Archive | November, 2014

Review: The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones (Broken River Books; 2013)

12 Nov


Dreams of a glass-walled apartment beneath the city streets. The view? Darkness. Click the molars five times before answering the door, or you won’t deserve the gift the hallway has given.

Vegetable Ghost, Kid Hoodie, and Dashboard Mary may have arranged for the girl scout cookies to be left outside the apartment to which he’s been DIY-house arrested. Cellphones recording all the secret and polluted and artificial conversations to no one and nobody, the narrator’s two best friends. Evil often leaks from the past: picking at the least of his scars or being buckled in the backseat by his father all day. They monitor his perversions by how excited he gets from the images on his television in 15-minute increments.

Find goat hair to make devils and feathers for angels. Then swallow a marble to become blue cat-eye flame.

This odd novella takes place in an eerie void: unreliable narration, a web of anonymous apartments, and various characters who may or may not be figments of the narrator’s imagination. The style is clean, direct, and conversational, although there are many confounding and beautiful dark poetic nuggets sprinkled throughout. In one disturbing moment, our narrator sucks his cheeks in and chomps with all the force he can muster, at first disappointed he can’t taste blood gushing and then, when he succeeds, upset his teeth aren’t sticking from his face like toothpicks through a jack o’ lantern.

If you belong to Litreactor, there is an honest and deep article by Stephen Graham Jones called “Preparing for Company: Writing ‘The Least of My Scars'” about the dark but mind-expanding experience of writing this book. Apparently, he was struggling with a few different novels that didn’t quite come together when he began The Least of My Scars. This is a poignant and inspirational article for anyone who has tried to write novels over a sustained period. There is a sense of great elation and terrible defeat that comes with it. One hopes to be as dedicated as Stephen Graham Jones during the difficult periods.

I hope to read more of Stephen Graham Jones’ work, for his voice has definitely seared a new path of possibilities for what the novel can be.

check out The Least of My Scars here.

Review: The Imago Sequence by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books; 2009)

10 Nov


“Old Virginia”

Toothless and horrible in a straightjacket. Turns your face cold blue as the white hairs flee the scalp. Riding the narrator into the woods to meet her mother. Annihilation. The doom of the world seen as invigorating by the demonic. Chained and left alone in an eerie cabin the woods. Tough guys. Canned laughter. Burning noir and war paperbacks to cinders of new language with the suspicious TALLHAT files.

“Shiva, Open Your Eye”

Unfortunate victims of blossoming. Poetry melting into confession stitched with delusions. Serial killer of essence of primordial evil distilled? Computers and religious texts clutched so firmly as if willed to turn to stone and connect to us. Mouth spitting crocodiles and devils: the sparks rippling through space and time, a cosmic hole for all sources and obliterations.

“Procession of the Black Sloth”

Alabaster blur of fish belly in the airplane bathroom’s black mirror. Belt buckle cameras, magpies fluttering past a poor man’s James Bond. Wigs smelling of cologne and cigarettes in the hall. Bags placed over heads and muddy face smudges left on the wall. A would-be swimmer accompanies a coven of witches. Tied up and screaming, they needed to get out of the tv and away from their long-necked children while climbing the mountain of mad knives.


Mining towns where phalluses sculpted from human excrement lay on beds, deputies sleep off benders in jail cells, and certain death depends on the exchange rate. The hand of a severed arm clutches a locket under the bed. Some holes close while others open. Mycosis kills the trees as he opens portals, an evil magic sprung from disease. Animal skeletons hanging from the trees when you thought you heard a baby but it was just the wind. Leaf-eating parallax. Terrible flowers consume the essence.


Pretty girls at music festivals where kisses smear the flowers with the stars. Floating gray fur hands, coffee tasting of bleach. Predatory truck drivers don innocuous disguises. Awake with one light on in the bus, hiding from your abandoned child hovering in memory.


A half-dead horses violently thrashes against the seams of your life until a tall fellow emerges from the shadows with a conical hat. Screaming horses blotted by the clouds of pills and booze. Night sounds that may be hallucinations. Evil wizards in the alley outwit overseas real-estate tycoons/scumbags. Arm disappearing in a widening mouth, coughing up Demerol and 10 different kinds of booze. Blue label Stoli. Jacuzzis, the stars: post-coital. Head wounds refusing to heal where the horse head travels–yet the cries continue from her bedroom, although she is no longer there. Spaghetti for wigs as she crawls across the ceiling, porcelain face cracking. Wasp nest becoming the face of an old man on the barn ceiling. Beehive head, skinny arms…he slips through walls. Eel-ly old men drop sticky strands to reel you upwards.


Scotch broom comes with the flowers to braid your bones in its hair for six years of an endless eternity. Hazy revenge. Getting off on a technicality in a first degree murder case. Or was she swallowed alive by a quantum boa constrictor? Photos in which she appeared as if in disguise were frequent, but she never stepped out of the newspapers or between the grains. Yet perhaps he–whose view is spider-eyed–cavorts with the disappearing too.

“The Royal Zoo is Closed”

Bloody thumbprint on the fridge spirals colossal shades of meaning and crippling possibilities. A disjointed but poetic journey follows with many brilliantly original turns of phrase.

“The Imago Sequence”

Photos could drive one mad, especially when separate from the exclusive triptych. He sees himself repeated, digs through the debris until the cockroaches scuttle over the sought face. A cool wind gathers about his heels(whiskey breath) and his brain gets altered both by interference and by the cold inner-workings of an inner bat machine that finally assembles its mechanical spells into something flight worthy as its leather wings start flapping and the night sucks its existence whole as if thirsty for a glimpse of trustworthy mechanical life.

Check out The Imago Sequence here.