Well. If Charlie shit a billy goat, lookie here. It’s a second Blitzed Books review piece in a week. Weird, right?
I know.. I’m scared too.
Seriously though, as I said in last week’s Blitzed Books piece on We Need To Talk About Kevin, I have had a real time lately with reading fiction for pleasure.
There’s just something about reading countless boring ass medical research essays that really puts a damper on reading for pleasure. But shit, lately I’ve been going nuts devouring every murder mystery and weird ass fiction piece that I can, and this has really lit a fire in me again for my love of reading for pleasure. It’s gotten to the point now that any book that catches my eye, specifically murder mysteries, will end up coming home with me. Go to the liquor store to get booze? Come home with a book from the drug store. Go to Wal Mart to get hemorrhoid ointment? Come home with a new mystery.
I’m definitely turning into my final form of a crotchety old lady. Where’s my sweaters in the 30 degree heat and can we have dinner at 3:30pm?
Anywho, now that we’ve got all that down, I’m gonna tell you folks a little fact. I’m Canadian. No big deal. You can send me flowers later. However.. on a whole, I don’t much care for Canadian fiction.
I know. Horrible, right?
There’s something about my first year in University and getting a Bachelor of Arts degree that has me quivering in the panties whenever I think of having to read “As For Me and My House” and yeah we get it, it was about the prairies and the depression and people jerking off stalefish and whatever else.. and yeah I guess that dude killed himself in his barn or whatever but let’s be serious here, I almost killed myself part way through that book.
BORING! Get outta town. Like I said in my arthouse rant about the We Need To Talk About Kevin film, I’m generally not “art” enoough for a lot of this stuff, so the subtlety is really lost on me.
However. For every As For Me and My House, there’s a “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Canadian upbringing tends to bring out this unique sense of loss, loneliness and alienation that comes from being raised in the wildest and most beautiful land I have ever seen. The forests that seem to whisper, and drive people to wild heights and deep madness. Speaking of madness, just ask the guys at Astron-6. Growing up in Canada makes you pretty weird. Just ask John K. Samson. He wrote songs from a friggin’ cats point of view. I have wept openly while drunk on red wine to these songs, let me tell you.
All sad songs about cats aside. Canada can breed some really dark shit, is what I’m trying to get at here.
Anyways. I was drunk at the thrift shop and stumbled upon a book by Andrew Pyper called the Demonologist. I assumed it would be some lame brained phoned in horror piece, but I picked it up to have a read of the blurb on the back, and was pleasantly surprised to find a piece inside about John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
K. Guys. I know I said I’m a crass rat like individual that has no culture.. but.. I’m a real softie for Milton’s Paradise Lost. That and the fucking Canterbury Tales.
I don’t really know why. There’s something about Paradise Lost, you know? Satan being the penultimate anti-hero, so full of feeling, regret and charisma. His speeches are electrifying, his rage is righteous. When he and his rebel angels take on the Crown and lose, the sadness during his Fall his palpable.
God is boring, the blow hard, the vile misogynistic know it all, who hasn’t a friend in the world and seems to take no pleasure in anything, like the sociopath he is characterized to be. The Son, the redeemer, his speech of self sacrifice for the good of man. Mmm.. I feel like I’m back in university many years ago.. except, I’m skinnier now and I dumped my shitty boyfriend.
It’s all looking up, boys!
So.. with the prospect of reading a book that centered around Milton’s Paradise Lost, I was 100% on board, and when I read that the author Andrew Pyper is a fellow Canuck.. well.. I was beyond curious.
So join me for a moment won’t you and we can talk about The Demonologist.
The basic premise of this story follows that David Ullman, professor who specializes in Milton’s Paradise Lost is in the middle of a shitty divorce because his wife is a slut (bung!), and is visited in his office one day by the Thin Woman who invites him to Italy to view a phenomenon.
He initially declines and is totally creeped out, as most any professors would be if you rolled up their office and weren’t trying to beej your way froma C plus to a B.
Of course, he ends up changing his mind and drags his daughter along with him and they go sight seeing in Italy like white people, all Eat, Pray, Love style.
Since we can only assume that we all know that the phenomenon is in fact demonic possession. Yep, turns out, David Ullman’s colleague had had enough of campus orientation days, Rock Against Tuition concerts, and being asked the same pointless questions about the Oxford comma (use it, or die you filthy heathens) that he decided to turn to the dark side and become one with the fuckery of the Devil.
Pretty neat stuff right.
Since this is a pretty terrifying way to round up eating tortellini and pizza on a free trip abroad, David Ullman decides to peace out but his daughter takes a swan dive into a canal instead.
Everyone believes the girl to be dead, but her final words to David, in the devil’s voice convince him that she is merely spirited away.
What really works in the fiction, is how much you wonder if David actually has it together. Wouldn’t teaching Satan as a hero over like twenty years maybe start putting you in the court to be batting with the Satanists? You know? You start seeing things from someone else’s point of view a little better and reading up on shit, realizing your life is kinda pointless, time to worship the goat, right?
David spirals out into a big time depression and soon begins receiving signs that cause him to pack up shop and hit the dusty trail around the good old US of A in search of his daughter Tess. He is visited by a man who offers him allegiance but David is reluctant to sign over what goodness remains and he keeps searching.
As the deadline of the next moon creeps closer, some very real demons from David’s past are unearthed, like why his Dad wandered into the woods one day and swallowed the barrel of his gun.
Turns out when David saw his brother drowning, it was actually his own father killing him.
Soon we realize, that evil has been with David for a lot longer than him seeing his colleague rehearsing lines from the Exorcist on Broadway in Italy. In teaching Milton’s Satan as this hero, something that should have gotten Milton crucified for being a sympathizer (sympathy for the Devil, fuck yeah!!), is the same thing that draws the Devil to David.
Turns out that inadvertantly preaching Satanism causes the Devil to take notice of what you’re doing. I dunno if that’s true but if so, the Devil is probably one of DIAG’s biggest fans. Let’s get serious.
David is finally approached by the Devil and offered the chance to write his biography essentially, and David does the only thing he can… He walks away.
Obviously the Devil is pissed because he approached Simon and Schuster, Penguin books and finally David Ullman and everyone was all, yeah dude, nah..
As David staggers away, he takes a seat on a train next to someone who looks like Tess. Tess opens her eyes and it’s her.
Where they go from there is anyone’s guess.
Hopefully to a Ghost B.C. concert, let’s get serious.
So, that’s kinda what happened in Andrew Pyper’s Demonologist, more or less.
I really enjoyed it because I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going and like I said I have a big soft spot for Milton and characters randomly reciting lines from the famous epic poem, was enough to soothe my desire for something new to happen in horror fiction.
Like I said before, I have issues with horror novels, simply because they aren’t really horrifying, but the Demonologist genuinely gave me the creeps at points, and so this was a success to me.
Funny story, I was drunk in the same thrift shop and found a copy of Andrew Pyper’s new book “The Damned” in the child’s book section. I can only assume that the devil put it there, and now that’s coming next on my docket.
I would apologize for linking two very different varieties of music in this review piece but I’m possessed by the devil and I do what I want. Get some culture, read a review, what more can you ask for.
So anyways, thanks Andrew Pyper for restoring my faith in not only Canadian fiction but also horror fiction and thanks for not making me wanting to disembowel myself with a rusty cooking spoon. I’m actually psyched to read “The Damned”.
This one is one to keep an eye on. But be sure to shave his head and check him for the mark of the Devil.
Please don’t shave Canadian authors, read Milton, use the oxford comma, and always stay spooky.
Fuck it, one more for the road, let’s do this.
From someone who needed something fun to read today, thank you for writing this review. And not making ME want to gouge my eyes out with a shrimp fork by creating a dusty soliloquy on symbolism. More book reviews should be like this.
Pingback: Blitzed Books: Andrew Pyper – “The Only Child” | DRUNK IN A GRAVEYARD·