The Witch’s Bookshelf (Book Review): The Long Hard Road out of Hell

In my opinion the apocalypse… Must be primarily an internal, spiritual event, and only in a secondary way an external catastrophe. The gates of the Watchtowers… are mental constructions. When they are opened, they will admit [Satan] not into the physical world but into our subconscious minds…. The apocalypse is a mental transformation that will occur, or is presently occurring, within the collective unconscious of the human race.

-Donald Tyson, “the Enochian Apocalypse”, as quoted in chapter 15 of “The Long Hard Road out of Hell” by Marilyn Manson (with Niel Strauss)

The Long Hard Road out of Hell: Marilyn Manson, with Niel Strauss

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There are few people in this day and age with the brutal notoriety of Marilyn Manson, which is ironic, since honestly all he’s done is create art, deep and sometimes disturbing art, but just art.

Of course the people who have made him so notorious are the same people who eventually put Gallello on house arrest for continuing to stand by his idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Not that Manson seems to mind, he knows very well that his popularity would be hard won without the churches constant opposition, much the same way that LaVey maintained that his church would not exist without Christianity. You could say that they are the unwitting, and unwilling catalysts.

With all of this uproar it sometimes feels difficult to separate the man from the legend. This book goes a long way towards that.

I’ll admit that I’m a big fan. Why? Because I can relate, as a person, as an artist, plain and simple. I am part of the apocalypse. Christianity had died within me, has been buried in a small unmarked grave in my soul. Why would I want to remember my torment anyways?

So I suppose it won’t surprise anyone that I really enjoyed this book. I don’t suggest it as reading for just anyone, but if you’re a fan, or you’re willing to take a trip into the darkness, then this book is for you.

Manson (Brian Warner) starts with his formative years, as any sensible person would. It is a story much softer than his namesake (Charles Manson, who’s formative years were full of abuse and abandonment of the deepest kind), but still no bed of roses. These formative years are often were we as humans begin to lose or gain our ability for things like empathy and emotion, and that seems to be the common thread throughout this book, Manson’s struggle to maintain his empathy and emotion.

His recounting of his childhood bleeds into a drug fueled rebirth as a godforsaken rock star. This centers chiefly around the struggle to complete Antichrist Superstar, which in turn portrays Manson’s rebirth.

It is here, in my opinion, that his true depth as an artist shines through. We all have our demons, and we all use our art to exorcise them. We all have something to say, something to share. This is our stage.

Turn away if you must.

 

 

 

 

The Witch’s Bookshelf: I Am Ozzy (Book Review)

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So I’m pretty much a sucker for musician Bios. Especially those about musicians that are seen as coming from a dark genre of music, you know, the kind your parents cringe when they see the album, stopping to cross themselves, or shut their eyes tight in a silent prayer (In a high pitched quavering voice)“may God save little Jimmies soul, the devil is going to pop out of that Alice Cooper album at any second and eat him alive.” Or something like that. For this reason ‘I Am Ozzy’ was at the top of my reading list the second I saw it.

Ozzy spends a lot of time talking about his infamous exploits while touring, and hey, who doesn’t like a good bite-the-head-off-a-bird story? But in ‘I Am Ozzy’ we get to dig out the delicate and formative roots of a man that has become known the world over for his slurred words as much as his music. He details his struggles from childhood, as well as the ongoing ones (namely alcoholism that turned him all Jack Torrance a few times). You also get a real sense for not only what kind of band Black Sabbath was supposed to be (it wasn’t originally named Black Sabbath), and what kind of band it became.

As you might suspect, this book is a must have for any and all Black Sabbath/Ozzy fans, a serious and enriching read.

If you’re not a fan, or just sort of like their music, you still might enjoy this book, but only if you can stomach the occasional blood and gore (slaughter house scenes, alcohol fueled rampages). When you’re done you might even find you have a soft spot for this hard to understand rock legend. All flaws aside, he makes himself a very likeable person.

Suffice to say, I’m no hardcore fan, but I’m more than a little glad I read this book! I’d give it a hearty five stars, but I don’t use a star rating system ; )

Let me know below if you’ve read this, or want to read it.

What’s your favorite Musician Bio? What’s one you’re dying to read?

The Witch’s Bookshelf: Phantom Noise (Book Review)

The Witch’s Bookshelf: Phantom Noise by Brian Turner

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Standing in aisle 16, the hammer and anchor aisle,

I bust a 50 pound box of double-headed nails

open by accident, their oily bright shanks

and diamond points like firing pins

from M-4s and M-16s.

In a steady stream

they pour onto the tile floor, constant as shells

falling south of Baghdad last night, where Bosch

kneeled under the chain guns of helicopters

stationed above, their tracer-fire a synaptic geometry

of light.

At dawn, when the shelling stops,

hundreds of bandages will not be enough.

 

“At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center”(excerpt), From Phantom Noise by Brian Turner

 

Phantom noise is Brian Turner’s second book of poetry. You can read my review of his first book (titled ‘Here, Bullet‘) here.

If ‘Here, Bullet’ was a portrait  of a soldier enwrapt in war, ‘Phantom Noise’ is one of the battle to disentangle ones self from war. In another words, it is a completely different book, something I always view as a bonus (no one wants to read the same thing over, and over again). At the same time it manages to retain his unique voice.

That being said, I found it a little difficult at first to adjust to the change, maybe it was because the center of the first poem throws you abruptly into his love life, something very distant and undealt with. Or perhaps it is because his first book was so stunningly beautiful that it made this one feel a little cold. The feeling didn’t last, as this book quickly gave me reasons to admire it in its own right. In fact the cold distance communicated the atmosphere change well.

There is a great deal of new ground covered in this book really, with some poems that are intensely political (‘Sleeping in Dick Cheney’s Bed’), and others that read as almost memoir/childhood summations (‘Homemade Napalm’, ‘Lucky Money’). The majority though stand as a monument to the ghosts that soldiers bring back from war, the scars that never really heal over.

I honestly hope you’ll check out this book, buy it if you like it, it’s worth every cent, just like the first one. At this point I might as well sign up for the life time fan club right?

 

Have you read any good books of poetry written by soldiers? Feel free to give me suggestions below!

 

 

The Witch’s Bookshelf: The Girl on the Train (Book Review)

The Girl on the Train: Paula Hawkins

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I knew I would like The Girl on a Train when I saw the movie trailer in theaters (Snowden being the movie of choice). Now there is always a big difference between movies and books, I know that, but there was just something about the story that pulled me in. So I lept at the chance to pick up a paperback copy of the bestseller and dove in.

Most books take a page or two to get into, a sort of breathing area where you get used to the authors voice, or try to put the world together in your mind. This novel managed to skip all of that. I felt quite at home in Rachel’s skin right away. Honestly this preceding sentence sums up the entire book, feeling at home, cozy. Not that the plot was a cozy plot, it was indeed a rather twisted and mysterious plot, but the voice and world were cozy. I know no author ever wants to hear this, but I could easily put the book down and come back later. I think this is a compliment to her writing style though. You don’t always want to read an edge of the seat sort of novel.

The novel is split into three different points of view, which from what I’ve heard makes the movie rather confusing. Rachel feels like the main character, most of the time is spent in her body. She is a lonely drunk, fighting the feeling that she is crazy, fighting the blackness that comes when she gets too drunk. She spends everyday riding the train into London (hence the title), and staring at the houses as they go by, fixating on the one a few doors away from her former house (where her ass of an ex lives with the girl who he cheated on her with, Anna). Megan Hipwell (who Rachel has christened with another name, imagining her life from the outside) makes up the second point of view. Megan is, in Rachel’s point of view, missing for pretty much the whole book, but we flash back to her life as it was before she disappeared. Anna is the third point of view, living there on that street, suffering Rachel’s constant harassment. All of these points of view come together to weave a nice puzzle, each chapter leaving another clue. To tell you the truth it had me guessing til the very end, which is no small feat.

I highly suggest this novel, especially if you like something slower. It was well written, well put together, a perfectly done plot, the ending was in no way disappointing. If you’re worried you won’t like it, I’d read the first part of chapter one, you’ll know by then.

 

Have you seen the movie yet?

The Witch’s Bookshelf: Urban Voodoo (Book Review)

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Urban Voodoo, A beginner’s Guide to Afro-Caribbean Magic By: S. Jason Black and Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D.:

I have long felt that Voodoo (as well as hoodoo and all of the other various offshoots), has been by far the biggest gap in my cultural, religious, magical knowledge. So I was excited when I was able to snag this book.

However, I ended up quite disappointed. Now it is firmly established that this a beginners sort of book, so I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was the brute condescension with which they argue against most other religions. In fact, it felt as though they should have titled this book ‘why Voodoo is better than every other religion under the sun’. To really drive my point home, there are fifteen chapters in this book, but no real concrete knowledge until chapter ten (which is a chapter devoted to divination, most of it commonplace).

So in the end, while I felt like I learned something new, I really was left feeling that they could have put more work into the back part of the book, and condensed the front, even just a little. That being said, if you are looking to fulfill morbid curiosity, or find strong refutations of Christianity, this book will serve you well. If you are looking to really learn about the framework of Voodoo practice and history, I would spend my well earned money elsewhere.

 

Any suggestions for good Voodoo/Hoodoo ect. guides?

The Witch’s Bookshelf: Doctor Sleep (Book Review)

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Doctor Sleep

 

“The man who wrote Doctor Sleep is very different from the well-meaning alcoholic who wrote The Shining, but both remain interested in the same thing: telling a kickass story.”

-Stephen King (from the authors note)

 

King does well in this sequel to ‘The Shining’, he creates characters and places that are complex and engrossing. Having read ‘The Shining’, I found that King’s style and voice was more mature in ‘Doctor Sleep’.

For those of you who don’t know, ‘The Shining’ follows Danny (Doc) during his stay at the overlook hotel. His father has been hired as caretaker of the hotel, so the small family of three (including the meek wife Wendy) are stuck in the deserted, and cut off from civilization hotel all winter, and what a winter. This is essentially when Danny discovers that the hotel is filled with dead people, all unsettled and slightly wrathful. To top it off, the hotel itself seems to want to kill them, or at least Danny.

This book is right up at the top of the list of books that scare the living shit out of people (cue Joey hiding the book in the freezer so that the contents couldn’t get him). The movie by Stanley Kubrick is also considered vital horror show history. Strangely enough I found neither ‘The Shining’ nor ‘Doctor Sleep’ to be scary. Not that they weren’t good books, I enjoyed them thoroughly.

‘Doctor Sleep’ picks up years and years after the overlook. We find Danny (now Dan) as an adult, much like his father, wandering, trouble making and drinking. This is coupled with flashes of other people’s lives, some strange and supernatural. Dan hits rock bottom and ends up in a small New Hampshire town, right where he should be without knowing it. On the behest of his new employer (also a former alkie) he joins AA. Here King’s detailed descriptions are at the best. If you’ve never been in AA (I haven’t) it’s like stepping into a whole new world, and it feels so real. This is really the backbone of the story, a redemption story. But before Dan can be redeemed there are monsters to be slain, strange human shape monsters. I won’t elaborate too much, since it’s an enjoyable surprise as you get into the story. I will say this, King does a great job at making his ‘evil’ not entirely evil and his ‘good’ not entirely good.

I would give this book a very good rating, it’s an easy and enjoyable read. The only thing is that you should read ‘The Shining’ before reading this. It will make the book all the better.

 

Have you read the shining? If so did you enjoy it?

The Witch’s Bookshelf: The Perfect Heresy (Book review)

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The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars by: Stephen O’Shea

People are in the opinion that history is boring, but that’s only because they’re reading all of the wrong books.

I picked this one off of a library shelf ages ago, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least, in fact it was full of deliciously rich stories, and as a warning most of them were terribly morbid, not the kind you forget easily.

O’Shea’s style is smooth as he transitions between here and now, and the sweep of the crusades against the Cathars, in what is now France. His historical accounts are detailed and fairly easy to follow, even perhaps for the reader who does not often indulge in historical tomes.

The Cathars, as it turns out, were as Christian as Christian goes, but still not Christian enough for the Catholic church. In fact they pretty much rejected the Catholic church’s way of doing business, even allowing Women to serve is some important roles (gasp). Even worse, people liked them. So as you can imagine, the church was in fits.

Let the inquisition begin!

Detail of the bloody wreckage, and brave resistance follows. Little pieces of it hearken forward to the terrible pogroms, and chilling world war two slaughter of the Jews, if you look hard enough.

I suggest this book if you would like to bone up on your influential history, or if you just enjoy a good dark, medieval story, because these surpass the classic Grimm’s tales, and are true to boot.

Just be advised, this book is not a light read, well worth your time, but not a light read.

 

Do you enjoy reading about history? If so what is your favorite book?