Friday, January 18, 2013

100 Unfortunate Days by Penelope Crowe

100 Unfortunate Days My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Penelope Crowe's blog and enjoy her writing style there. Reading some of 100 Unfortunate Days' reviews on Amazon (as well as the free samples she posts on her blog), I decided I had to give it a read. So I inhaled it. One Amazon reviewer mentioned reading a few days' entries and putting it down for a week. I couldn't be so patient; I had to keep going, to see what newly outrageous, crazed, or twisted day would follow the last.

Framed as the diary of a madwoman, it takes a long and circuitous path over the course of roughly three months. Three grim and uncanny months. It's not a traditionally plotted tale, more like the thoughts of a (not quite well?) woman as she gets through a tedious, sometimes tortuous, series of interminable days. Lord, how many of the thoughts written have I had myself? How many have we all had? (A lot, though I must speak for myself only.) (But, yeah—a LOT.) And I think that's what contributes to the creep factor of the book—how much of ourselves we might find (dread to find?) in the narrator. I mean, the gal's clearly crackers. Or maybe she sees the truth of things all too well, and if that's the case, well, we're all fucked.

The other shadowy factor is that the voice is clearly that of a grown woman AND YET the way it talks of superstitious mumbo jumbo, the simplistically scared view of the Devil and how he's OUT TO GET YOU (as are the worms, and the spiders, and things lurking in your basement, the corners of someone's house, the backyard), reminds me of when I was but a wee Gothling attending Catholic school. The girls in my grade sometimes spoke this way, I could nearly hear the cadence of their voices as they relayed to me, quite factually, what evil horror would befall me if I looked into a mirror in a darkened room at midnight. It's this credulous childlike view, coupled with an air of know-it-all expert on supernatural terrors to avoid, heavily threaded by a fatalistic belief that no matter what you do, you're doomed, that seeped through the pores of my skin and into my bones. I felt compelled to read on, whether I giggled or shivered or turned off my Kindle device because that hollow feeling within me threatened to keep me from sleep on a given night...Dudes, this ain't for the faint of heart. But then, neither is living.

I regret only that I gobbled it up in about two or three days...maybe over the summer, when the night doesn't seem to return so quickly, I'll pull the book out again and take dainty bites of it instead...one unfortunate day at a time.

11 comments:

  1. This sounds fantastic! Totally something I would love to read (and write, if I'm honest) myself. It's going on my list!

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  2. I heard the tales about looking yourself in a mirror at midnight but you had to hold a candle. Rumour had it you may not just see evil but also part of your past lives. I never tried.

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  3. Sounds very interesting! And hey I took a lot of shit in school too for dressing like a punk rocker. Just to be on the safe side I would never look at myself in the mirror by candlelight at midnight. It's like playing w/ a Ouija board...why take the chance?

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  4. That book sounds great! @Al: if you put a candle or light source behind yourself so your head is backlit, and gaze into a mirror with your eyes a bit relaxed / fuzzy, you get this effect where your facial features start to shift, so it looks like different faces are passing over / emerging from your face. Woowoo-ists say that you're seeing past lives. Not evil, though. Just past lives. I have done this. It is a weird effect.

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  5. @Annalisa - Then kudos to you, 'cause I'm sure I couldn't manage it. I need things to be light and a happy ending, at least for my MCs, if only because my life has been so dark and...ok, I'll quit while I'm ahead. :-)

    @Al - I certainly ain't tryin' it. Not sober, anyway...

    @JoJo - LOL, as it happens, Ms. Crowe's blog recently featured a post on using ouija boards! :-D

    @Ms. Twist - I think you'd dig this book, for shizzle. Also; that candle thingie's trippy.

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  6. Looks like my kinda read Mina. Just might have to check it out! Oh yeah...the devil in the basement with the spiders and creepy crawlies...shit, could barely set foot in the basement at my childhood house and am still surprised that I didn't break my neck! There was only one speed on those stairs, which was run like hell lol.

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  7. LOL, my basement stairs were on the same setting!!! :-D

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  8. Thanks for the review Mina--I so appreciate it.
    And ya--the mirror thing happened and it was scary as @#$--I don't know if it was past lives, me, the devil--WHATEVER--I never did it again. So now of course I have to do it again tonigh.
    I'll tell you how it goes...
    XO
    Pen

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    1. GAAAAAAAAH, SO HOW DID IT GOOOOOOO?????????? ::shivers::

      And you're welcome; it was my pleasure.

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  9. I've heard about this book before, not only Penelope but others too, and yet... I don't know if this is for me. I love crazy books that look a little disjointed and feel a lot crazy. I'm reading House of Leaves, for example, and loving it, so I might give it a try. You make it sound so good! You dark temptress...

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    1. That's me, Gina; a dark temptress, indeed. Because you know, the best way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Just sayin'. ;-)

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