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Hamantaschen also has a particular skill with story titles that I wish others would emulate. Far from using one word (“Dark,” or “The Tunnel” are two books I just made up but probably exist) or from clearly describing what is going to happen in the book, Hamantaschen gets goofy. And by that I mean, excellent.
For example, “No One Cares But I Tried.” “I’ve Read With Some Interest About…” Here is my personal favorite: “Story Title Revealed About Halfway Through.”
My favorite story is “I Will Soon Be Home and Never Need Anyone Ever Again.” I hope it’s embarrassing for Hamantaschen to hear this: but this story is sweet. Its characters are outright charming. So, unlike many stories that call themselves “weird fiction,” not every story here ends with staring into the gibbous moon while the abyss consumes your mortal soul.
Just give it a read. You’ll dig it.
But there were three stories in here that were among the finest short/shortish fiction out there today and they really confirmed his status as a phenomenal author of weird fiction: 'Nobody Cares But I Tried,' 'Upon a Path Suddenly Irradiated at Some Halfway Point by Daybeams as Rich as Hers,' and the final big daddy 'I Will Soon be Home and Never Need Anyone Again,' which, if you are like me anyway, is a fearsome first read because it contains all the ingredients of what could be a trite morality tale...but never fear so it certainly does not end up like that.
'7099 Brecksville Road, Independence, Ohio', and 'Story Title Revealed About Halfway Through' also deserve honorable mentions for being utterly entertaining and laugh out loud funny.
Along a literary landscape which, in some ways, has become distorted by the online channels of gnathonic, echo-chamber transmissions, Hamantaschen’s tales—devoid of a simpering sentimentality so prevalent in those interweb mediums—remain untinged by the typically mundane anchor of social-media activity, and reflect an admirable variety of isolation.
That said, Hamantaschen invests energy to, and capitalizes on, focusing on (what would otherwise be considered) the mundane—those day-to-day interactions which most dismiss despite possessing a prism for our multiform realities (case in point: the story “No One Cares But I Tried”); and though I wager he’s knee-deep in the daily fray, A DEEP HORROR… budges very little when it comes to giving in. “He usually didn’t like people looking at him dead on,” writes Hamantaschen in one of the pieces; but that’s precisely how the writer scrutinizes his subjects.
A few of these fictions are lengthy and contemplative (this volume contains a sturdy, novella-length study, FAITHFULLY AND LOVINGLY), and several pleasantly strain convention. “7099 Brecksville Road, Independence, Ohio” is a meta-exercise in set-up which has a pay-off punctuated by a “back-to-the-drawing board” relent in this drudgery of thankless creation.
One of the more scalpel-sharp stories is the opener, “Rococo Veins and Lurid Stains,” which casts several regret-dwelling characters who—throughout several colorful exchanges—are plotting some sort of, well…exchange. Cautious of exposing too much of the tale, there exists in this piece a sort of literary loop, a “chain”: “You don’t come back as who you were before,” a central character suggests. “You probably come back as something else and it’s doubtful you’d have any real memory of who you were before.”
My nits include several layout-formatting, general editing throughout the volume, and a number of distracting POV jumps (particularly in “That’s Just the Way Things Are These Days”). But audience members aren’t reading Hamantaschen for these reasons. Rather, it’s something more innately unique.
Aside from a bleakly acerbic sense of humor, the most compelling characteristic to Hamantaschen’s work is his voice. Not unlike certain moments in life which bear the potential of developing into indelible vignettes, Hamantaschen’s resonant voice emerges in unlikely moments: a stylistic mechanism within his narratives which seamlessly serves to insulate an unnerving scenario—the scenario, in many cases with J.R. Hamantaschen, is simply existence.
This author falls into a special category all his own: a specialized category of the Outre, New Weird, and exceptional. I can only think of one other who is consistently an author of "Something Else," Darren Speegle. Both have the quality of causing the reader to ponder, "What Dimension is this? And how did I get here?" With each story by Mr. Hamantaschen, I am transported to somewhere that on its surface is consensus reality, but in actuality is no more our reality than is a mirror image "the real thing." Like some nightmares, these stories refuse to quietly depart. Instead, once you read them, they're here to stay. A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE is Mr. Hamantaschen's third collection, and features eleven stories.