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Bookworm: ‘Sound’ for lovers of weird, creepy things

‘The Rock: Through the Lens’ is a fan's book

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“The Invention of Sound”

  • By Chuck Palahniuk
  • c. 2020, Grand Central
  • $27, $34 Canada; 240 pages

The sound of a neighbor's lawn mower at seven on a Saturday morning. The screech your car door makes as it scuffs against the side of the garage. The smoke alarm's dying batteries at 4 a.m. That song you hate on repeat-play. These things make you want to just scream but at least, in "The Invention of Sound" by Chuck Palahniuk, they won't kill you.

“The Invention of Sound” author Chuck Palahniuk.

Gates Foster would never stop looking for his daughter. And he'd never stop looking for men who would hurt little girls like his Lucinda, the kind of men he saw in dark corners of the web. Foster's support group told him again and again to quit spinning, to hold a funeral for Lucinda, to give himself closure, but how could he do that? It would mean giving up hope that his daughter was merely missing, and not already dead.

And then he heard her scream.

Now making a living at Fan-Cons by selling her autograph to costumed nerds, Blush Gentry was, by most Hollywood standards, washed up. Once, she was a B-movie starlet, always in the role of a stereotypical beauty who denied any possibility of a slasher before being chased and dying in a predictably bloody scene. That was what she did. That was all she did. So how was she supposed to know who'd voiced the scream on one lousy film?

A Foley artist's job is to create the sound effects that bring a movie to life and, though few people had ever heard of her, Mitzi Ives was one of the best. In a big-money race to find the perfect scream, the scream that would change the film industry, a scream that would slay audiences, Mitzi was a specialist and her talents didn't come cheap. Neither did the wine or sedatives that brought out her best work.

“The Invention of Sound” by Chuck Palahniuk.

But those things left Mitzi with only vague memories of knives and the smell of bleach. She couldn't remember how the screams were made. She only knew they were, and she had thousands and thousands of tapes as evidence ...

Rip-roaringly lurid: should you expect anything less from a Chuck Palahniuk novel?

You shouldn't. But you should know that what's inside "The Invention of Sound" isn't just gore for gore's sake.

No, the excellent plot of this book is more subtle than that: the worst scenes, for instance, are alluded-to, rather than fully fleshed; imagined, not told – enough to let readers take the next step in their minds, to warily circle the concepts behind humanity's worst actions, to sit with the dank thoughts that hide along the edges of a dirt-floor basement, to befriend the squirmy idea that what happens in Palahniuk's stories is almost possible in real life.

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So, go ahead. Read this book and try to ignore the middle-of-the-night tap on your brain that "The Invention of Sound" will give you. It's just a reminder that few other handfuls of dead trees hold this much terror. Indeed, if you love weird, creepy things, this book'll make you holler.

“The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World”

  • Photographs by Hiram Garcia
  • c. 2020, St. Martin's Press
  • $35, $47.50 Canada; 247 pages

Your favorite Hollywood star seems 10 feet tall. After all, he's bigger than life. Everybody knows him; he's handsome and funny and, well, you're pretty sure that if you ever met him, you'd probably be tongue-tied. After all, the man's famous! So, would you be surprised, as in "The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World," photographs by Hiram Garcia, to learn that your favorite star is a regular guy after all?

“The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World,” photographs by Hiram Garcia.

Hiram Garcia was just a freshman in high school back in 1991 but he was tall, often towering over the dudes his sister dated. And then she invited him to the University of Miami to meet her "new boyfriend" and she introduced Garcia to someone who was bigger than he was. He met a man he calls "DJ," and a lifelong friendship was formed.

For nearly three decades, Dwayne Johnson, Garcia, and Garcia's sister have "come together in many creative ways," including through their production company, which is responsible for some of Johnson's biggest films and small-screen programs. But, as this book shows, Johnson isn't just the star of Jungle Cruise or The Titan Games. He's also a pro wrestler, a father, and a guy who truly appreciates his fans – and that includes kids, a group that Garcia says Johnson particularly enjoys.

Both staged and candid pictures in this book show all those aspects of Johnson's life, and more. Here, for example, you'll see Johnson's love of family, his wife and daughters, his ex-girlfriend, as well as in-laws and extended family.

There are many photos of "The Rock" in training, working out, and eating right. Readers will see what kind of work it takes to maintain a double-career and still have time for a personal life and "horsing around" with friends and colleagues. You'll see Johnson's fun side, and his fan side. And you'll see how Garcia came to understand that taking snapshots of his buddy, "DJ," could ultimately take a hobby to the next level...

Looking for something you can read quick? Here, it won't take you long to get through "The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World" because there really isn't much to read at all.

No, most of what photographer Hiram Garcia includes as narrative consists of captions to go along with the dozens of pictures of the man he calls "the ultimate entertainer..." Some of these captions are only a few words long, others have more explanation to them, but the truth is that readers likely won't dwell on this aspect of the book.

Instead, the real reason to want this well-done coffee-table book is for the photos inside. They invite readers to linger, showing Johnson at his most pensive, enjoying his fans, and at work. The pictures appear to have been carefully chosen, and they won't disappoint anyone ages 16 to adult. So, get "The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World," especially if you love the guy. Because this is a fan's book, after all ...

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.