Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Mike’s review

The way small life changes are vigorously tracked (“Tracing of movements was the whole of the process.”), calling Milwaukee’s Best “The Beast.” Small town Midwest life nailed. Taco John’s and Potato Ole’s.

_____

Months later plot summary: A video store clerk (set in the time where video stores are even starting to go out of business in small towns) starts to notice that someone is splicing in disturbing (though not quite violent, more just weird and cult-ish) home videos into the store’s rentals. There doesn’t seem to be a particular pattern to what is selected or what is spliced in. He doesn’t really want to, but feels compelled to figure out what’s going on. And there’s more, but not much more I’m realizing now. There’s a fair amount of backstory regarding the person who splices. Mostly this is a mood piece, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like there’s a plot here, but I don’t know that there is. It’s kinda like what I remember True Detective season 1 to have been like. But I could be wrong about that.

_____

Page 18: first person reference to narrator. Jarring and out of place, but I have a feeling it’s not the last.

_____

No idea what’s going on as Part Four starts, but so compelled to read. And then it keeps going and you come to understand and feel weirdly gross and awful and yuck.

Advertisements

Wolf In White Van by John Darnielle

Mike’s review

I have this bad habit of not writing the titles of the books on the paper I’m using to take notes. I did this here. And I didn’t leave myself much in the way of notes to spur my memory. I know I’ve looked at these notes before, trying to figure it out. I’ve googled “simple math and its consequences” before and it hasn’t helped. But this time I remembered. Probably because I recently saw a “Most anticipated of 2017” list and Darnielle’s new book was on it. The human mind is a crazy thing.

_____

Surprised it opens with disfigurement stuff and not game stuff. A bit tough for me to stick around for.

_____

It’s challenging enough to not be told what happened in the accident, but to then add in the ambiguous trial is a bit much. Hopefully something is revealed soon.

_____

Like two pages later, “murder” is illuminated. Guessing I’ll have to wait a while (possibly never) to find out about disfigurement.

_____

And then two pages later, I find out exactly what happened (still no why). Guess that means he waited pretty much the exact right length of time to reveal.

_____

“simple math and its consequences”

_____

It’s been so long since I’ve read this, no way could I do a legitimate plot summary. Something about a role playing game is all I remember. Despite the issues I had with this, I am genuinely eager for Darnielle’s next book. I mean, this is one of the people who’ve written a song that’s guaranteed to make me cry every time I hear it, so of course I’m eager.