Strange Highways

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Short collection of novels published in 1995
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Released in May 1995, Strange Highways is a short collection of 12 stories, all showing how an apparently good human can actually be a murderer. Each story has a twist and each story is filled with suspense as well as a longing for something better.

The novels included in this book are:

  • “Strange Highways” (novel): a failed author returns to his hometown after many years to attend his father’s funeral, only to find himself suddenly and inexplicably thrust back through time to relive a traumatic event from his past. His successful brother was actually a cold blooded killer and he knew about it and chose to igore it as not to bring any pain to his old parents. After the funeral is over, on the road back home, he is faced with a fork in the road that was not there before. It was the same fork he had seen years ago when he chose to ignore it and continue his life. Now he walks on the old road not chosen before and finds himself thrust back into time when he was just in high school and his brother had only started his killing spree. He saves the girl and stops the monster and ends up having a beautiful happy end. The story is good in many levels but the best message that comes across is: Never try to walk away from going the good in face of evil. It will destroy you and the ones you love.
  • “The Black Pumpkin”: a twelve year old boy tries to stop his cruel brother from buying a black pumpkin from a creepy pumpkin carver. He buys the pumpkin anyway, and later that night gets what he deserves. The story is about innocence and retribution. The pumpkin spares his life because the boy had done nothing wrong, just endured the abuse of his older brother and the neglect of his parents.
  • “Miss Attila the Hun” – a story about a school teacher who is loved by her husband and kids alike. An alien seed is growing in the forest ouside town and once it catches a hunter, it begins to expand and dominate more minds. Playing with people as a favourite past time, the seed collects more and more bodies until he reaches the class of Miss Attila the Hun. There, the alien learns that Love is more powerful than dominance and finds that the hosts he had chosen refuse to kill the people they love most. Sad end for the seed.
  • “Down in the Darkness”: after a couple buys a new house, the husband discovers a mysterious door that leads to a dark cellar. The cellar is endlessly going in the earth and the further he descends, the more voices he keeps hearing, whispering voices asking, inquiring. When he finds out that the previous owner of the house was the master of torture from when he was a war prisoner, he leads him into the cellar and leaves him there for the unknown monsters to take him. Being a good man at start, he starts seeing endless possibilities in the dark evil cell and he starts making a list of people he wants to get rid of. The novel ends with the chilling line: “He never thought the list would be this big”.
  • “Ollie’s Hands”: a young man with extraordinary psychic abilities and his tragic attempt to pursue a relationship with a woman whose life he saves. Sad story indeed. Driven to the homeless life, he avoided contact with people because his abilities, be they godly, they alienated him from people who feared him. When he saves this woman, he clears her mind from addiction, loneliness and starts building a close relationship with her until one day, she realizes that he is in her mind. She becomes frightened of him and wants to leave. Sadly, he erases all memory of him and lets her return to her normal life. So lonely, so lovely. Forever alone.
  • “Snatcher”: a purse snatcher steals a purse from a strange old woman, only to find that he’s made a terrible mistake. The purse hides a monster that eats him.
  • “Trapped”: a woman and her son trying to fend off an attack by giant, mutated rats.
  • “Bruno”: a private eye and a “probability cop” from another dimension hunt down a dangerous alien.
  • “We Three”: three siblings with special powers eliminate the rest of mankind, thinking that they’re the “new race”, but soon one of them is pregnant with a creature even more powerful who just might eliminate them.
  • “Hardshell”: a wounded cop stalks a killer through an abandoned warehouse, but there’s more to this seemingly stereotypical situation than meets the eye.
  • “Kittens”: the first short story Koontz ever sold. A girl learns the truth about God “taking her kittens to Heaven”, and she decides to get even.
  • “The Night of the Storm”: a group of intelligent robots go on a hunting trip in the woods, where they learn that the myth of “human beings” may not be a myth after all.
  • “Twilight of the Dawn”: a devout atheist who finds his lack of faith challenged in the wake of his son’s painful death from cancer.
  • “Chase” (novella)

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Dean Koontz

Born: 9-Jul-1945
When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages. He has sold 400,000,000 copies, a figure that currently increases by more than 17 million copies per year.

Twelve of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, and Relentless), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Fourteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.

The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”

Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.

Dean Koontz lives with his wife, Gerda in southern California.

 

L’automne – Poetry by Jaques Prevert

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It’s autumn, and not only the leaves are dying but the love too.

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Un cheval s’écroule au milieu d’une allée
Les feuilles tombent sur lui
Notre amour frissonne

Et le soleil aussi.

This beautiful piece of poetry always makes me shiver. The scene is static, there’s a horse stopped in the middle of an alley and the leaves are falling over him. It’s autumn, colors of red and yellow mark the scene.

The falling motion signifies death, going to a place of decay. It’s beautiful but when it ends, the leaves will form a carpet where no leaf is individual anymore and where they will be forgotten and will eventually rot away.
All this death in the autumn sky.
The next verses are also chilling. “Our love is shaking (from cold) and so does the sun.”
This integration of the nature with the love belongs to the romaticists of the 19th century, where the human and the surroundings were one. The love was dying and so was the world around it.
Such stunning visuals: a shriveling sun, diminished by the cold, dying with the coming of winter, unable to warm itself up anymore.

I love it.


Jacques Prévert

4.02.1900 – 11.04.1977

jacques-prevertJacques Prévert was born in 1900 in Neuilly-sur-Seine. When he had finished his schooling at age 15, he took a series of odd jobs, then joined the army in 1920, where he met Yves Tanguy and later Marcel Duhamel. In 1922 he returned to Paris, where he associated with the young leaders of the Surrealist movement: Desnos, Malkine, Aragon, Leiris, Artaud and André Breton. Eventually he broke with Breton. He is known for his poetry, which is simple and evocative, and known also as a screenwriter, collaborating on “Le Crime de Monsieur Lange” (1935) for Jean Renoir, for example, and “Les enfants du paradis” (1944) for Marcel Carné. Upon his death, Carné wrote of him in the New York Times that “His humor and poetry succeeded in raising the banal to the summit of art.”

Prévert’s poetry collections include Histoires (1946), Poèmes (1961) and some dozen others; his complete works were published in the Pléiade series by Gallimard in 1992.

1900, February 4th

Born in Neuilly sur Seine. He’s the second son of Suzanne and André Prévert. The oldest son, Jean is already 2 years old.

1906

Birth of his second brother, Pierre. He will be very close to him during his life. His father loses his job and the family will experience financial difficulties for a year.

1907

Jacques goes to school. His father introduce him to theatre and reading. His father finally finds a new job given by Auguste, his grand-father. Jacques doesn’t like his grand-father much who he will consider later as a royalist and a conservateur.

1911

Jacques is baptised.

1915

He receives his school certificate and starts having small jobs. He’s a rather rebellious teenager but he starts to appreciate reading and poetry.

1920

Military service in Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, near Lunéville. He meets the painter Yves Tanguy. He’s then sent to Turkey.

1921

During his military service in Constantinople in Turkey, he meets Marcel Duhamel.

1922

Jacques comes back to Paris where his friend Marcel Duhamel provide him an accomodation at 54 rue du Château. Yves Tangui leaves with them.

1924

54 rue du Château becomes the meeting place for the surrealist movement with André Breton as the leader. Jacques is an active member of the group.

1925

Jacques marries Simone Dienne, his long time friend.

1928

Prévert, Tanguy and Duhamel leave Rue du Chateau after a problem with Breton.

1930

Jacques criticise openly Breton and leaves the surrealist movement. Publishing of “Un Cadavre” (a corpse) by the members of the surrealist movement. The text from Jacques is named “Death of a Sir” and he takes this opportunity to publish another paper “Souvenirs de famille ou l’Ange garde-chiourme”.

1932

Jacques set up the Octobre group and becomes the main member. He writes screenplays for the comedy group.

1933

Trip to Moscow with Octobre group and play “La Bataille de Fontenoy”.

1934

He gets to know a poor musician coming from Budapest, Joseph Kosma.

1935

He writes the dialogues of the movie “Crime de Monsieur Lange” of Jean Renoir. He breaks up from his wife Simone.

1936

He meets a new lady, Jacqueline Laurent, and travel with her to Baleares islands. The Octobre group stops and Jacques goes away from communism movement. His father dies.

1938

He writes the scenario “Quai des Brumes” a film of Marcel Carne with Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan. He travels to the U.S. to find his love Jacqueline.

1939

He writes “Le jour se lève” together with Marcel Carné and actors Jean Gabin and Arletty.

1940

Jacques is dismissed from the army during the second world war. He leaves Paris and goes down to Saint-Paul-de-Vence in South of France with his new girlfriend Claudy Carter. Kosma and Trauner work with him on new films.

1941

He writes the scenario of “Les Visiteurs du soir” with Marcel Carné and actors Jules Berry et Arletty.

1943

Jacques falls in love with Janine Loris.

1944

He writes the scenario of “Les Enfants du Paradis” of Marcel Carné with actors Jean-Louis Barrault et Arletty.

1945

Death of his mother. His first poem book is released and would be sold to 2 millions pieces.

1946

Birth of his daughter: Michèle. With Janine.

1947

He publishes “Visiteurs du soir” and “Contes pour enfants pas sages” with pictures of Elsa Henriquez.

1948

Jacques falls from a window and stays several days in coma. He will keep serious neurological sequels from this incident.

1949

He publishes “Les Amants de Vérone”.

1950

He publishes “Des bêtes…” and write the cartoon “le petit ramoneur” with Paul Grimault; later it will be re-used to produce in 1979 the cartoon “le Roi et l’Oiseau”.

1951

He publishes “Spectacle” and “Grand Bal du printemps”.

1952

Jacques returns to Paris and travels to London. He publishes “Lettre des îles Baladar” and “Guignol”.

1953

He publishes “L’Opéra de la lune”. And he becomes “Satrape” of “collège de Pataphysique”.

1955

He returns finally in Paris and moves in the artist area of Montmartre. He publishes “La pluie et le beau temps”.

1956

He publishes a rendering for “Joan Miró”.

1957

He exhibits sixty “collages” Maeght gallery in Paris.

1963

He publishes “Histoires et d’autres” and exhibit his “collages” creations in several cities of France.

1966

He publishes “Fatras”.

1967

He publishes “Arbres”.

1971

He buys a house in Normandy at Omonville-la-Petite and has his good friend Alexandre Trauner as a neighbour.

1972

He takes part in Hebdromadaires.

1974

Jacques becomes grand-father of Eugénie, doughter of Michèle and Hugues Bachelot.

1977, 11 avril

Jacques dies in Omonville-la-Petite.

Firestarter (Stephen King)

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Pyrokinesis is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to create, manipulate and control fire with the mind. It’s an awesome super-power created by Stephen King for his Charlie McGee character in the action packed psychic adventure called “Firestarter”. The book was so good, they even made a movie starring Drew Barrimore in the 80’s:

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Zombie Candy and an interview with Frederick Lee Brooke

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This book has all the ingredients of a perfect noir comedy – well formed characters, international locations, a fast moving plot with no brakes, and of course zombies. Revenge is a dish best served cold – and as a betrayed wife, master chef and cookery instructor, Candace cooks up the perfect recipe for the ultimate gazpacho

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Spiral (Book 2, The Ring Trilogy)

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spiralSpiral is written as a stand-alone work; for Ring fans, its’ a sequel that redefines the word.

Mitsuo Ando, a pathologist, lost his son in a drowning accident before the novel opens. His wife has left him. He conducts an autopsy on an old colleague and packs the corpse’s gut cavity with old newspaper, then discovers a slip of paper bearing six numbers protruding from the corpse’s belly. There follows a series of mysterious deaths, seemingly from a form of smallpox. These lead Ando to search for a videotape, the content of which kills the subject seven days after they’ve watched it, but not before infecting the victims with a mutated DNA virus. Even a transcript of the tape is able to transmit this virus. The very future of the human race as we know it hangs in the balance.

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The Mask Of the Red Death

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A short gothic novel by Poe regarding the escape of prince Prospero away from a sickness to find out that no place is safe. We can think that the seven chambers symbolize the stages of the life. So blue is the birth, purple is the childhood (not sure, because purple is the colour of the mourning), green is the adolescence, a period when all is growing and when the person grow, orange is the adult age, white is maybe the weddings, violet is the old age and red is the death. 

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