by John Darnielle
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
224 pages / $13.21 buy from Amazon
2. Universal Harvester. The cover is pretty dope-looking. (Plus, it’s sorta cool that advance reader copies came in a VHS case). It totally vibes with my anodized rainbow finish razor. (That’s 2 for 2 Darnielle, tho, I am not actually counting Master of Reality).
3. But hear me out. I want to get this out of the way, like, right away: the book is marketed as horror and perhaps maybe even a little bit mystery. It’s none of these things, really. Or rather, the story isn’t horror in the way you’d expect it to be horror. And it’s also not mystery, in the classic sense of the word, mystery. It’s a little bit of both, and then some.
4. I’m not taking points away from the book either, because of this, no. It’s not Mr. Darnielle’s fault. Rather, he did this on purpose, and I applaud him (in a way) because of these things—Darnielle is trying to do something new & interesting here and, as you might expect, the average reader is not going to be so into that (I’m guessing). (Maybe the not-so-average reader, as well). The narrative is sort of non-linear (so be prepared for that).
5. I must confess, tho, to what intrigued me initially—what made me want to read the book as soon as possible—the story takes place in Iowa (I got my BA from a school in Iowa, this is no secret; and actually, the town where I went to school is mentioned, pretty early on). Also, the fact that it has something to do with VHS culture and film. (I have never seen The Poughkeepsie Tapes but the idea of VHS tapes and weird things happening on VHS tapes made me think of this film, for whatever reason).
6. I also tend to enjoy most things taking place during a time when the VHS market is / was still booming. Continue reading “25 Points: Universal Harvester”