Saturday, September 21, 2019

Review: The Man Who Folded Himself

The Man Who Folded Himself The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Daniel Eakins's Uncle Jim dies, he inherits a belt that allows him to travel through time...

I haven't had a ton of time to read since my son was born. In fact, I'm typing this with him asleep in the crook of my arm. The two or three weeks it took me to finish this are no indication of the book's quality. It was pretty fucking good.

In The Man Who Folded Himself, David Gerrold uses Daniel Eakins to explore the nature of time and of man himself. The way he handles time travel has been used by other writers since this book's original publication: changing the past creates a parallel universe and the time traveler is the only one who knows of the existence of the previous timeline.

Daniel travels through time, meeting other versions of himself, and sometimes having sex with them., sometimes with multiple versions at a time. Is it gay if you're having sex with another version of yourself? Joking aside, Daniel goes on a journey of self discovery and ultimately winds up back where he started, as I suspected he might.

The Man Who Folded Himself may be the best time travel story I've ever read. 4.5 out of 5 tribbles.

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Review: Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life in and Out of the Wrestling Ring

Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life in and Out of the Wrestling Ring Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life in and Out of the Wrestling Ring by Dylan "hornswoggle" Postl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life Is Short and So Am I is the autobiography of Dylan Postl, aka WWE superstar Hornswoggle, aka independent wrestler Swoggle.

Shortly after the birth of my son, someone from ECW press hit me up to read this. I said I would and forgot about it until my wife and I were watching Swoggle wrestle Jordynn Grace on IWTV. It was damn good.

Dylan had a rough start, being born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, in addition to family problems. He overcame it all and became not only a pro-wrestler but a WWE superstar.

I have to admit that most of the time Dylan was wrestling, I was on a wrestling hiatus. Still, I found his biography fascinating. His early life was terrible, even without taking his dwarfism into consideration. His journey from the independents to the WWE and beyond held my interest even through my lack of sleep. His account of the inner workings of the WWE was entertaining and informative. A lot of wrestling books skimp on the road stories but this one had a lot of them in it.
Since he's no longer with the company, he was a lot more free with information than current WWE employees. Dylan also isn't afraid to bring his own bad behavior to light, like cheating on the mother of his son.

I almost balked on this since Swoggle is younger than me by a few years but he's got a wealth of great stories. I highly recommend this to wrestling fans. Now, I'll have to track down that Swoggle vs. Joey Ryan match. 4 out of 5 stars.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review: Song of Susannah

Song of Susannah Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the aftermath of the battle with the Wolves, Susannah disappears with Black Thirteen to go have her baby. Can the rest of the ka-tet find Susannah and secure the vacant lot where The Rose grows before the Tower falls?

This is my third time reading Song of Susannah. It's still in my Dark Tower bottom three but I come at it from a different perspective since my wife and I will be greeting our chap in just under a month.

In my re-read of Wolves of the Callah, I said I thought that book could have been a hundred pages shorter. The same goes for Song of Susannah. There is so much extraneous crap in this! Talk, talk, talk. The Beams holding up the Dark Tower are in danger but let's waste a lot of time with chitchat. Susannah is my least favorite member of the ka-tet and this one is very Susannah-heavy.

That being said, I still enjoy it. While I logically know the Tower isn't going to fall, King has me frantically reading to make sure this is still the case. The man knows how to ratchet up the suspense when the characters aren't talking everything to death. Eddie and Jake seem like bonafide bad asses in this book, even more than the last. There were also quite a few references I didn't catch the first time through, like to blind bluesman Reverend Gary Davis and to The Quincunx.

I found it somewhat off-putting when Stephen King wrote himself into the series when I first read it but it seems like a normal part of the story now, like a scar that's faded so much it's almost invisible.

Not a whole lot else for me to say, I'm afraid. This was very much a transitional book. I think maybe Stephen King wanted the Dark Tower to go seven books and padded Wolves and this one to make it so. Trimming the fat and combining Wolves and Song into one would probably have made a better reading experience.

Okay, back on the Path of the Beam for me. Let's see if I can get to the Dark Tower before my wife gives birth to our chap.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review: Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story

Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story by Rocky Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Soulman is the biography of wrestler Rocky Johnson.

Rocky Johnson was on his way out when I first became a wrestling fan so I don't know a ton about him besides his tag team with Tony Atlas and that he's the father of the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock. ECW Press offered this up for review so I jumped on it pretty quickly.

The book starts with Rocky's humble beginnings as Wayde Bowles, a poor kid from Nova Scotia. The book takes a little longer than I'd like to get to the wrestling but fortunately Rocky's childhood was interesting. Imagine hitchhiking from Nova Scotia to Toronto with only two bucks in your pocket?

Rocky initially trains to be a boxer but gets wrapped up in the wrestling business. From there, Rocky bounces back and worth to every territory on the map for decades, reaching the WWF and gradually sliding into retirement as injuries piled up.

This book has a lot going for it. Rocky comes off as a humble guy. He doesn't make himself sound like the greatest wrestler of all time and is honest about all the mistakes he made along the way. Outside of the chapter devoted to him, he also doesn't spend a lot of time talking about The Rock.

I had no idea Rocky Johnson was as well-traveled as he was, nor how he tried to run a promotion in Hawaii with his father in law, Peter Maivia. Their relationship was touching at time. I also have to wonder what Rocky would have accomplished in the WWF if he hadn't been saddled with making sure Tony Atlas got where he needed to be. Hell, if Rocky wasn't so agreeable for a lot of his career, he might have been world champion at some point.

Speaking of Tony Atlas, the only time Rocky comes across as angry is when he refutes some things Tony Atlas said about him in his book. Rocky didn't care for Mike Graham either but I imagine a lot of wrestler did.

Soulman made me a bigger fan of Rocky Johnson than before I read the book. That's a sign of a great wrestling biography. Four out of five stars.

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Sunday, June 16, 2019


Yes: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestlemaniaYes: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of Wrestlemania by Daniel Bryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes is the biography of WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan.

As I've mentioned in pretty much every wrestling book review I've ever written, I've been a wrestling fan off and on for most of my 40+ years. I was surprised when Bryan Danielson, now Daniel Bryan, was signed by the WWE and even more surprised when his popularity caught fire like it did. I found this on the bargain table at B&N yesterday and devoured it on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Yes is told in two threads: one detailing Bryan's life and career, the other focusing on the week before he won the WWE belt at Wrestlemania 30. Since this is a WWE-produced book, too much non-wrestling stuff was included at the beginning and it feels a little sanitized.

However, it's the best book the WWE has put out in years. Bryan Danielson makes the pilgrimage from Aberdeen, Washington to San Antonio, Texas to train. From there, he's all over the place, from the WWE developmental system to FMW to the ECWA Super 8 tournament to Ring of Honor. Ring of Honor is where I first noticed him. He wasn't big or charismatic but was impressive in the ring.

Anyway, Danielson goes to England, Japan, the West Coast, and back to Ring of Honor before finally getting signed by the WWE and then fired a few months later. After another stint on the independent circuit, he's back in the WWE and eventually becomes champion.

Even though he has a co-writer, it feels like Daniel Bryan played a big part in putting this together. The tone feels like his, a humble guy with blue collar roots. He never goes out of his way to make himself sound great. In fact, quite the opposite. Just like in his wrestling career, I felt myself wanting him to succeed, even though I know he already has.

The Ring of Honor stories in particular make me want to seek out some of his old matches. Unfortunately, a lot of the ROH stuff is out of print so I'll have to make due with what I already have down in my man cave.

Like every WWE book, I wish there were more road stories, particularly from the decade before he joined the company. Thankfully, he's not a kiss ass and doesn't paint the WWE as a great place to work like a lot of people. He's open about his frustration at some of the decisions and things of that nature. He even mentions Chris Benoit, whom the WWE has tried to erase from history for the past decade.

Yes is well-worth what I paid and a must for any Daniel Bryan fan. Four out of five knee strikes.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: A Book of Rather Strange Animals: Highlighting the Wonders of Evolution and the Extraordinary Diversity of Life

A Book of Rather Strange Animals: Highlighting the Wonders of Evolution and the Extraordinary Diversity of Life A Book of Rather Strange Animals: Highlighting the Wonders of Evolution and the Extraordinary Diversity of Life by Caleb Compton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a follower of @StrangeAnimals on the Twitter. Unlike a lot of internet turned book projects, this one was really enjoyable and didn't feel like a waste of money.

The book is a collection of one-pagers about bizarre animals, be they insect, mammal, reptile, or any other motile life form. There are pieces on the hagfish, tuatara, and penis snake, among other things.

The articles read like much longer, more elaborate pieces than @StrangeAnimals posts on twitter so it's a worthwhile read, not just a collection of repackaged and recycled tweets. I highly recommend it for bathroom reading, bedtime reading, or lunchtime reading when you can avoid your co-workers long enough to get some reading done. 4 out of 5 stars.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Review: The Elephant of Surprise

The Elephant of Surprise The Elephant of Surprise by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Hap and Leonard run across a mutilated albino girl on a dark and stormy night, they soon have some unsavory characters on their asses like a dog on a pile of cat shit. Can Hap and Leonard save the day, even as LaBorde becomes a flooded ghost town?

The baddest mother fuckers in east Texas are back and balls deep in trouble, like always. I was actually on the fence about reading this one. The last couple Hap and Leonard books haven't been up to snuff, in my opinion. However, I'm pleased to say this one had a little more substance to it.

In The Elephant of Surprise, Hap and Leonard go up against the Dixie Mafia, a hurricane, and old age to protect Nikki, an albino girl who knows too much. Helping them is Manny, the take no shit lady cop minding the LaBorde PD while Marvin Hanson is out of town.

There's a sense of desperation in The Elephant of Surprise that has been lacking in Hap and Leonard's adventures lately. There aren't as many quips and the guys aren't as confident as they once were. A martial artist gets the better of them and Hap even misses some shots. While Hap and Leonard never pull a Danny Glover and say "I'm too old for this shit," the subtext is flashing like a neon sign. Without spoiling too much, there are a couple siege-like scenes that drive home the fact that while Hap and Leonard are still capable, they aren't the super heroes they once were.

Joe Lansdale's writing is as great as it ever was with colorful similes and great dialogue. While I've found some of his recent works not quite up to snuff, I've never felt that way about his writing. I'd read a cookbook if Joe wrote it.

The Elephant of Surprise was a notch better than the previous two or three Hap and Leonard books. I hope for the sake of the characters and the reputation of the series, this is the last one. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts

The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts by Nintendo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My wife and I both dismiss Valentine's Day as a commercial holiday. When I got home from work yesterday, she surprised me with this. Luckily I'd gotten her a t-shirt with that caterpillar from the Labyrinth on it so I wasn't caught empty-handed.

The Legend of Zelda series is my favorite video game series of all time and I have fond memories of gazing at the art in the manuals and promotional materials. This book is treasure trove of Zelda art. It's a weighty tome at over 400 pages and I bet there are less than 4000 words in the entire thing, all occurring in an interview with artists on the series at the very end of the book.

Every page is packed with art. There are concept sketches, promotional art, box art, art from the manuals, even pixel art from the games themselves. Every game, from the original Legend of Zelda to the most recent game, Breath of the Wild, is well-represented. I don't have the Zelda II manual anymore but I think some of the art for it came from issues of the Nintendo Fun Club Magazine, the precursor to Nintendo Power. Is Nintendo Power still being published? Anyway, every character, every enemy, and even every magical item is depicted. I can't imagine a better source of Zelda art than this book. Four out of five Triforces.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: Recursion - SPOILERS

Recursion Recursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Your best bet is to go into this cold. I've marked it this entire reviews as having spoilers. If you read the review now, it's your own damn fault.

In a world where False Memory Syndrome is slowly becoming an outbreak, Detective Barry Sutton watches a woman kill herself, driven mad by her memories of another life. What horrible secrets will Barry uncover when he follows her back trail?

Blake Crouch has been a favorite of mine for a few years, first because of the Wayward Pines series, then Dark Matter. When I saw Recursion was up on Netgalley, it was a no-brainer.

One of my favorite late night topics when I was in college, still easily capable of staying up until the small hours on a daily basis, was whether or not time travel might be possible in an altered state of consciousness, going back to an earlier point in your own timeline. What would you do if you could go back in time and change a pivotal event in your life? We've all asked ourselves that question, sometimes multiple times a day. But how often do you ask yourself about the repercussions around you, the ripples spreading throughout the pond? That's the well Blake Crouch draws from in Recursion.

In the early goings, Detective Sutton lifts up rocks and sees the bugs scattering, revealing a vast enterprise built on accessing memories and shifting people back in time. Can the man himself be tempted by what time travel has to offer?

Duh, of course he is! While it seems great at first, the book quickly becomes race after race against time, trying to outrun and undo the consequences of unfettered time travel. I've given this an easy five but it's not quite a perfect sf thriller. My only gripe is that Helena and Barry fall in love too easily. Insta-love, as the kids used to call it. Also, it leans on an episode of The Outer Limits just a tad.

Anyway, apart from that, this one is balls to the wall. Once the memory chair plans are leaked, things quickly become a shit storm of ultimate proportions. Barry and Helena spend timeline after timeline trying to set things right, only to be disappointed, only to learn, finally, that the best way to save the world is to leave it alone.

Blake Crouch has made an art out of taking an interesting sci-fi hook and wrapping an engaging thriller around in. Recursion may be his best one yet. Five out of five stars.

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Review: Fletch

Fletch Fletch by Gregory McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When posing as a drug addict on the beach to find out the source of the beach's main dealer, Fletch is hired by a rich man dying of cancer to kill him. But does Alan Stanwyk really have cancer? That's what Fletch wants to find out...

I've watched both Fletch movies but not for a couple decades at least. When this popped up on one of my cheap-o ebook emails, I snapped it up.

Fletch the book is a pretty good dialogue-driven mystery. Fletch the character is a smooth talker, a man not afraid to tell bold faced lies to get the information he wants. While he shares the dry deliver of Chevy Chase from the movie Fletch, he's no Chevy Chase. There are no shots of Fletch falling down, no acting like an idiot, no Doctor Rosenpenis. The I.M. Fletchter of the book is a much darker character, a Vietnam vet who treats people like crap and throws cats out of seven story windows if the mood strikes him. He also shares a sleeping bag with a fifteen year old junkie on the beach.

Like the movie, the book is full of quotable dialogue. I eventually quit highlighting things and just tore through the book. It's very readable and probably 75% dialogue. It tipped to what was going on in both plot threads but I wasn't very far ahead of Fletch. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but not enough to grab another book in the series. Hell, the ending makes it seem like there shouldn't be any more books. I imagine McDonald caved to pressure to write more, though.

Fletch is a lot darker than the movie version but still an enjoyable read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like half the planet, my wife and I watched the Ted Bundy series on Netflix. For some reason, I decided I wanted more so I picked this up. Even though I scared the shit out of myself as a kid watching 20/20, Unsolved Mystery, and Dateline, true crime books aren't normally my thing. This one was an easy, compelling read.

I find it fascinating that Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy and was writing a book about the Washington killings at the same time. Anyway, this book serves up a lot more information than the Netflix documentary series. It works a lot of gruesome details into the mix as well as eyewitness statements and elaborates on a lot of the points the documentary glosses over. It also mentions things that the documentary completely ignored, like some attacks Bundy perpetrated before the killing spree ever started, or the Idaho murders he confessed to.

The documentary is slanted a bit to make Ted Bundy look highly intelligent. In the book, it's pretty apparent that while he was smart, luck and the negligence of people around him were big factors to his getting away with things for so long. You know, maybe keep your eye on the accused murderer who has already escaped once? Or keep an eye on the hacksaws in your jail?

Ann Rule's perceptions of Ted Bundy effectively highlight his chameleon like abilities to snowball people and blend in anywhere. The details of the murders show what a cold blooded bastard he was. He's not a folk hero or a heart throb, people! Ted Bundy's trial is a damn circus. Yeah, we all know the mother fucker was guilty but it was a damn circus. It was like letting Charlie defend himself on an episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

While I won't say I actually enjoyed it, The Stranger Beside Me was a gripping true crime book.
Four out of five stars.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Review: The Topless Tulip Caper

The Topless Tulip Caper The Topless Tulip Caper by Lawrence Block
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When a stripper hires Leo Haig to find out who killed her fish, Chip Harrison finds himself at a strip club when another of the dancers is killed. Are the killings linked? Can Leo Haig find out who is behind them before Chip Harrison winds up in the soup?

The Topless Tulip Caper is from Lawrence Block's earlier, hornier period. I learned about it from his books about writing years ago and it has been under the back seat of my car for at least a couple years. Fortunately, I needed a book in a hurry and I was able to rescue it and read the first half in the waiting room while my wife was at her eye doctor appointment.

Leon Haig and Chip Harrison are Lawrence Block's homage to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, only Haig is into fish instead of orchids and Chip is a walking hard-on who sells their adventures to Gold Medal.

Chip is Leo's leg man and in this adventure, makes numerous visits to a strip club. Tulip Willing's fish die and her roommate and fellow dancer, Cherry Bounce, meets the reaper as well. Chip employs the classic GOYAKOD method: Get Off Your Ass and Knock On Doors. There's some humor, some smut, and lots of entertainment.

Even in the bygone age of 1975, Lawrence Block was a master of misdirection, more than capable of pulling the wool over my eyes 40+ years later. My wife and I were sitting in the living room and I said "I have no idea who killed this stripper's fish." I thought I had an inkling but had my theory shot down when that person didn't get invited to Leo Haig's big reveal party.

While it is by no means my favorite Lawrence Block book, The Topless Tulip Caper certainly made passing the time in the doctor's office go by faster and the rest was a great way to kill a couple hours on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Review: The Prey of Gods

The Prey of Gods The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a near future South Africa, an ancient goddess launches a plan to regain her lost glory by any means necessary...

The Prey of Gods isn't one of those books that is easy to sum up. My little teaser is the bare bones but it's a lot more than that. Told in five more or less parallel threads, it is a story about identity at the heart. Sure, it has awesome things like free-willed robots, goddesses, and a cross-dressing senator with some golden pipes, but it's about identity at its core.

This book gripped me from the first page. It's future South African setting leaped to life. I had no trouble believing in the characters or the world. Muzi struggles with his impending manhood ritual and his feeling for his best friend, Elkin. Nomvula struggles with her mother, a nearly catatonic woman who rarely speaks. Wallace Stoker struggles with his future in the government and his other identity, a golden-voiced diva named Felicity Lyons. And Riya Natrajan, pop idol, struggles with her secret past and secret illness. Oh, and there's the murderous goddess, awakened AI robots, a drug called godsend, and all those pesky dik-diks running amock. You know, run of the mill stuff like that...

The Prey of the Gods is one of those loaded books, like a baked potato with every imaginable topping in existence thrown on it - great concepts, interesting characters, and stellar writing. The pace is great and the twists kept me rapt. It was the best sf/fantasy novel I've read in a long time. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Review: Black Mountain

Black Mountain Black Mountain by Laird Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When two mutilated bodies of local criminals are found, signs point to a hired killer called The Croatoan. But the Croatoan has been dead for years, right? That's what Isaiah Coleridge wants to find out...

Laird Barron jumped nearly to the top of my favorite authors list in 2017. When this popped up on Netgalley, I had to read it.

Black Mountain continues the story of Isaiah Coleridge, part Maori former hitman trying to leave the killing behind. As Coleridge plays sleuth, his violent nature stares him in the face again and again. In this volume, Coleridge tries to find the perpetrator of two murders and winds up with much more on his hands.

Laird Barron's writing is as great as ever, part Chandler, part Thompson, part Ellroy, and even some Roger Zelazny in the mix, equally adept at poetic descriptions and stark violence. I had no idea who the killer was for most of the book. I was too busy trying to piece things together along with Isaiah and Lionel.

For part of the book, I thought Isaiah was a little too capable and the book meandered a bit. Then the rug got yanked out from under me and I wolfed down what was left in one long ass-numbing sitting. The Croatoan wound up being far more interesting than your run of the mill serial killers. The book flirted with cosmic horror a bit at times. Maybe the Children of Old Leech will be mentioned in the next one?

While I love his brand of horror, sometimes you just want to see bad guys get got. Laird Barron delivers the goods here. Four out of five stars.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Time to Scatter Stones

A Time to Scatter Stones: A Matthew Scudder NovellaA Time to Scatter Stones: A Matthew Scudder Novella by Lawrence Block
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a friend of his wife's comes to them with a problem involving an abusive man, Matt Scudder is on the case. But how can an old man stop a man he's never seen and whose name he doesn't know?

I've been a Lawrence Block fan since I read Grifter's Game and the Matthew Scudder series is one of my favorite series of any genre so when Mr. Block hit me up, this book shot to the top of my stack. When your favorite living crime author hands you a book, you read the damn thing!

One of the best features of the Matthew Scudder series is that Matt ages in real time. In this book, he's been sober 35 years and living comfortably with Elaine, who has joined a support group for former prostitutes. One of her friends needs help quitting the game but one of her old clients won't take No for an answer...

I'm happy to say Lawrence Block (and Matthew Scudder, for that matter) hasn't missed a beat since his last outing. This novella saw me through an oil change and tire rotation and I was actually disappointed that I had to drive home to finish it. Scudder fans of old will approve of how Matt gets things done. It was like running into some old friends and immediately picking up where you left off.

A Time to Scatter Stones was a great chance to catch up with one of my favorite characters and favorite authors. Four out of five stars.

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Review: Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow

Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow by Al Snow
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow is the biography of wrestler Al Snow.

I've been an Al Snow fan for a long time. After learning about him through the various Apter mags, I was thrilled to see him come to the WWF, even though he floundered with the Avatar and Leif Cassidy gimmicks. When he made his resurgence with the Head gimmick, I was all in. In my mind, he could have easily worn one of the top belts in his prime. Anyway, I saw this book on Netgalley and had to give it a shot.

As I've mentioned many times before, the litmus test of any wrestling book is how quickly it gets to the wrestling related stuff. Al was already looking for a place to train by the 2% mark so I knew this one would be gold.

Al was consumed with the desire to become a wrestler at the ripe old age of 14 and couldn't see any other way to go. In an age where there's a wrestling school within 100 miles of most major cities, Al's struggle to break in was fascinating. The shit-kicking he took from Ole and Gene Anderson was touched upon in a few interviews I've watched but Al goes into more detail here. Al's one of the last guys to come up during the territory days so he delivers a lot of insight here.

Once he was finally trained, there's about a decade of paying his dues, driving hundreds of miles to wrestle in front of small crowds for no money, opening his own wrestling school and fighting in tough man contests for extra money. Once he was given bigger opportunities, well... Al's pretty candid about the things he did wrong in his earlier days in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, ECW, and the WWF, acknowledging things he should have done differently without a lot of bitterness. Post-WWE, Al talks about indepentdent gigs, both with or without midget wrestlers, and working backstage at TNA/Impact, an even bigger headache than I was picturing.

Al's a funny guy and his humor does a lot to underscore some of his points. I've watched more than my share of wrestling documentaries and interviews but quite a bit of the material in here was new to me. The extent of Al's injuries were news to me, as was his time in Japan. The TNA stuff was kind of heart breaking but it seems like Al was served quite a few figurative shit sandwiches backstage at ECW, WWE, and TNA. Possibly a few literal ones but that wasn't mentioned.

About the only gripe I can think of with the book is that I wanted more on certain topics., like working in Mexico or Japan. Honestly, though, it's a top tier wrestling book no matter how you slice it.

Funny, informative, and sometimes brutally honest, Self Help is a gripping account of the 35 year career of Al Snow. 4.5 out of 5 Styrofoam heads.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Review: Fog Warning

Fog Warning Fog Warning by Edward Lorn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After running over a girl years earlier, Brent Cummings is a pill-addicted doctor in a small town hospital. After seeing a dead body in a park on his walk home, Brent calls the cops, only to wind up in jail on drug charges when the cops show up and the girl is gone. Did Brent actually see a corpse or was it the drugs? And if he did see a corpse, what happened to it?

My wife bought me a few books for Christmas and this was one of them since I have some gaps in my Edward Lorn back catalog. It filled me with holiday cheer as I scarfed it down on New Year's Day.

I know Ed had a problem with pills at some point and I suspect some of what happened in here stems from that. Brent Cummings is on the run from his past, coasting from day to day in an Oxy fog, when he finds a body in the park and winds up in the clink. A friend bails him out of jail and soon the fun really begins...

Fog Warning is a novella but I think it's the perfect length for this tale. There's never really a lull, never an opportune time for the reader to set it down and go take a leak. Once I tipped to what was going on, it was a race to get to the end.

It reminded me of an episode of Tales from the Darkside (my mom got me the complete series on DVD for Christmas) or Tales from the Crypt (still waiting on someone to buy me the complete series on DVD). Lorn could have taken the predictable route but chose to drive across a few lawns instead on the way to the conclusion.

Fog Warning is a fun horror novella from a fun author. Four out of five Oxycontins.

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