Book: The Book of a Thousand Sins
Author: Wrath James White
Type of Book: Fiction, short story collection, extreme horror
Why I Consider This Book Odd: This book is not odd in the way many of the quirky, weird, off-beat and off-kilter books I review here often are. This book is only odd in that it is of an extreme, and that extreme is horror. This ain’t a book for the squeamish and the extremity of the content is what I think makes it fodder for my odd mill.
Availability: Published by Two Backed Books in 2005, it appears not to be in print any more since the imprint itself is no longer in business. You can, however, still score a copy on Amazon if you don’t mind paying at least twice cover price:
Comments: Wrath James White interests me on a personal level. Admittedly, all I know of him is what he puts online about himself and what he reveals about himself in interviews. He is someone I can see sharing a beer with, and talking religion and philosophy into the wee morning hours. He’s an interesting man with an unusual life arc and based on what I had seen of him and what others writers say about him, I bought blind three of his books. Not unusual for me. Before Richard Laymon died, I knew nothing about him but bought five of his paperbacks I stumbled across in a used bookstore based solely on the covers. I am a bibliophile and the -phile part makes me take chances on the unknown.
So, I had three White books, and one was his collaboration with one of my favorite horror writers, Edward Lee. The book, Teratologist, was possibly the most disappointing book I read in 2008, and I paid an arm and a leg online to get a signed, hardcover copy. I had not read a single review of it when I bought it and likely would have bought it even had I read a few but even so, I did not enjoy it. The book couldn’t even keep the names of the characters straight, sometimes getting the names wrong, as well as misspelling them (“Michael” frequently became “Micheal,” sometimes in the same page). I am a picky reader – every book on the planet has a couple of errors, and I am that snotty reader who generally notices them – but the grammar, spelling and punctuation in Teratologist were egregious to the point of distraction. Problematically, the topic was also a miss for me, a contrived and unlikely attempt to force a confrontation with God via the creation of human monsters using a vile drug that mutates the human sex drive. The grandiose and philosophically questionable nature compelling the book’s plot put me off. I bought my White books in 2008 and after reading Teratologist, I put the others away. I recently discovered them in the back of my nightstand cupboard, pulled them out and decided to give it a go. The Book of a Thousand Sins was strike two.
I always feel odd giving bad reviews on fiction, even when I emphatically think a book is not good. It is one thing for me to pull apart non-fiction books on conspiracy theory and new-age nonsense that asserts the soul of Einstein is on the planet Marduk. It is another to find fault in fiction because all fiction comes from a place of inner experience and not to like fiction is, in a sense, finding fault with the author him or herself, even if that is probably not the best way to look at things.