on June 7, 2009
While reading through this collection of short stories one is likely to be struck with the urge to frown, scratch one's head and maybe even set it down to ponder where the author got some of the ideas for these stories. Understand, it's not that the stories have no basis in previous literature; they just take every left turn most any other author wouldn't, and few writers are frequently told they shouldn't. This, however, is the author's gift: to make new a thing out of something you thought had run its course. Severe sci-fi? Check. Epistolary blog? Check. Partying pirates at war with a slacker's trebuchet? Well, I think he made that one up out of his own cloth.
There are a few head scratchers, but I chalked those instances up to my hesitation with experimental literature in general, and the fact that Mamatas swings for a lot of bleachers here. The good news is that the author's got a big bat, lots of chops, and doesn't really care what you think about what pitches he's swinging at. He takes a lot of risks here with the presentation, language and form - there's a two-liner in here that has a longer title than story, and it's laugh-out loud funny - and I found the overall experience well worth the ride.
Some of the work is funny ("To-Do List"), some frightening ("All That's Left After the Big One Drops"), some raunchy ("Withdraw, Withdraw!"), some just flat-out weird (take your pick). All of it is compelling. And thanks to "Land Speed Record", I now have a new manifesto to tape to the inside of my work cubicle.
Ultimately this book won't be for everyone, but it doesn't detract from the sheer amount of imagination and craft that's coming off it in swathes. For people looking for something that doesn't pull it's punches and can be nibbled at over time, I highly recommend it.
on March 26, 2009
Nick's second collection features 22 stories mixes horror, SF, politics, and attitude. Each story is so different than the rest, which is what I admire most about Nick's work. He's always willing to take a risk, even willing to piss off the reader, to ensure that each story is a different reading experience. Sharp, funny, intelligent, disturbing, never safe. Favorites include (some of which I've blogged about individually in the past) "Joey Ramone Saves the World," "Summon Bind Banish," and "Real People Slash."