Psycho Hose Beast from Outer Space (Gale Harbour Book One)

“School-Age Heroes”

Review by Joey Madia

I am going to be up front at the start: I grew up in the eighties and it is my position that there was no cooler time to be a teenager. Not for movies, music, clothes, and just plain being a kid. We didn’t have the Internet or cell phones, and video games were still confined mostly to arcades—which we had aplenty at the Jersey Shore—and life was just simpler and more pure. I still remember hanging out with friends and listening to new cassette releases like Def Leppard’s Pyromania and being completely blown away by the lyrics and guitars.

Although Psycho Hose Beast from Outer Space takes places in the early nineties, there were plenty of culturally cool things still going on. For instance, each chapter takes as its title that of a popular song from that time. Some of the songs are obvious in their relationship to the chapter and some—if you are inclined to do some lyrical detective work—take a little digging.

Given that the dedication is to “the boys from back home,” it’s clear that Gallant is as nostalgic about his early teen years in the nineties as I am about mine in the eighties. He certainly brings it all to life.

Psycho Hose Beast from Outer Space is part of a great tradition—from Stephen King’s Stand by Me to ET, Goonies, and Stranger Things (the last one coded textually in the book)—namely, middle and high school kids coming together to beat the Big Bad in an inspiring Coming of Age adventure. Continue reading

Rite Judgement (DaDa Detective Agency Book 2)

“Lingua Lilla!”

Review by Joey Madia

A few months ago, a publicist introduced me to the whimsical, socially conscious, quick-witted work and worlds of the novelist Pete Adams. John Broughton describes him as “the Salvador Dali of thriller writers,” a description I mention because it is so fitting. Two writers that also come to mind are James Joyce (Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses), and Robert Anton Wilson and his Illuminatus series, although reading his Cosmic Trigger books will also give you a sense of the lineage of which Pete Adams is a part, especially when it comes to the corruption of the international banking cabal.

The front matter describes Rite Judgement as “A politically correct / incorrect, risqué, mischievous, irreverent and, ever so naughty, crime mystery thriller. A real / surreal novel where life imitates art.” Quite a mouthful, and quite correct. Following on the heels of this quote is one from André Breton: “The imaginary is what tends to become real.” This is a form of spelling, or using words and the power of the mind in the form of poetry and prose, incantations, mantras, and the like to speak a new world into existence. After all, as we good (many now lapsed) Catholics and other religious types grew up hearing, and many still believe, in the beginning was the Logos… the Word. Which makes Trickster-Holy Storytellers like Adams invaluable to society indeed.

Still with me? I warn you, even more so than the book I read and reviewed a few months ago—Dead No More, from another of Adams’s series—the wit, metaphors, and action in Rite Judgement unroll at a very brisk pace. It is easy to get lost in the dense forest of words and images. There are plays on words, abundant cultural and political references, and rich social commentary. Therefore, Adams richly rewards those rare polymaths versed in history, art, and psychology, as so obviously is he. Continue reading

Katy on Broadway (Kitty in the City)

“A Kitty-Sized Adventure in the City”

Review by Joey Madia

There is no greater expression of joy than singing. Whether it is in tune, out of tune, lip-synching, a parody, or something created on Songify, nothing brings in the YouTube or TikTok numbers like a committed singer and their commitment to a song.

Pop and rock singers are the superstars of American culture. The most successful make millions for a show and live like kings and queens. Although less popular and wealthy, Broadway stars are the heroes of countless high school and college musical theatre students, most of whom will never have the opportunity to stand in the spotlight on the Great White Way and have that moment of song in the sun.

Keeping this in mind, Ella English’s mission with Katy on Broadway, and I am sure with the larger Kitty in the City series, is, in a word, wonderful: “Enjoy the sound of your children singing, no matter what it sounds like.” I know from personal experience with one of my children how important this is. I come from a family of excellent singers and musical performers, including one of my children. I made what I thought was an off-handed and harmless comment to one of my other children while they were singing when they were ten. Fifteen years later, they found the opportunity to talk about it because it hurt them deeply.

My wife, who has a beautiful voice, will not sing at all because of comments made when she was young. Continue reading

The Assumption of Death

“Contemplations on the Myth of Death”

Review by Joey Madia

Just prior to this review, I reviewed another, much different book on the misconceptions and myths surrounding the survival of consciousness after the death of the physical body. Dr. Terry Gordon’s No Beginning… No End is written from the point of view of a crisis cardiologist with a highly spiritual focus. Anthony David Vernon’s The Assumption of Death, while also highly spiritual, is written by a poet. In place of case studies, we have meditations on classic works on death. Instead of a physician’s scalpel, we have a poet’s. Together, the two books prove that, from numerous angles, death as conceived and sold by religion and the medical field is by and large a lie and, in the words of Ram Dass, “Dying is perfectly safe.”

The poems in this collection vary in length from a few lines to several pages of poetic prose. These longer poems are sometimes presented as parables. The opening poem is in many ways representative both structurally and thematically:

“Chained –”
Existence is a chain
Its links are life and death
Its materials depend on the welder

The closing line of the second poem, “The Most Common Assumption,” lays out the meat of the matter: “Yet, the idea that to live is to die is neither unquestionable nor based upon ubiquity but rather assumption.” Continue reading

The Devils You Know

“Nazis, and Devils, and Mobsters, Oh My”

Review by Joey Madia

Comprising 13 stories written over 26 years, The Devils You Know is a fun—and at times deeply moving and enlightening—collection of a who’s who of literary monsters, human and otherwise. From vampires to werewolves, mobsters to Nazis, braggadocio writers to Old Nick himself, Miles Watson serves up a cast of memorable villains who at times don’t seem all that different than you or me.

The first story, “Road Trip,” is a ready reminder that the worst of the vampires (aside from the shiny ones) are psychic vampires, which doesn’t mean they won’t also drain your blood. This particular set of fang-bangers are like a modern-era Fitzgerald cast mashing up with bloodsuckers. With names like Victor, Tasha, and Diabolique, dressed in Bohemian clothing and John Lennon sunglasses and zipping around in a convertible, these #firstworldproblems phonies say things like, “I feel the need! The need….TO FEED!” (cue the eye roll). Trust-fund Paris Hiltons, they also travel with a werewolf, which is admittedly progressive of them.

Next is “Nosferatu,” thought to be Romanian for vampire. Most people know it because it was German Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau’s workaround title when he couldn’t get the rights to Dracula from Stoker’s widow. This is our introduction to the Nazis. At the opening, we meet a wounded officer named Raus delirious from blood loss. His unit has just had a losing encounter with the Russians. In what is a recurring theme in the volume, Raus intermittently reflects on the past through complementary scenes throughout his timeline that paint a 3D picture of a usually 2D trope. This technique, coupled with Watson’s talent for writing about war, allows him to show these “devils” as almost mundanely human. It’s rare to read or watch a story about a Nazi and find ourselves identifying with them. Continue reading