire’s previous novel, and this is a good thing. The novel starts in Manchester, England in 1867 with the true event of three Irish Republican Brotherhood members being hanged outside of New Bailey Prison for the murder of a Manchester police sergeant. After this, the plot of retaliation by the Brotherhood is all of McGuire’s imagination. He introduces Stephen Doyle, an American Civil War veteran, who’s job is to travel to England, work with the Brotherhood, and get revenge on the police for hanging the three men. The Abstainer refers to Head Constable Jimmy O’Connor, the officer trying to find Doyle and bring down the Brotherhood. He does not drink alcohol due to his past as a grief filled Dublin detective who’s move to Manchester is a chance of salvation. 

After the first few pages, once I got into the rhythm of McGuire’s writing, I was hooked. The story moves fast and everything that happens, from the bloody murders to the secret meetings in the dirty rooms, every page of this just moves fast. McGuire’s language surrounds the reader, and I could almost feel and smell the grime and rot that follows all of these characters. The way that he structures sentences and paragraphs is really something to behold, and I think that this is what really made The North Water stick in my head for all of those years. The talent that he has writing scenes, characters, settings, and plots  makes them unforgettable. 
Unforgettable writing needs to be paired with an unforgettable story. The Abstainer really has a great amount of ideas and a  pretty good plot, but I do not think that it really reinvents the wheel on a police department stopping gang activity novel. I could think of similar stories based on the same premise (the works of Caleb Carr, Richard Price, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane come to mind), but I did like the historical aspect and the execution. The Abstainer is a great historical police procedural that transports the reader to Manchester 1867, complete with mean streets, dirty sheets, and a blood for blood attitude.

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Review: Wild Swims by Dorthe Nors

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A dazzling return to the short story by a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize

In fourteen effervescent stories, Dorthe Nors plumbs the depths of the human heart, from desire to melancholy and everything in between. Just as she did in her English-language debut, Karate Chop, Nors slices straight to the core of the conflict in only a few pages. But Wild Swims expands the borders of her gaze, following people as they travel through Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and elsewhere.

Here are portraits of men and women full of restless longing, people who are often seeking a home but rarely finding it. A lie told during a fraught ferry ride on the North Sea becomes a wound that festers between school friends. A writer at a remote cabin befriends the mother of an ex-lover. Two friends knock doors to solicit fraudulent donations for the cancer society. A woman taken with the idea of wild swims ventures as far as the local swimming pool.

These stories have already been featured in the pages of New YorkerHarper’s MagazineTin House, and A Public Space. They sound the darker tones of human nature and yet find the brighter chords of hope and humor as well. Cutting and offbeat without ever losing its warmth, Wild Swims is a master class in concision and restraint, and a path to living life without either. With Wild Swims Nors’s star will continue to be ascendant.


Dorthe Nors writing is something to behold. Every one of her works is very slim, compact, and engaging. Her newest collection of short stories is fourteen stories in 124 pages, each story lasting about six or eight pages. And each story knocked me upside the head. Nors is a Danish writer who has had some buzz, mostly around her short story collection Karate Chop, and honestly any accolades and praise is well deserved.

I have never read a collection like Wild Swims. All of these stories are so short, and they also feel like rumors. Nors writes fantastic scenes but she doesn’t tell the reader everything. For example, in the opening story, In a Deer Stand, the unnamed main character has fled his house and is hiding in a stranger’s tree stand. There is no real explanation of why he is running from his house, but there are indications, like his wife not being liked by his family, like the relationship of Lissette with the family, and if the whole running from the house has something to do with the relationship between the male character and Lissette (which could be implied, but it’s the reader who is doing the implying.) With many of these stories, I can come with the interpretation of the action, that the main character is running from his wife because she found out about an affair between Lissette and him, but this is me drawing the conclusions, not something that is on the page. And this is every one of the stories in this collection. Dorthe Nors gives us whispers, and our own interpretation of these whispers is how the story is formed. 

The writing and translation by Misha Hoekstra is impressive in another way as well. Nors likes to switch between the softness of nature and the hardness of city life, going back and forth between the two sometimes within the same paragraph. Returning to the first story, the main character’s sitting in the tree stand as dusk is settling in. He thinks about wolves while also thinking about his home and marriage. The two do not seem connected but they are, and this connection happens throughout these stories. 

I know I have talked mostly about the first story, but there is so much to talk about in this story. This story is also four pages long. There are so many amazing stories throughout this collection, and all of them are so impressive that I could talk at length about any of them, making up some of the impressions that I received while reading them, impressions that could be different to any other reader. Usually I struggle through short story collections, but Wild Swims is so spellbinding that I read it all in one sitting, wondering the whole time if I can even writing anything as amazing as this. The result is that every single story is masterful, and I cannot think of ever reading a single author story collection as impressive as this one. I will be rereading stories in this collection repeatedly. Just to try to figure out how Dorthe Nors writes with so much magic.

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Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 


Review originally published at

Gothic horror has some tropes that make it “gothic.” A large, crumbling mansion, a convoluted family history, usually a family living off of money earned generations ago, a marriage or two that hints of incestuous coupling, unhappiness and violence, and a stranger called to the mansion for one reason or another.

Some great examples of gothic horror are Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson, and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia fits so well into the pocket of gothic horror that it is a great place to start for any reader who is curious about this subgenre.

Mexican Gothic starts with in 1950s Mexico City with a woman, Noemi, getting a telegram from her cousin, Catalina, who says that the family she married into, the Doyles, are trying to poison her. Noemi decides to visit her so she travels to Hill Place, a remote, decaying mansion, built by the family through the profits of a now defunct silver mine. She arrives and within pages strange things are happening. Another thing about gothic horror is that the pacing is usually slow. Moreno-Garcia builds up the tension between Noemi and the family who does not appreciate her meddling in their family affairs. For the first 200 pages, the lies and suspicion get deeper and deeper. The story is interesting, and I did not spend any time wondering when the novel will get better, but Moreno-Garcia spends her time putting all of the pieces into place before exposing the grotesque picture. Even though the first two-thirds of the novel are about family secrets and mystery, once the true nature of her visit is unveiled, the reader is still not ready for the real horror to begin.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has made a name for herself in her short career. This is her sixth novel in five years, Mexican Gothic is one that has put her name in the mouths of many horror fans, earning the 2020 Goodreads Best Horror book of the year (beating out Stephen King’s latest by 40,000 votes), not only is this a stunning book, but it also marks the beginning of a new generation of horror writers that are making horror one of the best genres to read at the moment. Mexican Gothic is a monumental novel and definitely one that deserves the recognition it is receiving. With Moreno-Garcia releasing a book or two every year, all of them varying drastically from the one before, she is very well setting herself up to be one of the most important horror and suspense novelists of our time.

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Review: She Ain’t Pretty by Renee Miller

Released February 25, 2021

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“Older women make killer lovers…”

Blake Swanson answered an ad for a job as a farmhand, but when he arrives for his interview, Lily, the widow who placed the ad, seduces him. He forgets everything but Lily as he falls down a rabbit hole of sex and terror.

Eva Bright is following a true crime scoop for a book, and infiltrates a cult run by a woman named Lily Maenad via a job posting. Working as Lily’s assistant, Eva knows she’s stumbled into something bigger than a doomsday cult. Lily isn’t just some nut in the woods trying to convince people she’s the next Messiah.

Eva teams up with a hopeless young man who has been drained by Lily, but are they enough to stop the terrors going on?


Horror reading and publishing has been going through a renaissance. Many readers are getting away from those doorstop horror novels and opting for the slim, fast paced novellas. Novellas have been really changing the way that we read and write horror because it shows that a story can be 100 pages long and have impact and that the plot does not have to go on for 300 pages to be a great story. The novellas being published by Unnerving are a perfect example of this. With their Rewind or Die novellas, they have published many great novellas and writers.  “She Ain’t Pretty” is number 25 in the series. 

The story starts with Blake needing a job and applying to help a widow, Lily, as a farmhand. As soon as he interviews, it turns into Lily seducing him and making him her servant. Blake did not know that Lily is actually running a sex cult when he arrived, but Eva did. She is on assignment to write a nonfiction, tell-all book about Lily and her cult. She applies for an assistant position to get close to the lady, and when she starts to peel back the layers of the cult, she realizes that escape is her only choice.

I was totally immersed in Renee Miller’s novella from pretty much the beginning. When it is revealed early on that this was all a cult, and that the entire novella was going to be sex and horror, I was hooked. There are some really gruesome scenes and discoveries, and even though the final resolution feels a little anticlimactic, there is no way that I can put this book down and just forget about it. 

For as great as novellas have been, the one downfall is when you have a story like this and you just want more. I want more of Lily’s backstory. I want more of the farm. I want more characters that have crossed her and not survived. This could be a doorstop horror novel, 400 pages novel, and I would love it just as much. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Suicide’s Suicide (33 1/3) by Andi Coulter

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New York City in the 1970s was an urban nightmare: destitute, dirty, and dangerous. As the country collectively turned its back on the Big Apple, two musical vigilantes rose out of the miasma. Armed only with amplified AC current, Suicide’s Alan Vega and Marty Rev set out to save America’s soul. Their weaponized noise terrorized unsuspecting audiences. Suicide could start a riot on a lack of guitar alone. Those who braved their live shows often fled in fear–or formed bands (sometimes both). This book attempts to give the reader a front-row seat to a Suicide show.

Suicide is one of the most original, most misunderstood, and most influential bands of the last century. While Suicide has always had a dedicated cult following, the band is still relatively unknown outside their musical coterie. Arguing against the idea of the band’s niche musical history, this book looks at parallels between Marvel Comics’ antiheroes in the 1970s and Suicide’s groundbreaking first album. Andi Coulter tells the origin story of two musical Ghost Riders learning to harness their sonic superpower, using noise like a clarion call for a better future.


There has not been a 33 ⅓ book that is not worth the time and effort to read and seek out the album to listen to afterward. All of them are written about important albums in any artist’s career, whether significant to their success or significant to the culture of the time. Andi Coulter’s exploration of Suicide’s self-titled debut album is no exception but actually the strongest example of the reason why 33 ⅓ books should exist.

Not everyone has heard of Suicide, and if you have heard of them, you might not have listened to a single song. However Suicide is considered one of the most influental and important bands of the time. Consisting of Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev doing all of the music, the duo really made an impact with their live shows, getting into fights and making people run. They were known for their abrasiveness, and even though everyone says they cleared out any sort of venue, they were still getting booked for gigs and a large group of people say they saw them live. Thurston Moore came from Connecticut into the city to see several bands, but it was Suicide and Alan Vega strangling audience members with his microphone cord that really brought to think about forming Sonic Youth. Henry Rollins counts them as one of the most influential groups of all time and even was the spokesperson for Alan Vega’s family after he died. Suicide might not have a large listenership, but those who do listen love them.

After reading the book and listening to the album a few times, I can say that I agree completely with the importance that Coulter puts on this band and their music. It is something unlike anything I had ever heard before, and even though it is loud, abrasive, and sloppy, it is also hypnotizing. I hope this brings awareness to Suicide’s originality and brings them more listeners. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The New Springfield Chronicles by Julia Platz-Halter

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Nuclear war has destroyed civilization, and now the survivors must rebuild. Their guide in this monumental task? The first ten seasons of the hit animated sitcom, The Simpsons. New Springfield might just be the greatest city in the wasteland, though not everyone is happy. When a brutal new mayor is reelected and begins consolidating his power, a team of rebellious children are forced to act. It’s a desperate plan, but the fate of the world, what’s left of it anyway, may hang in the balance


Julia Platz-Halter is writing interesting books. While listening to talk about the plots of her various works, I say, “I want to read that one. But I also want to read that one. But I also want to read that one.” I finally decided to start my journey into her work with the novella, The New Springfield Chronicle because the premise of this one sticks out just slightly in front of the others. The idea is that a nuclear apocalypse has happened, and the only guide people have to rebuild society is the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons. After a few hundred years of society building, some kids have an idea that there is more to society than this and they try to figure out what they are missing. I thought I was pretty well versed in the Simpsons, especially the first ten seasons because they originally aired when I was a teenager. Honestly many of the references were missed by me, but I know this is not the fault of the book but the fault of the reader. I feel like one of those diehard Simpsons fans that know every episode will enjoy it even more than I did.

The execution of this story is as clever as the premise. The Quimby is using his power to restrict the freedoms in his town, by increasing the wiggums and making sure that everyone follows the rules. The hero of the story, Art, decides that he needs to figure out if there is knowledge and society beyond New Springfield, and he plans to use this to help change the suppressive culture based on only ten seasons of The Simpsons. The story moves fast, and even though the references are limited to only ten seasons, it does not feel like they are redundant or worn out. I would like to know a part of the plot that really is not explored, where the seems to be a procedure they do to keep the third child the “Maggie”, but besides a building and mention of scar tissue, there is no deep exploration (if there’s ever a sequel, I hope it’s about this.) I enjoyed the story, and it has made me start to watch the first ten seasons of the Simpsons just in case I have to use them to rebuild society in the near future. 

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Review: Outlawed by Anna North

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The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West.

In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.

The day of her wedding, 17 year old Ada’s life looks good; she loves her husband, and she loves working as an apprentice to her mother, a respected midwife. But after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are routinely hanged as witches, her survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a band of outlaws led by a preacher-turned-robber known to all as the Kid. Charismatic, grandiose, and mercurial, the Kid is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan that may get them all killed. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.

Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear. 


This is one of the first books of the year that I bought and read as something different than my normal books. I do not know much about a contemporary, feminist western, but my biggest reason for getting this book is the cover. The bright pink, blue and yellow really drew my eye, and I did one of those “why not” shrugs and gave it a whirl. I did judge this book by the cover, and I was rewarded for my shallowness. 

The story centers around the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of thieves who live in the mountains and are dangerous as can be. Led by The Kid, a preacher turned outlaw leader, the gang is small but each one has a different specialty, and they all have something deeper in common. The beginning of the novel starts with Ava, seventeen years old, married, and trying to conceive a child. To be barren in 1894 makes you at best someone to divorce and throw away but at worst a witch who deserves to be hanged. The story of Ava mixes quickly with the Hole in the Wall Gang, and eventually it turns into a novel about group dynamics and survival.

I loved the way that this book is written. All of the chapters have definitive starts and stops. Point A to Point B, then reset. Every chapter contains so much time, plot and character development that every one of them can be an entire book instead of a chapter. Anna North does not summarize the plot as much as only tells the parts that are needed to be told to make the story clear, fast paced, and engaging.  The first three chapters of this book particularly could be taught as a way to write a large amount of time in a short amount of space. Another writing thing that I noticed and loved is how many times Ada described how she is feeling by remembering how her sisters and her interacted when she was still at home. The way that North uses this device, as if Ada’s family is really one of the only experiences that she can draw on so she uses them as much as she can to understand what was happening, is done expertly and with sharp precision. The writing in this book and the way that the plot is laid out and executed is worth reading on it’s own.

The actual story though. I have read a few westerns in my life, some Louis L’Amour when I was a kid and Elmore Leonard when I was older, and this does fit into the traditional outlaw western. Plotting crimes, running from the law, and having a shootout are all things that make this like a traditional western, but all of the characters make for more of a modern novel. The mixture of both makes this plot-driven like a traditional western but also character heavy like contemporary fiction. Many of the characters do not get the spotlight like the Kid and Ava, but all of them are born out of tragic circumstances, and it is known that the Hole in the Wall Gang is really the only family that each one of them has. For as entertaining as it is for a western, it is as heartbreaking as a character study.

I enjoyed this novel, and it is a great start to the reading year. I have already been recommending it to everyone I know who reads. “Outlawed” is a great experience, and I am glad that this cover caught my eye.  

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Book Review: The Demon, the Dumbwaiter, and the Douchebag by Sal Cangemi

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Kyle Jarvis is hiding. He has moved into Le Trou Du Cul, a pleasant suburban apartment complex, to hide from those he has wronged. But the well-hidden complex is not as quiet as he had hoped. And there are the odd neighbors. A reclusive old actress, a man who listens to Christmas music year-round, and the Horn Family – the patriarch of which who has found a way to travel back in time to his 1980’s hay-day – are fighting a demon!

The forest surrounding the complex is ready to engulf the building. Unknown animals are appearing on the grounds – including a family of Sasquatch and a Nessie-like serpent in the small man-made lake. A ghost is haunting one apartment while another shrinking. And a demon, the (almost) evil SLYMIND BRAINTWIST, is the cause of it all.

When the Horn Family’s son, the trouble-making Timmy, disappears, the tenants must ban together and form an alliance with Jarvis as their unlikely leader, in hopes of returning the boy home. It is up to Jarvis and Summer, a neo-hippy, to lead the way. Summer has enlisted the help of the flamboyant clairvoyant, Anton Snow, to fight the battle.

An absurdist allegory about conforming, lost dreams, and regret, overflowing with horror and humor, The Demon, the Dumbwaiter and the Douchebag is a hilarious social satire that will have its reader cringing and laughing in equal measure.


Sometimes you hear about a book that you know you’re going to like on premise alone. “The Demon, The Dumbwaiter, and the Douchebag” is one of those stories. I have a soft spot for the subgenre of apartment building stories, where the entire building is represented as different characters. One story that sticks out in my mind is the French film, “Delicatessen,” where the whole building is licking their chops at the prospect of eating their new maintenance man. Any book I find with an apartment building as a setting and a huge list of characters interacting with one another is really in my wheelhouse. 

I heard about Sal Cangemi’s debut novella on the Bizzong! Podcast, and I knew that it was one I needed to read. The story is that an apartment building has a demon living in it’s dumbwaiter, and once it is freed, it wreaks havoc on all of the inhabitants. The apartment building, “Le Trou Du Cul” (throw that in the google translator), is filled with characters that are actually a great deal of fun. Louis Green likes to look for Bigfoot in the 400 yard woods. Marlene Davis is an actress that is well beyond her career and just living. The Horn family who are a picture of dysfunction. Summer, “a neo-hippy new age asshole,” and the main focus character, Kyle Jarvis, who was running for something or someone that he did not want anyone to learn about. There are several other characters, and Cangemi does a good job introducing the large cast but still being able to keep the story moving fast toward the trainwreck. The trainwreck is caused by the demon, Slymind Braintwist, who is trying to graduate from living in Heck to living in Hell. He thinks the way to do this is cause chaos, pit one apartment dweller against the other, until they all kill each other. The actions that he causes are sometimes funny, sometimes gross, sometimes cringeworthy (like when he makes people say racist things), and sometimes not great. There are many jokes and pranks and a few of them seem a little too juvenile and fall flat but most of them work well.

For such a short novella, around 100 pages, Cangemi does a good job. There are some things that a story this short can be lacking, character or plot development particularly, but in his case, he does a good job keeping things clear and satisfying. Most of it is pretty funny, but there might be a few things that some might find offensive, mostly racist and homophobic language. I know the demon is making the characters say these things so I took it with a grain of salt but it may cause some  people to want to skip this one. Either way, Sal Cangemi’s debut is solid, and I will be looking forward to whatever comes next from him.   I’m comfortable giving this one 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones



Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press
Original Title
The Only Good Indians
1982136456 (ISBN13: 9781982136451)
Edition Language
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The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.


This is my first experience with Stephen Graham Jones. I have…

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