Instead of two separate posts, since I read these two books one after the other, I thought it would make more sense to combine their review into one post.
Breathe is a collection of short stories from Layden Robinson that are very difficult to pin down. Surreal horror with a perhaps bizarre slant might describe some of this work, though even that perhaps doesn’t quite encapsulate what these twelve shorts are all about. Free form poetry? Perhaps. The utterings of a madman? Quite possibly.
There is a preponderance of adjectives and adverbs slathered freely throughout these tales of nightmare and perhaps waking dreams. Perhaps there are too many-some jarring and disruptive, as is the flow and pacing in much of these tales. These are not stories for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Vampires, assassins, mannequins, giant tarantulas, and serial killers abound in stories of failure and perhaps redemption, though there are as many uncontrolled laughs bursting forth as there are profound meanings, or so it seemed to me.
It’s fair to say that this probably isn’t a book that will be everyone’s cup of tea. It is something you have focus on, glean and decipher as you can, and determine what meaning there is for you. I won’t lie and say I was satisfied with every story-on the contrary, some left me frustrated and exasperated. Perhaps that is the point. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with some of these tales. Certainly, there is meaning to be found, but whether it will resonate for you will be determined if you are receptive to letting your mind get bent a little, then a little more, with each written word.
Check it out for yourself here: https://www.amazon.com/Breathe-Layden-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00LD8JYLE?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top
Chameleon is a standalone short by Layden Robinson that is as surreal and trippy as his short story collection, Breathe, though it is more cohesive and compelling from my perspective. It is a magical journey of discovery-a quest, if you will, that is perhaps partly dream and partly reality, or maybe entirely acid trip. Regardless, it is an adventure that challenged the main character at every turn and did the same with me the reader. Demons, the devil, loss, tragedy, hope, peace, and redemption are things that come to mind here, though interpretations will vary. This isn’t an easy story to review or even describe, except perhaps as an enchanting fever dream that pokes and prods at you because as soon as you think you have a fix on where it is going, it jars you and changes course. The pace is brisk but the taste of each section, or compartment of this short story, leaves a flavor on your mouth, whether it be bitter or a vague hint of sweetness. And then the taste changes when you turn the page once more.
Chameleon can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Chameleon-Layden-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00KHB71QI?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top
Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is the first in a series of anthologies, with this one specifically having as its theme devilish women. The overall title “Tales of the Undead” is perhaps a bit inaccurate, since many of these stories have nothing to do with the undead, but the subtitle is certainly more of a description of what is included within its pages. In some stories, this association is obvious, while in others that association to evil women is a lot more subtle.
It is often difficult to provide a review of an anthology because almost without fail, they are a mixed bag. A consistent theme often allows for a more comprehensive overview-each author provides a story to the mix that sticks to a sometimes loose, but understood guideline. TotU-HW does have a theme, but it runs the gambit with stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, Satan, human-animal hybrids, werewolves, ancient gods, sexually voracious women, and even more of a mix of swirling horrors. And that isn’t even mentioning the poems, which are as diverse a lot as the short stories.
There were some gems in this book from my perspective, including “Entre of the Damned” and “Girls are Icky”, both appreciated for entirely different reasons, and of course some stories that did not click, which I will admit is more due to personal preference rather than the quality of the work, at least in most cases. The writing styles here are quite diverse, with everything from the delicately subtle to in your face. I enjoyed “Who F&*ked Up Kelly Yesterday?” because I have a taste for bizarro horror, while I know that there will be plenty of folks who would be repulsed by this story’s audacity. There were a few stories that I felt that the writing was a bit rough, with both the story itself and the way the author telling it making it feel forced and hard to get through, but there those were only a select few out of this bunch. There were some sagas that felt incomplete to me-either telling instead of showing and letting the tale reveal itself, or in one case where the writing style seemed a bit forced and awkward- like the author was providing a summary rather than providing the reader with the story itself.
Anthologies are journeys where the road is both smooth and bumpy at different times. Rarely do you find a short story compendium where every story hits the mark. But finding a short story or poem you really enjoy and that will stick with you makes the journey through the good, the great, and the bad worthwhile. Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is such an anthology.
Tales of the Undead: Hello Whore can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLR40A2/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Killer Koala Bears From Another Dimension is a throwback to the days of classic monster movies. When teenagers Tim and Joana do a little experimenting with a few strange rocks in a farmer’s field, the results are far from what they expected.
Tim just wants to escape his small, backwoods town and go someplace, anyplace, else. Joana, along for the ride but not very thrilled with her goth boyfriend and his timewasting experiment, is just as surprised as he is when dimensional rifts start showing up around town and strange humanoid shapes step out, loaded for bear (pardon the pun) and armed to the teeth with spears and knives. But whatever illusions they have that this is all just some bad dream changes when everyone around them ends up getting gutted and dined upon by the fury interlopers from another dimension.
Yep, the author went there. I have to believe he sat down one night and thought about what creature on earth is probably the most cuddly, cute, and adorable and dared himself to turned them into human flesh craving lunatics. Next thing you know, he’ll be writing about zombie-Teletubbies or vampire puppies.
Don’t get me wrong. As outrageous the idea that the nemesis of the Tim, Joana, and Frank (another desperate survivor) being humanoid shaped, spear-wielding koala bears, the author does a good job of filling these ravenous creatures with plenty of menace. These bears have teeth. Sure, the whole concept seems a bit silly, and most of the characters in the book are a bit taken aback by the idea of giant fuzzy bears coming through dimensional rifts ready to maim everything in sight, but the story is a fun, interesting race against time for the survivors. All they can do is to try and figure out a way out of this hell scape filled with deadly ursine enemies before the whole town is massacred.
Overall the story goes down pretty smooth. I perhaps grew a little weary of Joana’s repeated interludes of idle lines of thought that seemed to distract from the story a bit, and the ending seemed to shift gears a little bit surprisingly with the final reveal, but nothing was too out of phase with the rest of this blood-saturated adventure into teddy bear nightmares.
This is a fun one. Goofy and gruesome at the same time…I doubt I’ll ever look at a koala bears the same again.
Killer Koala Bears From Another Dimension can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0987476556/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Yep, I did it again. I’ve returned to the bizarro world with my offering to the folks over at Rooster Republic Press…which is their new name. It’s their new name, because they had a different name when I was in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, not so very long ago. But I’m happy they accepted my humble little tale about family dysfunction “Hell in the Family” that appears in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 3, regardless of their name. It should be available for mass consumption on February 26th, right around the time Comes The Dark reveals itself in paperback and in audio book format. So it is a great double whammy for me.
I’m looking forward to being apart of another wild and raunchy compendium of screwed up stories about screwed up things. While I can’t speak to what the other authors have contributed and what strange topics they have dived into, my story is my own take on the ever popular nerdy vampire sub genre. Well, just because you haven’t heard of this sub genre doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. Well, it might still be a bit of an underground revolution in the making, but I swear it’s gonna be huge someday!
So I’ll be sure to add links once the book is available for purchase, but for now, feast your eyes on the very shiny, purty cover of this latest edition of Tall Tales with Short Cocks.
Arthur Graham, fellow author and editor for Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, for which I wrote a science fiction comedy story called “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes”, took the time out to interview me about my story, about zombies, and about all sorts of strange things. Okay, I admit it-his questions weren’t all that strange, just my answers. But please check it out at: http://bizarropress.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/patrick-dorazio/
Okay, so I wrote this science fiction comedy story quite some time back for an anthology that never came out. It was, without a doubt, a strange piece of fiction. Perhaps not as strange as the piece I wrote for Houdini Gut Punch, a bizarro anthology, which is called “Consumer’s Paradise”, but then again, I wasn’t writing this piece in an attempt at something bizarro, just something wild, fun, and perhaps a bit…off. Which is what I came up with. And now it will be available via a new bizarro anthology that has been released entitled Tall Tales with Short Cocks, Volume 2 from Bizarro Press.
Okay, I get it. I read the first volume of this anthology series and the comments in many of the reviews said that there were very few…um, er, well, you know…naughty male bits…in any of the stories. And I was thinking that my particular story, which is entitled “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes” has none of them in it either. But perhaps I shouldn’t speak so fast. There is a bit of untamed lasciviousness in my tale, primarily with a wide assortment of alien creatures. Nothing described in too much graphic detail, mind you, but it is there. Of course, if I thought I could sell a few more books by making it a bit more racy, I might have considered doing so. But hey, mixing comedy, science fiction, and erotica might just make a few folks heads explode, so I’ll keep things just where they are, with just the comedy and science fiction. Otherwise I might have been forced to call my story Barbarella.
Suffice it to say, this anthology will have some pretty weird tales in it. I read the first volume and there was plenty of horror, comedy, and some stuff that was just plane surreal, so my guess is that if you check this one out, you’ll get a nice assortment of whacked out crazy stuff mixed with some chills, thrills, and head scratches. And including in this bevy of the odd is my story, which the editor said was ‘not strictly not bizarro, but pretty f$%king bizarre’ which I take as a tremendous compliment and makes for a great tag line.
Click on the cover below to head to Amazon to purchase the kindle version of this book. Stay tuned for updates on the paperback version, coming soon!
Mad Mannequins From Hell tells the story of Burton Vilmos, an former movie special effects makeup artist who makes his living these day murdering people for his website. They pay him to do it, and of course, it isn’t them actually getting killed, it is all just gory fun. But when he runs through one of the scripts he came up with for his son, and takes a book his close friend got from a mysterious shop owner to do a séance-like ritual for the scene, all hell breaks loose. In particular, Beelzebub rises up along with a slew of mannequin-possessing demons that terrorize Portland at Christmas time. Max, Burton’s son, disappears and Burton makes it his mission to find him and put a stop to the mess he’s created. Along the way he finds three unlikely allies in a trio of battle nuns, has to avoid a couple of odd-ball cops (one of which is a midget in a Mexican wrestling mask), and of course, a ton of mad mannequins, who are skewering and draining the essence of everyone they come into contact with.
This is a bizarro tale, with plenty of wild, otherworldly elements and it works quite well as a snarky, humorous horror story with some unlikely heroes and villains instead of the more traditional stereotypical character types. The pace is brisk and it was a breeze to get through, with a lot of twisted and devious forms of mayhem being perpetrated by the demon-possessed mannequins, which had me smiling. A great deal of the story reads like a laundry-list of scenes of mayhem not directly attached to the main character. For a time, after the mannequins rise, we get scene after scene of destruction. Some of them work, some don’t, but my real complaint is that it leaves less room for the battle nuns in the book, who were by far my favorite characters. Perhaps that comes from my Catholic upbringing and schooling. I knew plenty of nuns in my youth and while most of them scared me (and intrigued me), very few had the allure of these three demon-slayers. Their weapons and … assets were quite impressive. I would have liked to see more of them in action, and perhaps there is another story the author might share that reveals their saga in greater detail.
Despite these minor grumps, this was a fun, entertaining read. It brought both smiles and grimaces to my face in equal measure, which is always a good thing.
Mad Mannequins From Hell can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Mannequins-Uncanny-Valley-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0089RDMY2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342363717&sr=1-1&keywords=mad+mannequins+from+hell
Tall Tales With Small Cocks is an anthology from Bizarro Press. It is a series of short stories (along with one poem) that range from bizarro to straight up horror tales. A brief overview of the tales in this compendium:
In The Flesh by John McNee is a mix of steampunk and bizarro, with a mechanical detective on the hunt for a flesh covered woman hiding out at a living, breathing flesh hotel.
Help! My Ass Has Rabies! By Adam Millard tells the story of a fast food employee and an attack of a virus with some teeth to it that rampages through the restaurant where he works.
Zeitgeist by Arthur Graham gives us a parody of the trials and tribulations that come along with trying to get a new TV show produced.
The Zombies of Killimanjaro by Jon Konrath is about a man waiting for the zombie infection to take hold of him after he’s scratch while he sits on Killimanjaro reflecting on his past.
I am a Whale by Robin Wyatt Dunn is a brash poem about the grandeur of a whale and how humans suck by comparison.
Yappy the Happy Squirrel by Dominic O’Reilly regales us with a battle between man and squirrel kind and the god-like melon that would save us all.
MouseTrap by Wol-vriey reads like a bizarro fairy tale with a wind up mouse, an obese house wife and the ungrateful men in her life.
Regressive by Nathan J.D.L. Rowark is a horror story about the elderly taking a miracle drug that ends up turning them into monsters.
The Night of the Walrus by Gabino Inglesias dives into a seedy underworld filled with desperate Walruses, midget gangsters and toasters possessed by the elder gods.
Someone who enjoys both horror and bizarro should find something to enjoy among these tales, though as is the case with every anthology, not all tales resonate equally. Special mention go to In The Flesh, Zeitgeist, and MouseTrap, all three of these stories had their own distinct bizarro flare that brought a twisted smile to my face as I read them. A couple of stories didn’t have any bizarro elements to them and were more pure horror, but that was okay for me as a fan of both genres. There weren’t any duds here, though a couple of the stories didn’t leave me with any lasting memory of them. A few others did leave an aftertaste…and that to me is what is best about short stories-if they have the power to stick with you long after you read them. You’ll get a few of those here.
Tall Tales with Small Cocks can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Tall-Tales-Short-Cocks-Anthology/dp/0615635474/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341170946&sr=1-1&keywords=tall+tales+and+short+cocks
I’ve wanted to show off this wacky cover for some time, but it just became official. I don’t really have a good explanation for this anthology, as far as all the types of stories it includes, but I know that my story, “What’s Eating You?” is a pretty twisted and darkly comedic zombie tale not for the faint of heart or squeamish. So my guess is that since the publisher indicated that my tale was just the type they were looking for that this book is filled with a plethora of twisted and darkly comedic zombie tales. Well, you can look at the cover and see that much, right?
More details to come, as the table of contents should be released fairly soon for Zombies Gone Wild.
Candy is actually the title of the first of two short stories in this Kindle download, with the second entitled “Mr. Cumberland’s Last Magic Show.” Since they are short stories, it’s difficult to do more than give a brief description of both stories without giving too much away. Candy is about a man who has always been faithful to his wife, despite a lack of a love life between them. When a beautiful girl walks into the diner he’s sitting in and aggressively propositions him, he has no choice but to follow her up to her hotel room. Last Magic Shows tells the tale of Floyd, a magician who has a knack for making things disappear and reappear. But the real trick is that his magic is real, what he is capable of doing with that magic terrifies him.
Both stories have a bit of madness to them-twisty darkness with endings that stick with you after you’ve finished reading them. Candy starts out as a pretty straight-laced adultery story with a disturbing completion that might give potential cheaters pause. Magic was my favorite of the two tales, with a surreal quality to it that remains throughout, growing more intriguingly wicked as it comes to a conclusion.
For the price, it’s a bargain to check out these two well written stories by an up and coming independent writer.
Candy can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Candy-ebook/dp/B006JT5U1K/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330304403&sr=1-8
I had the chance to answer a few questions from podcaster and fellow author Patrick Hester, who is, proudly, a Functional Nerd. What is a functional nerd, you ask? Once upon a time, a boss noted that, for a nerd, Patrick Hester still managed to ‘function’ within society – hence was born: The Functional Nerd.
We chatted about bizarro, The Dark Trilogy, me (ugh!), my life outside of writing, the pluses and minuses of the “big publishing house route” vs. “the small press publishers”, short story writing vs. novel writing, and of course, zombies! It was a blast to do. Patrick conducts a great interview. My thanks to him for his great questions, insights, and the conversation we had afterword that shed some light on some really cool conventions I wasn’t aware of that I might be checking out in the upcoming months and years.
Check it out here! http://functionalnerds.com/2011/08/episode-067-patrick-dorazio/.
The best way I can describe this portfolio of short tales is to say that it is an eclectic blend of genres, themes, and ideas. Don’t expect to be granted a full explanation of some of the stories. You will be required to come up with your idea of any meaning that can be interpreted from some of them, while others are written in a more traditional manner than makes the purpose of the author more clear. Being challenged is a good thing here, with stories that maybe don’t go down a straight path.
There are definitely some horror tales in this one, including the first story that this collection takes its name from, Savage Fire, as well as An Island Never Cries, but there is also some bizarro tossed in for good measure, an old fashion detective tale, a western, a modern variant on the story of Medusa, a gut wrenching tale of suicide, a twist on the tale of The Little Mermaid that I found to be an amusing deviation from the norm, and even a couple of more or less traditional werewolf tales that were entertaining as well.
This anthology is probably best described as a compilation of the author’s work, with no running theme that ties the stories together, except for the author’s natural ability to craft a interesting tale. Not every story resonated with me, as is typically the case of such a diverse compendium. I felt that a few stories could have been fleshed out a bit more and turned into something more intriguing, but overall, this anthology shows some impressive range. This is an easy read and brought a smile to my face in more than one instance…sometimes one of pleasure, sometimes a smile that cropped up because I appreciated the author’s devious nature.
A good anthology, and a worthwhile read.
Savage Fire can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fire-ebook/dp/B0053IX52O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308418967&sr=8-1
Stories for the End of the World is a series of short stories interspersed with three novellas. Perhaps they are all stories for the end of the world (at least, perhaps, for those in the tales-in one form or fashion), but if you are looking for straight apocalyptic fiction, not every story here qualifies, though a few fit that category. I had read two of the short stories previously, as they appeared in two separate Undead anthologies put out by Permuted Press. All the stories here have appeared elsewhere prior to being compiled for this book. While there are two ‘zombie’ type tales here, there are not walking dead throughout the rest of this book.
The three novellas were all first person tales and each had a very distinct flavor to them. ‘Days of Allison’ takes us to a future where people can order up robots that are so similar to humans that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference. The character in the story has a robotic mate ordered up-she is supposed to be docile and in love with him, and she is neither, which makes her both threatening and intriguing to him. The comment on the cover about Eric Shapiro being the next Philip K. Dick comes from this story. It certainly is a story that has echoes of Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ to it, with Shapiro’s own unique slant. The second novella, and my favorite story of the book, is ‘It’s Only Temporary,’ which is about knowing that the world will end and spending those last few hours on earth trying to grasp what you should do to live a life full of meaning and experiences. It was a touching story that had me thinking about it long after I was finished with it. ‘Strawberry Man’ came from the other end of the spectrum of the world coming from the end. Instead of a young man pondering on what he hadn’t been able to achieve in life, as was done with ‘It’s Only Temporary’, here there are reflections from an older man on a life full of conquests but dark secrets and horrible regrets.
The majority of these stories are told in first person, with one told in second person, which is always tricky and interesting to read (and it terrifies me-I doubt I will EVER attempt to write a story in second person). Quite a few of them were entertaining, though the internal dialog in some got a little bit long-winded here and there. Nothing that was a major gripe, but more along the lines of a pitfall that can occur in what is primarily first person narratives.
Overall, this is a very entertaining compendium of the author’s work. Some of the author’s stories were very thought provoking and at least some of it had a bizarro taste to it-especially ‘Newborn’, which was pretty surreal. I am guessing that some folks, looking for pure apocalyptic fiction, may be disappointed with this book, mostly because Shapiro takes his readers in some odd directions with some of his stories. The diversions are entertaining if you are open to them, and it is without a doubt a book that raised my eyebrow in intrigue more than once as I read it.
You can find Stories for the End of the World at: http://www.amazon.com/Stories-End-World-Eric-Shapiro/dp/1934861308/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292382578&sr=8-1
For those folks who prefer to get their books from Amazon instead of Createspace, I am happy to announce that Houdini Gut Punch is available on Amazon!
So check it out. My story, “Consumer’s Paradise” appears amongst it pages. If you dig bizarro, don’t miss this tome of disturbing stories and odd tales.
Hit the picture to go straight to Amazon so you can pick up a copy today.
My interview with Sonar 4 tonight, for those who didn’t get the chance to check it out live.
Lori Titus and Tonia Brown did a great job and it was a lot of fun talking about Comes The Dark, some of my short stories, and the absolutely horrendous book I wrote back in high school that remains locked away forever.
Check it out!
I had never taken a swipe at Bizarro fiction previously, but decided to take up the challenge when a submission call was put out earlier this year for Bizarro Horror Short stories. I came up with a little piece of oddness called “Consumer’s Paradise”, which appears second in the Table of Contents of this book. It has not been released yet, but as you can see, the cover has been designed already. Hopefully, it will be out soon, because I can’t wait to check out the rest of these strange stories.
For those not in the know, Bizarro is defined as:
1. Bizarro, simply put, is the genre of the weird.
2. Bizarro is literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store.
3. Like cult movies, Bizarro is sometimes surreal, sometimes goofy, sometimes bloody, and sometimes borderline pornographic.
4. Bizarro often contains a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the real world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh.
5. Bizarro strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.
6. Bizarro was created by a group of small press publishers in response to the increasing demand for (good) weird fiction and the increasing number of authors who specialize in it.
7. Bizarro is Franz Kafka meets Joe Bob Briggs, Dr. Suess of the postapocalypse, Japanese animation directed by David Lynch.
Very excited about this and will definitely be posting something once it has been released.
You may not like bizarro. It may not be your cup of tea. I decided to read the two bizarro starter kits after having read a small dosage of it in a few other forms and wanted to be immersed in it, to really understand what it is all about. After reading both kits, I have decided that trying to extract a particular logic or style of writing from the various authors who participated in these books is a futile effort. Bizarro may not make sense on a traditional level of thinking, but I think the main thing is that it makes sense in whatever realm or universe the story that is created inhabits.
I have seen some bizarro that seems to be heavy with symbolism while other tales perhaps don’t have any more depth than a lark the author decided to take off on, but some of it is quite beautiful and obscene at the same time. I probably haven’t read enough of this style of writing to be an honest judge of it, and haven’t read enough of what influences its authors, which is conveniently posted in the bio of each of them in both of the starter kits, but I know that I can go from enraptured to repulsed within the same tale with more frequency in bizarro than anywhere else. And I think that is a key element of this type of work-it is something that doesn’t allow you to relax, or rest as you breeze through passages that are interconnected with regular, everyday logic. Instead, you are forced to remain vigilant, observant of every word, every phrase, because within may lie a totally different experience, a different exposure to something unique and strange.
The Orange Bizarro Starter Kit can be found at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933929006/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
I picked up the Bizarro Starter kit, both Blue and Orange, at the recommendation of a friend who has written bizarro and felt that these two books were excellent primers on this genre. I have not read the orange yet but am looking forward to it. I have read one full length bizarro novel by Andre Duza and another short story by Carlton Melick III, both related to zombies, but little else. I have read a wide array of unique and strange fiction throughout my life, but bizarro is certainly in a class by itself.
A definition, or rather, definitions of bizarro appear at the beginning of this book, so I won’t attempt to expand on them. What I can say is that based on the ten different authors, all with very unique stories, is that bizarro is not just the genre of the weird-it is a genre that allows us to step alternately into worlds of the surreal, humorous, and horrific, sometimes all at the same time. Every story in this book was stylistically different than the rest-there was no solidifying theme running through the book. They challenged me as a reader to keep up with what the author was creating at every step. It seems that in a bizarro story, things can turn dramatically on a single sentence, even when some elements are used repetitively to bring a point across. This is not a genre to hop into assuming that you will be able to relax and casually blur over certain passages and retain full comprehension of what is going on.
I won’t lie and say that I “got” it with every story written here, but I was entertained by most of these efforts, amused, repulsed, and intrigued, which means that these stories kept my interest, even if I wasn’t sure of the exact path that I was being led down by each author.