June 29th, 2009

there!, Hello

Monster Spider Fiction

39) 'Nids and Other Stories by Ray Garton. (Spiderweb Press, 2006, 180 pages)
An older limited edition book that I bought some time ago and never got around to reading.

The big draw here is 'Nids, a novella length monster movie for the mind. It's got all the tropes, the horny teens who, while at makeout central, observe explosions and fire at nearby genetics company. Then, Something Big takes one of them away. We have a beleaguered small town Sheriff, trying to figure out first just what's going on and then how to stop it. We've got brilliant little brothers who happen to be experts in the field necessary. We've got plenty of gruesome hijinks around town as people don't act fast enough. We've got monster spider-things (giant sized of course) eating everyone. If the premise doesn't make you grin and long for a bucket of popcorn, then I'd advise prospective readers to pass this one by.

Unfortunately, I found the writing style to be kind of bland. Little emotional resonance, image heavy prose. Erotic/"making out" prose passages about as titilating as a cold, moist tubesock. Characters are about as deep as those in a 50s monster picture. Plenty of repetitious "sound effect" descriptions when the monsters eat people. It comes across rather like a film treatment. Readers looking for notable writing should also give this novella a pass.

The novella runs only about 130 pages, the remainder of the book is filled with short stories:

"Mrs. Dmarco's Corpse" takes an intriguing concept, the titular body wakes long enough to grab a cop's ankle and proclaim "You will die soon" before slumping lifeless again, and follows a growing sense of disconnect in the protag -- Is he crazy? Is he truly witness to the supernatural? -- to a perhaps unsurprising end.

"Kristina" takes to task the question of "Is there a difference between love and addiction"? A clever approach to internalized horror wherein a fellow falls in love with a woman who regularly shoots up (with unnamed "Medication", cue Garbage song here). Well, when her stores run low, Kristina asks out narrator to aid her in obtaining a gruesome "alternative", and the quandry becomes one of love versus guilt. This is the best piece in the book.

"In a Fit of Jealous Rage" a man emerges from the titular emotional extreme only to discover he is responsible for a grisly crime. The story that follows tackles the backstory and the aftermath.

"A Talk in the Street" Argument, more like. A married couple have a verbal throwdown in the street. This builds to a somewhat obvious twist. If the story's emotional threads were a bit more honest, I might have forgiven the unsurprising surprise. Alas, the story and I never quite achieved that union.