Tag Archives: review

[Review] Coping with Common Garden Pests by Will Kaufman


West Side Slug Life by Andrew Ferneyhough

“West Side Slug Life” by Andrew Ferneyhough

This one is a short read, but man is it chilling. I found it on the “Weird Fiction” subreddit, and it’s a fresh new piece for horror and science fiction fans. It also possesses a literary flavor that I enjoyed. The plurals were a ton of fun.

The telling of the strange story definitely reminds me of Lovecraft, down to the avoidance of the most awful things in the author’s field of vision. Gardening is one of my favorite past times, so I appreciated the author’s nod to the perilous side of the hobby.

This fantastic little story is absolutely free on the Unlikely Story online magazine. You can’t beat the price of admission. Definitely want to see more from this author. Also check out Unlikely Story for other stories of the bizarre.

Verdict: Worth a bowl and scroll.

ETA: Thanks to Brni for correcting me on the publishing outlet here. Unlikely Story was the publisher, Kaufman the author! My mistake.

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Comic Review: Tumble Dry Comics

Tumble Dry Comics, by Tyler Haas: http://tumbledrycomics.com/

There’s a lot of webcomics out there, even some for stoners. I haven’t found one as dedicated to stoner-dom as Tumble Dry Comics. There’s some great stuff here if you’re a stoner, and even better stuff if you’re into gaming and Star Trek.

Leci n'est pas un bong

A play on “This is Not a Pipe” by surrealist Rene Margritte. Source: Tumble Dry Comics, http://tumbledrycomics.com/comics/the-travesty-of-waterpipes/

You get hilarious goofball comics, like “Free Range“, about the mysterious disappearing property of lighters.

Others are a little more thoughtful, like the “420 Easter“, which is tongue-in-cheek, but for the last frame that makes the experienced stoner cringe.

There’s also at least one multi-part series, like “The Quest“, which involves a lot of fun scrolling when you’re a little baked.

You can’t go wrong with this guy. The art is full of color, loud and in in-your-face, like one of my favorites, involving a bunch of screaming dinosaurs in “Extinction“. I’ve seen that one at least a half dozen times now, and the middle frames still make me laugh out loud. FAAAAAAAAAA…..!

If you mess around on reddit enough, you’re sure to run into Tyler Haas’ work, and it’s almost universally praised by the stoner community that’s encountered it.

My final verdict: for the price of admission, definitely worth a bowl and a scroll.

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Mara Eton’s “The Hypocrites: A Novel in Short Stories”

Mara K Eton’s “The Hypocrites: A Novel in Short Stories”

Product link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1626526664

Full disclosure! Mara Eton commented on an early post here on Pot Fiction, which led me over to her book. This is her first novel.

Told through a handful of not-always-linear short stories, the timeline of Hypocrites encompasses¬† dramatic events, their background, and the messy fallout. Central to the story is a marijuana recovery support group full of habitual and unapologetic smokers, hence the title. Following from that is a dive into politics of the drug trade, so I’m fairly calling it “pot fiction”. But the human drama clings to you long after you put the book down. That’s why I write this blog: love of the herb forms a common interest, but the real beating heart of the story is personal.

I’m very glad that this novel crossed my desk. Characterization is at the forefront here. Every story gets its own voice, which as a writer, I appreciate as a technical achievement. Crisis reveals very real flaws and provokes misunderstandings.No character goes through the events of the story unscathed. I found myself annoyed with people long after their part of the story was done.

But none of the characters are entirely unsympathetic, either. With the perspective the reader gains from multiple POV’s, everyone’s actions are in context. Annoyance miraculously morphed into empathy. How neat is that? Through the peculiar style, Eton’s story teaches a lesson in humility and compassion. Weed acts as a salve for pain accrued as the lives and livelihoods of our characters are pulverized by the reckless actions of a few. You do get a firsthand seat when things go downhill. However, as exciting as the events in the perhaps-fictional Hempstead became, I also got a kick out of the far flung stories in the latter half of the book. Penn and Mya’s stories were the most enjoyable for me, but I think you’ll end up with your own favorite characters and story lines.

I’ve thought about the characters several times after reading, and I’ve cracked the book back open to cross reference. Hypocrites was that good. It’s a nice, easy read, not too short, not too long, and with enough characters to keep you interested. There’s a fun, mystical twist in there too, if you pay attention.

I’m giving this a bong hits to the brain, because it has stuck with me long after reading. Give it a try!

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Michael Castleberg’s “Killer Weed: An Ed Rosenberg Mystery”

Product page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1849822409

The product description on this is a little misleading: this is a fiction book about nonfiction research, about investigating the past through oral histories. Ed Rosenberg is a reporter and family man that happens to be the perfect picture of modern journalism: a career journalist brutally laid off, freelancing on multiple projects, toking just to stay sane. He finds himself at the center of several concentric circles of conflict and discovery in modern San Francisco. Even as he tries to investigate a political campaign that came to a bloody end, he’s digging up dirt on an old murder from years ago; even as he tries to quit smoking weed, he’s helping his daughter with a paper on legalization; even as he tries to build a cultural exhibit at a local museum, he’s meeting the old hippies that he’s tasked with writing about; and even as Ed tries to protect his family, he puts them in grave danger. Castleberg wrapped these threads together into a satisfying conclusion.

I sped through this book: Ed is a competent journalist and reading about his interview methods is a real treat. The scholar in me loved the archival research that Ed undertakes as he discovers the players in a 40-year-old Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Side by side with these players are the great hippie icons of the 60’s, dropping acid alongside the aged people at the center of the modern drama. The criminal enterprises were well crafted. In one scene in particular, Castleberg managed to produce heart-racing excitement when a modern-day character tells a hair-raising story from his past life. That’s a testament to how well crafted those interviews read. There’s plenty more Ed Rosenberg too, this is part of a series.

If I had a criticism, it was that Ed’s family life seemed a bit superficially rendered. I didn’t get a lot of chemistry between him and his wife, and his kids seemed like afterthoughts. Ed seemed far more interested in his work than his family, and that might actually be on purpose, now that I think about it.

Score: Well worth a bowl and a read!

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