Tag Archives: laird barron

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.

Review: The Light Is The Darkness by Laird Barron (Arcane Wisdom; 2012)

22 Oct


Hurling middle-aged weaponry to shatter bamboo. A lost sister, preparing for the search.

Deja vu in the backseat of the parents’ car with a hallucinated old man in a space suit claiming that “time is a ring.” Eating people in occult rituals. Chainsmoking in front of a sink towering with dirty dishes and broken wine glasses: images of Imogene. Faded postcards. Dialogue from hardened, cold-war dime novels. Tough guy brief. Tears that always dry to fast… ever to see.

There is a manly lushness to Barron’s writing that sometimes reminded me Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales (the boar feast in this book comes to mind).

Vicious, testicle-grabbing Finn gladiators throwing local toughs through windows.

Ghostly figures in the backgrounds of photos. Messages from unseen forces needing to be unscrambled. Surreal images (like red infants, squealing hogs, and crocodiles spinning underwater while chewing deer) as Conrad(a gladiator) gets beaten by the aforementioned, testicle-grabbing Finn.

Men with antlers staring out of glossy photos found in a crawlspace.

Phantasmal woman shapes hover above a bed after the trigger word is uttered and all the meaning in the world begins to truncate and collapse.

Sundews crying and cloying for nourishment in a hive-like apartment as the room wobbles and shrinks. Fiendish cults. Rumors that split apart and burn clandestine images, drowning the surface while marbling the emulsion.

Car-door chewers, gun-shot wound absorbers. This novel has some horror and some post-apocalyptic sci. fi elements as well. DNA mutation/optimization?

Inhuman faces hidden at the dark epicenter’s vanishing point beneath the cowls. Battling brutes with ghoulish superpowers in a dank and abandoned family home.

Barron is a strange and original writer indeed. At times I found myself wondering to what sort of genre this book should belong. Sci. fi? Horror? It became increasingly unclear and ceased to matter. Barron has an obvious love for the pulps but is a far more accomplished, Cormac McCarthian wordsmith than most other horror writers.

I haven’t read Barron’ short story collections (though I hope to do so soon), but I would place him in the ranks of writers like that to genre-bend pulpy tropes into unique/original fiction like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, China Mieville, David Mitchell, and Haruki Murakami.

Devilish hallucinations (or visitations) for our genetically mutated superhero Conrad by his immortal (or dead) bat-like sister’s beyond-the-grave or beyond-human-shape form.

The title takes on a definite irony by the novel’s end. Barron’s style is quite unique, conjuring superhero comics with gothic and surreal painterly effects. I look forward to reading his short story collection trilogy.

Check out The Light Is The Darkness here.