Monday, April 28, 2014

I'll Be Damned, Downers Grove!

From Michael Hornburg's Downers Grove:

"The branches looked like twisted wizard canes creeping up from some Gothic underworld deep below the surface of clover-choked grass."


"Long shafts of blood-orange light swept through the hardy green stalks."

Not since Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned have I been dropped so completely into such an intimate, revelatory peek at the Chicago suburbs during one's angsty teen years. And, in the case of Downers Grove, the suburb where I was born and lived till I was two! Lo and behold, Lemont, Illinois -- where I lived from two till twelve -- also plays strongly into the narrative as both a physical & thematic presence; the petrochemical fire spewing polluted smoke over Lemont parallels the anxious, festering, adolescent decay gripping hold of protagonist Chrissie Swanson's heart. While I ultimately spent my own angsty teen years right over the Wisconsin border in Lake Geneva, I can feel, taste, touch, hear, see Michael Hornburg's literary world. He has the talent to take the read into all five senses, and for those of us who spent formative years thereabouts, he helps us remember consciously what our subconscious has long held to be true. He makes Downers Grove not just a setting, but a character -- a living, breathing entity sucking at the souls of the town's youth. But Chrissie Swanson won't go down without a fight. I'm rooting for her.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Passage of the Day

"Leonora looked at the doll, her body rigid, her hands clenched. Then, with what sounded like a growl which rose in pitch from deep in her throat into her mouth and became a dreadful animal howl, she lifted it out of the box, turned and hurled it at the huge marble fireplace. It hit a carved pillar and there was a crack as it fell, one large piece and a few shards broken from the head to leave a jagged hollow, so that in his shock Edward wondered crazily if brains and blood might spill out and spread over the hearth tiles."

-- From Dolly, by Susan Hill

Thursday, April 03, 2014

American Gothic - My New Kickstarter Curiosity

Shame on me. I recently posted my "Kickstarter Wish List" in the wake of Veronica Mars. But alas, I neglected to mention one of my all-time favorite TV shows, American Gothic, which only lasted for one season. (Come on now, people, let's all say, "Someone's at the door" in unison. On the count of 3...)

Without giving away too much, let's just say that the series' final episode left us with quite a doozy of a cliffhanger: would Caleb inherit the mantle of Evil from his father, Sheriff Lucas Buck, in the town of Trinity, South Carolina? Now would be the perfect time to revisit Trinity, especially since Caleb would be an adult and close to the age that Sheriff Buck was back in 1995. A feature film -- or rebooted TV series -- could bring things full circle. What if Dark Side Caleb ruled the town with a supernaturally-tinged iron fist as the show's new antagonist? Who would fight for light and goodness? Would Caleb still be haunted, tortured even, by visions of his dead sister Merlyn?

The show's actors have continued to strike gold with steady, impressive work. For instance, Lucas Black has forged ahead with hits such as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and I've especially enjoyed watching Jake Weber as Patricia Arquette's hubby on Medium and Sarah Paulson's breakout work on American Horror Story.

Some of you AG fans may be in the know, but back in 1996 W.T. Quick's prequel novel, American Gothic: Family, saw the light of day. And it's great! It explores Lucas' own descent into darkness as he reluctantly takes the reins from his father, Christopher Buck. Worth the read for diehards.

For newbies, AG is available on DVD. But be warned: Rather than being presented in the correct order, the episodes are in order of air date (which don't sync up chronologically) followed by several unaired episodes. Plus, they're on dual-layered DVDs, adding extra headache potential. A brief, easy Internet search will call up the correct order to follow the story. Maybe we'll be lucky enough to get a reissued, deluxe edition one of these days on DVD/Blu-ray -- with the episodes remastered and in the correct order; new interviews with the cast and crew; and other fan-fused delights.

Dear Shaun Cassidy, creator & guru -- we fans will answer your Kickstarter call and open that blood-stained door anytime! Time to come a-knockin'.