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Off Season September A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River off season awaiting her sister and friends Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fallAnd before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people and one tired old country sheriff will learn just how primitive we all are beneath the surfaceand that there are no limits at all to the will to survive

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 308 pages
  • Off Season
  • Jack Ketchum
  • English
  • 06 December 2017
  • 0843956968

About the Author: Jack Ketchum

Dallas William Mayr , better known by his pen name Jack Ketchum, was an American horror fiction author He was the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations His novels included Off Season, Offspring, and Red, which were adapted to film In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.A onetime actor, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk, Ketchum credited his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years He began making up stories at a young age and explained that he spent much time in his room, or in the woods near his house, down by the brook m y interests were books, comics, movies, rock n roll, show tunes, TV, dinosaurs pretty much any activity that didn t demand too much socializing, or where I could easily walk away from socializing He would make up stories using his plastic soldiers, knights, and dinosaurs as the characters Later, in his teen years, Ketchum was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of Psycho , who became his mentor Ketchum worked many different jobs before completing his first novel 1980 s controversial Off Season , including acting as agent for novelist Henry Miller at Scott Meredith Literary Agency His decision to eventually concentrate on novel writing was partly fueled by a preference for work that offered stability and longevity Ketchum died of cancer on January 24, 2018, in New York City at the age of 71.



10 thoughts on “Off Season

  1. says:

    sighs this seems like the time to quit reading cannibal stories and just rewatch tcm instead, until i die.

  2. says:

    CANNIBALISM A MORE BALANCED PERSPECTIVE While I really liked this book, I feel compelled to make a few introductory remarks before I discuss the specific merits of the story I will give Mr Ketchum the benefit of the doubt and say that I do not believe it was his intention in writing this book to come across as a snobby, elitist, anti cannibal bigot However, the fact remains that this novel is yet another example of popular media perpetrating the negative stereotype of cannibalism I fee CANNIBALISM A MORE BALANCED PERSPECTIVE While I really liked this book, I feel compelled to make a few introductory remarks before I discuss the specific merits of the story I will give Mr Ketchum the benefit of the doubt and say that I do not believe it was his intention in writing this book to come across as a snobby, elitist, anti cannibal bigot However, the fact remains that this novel is yet another example of popular media perpetrating the negative stereotype of cannibalism I feel it s long past time to give abalanced view of the subject in the hopes of fostering greater understanding of this alternative lifestyle As far as the specific plot elements of Ketchum s story, I thought they were fine I find cannibalism, graphic torture and human dismemberment just as funny and amusing as the next guy and thought that the author did a nice job of providing an authentic and detailed representation of the practices discussed While I do not currently practice cannibalism, I did experiment with the lifestyle for a time in college During this time I learned a lot about the Same Species Sustenance Community and met a lot of wonderful people, several of whom I still count among my close friendsas long as I am armedThus, defending the rights and the dignity of the cannibal community is something about which I have strong feelings I believe that cannibalism, practiced in moderation, has the potential to be a very positive influence For example, it s an excellent way to bring families closer as it provides a wonderful mechanism for siblings to spend quality time together This can help to further strengthen bonds among family members and promote the forming ofintimate attachments with one another This last quality is very important for families living alone in remote rural areas In fact, statistics confirm that families that practice cannibalism, even if only once a week, are 7 to 10 timeslikely to remain together across multiple generations In addition to strengthening family bonds, cannibalism is also a very effective way to stay in shape, especially if one makes a conscious effort to do their own stalking, trapping and dismembering The fact is that obesity among cannibals is less than 1 10th of what it is in the general population Plus, for those unable to participate in family hunting trips, there are excellent home workout vidoes for that can produce very positive results Finally, I believe it s critical to recognize that cannibalism is an excellent way to make a positive contribution to the environment In addition to using very few fossil fuels or other products damaging to the environment, consumers of humans also help prevent ecological damage that can arise in areas with excess population growth They are one of the most ecologically conscious consumer groups and have long been associated with the Green movement Plus, once processed through the digestive system, humans make a phenomenal natural fertilizer which provides further benefit to Mother Earth I hope the above makes clear that despite the ill informed, slanted view of cannibals at times portrayed in this book, this community has many positive qualities and deserves to be treated fairly and with respect I just wish the author would have made the brave choice and not pandered to thepowerful anti cannibal segment of the population PLOT SUMMARY AND DISCUSSIONDespite my above gripes, let me say again that I really liked this book While there are some graphic scenes and some very disturbing imagery, the book kept my interest from the very first page and I basically read it straight through in a single sitting Well written, well paced, high levels of tension and some very memorable scenes disturbing, yes but memorable The story concerns a close knit family of cannibals living a very green existence in a remote area of Maine The book starts off great with a group of the younger family members out at night and cleverly fooling a passing female motorist to stop for them This is a very exciting and suspenseful scene as it quickly becomes evident that the children are hungry but you have no idea whether they are going to be able to catch the woman who, thinking only of herself, flees into the forest Well, I won t give away what happens but I was instantly pulled into the narrative and the plight of this large extended family living a subsistence existence constantly on the border of starvation After a great beginning, the central plot gets rolling when the bad guys, 3 couples from Manhattan, arrive to stay at a remote cabin near where the family lives The family, consisting of several dozen members ranging from an elderly matriarch to children under 5, decides that the 3 couples will provide several weeks worth on meals and go about planning to acquire them That sums up the basic outline of the plot and it is really in its execution that the novel shows its chops I really liked the way the family members worked together while hunting and how they reacted to the many devious and unexpected actions of the scheming Manhattanites I don t want to give away spoilers here but I do think it is important to advise readers that several of the cannibal family members don t survive the story sniff so readers should be prepared There are some very graphic and detailed descriptions of slaughter and the tension level is often extremely high As alluded to above, I did have several issues with the book First, I thought the portrayal of the life of the cannibal family was rather negative and seemed to me to be evidence of the author s bias against that lifestyle The family is described as being fairly harsh and brutal towards one another with very little warmth among siblings That is certainly not consistent with the portaryal depicted in the most reputable cannibal periodicals that I have seen I can see members of a same species sustenance families taking offense at this portrayal I also did not really like the two prominent male family members no names are given but I would describe one as Mr Red shirt and the other as Mr Large and Bald Don t get me wrong, they were very effective and were certainly contributing members of the family I just found them personally to be very cold, unapproachable and even a little callous This made it hard for me to identify with them and so I had adifficult time caring about the hardships they encountered at the hands of the evil tourists I also had a problem with the significant time spent introducing the readers to the 3 couples after their arrival at the cabin You see, the story takes place around winter time and it was very troubling to read page after page of these 6 self involved assholes being all warm and cozy inside the cabin eating, drinking and fornicating while just outside the windows members of the family watched, cold and very, very hungry It just seemed a little much but I guess that is why they call it horror Finally, I was somewhat taken aback by the ending which I found to be just over the top in its gratuitous violence I won t say anybeyond that I can not believe the author would have members of the police force acting with such brutality against local residents Shocking and a bit of a sad commentary on the nature of our society Notwithstanding the above, I did find the book overall to be excellent It is high octane, dark, brutal, extremely graphic and very effective for what it is This was my first Jack Ketchum novel and I plan on readingbooks by his very soon I just hope he is a littleeven handed in his portrayals of cannibals in the future 4.0 stars Highly Recommended with reservations

  3. says:

    Well, not the worst I ve read Guessed the plot within the first 40 pages, which I m never able to do I need to make better choices

  4. says:

    An editor goes to a remote cabin in Maine to get away from things and work on editing her latest assignment When her boyfriend and a group of friends arrive, they think they re going to have a relaxing week Instead, they get a night of hell As part of my continuing education in horror, I decided to give Jack Ketchum a chance Off Season was one of the works suggested to me by the crew.Off Season is a tale of feral cannibals setting upon a cabin full of city folk in the Maine woods That s pret An editor goes to a remote cabin in Maine to get away from things and work on editing her latest assignment When her boyfriend and a group of friends arrive, they think they re going to have a relaxing week Instead, they get a night of hell As part of my continuing education in horror, I decided to give Jack Ketchum a chance Off Season was one of the works suggested to me by the crew.Off Season is a tale of feral cannibals setting upon a cabin full of city folk in the Maine woods That s pretty much the entire plot It s a combination of survival horror and gore horror, particular emphasis on the gore.This is one brutal book, as is expected when cannibal feral hillbillies are on the prowl Shocking, bloody as hell, and not for the squeamish Seriously If you re inclined to squeam at all, you ll be squeaming all over the place People getting gutted and eaten, raped, chewed up, you name it Have I yet conveyed how much revolting stuff happens At the end, I wouldn t say I liked it but it was powerful and engaging Ketchum doesn t just cross the line, he covers it with blood and intestines and drags it for a couple miles through the woods Three out of five stars I m willing to read another Ketchum book but it ll be a while

  5. says:

    Ten ways to review Off Season, a book about cannibals 1 Let s go to the movies with Jack KetchumSome Like them HotStir the Right One InThe Incr EdiblesBringing Up BabyBrainspottingThe Best Ears of Our LivesRashermumThe Green BileNo Recipe for Old Men this could go on 2 Off Season, the MusicalHe Will Tear us Apart sung by Laura Everybody Spurts sung by the chief cannibal Stir it Up sung by his female companion Oops I Did it Again sung by the chief cannibal All I have to Eat is Spleen an Ten ways to review Off Season, a book about cannibals 1 Let s go to the movies with Jack KetchumSome Like them HotStir the Right One InThe Incr EdiblesBringing Up BabyBrainspottingThe Best Ears of Our LivesRashermumThe Green BileNo Recipe for Old Men this could go on 2 Off Season, the MusicalHe Will Tear us Apart sung by Laura Everybody Spurts sung by the chief cannibal Stir it Up sung by his female companion Oops I Did it Again sung by the chief cannibal All I have to Eat is Spleen an old Everly Brothers song, sung by the grumpy cannibal teenager This Arm Ain t Big Enough for the Both of Us sung by the grumpy cannibal children etc etc 3 The Really Rough Guide to Maine Off Season is The Rough Guide to Maine as written by Jeffrey Dahmer It s a wild and gruesome envelope pushing ride, indeed, the envelope is pushed so far you can no longer see it, it s just a dim memory, er, was that thing an envelope I can t remember, maybe there was an envelope once, but not anyetc etc 4 At the tutorialI see by the amount of green in your faces that only some of you have made the time to read Off Season This is of course the unexpurgated edition of a novel which has been heralded as er er er..a founding text of splatterpunk So how, we may ask, hmm, does it stand up, post Saw, post Hostel, and post, indeed indeed, hmm hmm, yes, splatterpunk itself etc etc 5 i don t know anyThink of Off Season as something Dr Hannibal Lecter would have woke up screaming from Mainely because of the pedestrian writing, the dubious psychology, the atrocities by rote, and the desperate lack of any decent chianti.6 Ah those fanboysStrictly for gorehounds and unless they re as degenerate as the kutthroat krew of krazed kannibals with which we which who how, then their cup will be running over with human brains, ha ha ha Etc etc sorry about that I think I was drunk when I wrote that i don t know what it means 7 on and on and on Off Season is the 1980s version of the Sawney Bean legend or to put it another way a rewrite of The Hills Have Eyes 1977 You know the score, every other horror movie has the same plot But this is not the right stick to beat them with If you take blues or doo wop music, the same rigid structures are in place for every blues or doo wop song A tiny variation here, a nuance there This is genre, and the appreciation of genre lies in your relish of the variations and the nuances of the same thing endlessly cycling round Etc etc 8 nearly over nowOff Season presents us with the very unlikely idea of a tribe of degenerate cannibals living undetected in the USA of the 1980s Okay, they re descended from people who d been trapped on an island, but anthropologically speaking this novel is all over the place, it has no theoretical underpinnings, Ketchum is clearly making it up as he goes along He clearly knows nothing about clan structure and language patterns The tribe is still in the hunter gatherer stage and yet they have a fully formed English grammar What Margaret Mead or Levi Strauss would have made of Ketchum s cannibals one shudders to think Etc etc 9 the personal note I wonder why I read the occasional horror book watch the occasional horror movie what is it about these sadistic fantasies that draws me in why only the other day I laid aside my copy of Edna O Brien s delicate coming of age novel about two 14 years olds in rural Ireland in the 1950s to watch Shuttle, the critically reviled horror flick from 2008 mumble mumble etc etc 10 How very ironic Of course you could review this penny dreadful horror novel in a lightly humorous ten different ways to review the unreviewable way and then in the last section you could satirise your own desire to write wacky reviews, which would be the perfect way to end, don t you think Chief cannibal Not if I ve got anything to do with it, mate Speaking bizarrely in perfect English even though in every other way he epitomises human degeneracy and extreme lack of manners.Sound effect Crunch Munch P Bryant Aaarh arrgh How can I write reviews without any fingers Chief cannibal speaking with his mouth full, as usual You could dictate

  6. says:

    Originally published in ITW s THRILLERS 100 Must ReadsJack Ketchum, a pseudonym for Dallas Mayr 1946 , owns some of the blackest real estate in the world of thriller fiction A former literary agent and actor, Ketchum published his first novel, Off Season, to the dismay of the mainstream literary establishment and the delight of what would grow into a cult following Over the last quarter of a century, he has published numerous novels, novellas, and works of short fiction However, only in Originally published in ITW s THRILLERS 100 Must ReadsJack Ketchum, a pseudonym for Dallas Mayr 1946 , owns some of the blackest real estate in the world of thriller fiction A former literary agent and actor, Ketchum published his first novel, Off Season, to the dismay of the mainstream literary establishment and the delight of what would grow into a cult following Over the last quarter of a century, he has published numerous novels, novellas, and works of short fiction However, only in the last five years has he gained notoriety, largely due to the praises of Stephen King In 2003, while accepting the National Book Foundation s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, King said, There s another writer here tonight who writes under the name of Jack Ketchum and he has also written what may be the best book of his career, a long novella called The Crossings Have you read it Have any of the judges read it In his approach to thrillers, as typified by The Lost, Red, She Wakes, and The Girl Next Door, Ketchum defines fearless and unflinching Off Season isn t Jack Ketchum s best book or even his most disturbing It is, however, his first and his most important, since as Alfred Hitchcock s masterpiece, Psycho 1960 , altered the landscape of horror films, Off Season remapped the boundaries of where writers could go in the name of suspense But as often happens when something different arrives, the critics didn t understand The Village Voice condemned Off Season as violent pornography, and even Ketchum s publisher and distributors were stricken with a late case of buyer s remorse, finally losing their nerve about giving the book the full marketing and publicity push they had originally intended Then there were the edits Ketchum was strong armed into making the toning down of the most brutal scenes no recipe for man meat jerky or cock stump spitting , and a deal breaking ultimatum from his publisher to let a character live whom he had every intention of killing so that the 1981 publication, while still chockfull of groundbreaking unpleasantness, did not embody Ketchum s initial vision, which was to write, in his words, something with the kind of teeth pretty much unseen before in mass market fiction Following its initial 1981 publication, the book promptly went out of print until Leisure Press finally released Ketchum s uncut, uncensored version of the novel a quarter of a century later in 2006.Enviably accomplished for a debut novel, Off Season draws its inspiration from the legend of Sawney Bean, the Scottish leader of a 15th or 16th Century clan which engaged in mass murder and cannibalism until their capture, torture, and execution Off Season s narrative structure, while by no means revolutionary, is deceptively simple and ingenious Six friends meet at a remote cabin in the Maine woods, not far from the coast Nick, Marjie, Dan, Laura, Carla, and Jim One of the most intelligent choices Ketchum makes is not to rush anything The first 130 pages are essentially violence free and dedicated to the introduction of the six main characters, along with foreshadowing of the horrible events to come The sense of increasing dread is palpable, and by the time the family of cannibals gets around to attacking the vacationers at the cabin, the suspense has been ratcheted to an unbearable degree If the first 130 pages is foreplay, the last 140 is the roughest, nastiest, most brutal thriller you will ever read Unflinching is thrown around liberally these days in blurbs, to the point where the word has lost its impact But Ketchum truly is unflinching in a way that few other writers have dared to be, and this is what sets him and his debut novel apart The author s chief talent lies in creating scenes of overwhelming violence in such a lean, straightforward, and disinterested style, that it is simultaneously torture to read but impossible to look away Witness Ketchum s portrayal of the second character s death In a slow, deliberate motion he reached into the chest and touched the heart It was still warm, still beating He severed the veins and arteries with the knife and lifted the muscle into the light, and still it beat, steaming in the cool air For the man this moment was the nexus of all mystery and wonder, the closest thing he knew to worship He stared until finally the heart was still At the center of the carnage and mayhem stands the character of George Peters, the decent lawman, appalled and disgusted by what he sees, an early incarnation of Sheriff Bell from Cormac McCarthy s No Country for Old Men, and Police Chief Marge Gunderson of Fargo fame Sheriff Peters is order, or the attempt to restore order in the face of pure depravity, and like the reader, if he escapes harm, it is only a physical escape His and our psyches will never recover Though Off Season was published at a time when such independent slasher films as Halloween 1978 and Friday the 13th 1980 were challenging the shock value of Psycho, there is little to compare Those films are comical, cheap, even childish in their treatment of violence, in a way that is completely diametric to the very adult study of violence that is the foundation of Off Season If anything, the novel was a nod to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 , The Hills Have Eyes 1977 , and a precursor to Bret Easton Ellis s controversial novel, American Psycho 1991 , Park Chan wook s Oldboy 2003 , and the best work of Takashi Miike, the prolific Japanese director of such ultra violent films as Audition 1999 and Ichi the Killer 2001 What makes Off Season so effective and important is Ketchum s masterful manipulation of the reader Just as in Psycho, Off Season s erstwhile hero, Carla, is killed first and most horribly This is Ketchum grabbing the bullhorn and screaming at the reader No one is safe or off limits in this book Not even you And while Off Season muses on such big ideas as the rational v the natural, the family unit, and urban v rural, its most enduring message concerns the abrupt ugliness of human violence, and how people face such extreme situations and horrors that come out of nowhere The violence that occurs in this book touches us so profoundly because it is perfectly reminiscent of the awful and sudden turns that life can take It is ultimately the unpredictable, uncompromising way Ketchum rains his terrors down upon his characters and the reader that earns Off Season a place in the canon of classic thriller fiction Off Season may upset you It may even make you sick But it won t make you feel cheap Whether you have the nerve to survive Ketchum s tale and hear what he has to say about violence and the human condition is another matter Just don t say I didn t warn you

  7. says:

    Oh my god what a disturbing book There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horribly fucked up with a lot of gore And it did This is not the kind of books I usually read and I honestly don t know if I want to readof its kind Not that the book was bad, it was good, just a bit too disgusting for my taste I must admit I prefer paranormal horror that makes you wonder if you should check under the bed and the closet before you sleep no Oh my god what a disturbing book There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horribly fucked up with a lot of gore And it did This is not the kind of books I usually read and I honestly don t know if I want to readof its kind Not that the book was bad, it was good, just a bit too disgusting for my taste I must admit I prefer paranormal horror that makes you wonder if you should check under the bed and the closet before you sleep not the kind that makes you feel sick

  8. says:

    This may be one of the most disturbing novels I have ever read Enough said Although, I cannot agree with the previous establishment of rating this novel as violent pornography In my estimation, ifhorror writers took half the amount of chances in thier work as Ketchum does in his, this genre might berespected HIGHLY RECOMMENDED This recommendation must be clarified I do not condone cannibalism in any form.

  9. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here One does not read Jack Ketchum to be entertained So why would someone pick up a Ketchum book I haven t a fucking clue Like the late, great Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum is a diabolical motherfucker He knows how to make skin crawl and stomachs turn Each one of his books is the literary equivalent of a snuff film They re real They re in your face They re sick and completely immoral And I can t stop reading them I don t know what that says about me and other Ketchum fans, but it s the trut One does not read Jack Ketchum to be entertained So why would someone pick up a Ketchum book I haven t a fucking clue Like the late, great Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum is a diabolical motherfucker He knows how to make skin crawl and stomachs turn Each one of his books is the literary equivalent of a snuff film They re real They re in your face They re sick and completely immoral And I can t stop reading them I don t know what that says about me and other Ketchum fans, but it s the truth While not as emotionally unsettling as either THE LOST or THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, OFF SEASON is still par for the course when it comes to Kill em All Ketchum A woman is roasted alive, a little boy is beheaded, a man s penis is bitten off as if the lady is simply snapping into a Slim Jim, and the hero is gunned down by the people tasked with saving the day This book doesn t piss in your corn flakes, it shits in your hair and rubs it in like conditioner If you re having a bad day week year you might want to stay far away from Jack This is the second time I ve read OFF SEASON, and the novel has lost none of its punch There are twobooks in his Maine cannibals series that s my name for the trilogy, not his I ve read OFFSPRING and THE WOMAN before as well, but never back to back Because I m a glutton for punishment, I m going to attempt marathoning these three novels I want to see how I feel by the end of the third book, whether or not the carnage maintains its impact or becomes cartoon ish and over the top when consumed all at once Like I said above, I don t read his books to be entertained They relessons on the visceral than anything else He is a horror author s horror author, meaning, if you pay the bills with scary stories, you could learn a great deal from him If you re not an author, I suppose you d read his books to cement in your mind that your life could be much, much worse In summation, I feel a little bad that I enjoy Ketchum s novels as much as I do, but they re also terrific learning tools If you want to learn how to make a reader uncomfortable, or enjoy feeling uncomfortable, you can t go wrong with Jack Ketchum

  10. says:

    For me, this is the horror book to end all horror books It is the apex of terror tales No book has come close to topping Off Season, and I doubt that any ever will.In a rural area off the coast of Maine live a tribe of cannibals Over the decades travellers and townspeople have disappeared here, but these have been chalked up to the nature of an increasingly mobile, exploding population People disappear every minute all over the world, don t they The tension begins immediately and never lets For me, this is the horror book to end all horror books It is the apex of terror tales No book has come close to topping Off Season, and I doubt that any ever will.In a rural area off the coast of Maine live a tribe of cannibals Over the decades travellers and townspeople have disappeared here, but these have been chalked up to the nature of an increasingly mobile, exploding population People disappear every minute all over the world, don t they The tension begins immediately and never lets up Six adults two of them sisters are vacationing in a cabin As they eat, sleep, and relax in nature, they are silently being stalked by the cannibal clan, who soon set off an unrelenting assault on the cabin Before you can say pass the A1, several have been killed, one has been roasted on a pit, and two of the women have been taken back to the cave And it s in this cave where we see just how these men, women, and children flourished all these years You ll be tempted to flip to the last page to see how this book could possibly end If you managed to make it all the way through, you might want to catch up with the inbreds in Offspring.This is the book that made Jack Ketchum a legend of the horror genre It must have been a badge of honor to Ketchum for The Village Voice, of all publications, to criticize this book for its violent pornography

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