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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lunch Date: The Grin of the Dark

posted by on July 2 at 13:46 PM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who’s your date today? The Grin of the Dark, by Ramsey Campbell.

Where’d you go? Boom Noodle.

What’d you eat?
The tofu yakisoba ($8.95). Also, a side of steamed rice with curry sauce. ($2.50)

How was the food? You know, it was all right. I mean, it was a decent plate of yakisoba. There were some good mushrooms in there, and surprising little hits of ginger. And the tofu was fried perfectly—pillowy on the outside and not over-fried on the outside. It wasn’t worth nine dollars, though. I’d recommend it for a dinner menu, but a cheaper lunch menu with smaller portions would be preferable. I do not, by any means, recommend the curry. It has the consistency and appearance and some of the flavor of gravy from a can.


What does your date say about itself? It’s a horror novel from the British Stephen King about an out-of-work film critic who’s researching a long-lost silent comedy star named Tubby Thackeray. Apparently, he starts seeing evil clowns everywhere as he digs up The Secret of Tubby. “Easily Campbell’s finest book in years. The man really knows how to scare, not via empty shock value but by inducing a far deeper, all-encompassing sense of psychological dread. By the end of the book, the protagonist’s sanity is in tatters, and yours very well may be, too!” says The Fright Site.

The British cover, to the right, is much, much better than the American cover.

Is there a representative quote? “He’s in a toyshop. Perhaps his black bow tie and bulging dinner jacket signify that he has left a party or a drunken meal. With his head that’s too small for his oval torso and long legs, he looks shaped for comedy before he makes a move. His disconcertingly round eyees are wide with innocence.”

Will you two end up in bed together? Nope. I gave the goddamned thing fifty pages and I still don’t care about the main character, his situation, or the mystery. The writing is subpar, too. Summer is a great time for genre fiction, but I can’t spend any more time on this book. People who are interested in the premise of a film critic exploring a long-lost bit of film history that leads to a giant conspiracy and weird thrills should read Theodore Roszak’s Flicker instead.

RSS icon Comments


Yes, yes, yes! Flicker!

I've never been able to get through one of Ramsey Campbell's short stories, let alone a novel. Although the Spanish movie based on The Unnameable is pretty good.

Posted by ratzkywatzky | July 2, 2008 1:50 PM

You might also like Tim Lucas's "Throat Sprockets", about an obsession with a disturbing erotic film. as far as I know it's his only novel.

Posted by Xenu, Warrior Thetan | July 2, 2008 2:07 PM

I'm sorry, but Boom Noodle has much better entrees than that.

Altho the Campbell choice - well, maybe that made the food taste worse.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 2, 2008 3:31 PM

While I've never tried the Boom Noodle curry, and it's possible that it does suck, are you aware that Japanese curry does not resemble any variation of Thai or Indian curry? Because your description sounds like Japanese curry to me. And good Japanese curry is awesome, if you're not expecting something else.

Posted by squidoo | July 2, 2008 5:27 PM

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