Monday, August 12, 2019
I've been away from this blog for a long time, especially when it comes to reviews, which I've had little to no time for unfortunately. However, when the (hopefully one day) legendary Daniel Braum sends you his new book to review, and it's released by Cemetery Dance, you make exceptions. Because you know you're in for a treat.
Before The Serpent's Shadow, Braum has proven himself to be a master of dark magical realism in the short story form. I'm always disappointed when certain writers are only masters of this particular form, and the novels they release end up being a tad lackluster. Though this tale is more of a novella than a novel, it's longer than Braum's other work, and the point I'm trying to make is that he is still able to pull of the vibe he's become known for, yet he manages to concoct a few surprises along the way.
Set in Cancun in the mid-80s (those familiar with Braum's work will certainly not be surprised by the setting), a young, naive, inexperienced American named David is on vacation with his family. He meets a young woman named Anne Marie at a club, and as their relationship grows, so does the mythology of the story, which relies heavily on Mayan culture (whether the impetus for this story is based on actual mythology or is a creation of Braum's, I am unsure and too lazy to look up). Pyramids are explored, visions are had, and a dreaded killer known as the White Lady stalks the land. You know me...I don't discuss plot much in these reviews, and that's really all you need to know before diving in. Whether you're diving into the clearest water at one of Cancun's beaches or something far murkier, Braum is reticent to share. Which is a good thing. I always appreciate a little ambiguity in fiction.
One of the major pluses of Braum being allowed to spread his literary wings a little more in these 100+ pages is that the character development is much deeper than could be managed in a shorter story. Braum has always managed this better than most lesser writers in his shorts, but the characters in The Serpent's Shadow are given plenty of breathing room, and with David telling the story in first person, we are really able to get inside his head.
The greatest surprise of this book is that, at times, it is a smidge more violent than what I'm used to from Braum (especially the climax of the story). It never goes overboard, as that would be a major tonal shift from the rest of the book, but it still shocks when it occurs. Though much of Braum's work walks a fine line between magical realism and horror, it is in these moments that the latter prevails.
There's a lot to love about this book thematically, and I've got plenty of thoughts about that element of the book, but this isn't a literature class, so I'm going to let you read this and make up your own mind as to what those themes are (I believe there are more than a few). Your assignment is to write a paper exploring these themes and turn it in to me later.
If you think magical realism begins and ends with South American authors such as Márqez and Borges, think again. Try a little taste of Braum's interpretation of this genre, and you won't be disappointed.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Hey, if you're in San Diego, please come to my event for my new novel Sexy Leper, coming up in a few weeks! I'll be reading an excerpt from the book, there will be a Q & A, and a signing after.
5943 Balboa Ave #100
San Diego, CA 92111
Friday, January 18, 2019
Hello all. My second novel, Sexy Leper, is available for pre-order from Bizarro Pulp PRess/JournalStone. It's a wild one.
You can check it out here: