on October 1, 2012
The stories in this book do what most stories cannot do: they take your mind completely away from your own life and insert you firmly in a world of the author's creation.
The very essence of what makes stories "page turners" is on display here. He mixes the mind boggling with the believable with a skill that is reminiscent of Stephen King.
Masterful story-telling, bizarre characters/situations and Rage's absolute unflinching willingness to "go there" makes him one of the few authors I consider a "must read" for the 21st century.
on November 30, 2011
Rage's, "The Places In Between", is a collection of three stories.
These include: "Blood and Bubblegum", "The Places In Between", and "Bad Notion, Traveling Potion".
The first story focuses on a pair of people looking to get into the drug trade. To do this they have to contact a "vampire" of sorts and hope that they aren't killed in the process. One of the strangest stories I have read in a while.
In the title story, the main character Del, having had enough of his wife's cheating decides to kill himself. He fails and what follows is a strange, yet funny trip. Probably my favorite of the three stories.
Finally in "Bad Notion, Traveling Potion" we are taken back to the world in which the first story took place.
A new drug called "crosstown traffic" is discovered. This drug transports the user to a place where their fantasies are made "real". As I have said these stories are strange and violent and at times gross.
Don't let that keep you from picking this one up and giving it a read. Another great from Rage!
on October 30, 2010
The three stories presented here are tied to an apocalyptic underground community known as The Harbor (two take place post, while the title tale goes down before all hell breaks loose).
In 'Blood and Bubblegum,' we're introduced to some seriously strange characters who are involved in an ever-growing organic narcotics trade, including protagonist Juan and a fecal-demon that lives in his rectum. This is by far the weirdest entry here, and features a fresh look at vampirism.
'The Place In Between,' shows that a revenge story can be done in a fresh manner: Del's wife Luci is having an affair with her drug supplier, Sancho. Sancho and Luci eventually manage to get custody of the invalid Del, and Sancho uses this as payback time from their navy days (apparently Del had done something to ruin Sancho's career). The story becomes an extreme torture tale, one that made me wince a few times...but Del manages to turn the tables via a Faust-ish deal with a demon. Rage also gives another fresh spin here on ghosts, making this a perfect blend of hardcore horror and bizarro goodness.
In the final piece, 'Bad Notion, Traveling Potion,' we return to The Harbor and learn more about The Good Doctor (responsible for creating drugs and mutants) and his created servant, the scene-stealing hybrid man/chimp, Tugmunkee. This one was a bit of a chore to follow, but in the end Rage brings it all together. While some people in the bizarro community frown upon stories centered around drug use, this one works as the "tripping" scenes are just a side-note to the real weirdness.
THE PLACE IN BETWEEN is gross, disgusting, funny, horrific, and disturbing, yet at the same time it's quite entertaining. Rage writes with his conscience thrown out the window (that is, if he had one to begin with), yet unlike some more extreme stuff I've read, he actually knows how to WRITE a story around the grue. I'm keeping my eye on this guy as he truly lives up to his last name.
on October 24, 2010
This is my third Steven Rage book, and I'm going to admit that I always have a hard time trying to figure out what to say about his work. The stories, the characters, the world it all takes place in--everything's so intense that it becomes difficult to figure out what elements to grab onto.
Okay, so, with that out of the way... With this new one, The Place in Between, Rage gives us three stories. Two return us to The Harbor, a dark, gritty world full of sex, violence, greed, cruelty, exotic drugs dealt by vampire dealers, people trying to screw one another over, and anything else you might expect to go hand-in-hand with all that. At first glance, this world seems comfortably far from our own, but on reflection, it appears uncomfortably close. To my mind, The Harbor (rather than the characters or the stories) is the focal point. It's more than a setting or even a character of sorts. It's a worldview (and one I can only hope is not the sum total of Rage's own real-life worldview).
The title story goes outside The Harbor and gives us a look at Del, a man who, when confronted with evidence that his wife was cheating, unsuccessfully attempts suicide and ends up confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak or even breathe on his own. And then he's released to the care of his cheating wife and her lover. To the outside world, they're a devoted wife and good friend. Privately, they taunt, torment and torture the helpless Del--until a demon shows up to help him. Ah, but it's not quite that simple: Rage starts the story out with the Euripides quote, "The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children." And Rage weaves this theme into the characters' backstories, giving the story an extra dimension.
If you're already a Rage fan, this is a worthy addition to your collection. If you're not, I think it would be a good starting point--but only on a day when you're ready to be adventurous and deal with something that might come across as a bit confrontational.
on October 7, 2010
Sick? Absolutely. Genius? Perhaps. Rage? All the way.
We have a certain adoration for Steven Rage at the Authors Speak. He may be one of the sickest, most twisted writers writing today, but there's a mad brilliance to his work. Reading one of his texts is like growing wiser while simultaneously suppressing the urge to vomit. And, there's the funny, too. Rage brings the funny in a big way.
I'm no fan of shorter fiction. I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure why I feel the need to say that everytime I review a collection. I guess I say that because it speaks worlds when I do like a collection. "The Place in Between" is a brilliant collection of some of Rage's best work to date. And, if you're going to do short fiction, at least tie it together. Steven Rage does this flawlessly.
On the surface, the stories in "The Place in Between" are some classic noir pieces that we've heard before. If you've read Rage's previous works, well, you know the man has a few tricks up his sleeves. Rage pulls out all the stops to showcase his twisted reality in which these tales take place. The landscape itself becomes a character of his crazy brain, thus giving these somewhat familiar tales a whole new slant.
"The Place In Between" is the title of the strongest piece in the collection. Imagine a Fasutian tale that were written and directed by John Waters and David Lynch and you start to gather a little of where Steven Rage's mind is. The book feels heavily influenced by both talents - the seedy, dark, weird spliced with the scatological.
Go ahead and order it, folks. But be warned: this book is disgusting. You'll need a strong stomach to handle it. But the reward and payoff is huge. It's not gross for the sake of gross. It's dark fiction at it's finest.
on September 7, 2010
reading steven rage is a little like being a mother who ran out of diapers even though you're locked in a room with a baby who has been living on nothing but 5-alarm texas chili. sure, there are times when you want to puke, but you can't help loving the baby anyway. yes, rage is still gruesome, sickening, twisted, gross, horrific, morose, profane, disgusting, morbid, blasphemous, shocking and repugnant. but these are not the only compliments i can bestow upon this promising new author. but we'll get to that bit later. the 3 short stories that comprise this book are pure rage. the first and last story bring us back to that familiar setting, the harbor. these stories have all the requisite characters and elements that you would expect if you've read steven's earlier work. there are vampire drug lords, addicts, whores, demons that crawl out of people's rectums, perverted sex and all the dregs of society in the darkest of dark settings and situations. they are well crafted extensions of his earlier work, and there is even an effort to tie some of the stories together. visiting this setting again was a blast! he really did have something to add that was compelling and kept the pages turning as often as it kept your stomach turning. he even threw in a few surprises like an artificially created chimp-man and a sexy chicken or two. the first story relies a lot on the modern street venacular again, while remaining intelligent and creatively devised. the last two stories were not so dependant on modern slang, as the lead characters were not the sort of (shall we say) 'sludge' that would need to speak that way. this allows a more clear visage of rage's ability to exhibit a writing prowess that is more accessible to a wider audience. the harbor stories do give rage fans a lot to be thankful for in expanding the previous stories with bizarre, twisted putridness. yet, my favorite story by far was the title story in this book. that is because rage steps away from the harbor and explores a new setting with a whole new disturbing set of circumstances. i truly believe that if rage continues to grow and expand and explore new horizons (especially in new settings), he can reach his full potential as a great writer. much as before, there is an intelligence to this dude's work. his gift as a storyteller is being more finely honed in this work. the fact that he has spent time working in a hospital is apparent, and it comes through in his stories. i can honestly say this is my favorite of anything i have read from him thus far. he's getting dangerously close to getting a 5-star review from me.....and that's not easy to do when writing something that is so far removed from 'ordinary literature'. so to sum up.....yes, this has all the disturbing, grotesque, alarming, horrible elements that you'd want to see in 3 strories by rage...it also has all the fine storytelling.....and he is growing and improving as a writer. i recommend this collection of stories, but i also recommend that you (metaphorically) stock up on diapers first. if he keeps expanding his horizons, he will be a supurb voice and visionary for our dark, backward, malevolent times...even if he remains the pessimistic, ignoble saint and demented sick ticket that we all know and love.
on November 25, 2010
As a true connoisseur of the horror genre, I must admit I was verily disgusted and appalled by this piece of "Morbid" and I am certain that this was the author's intent. It takes a sincerely sick, drug-addled, putrified brain to come up with a world-view this demented. The "Reverend" must be very proud. If you enjoyed the Infernal trilogy by Edward Lee, then you will probably get off on these tales of another true hell where all rules no longer apply and the most profane things occur. I wish Reverend Rage a massive following so that one day my autographed copy might be worth something on Ebay.