Sunday, April 26, 2009

Author Robert MCCammon

Last year I picked up a book called Boy's Life that was recommended to me by my favourite bookseller Luis at a Chapters. He and I worked together for 4 years and love all kinds of horror and mystery books. He told me that it was excellent, so I trusted him and headed home in anticipation.

I was not disappointed. It is an intricately woven story with twists and turns that you just don't expect. I couldn't decide what kind of book it was exactly, it was a mixture of everything. Recently several of his books have been reissued with new covers and it was also put out in a larger trade paperback ( not sure why except the price was bumped up).

Once I read Boy's Life I thought I would investigate this writer further. Would I be as impressed with his earlier work? I'm a fan of Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, and Richard Matheson ( Hmm, "R" names seem to highlight horror- bodes well for me!) so I was interested to see what else he could offer me.
I have to say that every book I've read of his so far has surprised me. He is not a writer that can be stuck in any genre- he crosses them all.
I jumped into Swan Song, a post-apocalyptic sort of fantasy kind of book with some hesitation. I have never been able to read that kind of book because I used to have nightmares as a kid about the end of the world. I think Reagan had something to do with that!
But I soon realized that Robert doesn't tell a straight tale. Just when you think you have figured out where he's going with a character- Wham! he hits you with something so crazy you have to stop and say " Did he really just say that? Is this really happening?" There is no such thing as a one level character in his book. Your allegiance to his protagonists are pushed on every page and you find yourself uncertain as to how you actually feel about what is going on. There is certainly a great deal of suspension of disbelief in his books, but it's this kind of writing that makes even the most crazy of ideas work.
Swan Song melds the spiritual, supernatural, horror, and stark realism of the world into a book that you won't want to put down. It's not for everyone, but it sure gives a reader the ideas that if you think it- you can write it-don't hold back.

After Swan Song I read They Thirst- a wild vampire romp set in Los Angeles, then Baal- a religious based book about pure evil and how insidious it can be in everyday life. The best part was finding these books at Wee Book Inn-a second hand store with the original covers- crazy ones that just scream B movie. Currently I'm reading Gone South-a book about a Vietnam vet that has a hard time finding work and then "goes south" by accidentally killing someone. At first I wasn't sure if I was interested in this kind of character, but good old McCammon doesn't disappoint. He made sure to add in some very original freaks to the story, complete with third arms and even an Elvis impersonator.
I have to admit I am hooked by how he can take what seems like it could be an ordinary story of death or horror and twist it into something unique. You can never say that he doesn't have an imagination. I think some of his characters are like toned down Clive Barker creations. Toned down so that you see them as real people with a touch of insanity. Brilliant.

Robert McCammon has written over 13 books and his newest manuscript it titled titled Mister Slaughter.
I was amazed to hear that he had trouble finding a publisher for his latest venture, but I guess a writer in this category sometimes has problems convincing people that there is an audience for his style of work. I look forward to reading the rest of his books and if you are looking for something a little different- do try his books, they will surprise you!
Check out for all his latest books!
Let's hope Mister Slaughter comes out sooner rather than later!

1 comment:

Nnedi Okorafor, PhD said...

I got hooked on MacCammon way way way back in the day. I LOVED his work and it's a shame that he no longer writes horror. Swan Song was AWESOME.
Glad to hear someone talk about his old stuff.
He had a short story called "Something Passed By" that still freaks me out to this day.
read it here: