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For When the Veil Drops Paperback – October 18, 2012
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Top customer reviews
From “724” I went on to read “The Persistence of Frondu,” a story that took an odd happening and turned it into a difficult to express but extremely relatable feeling. Deciding that I should stand up and take my coat off at the very least before reading more I put the book down.
Later, in a cozy and quiet moment, I reread “724” and was struck by the expressive nature of certain phrases and the feelings that they generated. I moved on to “A Coat that Fell” and “Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened Here” wondering how the authors were going to pack an entire story into so few pages. Upon completing Michael Wehunt’s story, I actually threw the book down as if something would jump from its pages and get me. When I recovered myself, I read A. A. Garrison’s story, which didn’t help my nerves. It was disturbing for a whole new set of reasons.
Every evening I looked forward to sitting down with a new set of stories by a new set of authors and have enjoyed the experience. I also very much enjoyed the Post-scripts and Author Bios section allowing me to get to know these creative minds a little better.
Paul L. Bates' "St Mollusks," Doug Murano's "The Chopping Block," and Michael Wehunt's "A Coat that Fell," stuck with me even after I put the book down. Wehunt's, in particular, left me uncomfortable in my own head. I mean, you trust the people you love, but there's always that small, unreasonable part of you that will wonder what they REALLY get up to when you're not around.
All told, "For When the Veil Drops," is a good, if disturbing read, and a worthy successor to Hammatschen's "You Shall Never Know Security."
Universally shared emotion transcends cultural norms, values and social detail, which change with successive generations towards a new bias. People have not essentially evolved beyond what our ancestors of many years ago would recognise as sad, happy, angry, hungry (etc); even if the prompts for the emotion have changed colours. Dark fiction has the leeway to dispense with many of the trappings of formal narrative and weighs in unashamedly on this emotional landscape, creating a shared experience. It is fiction to induce a reaction, to jog a specifically emotional ejaculation from the consciousness. A lot of `dark' fiction currently marketed is basically horror-pornography; sexing up monsters and the undead. But given the visceral nature of such, this is also `dark' in that it wants to delve into feelings, into reaction. Literature is the `light' to `dark' fiction; it seeks to involve the mind, the consciousness. Emotional interaction with literature, whether high or low-brow, is the recognition of a social construct that defines and describes the self as part of that conformity. `Dark' fiction goes for the emotional jugular; and connects author, reader, and society through recognition of experience. It's one heck of a brief to live up to.
Dealing first with the collection as a publishing whole, it is a very pleasant change to come across an anthology of consistent quality from a small press. Vanity publishing has exploded with the electronic format making it much easier for anyone and his dog to join in. Thankfully, WPP employs definitive editorial filtering; the consistent quality speaks for this. Editorial pomp is remarkably absent in the book itself and is coyly alluded to on the rear cover; that the stories speak for themselves, thank you very much, and by implication the publishers are but collectors of a thrilling nosegay. Editorial direction is polished to smoothness, directing but not dictating. WPP can be commended, fulfilling their desire to present quality unexpurgated.
Often in collections, one or two stories stand out as testament to their author's specific brilliance. Each reader will have their own favourites; each reader will resonate differently with different tales, producing a mixed bag of response. It's the way a collection works, and why making a collection just the second printing is a brave choice for a new publishing house. Some of the stories here grab by the throat more obviously; their `darkness' is the sense of fear over what is not clearly seen. The murky semi-mythical St Mollusks drips with vampire-esque characters and grim conspiracy. Thicker Than features a grisly haunting and a murderous obsession of a closed psychology, and the baroque nastiness of The Third List harks that not all children are innocent. There are the lighter elements; the quizzical, last-man-standing quality of Persistence of Frondu (I am Legend for the fashionata generation, perhaps?) produces a wry chuckle, and 724 and The Condition She's In deliver final summations that wraps up the action in a one-liner finish, with a definitive `pow' of a punchline. And that's humour's trick, folks, lavered in `dark': when one isn't sure if one should be laughing, but, still, it is bloody funny,.
The darkness of humanity's propensity for brooding over what is frightening still haunts many writers' concerns, and worse; the ability to ignore, and thereby not deal with, human darkness. In this collection, it is the unnerving question of `who is it, actually, lying in bed next to me as my life's partner?' that ricochets into violence in A Coat That Fell. The ability of people to cover over uncomfortable truths and isolate the undesirable boils into murder in Beside Still Waters. Hysterical denial in Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here leads the young protagonist down the path of emotional truncation, whereas the unbearable clarity of existence is overwhelming and dreadful in Still Life. A fear of losing oneself, of becoming superseded in everyone's eyes shakes the foundations of personal certainty in Bless You.
There were a couple of weaker additions. Oh Abel, Oh Absalom and Misery Don't Wait on Me did not click as the rest had done. Perhaps it is a matter purely of taste; I would willingly concede as such, but a tale of the broken youth; the model for uncaring, selfish and vicious street turks; the lad who fails to socialise and becomes one of `the system's failures, does not ring true. Are we meant to feel a psychological horror at riding in the mind of someone so detached? Are we meant to feel a thrill of threat that this character could be living next door? Are we meant to feel pity for a wasted life? It seems less `dark' and more grey-area. Perhaps a tale to `shock' someone more right-wing, but it lacks an emotional direction, and so any dark effect frazzles out. Don't Wait on Me is, according to the writer's biography, a direct setting-down of broken-hearted outpouring as he dealt with a depressive era, featuring gross disappointment and an unfaithful girlfriend. The product of a sensitive mind, it is a little too self-indulgent and personal to classify as truly `dark'. A dark writer has to present a distance from their work; the voice must be that of the fiction, not the author's. Fiction becomes darker when the reader has been left alone to face the events quite on their own.
The `dark' element in this collection works when the emotional connection is made. And, in common with variations of `dark' writing, it is also the displaying of uncomfortable truths. These writers point out that chaos is still alive and well and can never be run from, for it begins and ends in the frankly terrifying world of perception, which comes from the as yet unplumbed depths of the human psyche. The collection title `For When the Veil Drops' is dropping the veil (more accurately perhaps, the knickers) of human thoughts that shield, cover, and make clichés out of perception's roots in a bid to understand and soften what is primitively not understandable. Literature attempts to explain. `Dark' writing goes on to vaunt those exposed parts in an exhibition of recognition, but not in explication; these are not morality plays, these tales are simply what is- according to the writers' point of view.
`Dark' writing is about loss, not gain; the removal of comfort, of covering, and the calculation of tragedy. The thread that binds the collection is that of loss; death either actual or metaphorical, but a definite loss of something very important to the protagonists. The `veil' of death has also been stripped away. `Dark' is the removing of untouchability of sacredness. This is all to come; the reader is the active, willing participant, for these stories erupt `For When the Veil Drops'. By reading, we complete the connection. By steering clear of over-used clichés, and mixing tales with a greater sense of normalcy with those tales that fly off the wire completely, this is a lively and characterful bunch that connects and holds. Dark, indeed.