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Off Season : The Unexpurgated Signed Limited Edition Hardcover – December 28, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eighteen years after its mass market release by Ballantine, Ketchum's debut horror novel gains hardcover publication. It's about time. Though this merciless tale of human evil in the Maine woods went out of print soon after publication, its bleak vision and extreme violence still influence horror today. Only a novel of expert articulation and emotional truth can cast such a long shadow, and Ketchum's is both. Horror critic Winter calls the book one of "remarkable elegance," and indeed it's drum tight. Equally impressively, Ketchum uses the devastation of a group of tourists by a band of cannibals not to pander, as so many horror writers after him have done, but to explore with intelligence (and ferocity) the nature of evil and of the human spirit that can resist it. The novel's structure isn't original, modeled largely on the film Night of the Living Dead, but its events unfold with shocking energy and directness. The imagery is cruelAbloody battles between the tourists and cannibals, torture and consumption by the cannibals of their victimsAas is the arbitrariness of who will live and who will die; but always Ketchum is in command. In an afterword, Ketchum details the rough history of the novel, explaining how he has reinserted cuts forced by Ballantine. This signed and limited edition not only revives a horror classic and offers some neat publishing lore, but also reminds us that, once upon a time, some of the most exciting genre writing came in paper covers. (Aug.) FYI: Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym of Dallas Mayr (Ladies' Night, etc.).
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

What Stephen King says About OFF SEASON: Whos the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum, the outlaw horror writer whose terrifying first novel is finally available uncut from Overlook Connection Press. That would be OFF SEASON: The Unexpurgated Edition. If you read it on Thanksgiving, you probably wont sleep until Christmas. Dont say your uncle Stevie didnt warn you (heh-heh-heh). ---- Stephen King

They had Hunted every animal but there was no flesh like mans . . . Welcome to Jack Ketchums ferocious and unforgettable first novel, Off Season. Originally published in 1981, Off Season was a defining moment of contemporary horror fiction, an instant classic whose impact on the writing and reading of horror continues today... ...when I read Off Season, I knew that its writer was different; that he was working from that raw and risky perspective known as personal vision, and that he had written a novel that was his own, and not what a publisher wanted or expected. Stocked in the shadows of bestsellers and a blur of Stephen King wannabes, Off Season was issued as a paperback original by Ballantine -- a publisher who has never shown much enthusiasm for the fiction of fear. The cover was a minimalist triumph, its title embossed in black on black, stained with a red thread of blood. The authors name -- a pseudonym -- was reported in white block capital letters, and the top of the cover announced:"THE ULTIMATE HORROR NOVEL." The hyperbole was deserved. Off Season was the genuine article, its horror insistent, visceral, and disturbing. --Douglas E. Winter, from the Introduction

Just when you think the worst has already happened... Jack Ketchum goes yet another shock further! ---- Fangoria --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Connection Pr; Limited edition (December 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892950103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892950109
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,572,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jack Ketchum "is on a par with Clive Barker (Hellraiser), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) and Thomas Harris (The Silence of The Lambs)," and that "the only novelist working today that is writing more important fiction is Cormack McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road). - Stephen King

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for novelist Dallas Mayr. He was born in Livingston, New Jersey in 1946. A onetime actor, teacher, and lumber salesman, Ketchum credits his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years. As a teenager, was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of "Psycho" who became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum's work just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft. This relationship with Bloch lasted until his death in 1994.

A pivotal point in Jack Ketchum's career came while he was working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. He met Henry Miller and assisted him as his agent until shortly before his death in 1980. His extraordinary encounter with Miller at his home in Pacific Palisades is one of the subjects of his memoir in "Book of Souls".

In 1980, Jack Ketchum published his first novel "Off Season". Stephen King said in his acceptance speech at the 2003 National Book Awards that "Off Season set off a furor in my supposed field, that of horror, that was unequaled until the advent of Clive Barker. It is not too much to say that these two gentlemen remade the face of American popular fiction." Ketchum has received continued praise by King throughout their friendship.

Ketchum's work is largely based upon true events. The Girl Next Door , for example, was inspired by the 1965 murder of the young Sylvia Likens. In the special edition of the novel, King, who volunteered to write the preface, wrote one of the longest introductions of his career. He later went on to say that the movie adaptation of the book was "the first authentically shocking American film I've seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint. This is the dark-side-of-the-moon version of Stand By Me."

He has received numerous Bram Stoker Awards for works such as "The Box", "Closing Time", and "Peaceable Kingdom". As his books gained in worldwide popularity, they also began to be adapted into feature films, the first of which was "Jack Ketchum's The Lost" which went on to be a cult success, followed by the highly controversial second film "The Girl Next Door". However, the main launch for Jack Ketchum into international commercial and critical success was the long-awaited release by Magnolia Pictures of the film Red, based on his novel, starring Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy) and Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan). After favorable reviews at The Sundance Film Festival, the movie made a critical showing in the United States and enjoyed relative success internationally with subsequent translations of the novel.

The author enjoyed more international succes with the publication and film version of "The Woman" co-written and directed by Lucky McKee in which the New York Times said "in this lean adaptation of a novel by Jack Ketchum and himself, maintains an artfully calibrated pace, investing a powerful parable with an abundance of closely observed details. Like David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski, Mr. McKee is a master at drawing suspense from pregnant silences."

Jack Ketchum continues his rise with the present showing of "The Woman" at the Sundance Film Festival 2011 co-written by Ketchum with director Lucky McKee. The novel is to be released this year.

Kethcum lives in New York City where he continues to write, articles, reviews, short stories, novels and screenplays. For more information go to international website: www.thejackketchum.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
First and foremost, it must be said that Off Season is not for the feint of heart; this is a visceral, brutal, unrestrained, exceedingly realistic novel that may sicken and disgust those unprepared for such extreme horror. The cover of my copy proclaims this "The Ultimate Horror Novel." I would not go that far in my assessment, but the suggestion doesn't fall very far from the mark. Ketchum held nothing back and pulled no punches in this, his first published novel. The story is rather simple but is far from simplistic. A group of six adults (three male, three female) retreat to a remote cabin in the woods of Maine for a week of relaxation. Unbeknownst to them, a family-group of utterly primitive, sadistic quasi-humans watch, wait, and eventually attack. Among this group are a number of wild children, and it is the children that have the most significant impact on the characters as well as the reader. The battle rages for some time, and many very bad things happen as the innocent victims do everything they can think of in order to survive. I found the conclusion to be spectacular; rest assured it is not the formulaic ending we see so often in novels of this sort.
I won't attempt to describe the horrible things the depraved attackers do--imagine the worst things you can think of, then imagine how much worse the unthinkable is, then imagine children taking part in it. This really is one of the goriest, most extreme horror novels I have read, but it rises far above any charges of shock value or gore for gore's sake.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Thomas on April 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having never read Ketchumn before this, i expected the same lame "horror" type novel that King and Koontz pump out, the kind that are more often dry and boring than terrifying. But, I have never in all my life of reading (and I'm a magazine editor) experienced anything so feral and psychologically horrifying as Off Season. It was soo unrelentlessy grotesque in its depiction of human dismemberment and cannabalism I couldn't help but become the person staring at the dead bodies beside the car crash. I simply could not look away. There were a few passages that nearly made me nauseous...and that is unheard of in fiction. I can't remember ever caring about the main characters in another novel as much as i cared about Dan and Nick and Marjie. Off Season is written so well, and paced with such ferocity, i felt right there beside the characters. Every scrape they got, every bite from a rabid child they received, i received too. And every battle they won, I won too. When was the last time you actually cheered audibly for a hero in a book? What will set this novel apart form any other horror novel out there is the sheer honest approach it espouses in its evil. This book is not for the feint of heart. But, absolutley, for those who want to test their will in hell.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carla has been given a cherry editing assignment, one month to finish editing a book on fifties rock `n' roll, which she knew she could easily finish in one week. She rents a cabin outside the tiny town of Dead River up the Maine coastline. Carla invited company up for the first week of her stay; her younger sister Marjie and her boyfriend Dan, Carla's own current boyfriend Jim, and her ex-boyfriend Nick who brings along his current girl Laura. All five ride up to meet Carla together.
Marjie loves reading the scandalous Evening Post, and eagerly reads the book on Dead River that Carla sent her, eating up the tales of Catbird island and the mysterious deaths and disappearances that surrounded the lighthouse and island there.
What none of the six vacationers know about is the family of wild people who live in the caves along the rocky shores. They are not zombies, they are real; but they are not civilized. As dead in the brain as a zombie would be, this hellish clan lives off the land and survives on whatever food happens their way. And their favorite food is people.
This wild clan of human monsters will discover the vacationers, and a fight for their lives ensues. Who will be the next target? Will the local sheriffs catch on in time?
Off Season is a gore streaked feast for those inclined to gruesome horror. Practically banned back in 1981 for its disgusting content and mainly for its use of children as villains instead of victims. A not to be missed early piece by the master, Jack Ketchum, pick up a copy of this if you can find it. Enjoy!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By JLC VINE VOICE on January 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel was my introduction to Jack Ketchum's fiction, a novel that burned itself directly into my brainpan, and which sent me running to the bookstore for more the moment I finished the last page. Here's how it starts: They watched her cross the meadow and step over the low stone wall, into the woods beyond. She looked awkward. She would be easy to catch. Uh, oh. Here it comes. Out in the woods beyond a quiet little beach community in Maine lurks a horrific family of predators with a taste for warm, living flesh. They stalk their prey with the savage cunning of wild beasts, but their intended victims are their own kind: humans. When three urbane couples from the city decide to vacation at a quaint cabin in the sleepy town of Dead River during the off season, they learn just how primitive that others of their species can be, and how quickly they, too, can descend into savagery when fighting for their lives. This is no-holds-barred, in-your-face horror of the highest order that plunges the reader into the center of a waking nightmare that could, indeed, happen. It is gut-twisting fiction superbly wrought by an author who never pulls his punches. Here's an idea: Stuff a copy of OFF SEASON into a backpack and go for a long hike in the woods, like I did the first time I read it. When you've reached your turnaround point way out in the woods and are very tired, settle down under a big tree and start reading. I can pretty much guarantee you'll make the return hike back to your car in record time... Like I did. OFF SEASON is a powerful and terrifying novel from a celebrated master of the genre, the real deal, horror fans. And here's a bonus--this is the author's new uncut, uncensored edition! Don't say I didn't warn you.
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