Monday, April 25, 2011

Abolisher Of Roses by Gary Fry

In January 2011, Spectral Press dropped a great little chapbook on us called 'What They Hear In The Dark' by Gary McMahon. With that publication, Spectral Press peaked my interest, and satisfied my need for a emotional and evocative story.

This time around, Spectral is offering up an intense, emotional, and psychologically-challenging read with Abolisher Of Roses by Gary Fry, cementing themselves as a press to watch, and delivering yet another incredible piece of short fiction.

It's not always the guilty who have the darkest secrets...

Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He's a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory, and the father of two fine lads.

He also has a secret mistress.

One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood.

But his are not the only secrets in this marriage, and as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realizes that Patricia has more than a few secrets of her own...

A powerful piece is always a great treat, and this story is just that. Psychologically gripping, Abolisher Of Roses makes the reader take a look at infidelity and relationships from a different angle. The relationship presented in this chapbook, between a husband and wife, is a perfect example of the idea that sometimes our past indiscretions can catch up to us and make us pay in the strangest of ways.

What the author does here is phenomenal. The story starts off at a walking pace, coaxing the reader into thinking that they're looking at a sleepy little tale, only to amp up the pressure like a slow cooker, and eventually throttling the reader into a forceful introspection of their own deeds. Fry decidedly plays with the imagination in a wonderful way, offering very subtle instances of creepiness that will haunt the reader long after the story is finished.

The characters are well played out, the setting and surrounding ambiance are delightfully transgressive, and the overall feeling is a mixture of a semi-sedated, creeping terror and an outright finger-in-the-face kind of accusation that makes this read feel like a roller coaster ride to certain doom.

Fans of UK horror will definitely love this story, and those who are unfamiliar with them will be in for a treat. This is definitely something to grab and throw yourself into.

Get a (very limited) copy of Abolisher Of Roses here, and check out Spectral Press' website here. You can also check out Gary Fry's website here. You can purchase a yearly subscription to Spectral's chapbooks (1 year, 4 volumes) at their website.

On another note, here is a video trailer for the story:


PBH.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse


Multiplex Fandango. Say it. Multi-plex Fan-dan-go.


It's beautiful, isn't it? Just rolls off the tongue.

It’s almost as beautiful and satisfying as the book you may now be holding in your hands, or reading a review about. What we’re seeing here is quite possibly the most comfortable, relaxed, and expert takeover that the horror genre has ever seen.


With Multiplex Fandango, Weston Ochse has created an incredible collection, and has given the reader one of the smoothest, most satisfying reads they could ever come across. To drive the point home, Joe Landsdale says in the intro that "This is a book that could almost have been written for me.", but I disagree - this book was written for anyone looking for imaginative, intelligent, and throughly awe-inspiring, but strangely uplifting scares that force the reader to think more than react.


From multiplexfandango.wordpress.com:


Multiplex Fandango is subtitled "A Weston Ochse Reader" for good reason. This collection contains a comprehensive representation of short fiction and novellas by the Bram Stoker award winner and Pushcart Prize nominee... (read more)


Not much of a synopsis I know, but then, there really is no way to synopsize this brilliant work. That said...here we go.


There are 16 short stories and novellas presented herein, 6 of which were written for this volume, with each and every one just as, if not more, impressive as the last. Ochse's words read like the poetry of a madman - urgent and direct, at the same time as being beautifully timed and designed to evoke emotions from deep inside. The reader can't help but be absolutely enthralled by this wordsmith's grand visions and engaging dialogue. This is a book that is virtually impossible to put down.


Pieces like Tarzan Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Fugue on the Sea of Cortez, The Sad Last Love of Cary Grant, and Catfish Gods speak of the choices we make that define who we are in the end, and directions we take in life that lead us to those instances. Ochse really blasts the reader with a keen blend of realism, tainted with a strange and unrelenting sense of unease that shows exactly how much of our lives is spent choosing between what is right, and what just comes naturally - regardless of whether or not it hurts or hinders someone else. The characters in these pieces are all people that the reader can instantly identify with, as Ochse finds the essence of what it is to be human, and gently exploits it for the purpose of proving a point. The point being, in most cases, is that we are all responsible for what we create in our own world, regardless of the outside influences and how strange they might be.


Where the writer succeeds most is in stories like High Desert Come to Jesus, The Secret Lives of Heroes, and A Day in the Life of a Dust Bunny - which, when read are actually quite comedic, but are presented in a deathly serious tone. High Desert reads like the serial killer stories that have permeated the genre as of late, but with a brilliant and sinister twist that sets it completely apart at the same time. The idea of a person that actually creates the things in people that most find eternally disturbing, is brilliant. The brief length of the story is incredible in that Ochse packs so much into it, leaving the reader begging for more and more. I, for one, really hope that Ochse expands upon this character in a full length work. This story is highly recommended.


Ochse also proves himself quite capable of writing some brutal and disgusting scenes that deliver a violent slap in the face to the reader. I’m generally very hard to gross out, having read a lot of work that has really made me question how an author managed to get some scenes published and sold to the public, but there were moments in some of these stories that just attack without warning. Now, the beautiful part of this is that Ochse almost downplays these moments in order to affect the reader more. Though they’re few and far between, gore-hounds can rest assured that they are there. If you’re a reader that yearns for prose that pushes boundaries and kicks you when you’re down - you’ll find that mixed in here, along with a complete world that you might have been missing.


While all of these stories are brilliant in their own way, there are some that stand out as the leaders of the pack. Big Rock Candy Mountain is a sobering, semi-political tale encompassed in a hallucinogenic yarn that entertains from start to finish; Hiroshima Falling starts off brooding and dark, almost overwhelming the reader before launching into a bizarro-styled story that picks up the pace, amps up the strange, and ultimately cements the author as a force to be reckoned with; The Crossing of Aldo Ray is, bar none, one of the best zombie stories I have ever read, taking a different path than most and treating the reader to a much needed change of pace in zombie literature; City of Joy is, as the author mentions in his notes after the story, a science fiction tale at heart, but holds enough power in itself that it becomes something of an emotional horror story that speaks to the innocence in all of us; 22 Stains in the Jesus Pool introduces the reader to Ochse’s expert knowledge of the inner workings of religious theory and cult thinking, but also invites the reader to meet one character that is so incredibly complex and, as it turns out, an unintentional villain in disguise.


The absolute shining achievement has to go to the last story - Redemption Roadshow. I've read this story before as a chapbook that was released by Burning Effigy Press, and am still blown away by it every time. This is not only a story that is completely re-readable, but is also haunting, terrifying, introspective, and downright impressive. This is easily one of my favorite reads of all time, and will continue to be etched into my mind for years to come. Ochse is writing on a Peter Straub level with this one. Absolutely brilliant.

Multiplex Fandango is an absolute must-have for anyone who calls themselves a collector of horror literature. No one should be without this book. No one. I am highly recommending this book to everyone.


You can check out Ochse's website here, check out the website for the book here, and follow the author on Twitter.


Multiplex Fandango will be available for pre-order from Dark Regions Press in May '11.


PBH.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Collectors by Matt Bell

Matt Bell's The Collectors might really be the most disturbing but beautiful example of cross-genre literature I have ever read in the form of a chapbook. Short but epic, disturbing yet beautiful, and absolutely haunting to the core - this is truly the stuff of nightmares, and most assuredly, a diamond in the rough.


The tale of compulsive hoarders Homer and Langley Collyer so shocked 1940s Manhattan that the brothers and their Harlem brownstone live on today as one of the most notable American case studies of acute disposophobia. With nervous energy and obsession to match his protagonists, Matt Bell's prose burrows, forensically, into the layers of the brothers' lives, employing a mutilinear narrative structure and a frenetic plurality of perspectives to reach a core of despair that is both terrifyingly primal and distressingly familiar.

First off, I have to thank the incredible Judy Black for pointing me in the direction of this little story. It's an incredible piece, and more incredible is the fact that you can catch it for free. In all honesty, this is an absolute crime, as I would pay good money for a story this impressive and satisfying.

Bell's prose is immaculately crafted, leaving the reader completely in awe and unable to tear him/herself away from the story. The words slide off the page beautifully, but leave a film on the brain that just reeks of desperation and sorrow. It's virtually impossible not to feel something deep down inside while reading this. This, in my opinion, is a work of art. A masterpiece.

The two main characters in this story - brothers Homer and Langley Collyer - were compulsive hoarders who lived in Manhattan - until 1947 - when their bodies were found in the Harlem brownstone where they lived as hermits. This part of the story is true. With Bell's help, we are given a unique, and harrowing fictional account of their last days in that brownstone, and the reaction of the community upon their demise. The truth of the story is just as terrifying as Bell's interpretation, but it is this author's ability to string words together so perfectly that really steals the show. Bell adds layer upon layer to a story that is already twisted and disturbing, thus giving it more of a dark fairy tale feeling than normal historical-fiction.

The overall result here is astounding. Bell has really created an incredibly unsettling, vibrant, disturbing, and beautifully haunting piece of fiction.

Grab yourself a free copy at Matt Bell's website here, or a direct download here. Also check out his collection - How They Were Found, available at Amazon, B&N, Amazon Kindle, and other online retailers.

PBH.