2014: A Year in Books

This is categorically not a list of my ‘best books’ of 2014. Very few of the titles I’ve read in the last 12 months were even published this year. This is simply a list of what I’ve read with no judgement implied (although I strongly maintain life;s too short to read crap books, so by default they’re all pretty good).

With my day-job having moved to a different office, I’m fortunate and grateful that I no longer spend an hour a day on public transport. The downside is that the half hour trip each way to and from work was time I spent reading up to the end of June and consequently, I’ve done rather less reading this year than I would have liked.

These are the books I’ve read, which have informed and entertained me this year, and some will have no doubt had an influence – conscious or otherwise – on my writing.

Ben Jeffery – Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism

Raymond Chandler – Farewell, My Lovely

Jonny Glynn – The Seven Days of Peter Crumb

Ian Rankin – The Naming of the Dead

Henry Sutton – Kids’ Stuff

Aifric Campbell – On the Floor

Gavin Lambert – The Goodbye People

JG Ballard – The Drought

Douglas Coupland – Generation X

Paolo Sorrentino – Everybody’s Right

Samuel Beckett – Three Novels: Molloy / Malone Dies / The Unnamable

Various – Clinical, Brutal 2: Incisive Writing with Guts

Philip Roth – Portnoy’s Complaint

Mickey Spillane – Mike Hammer Omnibus Vol 1: I, The Jury / My Gun is Quick / Vengeance is Mine

Lisa Dabrowski – Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors

Martin Crimp – Attempts on Her Life

Chuck Palahniuk – Damned

Malcolm Mc Neill – Reflux

Charlie Wells – Fags and Lager

Beau Rice – Tex

Stewart Home – The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones

Stuart Bateman – Grind

Jonathan Crary – 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep

 

 

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Review: Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors by Lisa Dabrowski (Oneiros Books)

Lisa Dabrowski, the pensmith behind the dominatrix, sexual terrorist and demi Goddess that is Mistress Rosie, takes her celebrated kinkiness a step further with this collection. Be warned: it’s a bold work, and while half the world’s still frigging itself silly over EL James’ ‘literary’ creations Dabrowski shows us she knows what real Sadomasochism is all about. It’s not hard to see why it found a home at Oneiros Books, because 50 Shades style mummy porn it most certainly isn’t.

There’s a distinctly ‘vintage’ feel to the whole publication: the narratives are executed in a way that feels like it belongs to a former time in history. This is certainly no criticism: in eschewing the trappings of the contemporary and instead feeding from more historical stylistic tropes, ‘Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors’ is imbued with a ‘classic’ and ‘timeless’ quality absent from the majority of contemporary texts. This ‘old school’ feel feeds through into the presentation, far beyond the pen-and-ink cover art an into the very fabric of the text, laid out in a heavy and ornate script that stentoriously announces itself as ‘17th Century’. These are only a few of the book’s many strengths, and Dabrowski builds things well across the series of pieces contained here.

The blurb promises ‘Poignant accounts of male correction that are both arousing and politically subversive’ and ‘Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors’ doesn’t disappoint. This is pretty dark stuff. Our first meeting with Dr Sadistic reveals that he’s a character worthy of his name. ‘He opened the door to the lab; I notice on the shelves were what appeared to be canning jars, full of discarded fetuses. I should have run, but curiosity on what his explanation would be got the best of me.’ A such, we’re escorted – with a firm grip on the arm and the unspoken threat of unimaginable pain – into a world of classic psychological horror. I say psychological, because the horrors depicted are those that instead fear and dread. It’s not nearly as much about the fear of physical pain as the torment the images elicit.

‘Dr Sadistic and the Zombie Slaves’ draws on classic tropes and combines it with elements of contemporary horror while also incorporating some sharp twists on genre trappings coupled with some great storytelling.

It isn’t easy to cover this book without giving away many of the essential features which means I should probably halt at this juncture with the admonition that if you’re after something darkly perverse, look no further.

Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors is available on line.

 

 

 

LisaDabrowski