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Monday, May 2, 2016

The Writer's Life 5/2 - Horns

Does the son or daughter of a parent famous worldwide trade on the family name or try to establish a unique identity? Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, opted for the latter, which indicates high character. He had a ton of short stories published in anthologies and magazines before being outed. His fourth novel will be released later this month. I just finished his second, Horns, a wild blend of horror, mystery, speculative and serious fiction that defies categorization, but demonstrates talent and imagination. It is the story of a young man accused of the murder and rape of his girlfriend. He is free due to lack of evidence, but it is universally believed that he's the perpetrator. Demonized in his small New England town, he actually grows horns, which act as an antenna, relaying the dark thoughts of family, friends and acquaintances. Suspension of belief is required. The events involve the supernatural. Although I found the novel fascinating, I was not satisfied with how things played out. I didn't understand some of what was occurring. I've never been good at interpreting symbolism, so the problem may lie therein. Still, the book is more than worthwhile. Here are instances I particularly enjoyed: On delivering a sermon to snakes, the protagonist states: "I do not proclaim God is dead. I tell you He is alive and well but in no position to offer salvation, being damned Himself for his criminal indifference..." And in a letter from the dead girl: "...The people you love should be able to keep their worst to themselves..." And from a wayward young woman: "When you think about it, most of the good ideas came along to make sin a whole lot easier." 1600+ users at Amazon have rated Horns, forging to a consensus of 4.2 of five, a little high in my estimation. I rate it 3.5. Published in 2010, it is still selling well, all formats ranked between 20,000th and 90,000th, at a venue where at least 12 million titles are available. Hill took the name of a labor activist who was executed by firing squad in 1915 at 36. The case remains controversial. He was either shot robbing a grocery store where the proprietor and his son were killed, or shot by a romantic rival. Whichever it was, his death made him a martyr to leftists. This may explain the narrative's extra contempt for Republican characters and their hypocrisies, although, in fairness, it portrays all humanity as prone to sin. A movie adaptation appeared in 2013, starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. Hill co-wrote the screenplay. It received lukewarm reviews. I've added it to my Netflix list, hoping it helps me understand the novel better. Although the prose and dialogue are solid, Horns is not an easy read. The 368 page hardcover edition read like considerably more. Anyone turned off by a harsh view of life should pass.

I've mentioned Hondo here many times. He writes a droll column in the NY Post that features not only sports prognostication but commentary on culture. He came up with a beauty today regarding the mini-scandal of Hillary's "off the reservation" remark. He suggests Clinton call in Elizabeth Warren, aka "Fauxcahontas," to smooth things over with "her" people. I don't know if he has horns, but he does have a bit of the devil inside him. Kudos.

Given the foul thoughts that sometimes go through my head, I'm lucky I don't have horns. My thanks to the kind folks who bought wares today at the floating book shop, and to the Russian woman self conscious about her English, who donated seven paperback best sellers. I witnessed a sideshow involving drivers of SUVs involved in a fender bender. The woman was a total wreck, bawling non-stop for 15 minutes about the damage her Lexus incurred. Maybe it'd been purchased recently. The highlight of the day was a burly guy at the wheel of his truck, waiting for the change of light, singing along to Tom Jones' Delilah: "Sheeeee was my woman..." That alone made the session worth it.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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