Bookmas: if you don’t want to celebrate it with me, you’re not welcome here. Seriously. Go watch that bearded Loon Lineage marathon on A&E instead, and wait for your brain cells to commit suicide by way of protest.
Today’s not-so-secret BookSanta: David Nickle!
David Nickle is one of the best authors working today, from a literary perspective, journalism perspective, and just plain nice-guy perspective. You can find his stories in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, the Northern Frights series, the Queer Fear series, and others. His novels—Rasputin’s Bastards, Eutopia, and The ‘Geisters—are among the best published over the past decade, genre or otherwise. His debut collection Monstrous Affections is rightfully acclaimed, and his new set Knife Fight and Other Struggles is one of 2014’s best. He also works as a reporter, covering Toronto municipal politics. I’m assuming he has much more free time now that the Rob Ford nightmare has ended.
Right now I am reading The Broken Hours: A Novel of H.P. Lovecraft, by Jacqueline Baker, and I am taking a bit of a risk recommending it because I have not quite finished it. However, even if Baker entirely pooches the ending, the pleasure I’ve had sharing a drafty Providence house with an altogether creepy incarnation of the original Great Old One makes it worth the time and money.
I should also recommend something that I’ve finished, and for that, Joe R. Lansdale’s latest neo-western, The Thicket is, ahem, the ticket. It’s a bit of The Searchers, a bit of True Grit, and a thing of beauty. And because I’ve finished this one, I can guarantee the ending is gloriously un-pooched.
What 2014-published non-fiction would you recommend?
Crazy Town by Robyn Doolittle. This is the definitive to-the-moment book on the life and times of Toronto’s ex-mayor Rob Ford. Robyn is a hard-working, smart investigative reporter and a deft storyteller, and she weaves a clear-headed story about crack cocaine, municipal politics and family dynamics that is a must-read for anyone with the vote.
Extreme Dentistry by Hugh A.D. Spencer. It’s a cautionary tale about dental hygiene, the Church of Latter Day Saints and alien invasion. It’s completely crazed. And yes, it wants a hug. But be warned: it hugs back.
What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not necessarily a 2014 book) would you recommend?
I’ve been reading a lot of older short fiction here and there: Daphne du Maurier, Roald Dahl, some H.P. Lovecraft. A bit of Thomas Ligotti. And Robert Aickman. If I were to pick one of his, I’d say The Hospice is a good choice. It’s all about a night spent in a very strange hotel. It will creep. You. Out. You can’t buy it by itself, but an excellent place to get it is Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s massive The Weird anthology.
What ongoing series of books would you recommend?
Continuing in that vein I’m going to suggest Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, that is really one big book but came out in parts this year, so it’s not an ongoing series. But it’s a creepy, funny and seriously creepy story about a mysteriously isolated stretch of coastline that is being inadequately investigated by a government agency and its broken, half-mad agents. Look too long into the Reach, and the Reach looks back.
Madeline Ashby. Because by this time next year we’re going to be married and at that point it would seem inappropriate—and damn, but she is a good writer. Check out vN, iD and the forthcoming Company Town.
What’s the one book you’ve read in your lifetime that you think everyone should read?
Lord of the Flies by William Goldman. That and Crazy Town are required reading for anyone who’s thinking about voting.
Let’s go specific: what one book would you recommend for
- The science-fiction fan: vN by Madeline Ashby
- The horror fan: Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol
- The fantasy fan: Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber
- The strict realism fan: Cathedral by Raymond Carver
- The thriller/mystery fan: A Delicate Truth by John Le Carre
- The non-fiction fan: War Against The Weak by Edwin Black
If, Jeebus forbid, people couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you suggest they seek out for a similar literary fix?
I write a lot of different kinds of stories and books, so this is hard. So: Roald Dahl (when he’s writing for adults); Dan Simmons (because once Corey Redekop [Who? — Ed.] said I remind him of Simmons); William Browning Spencer (just because).
And finally, what would you recommend for the holidays in a non-literary context.
On Boxing Day, when everyone else is doing post-Christmas stuff, forego all that and find yourself a multiplex. Get there just before noon, and pick three movies you want to see. Then buy tickets for consecutive shows, and just spend the day at the movies. Until you’re sick of them. This is the true meaning of Boxing Day.