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Brian Keene

I've been reading Ghoul by Brian Keene on and off for about a week.

I do the majority of my recreational reading in the bathroom. I don't really have the freedom to take a day or two and just read a book anymore, as there are all of these other life things that come into play like fixing the house and work and taking the Sadiepooch for a walk, so the few minutes of dedicated sitting-down time are ideal for trying to pop off a chapter, more or less.

I want to hate Brian Keene, or rather I want to hate his writing. I first started to read Terminal, and I made it about a third of the way in before giving it up as being... boring is the wrong word, it's just that I wasn't interested in the story at all. Nothing happened in that first part other than guys complaining while drinking, and I had enough of that in college.

Ghoul is rendered as a horror story, but I don't think it really is, at least not in the sense of the horror story that I think of. It's sort of like the way that I don't really consider Night of the Living Dead as a horror movie, but Alien is.

Ghoul is really reminiscent of Stand By Me (the Stephen King story). It's kind of a buddy-story about twelve-year-old boys, and really, that's not my genre. When I first started reading the book, I wasn't exactly overwhelmed. I still kept reading, chapter by chapter.

And yeah, it started to grow on me, like fungus on a corpse.

The characters are a lot richer than I would have expected. Keene talks about bleeding when he writes, and I understand this. I get it, that carving out chunks of your soul to put words on paper, or images on film, or whatever your outlet may be. It's an extension of write what you know, more of a write what you feel, write what moves you. Write what's uncomfortable.

This morning I hit a passage that was hugely vivid in my mind. I won't spoil it for you, but in the mechanics of the story, I think this would be the crux point, the first major confrontation, the first serious you-can't-go-back-again moment, and suddenly I was transported into Timmy Graco's life, feeling the pain as a part of his life was torn asunder. It brought me back to a similar time in my own life, and it was vivid and detailed, and freakishly unsettling. And that's the sign of good writing to me, where I am transported elsewhere and lose myself in the characters and the story.

So Kudos, Mr. Keene. You sonofabitch.

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