The End of the Road by Brian Keene

Review by Patrick R McDonough

End of the Road is without a doubt not only one of the best releases from 2020, but one of the most influential and inspiring books I have ever read. An easy 5 Stars.

I do not use the following in hyperbole… End of the Road is my Writing Bible.

It’s the kind a book you need to have in a signed hardback proudly displayed on your shelf to show off to fellow book worms and students of the industry. Brian Keene is synonymous with the horror genre. Not just within the independent circuit, but all of it. He’s had his foot in all the doors. He’s been raised on a diet of those legends that came before him–as any good student does–and personally mentored, and indirectly inspired, a generation of writers, musicians, and all other kinds of creatives and readers alike.

ROAD is pact-full of lessons for writers at any level. It teaches you the ins and outs, the why’s and how comes. The reason for why certain chain book stores and the remaining large chains are surely going to be a thing we long forgot about, such as the compact disc or VHS player.

If you are an aspiring writer (it does not matter what genre you want to focus on, if any at all), I could not strongly urge you enough to read any other book over this one. Sure, King’s On Writing is great, and sure there’s a list of others, but for me, ROAD hit home the strongest. It almost felt like Keene had one of his hands on my shoulder saying, “Listen, kid. This is how I did it. This is who you should read…” and his other gripping a bottle of Knob Creek.

As a writer, reviewer, reader, and fellow podcaster (I’ll even throw in a nutty Irishman that is ruled by his impulses), I’m taking mental notes of what to avoid, what to focus on, and most of all, learning things about a man and prolific genius that I’ve grown to love over the course of the last couple of years.

For those who trust my reviews and use them as consideration for adding yet another book to the TBR pile, I assure you, this one is well-deserving of the very tippity top of that mountain range of beautiful paperbacks, hardbacks, and or digital copies.

Review by Brennan LaFaro

Brian Keene’s The End of the Road has a lot to offer within its pages. Opening it up, it strikes as Keene’s attempt to capture various snapshots of one last trip to bookstores and various venues to sign and promote upcoming releases, before he puts that behind him. You get that of course, the entries touch on a lot more.

If you listen carefully, you get a history of the horror genre. Not just through a big lens either. Keene details what made a mid-list author, ins and outs of publishing, offering his take on, historically, what works and what doesn’t, as well as how the landscape is changing and given the social climate, just how little we can do to stop it. Newer authors will find a lot in here to recount the beginnings of an author who has well over fifty books out in the world and has learned a thing or two along the way. I suppose some might consider it a spoiler, but the most frequently offered piece of advice is if you want to be a writer, sit down and write. Find the time. Keene finds interesting and colorful way to remind the reader of this tenet of success, but the message remains the same.

The narrative spends a lot of time detailing Keene’s struggles after the passings of writers Tom Piccirilli and J.F. Gonzalez. The opening chapters get very personal and the reader has know difficulty grasping the genuine love and respect Keene held for these men. His insights to how they changed his life and trajectory are, as always, honest and introspective.

The writing is razor-sharp. The whole time. Every entry. When Keene wants you to feel the hurt, your eyes will well up. When he wants to make you laugh, your sides will hurt. Before a later chapter mentions his respect for the writings of the late Hunter S. Thompson, it shines through crystal clear. Highly recommended for Keene fans new and old, as well as people looking for a guide to writing horror that wouldn’t know dry if landed in the middle of a desert.

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