Monday, March 5, 2018

Brief Thoughts 25

The Summer Is Ended And We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau

While his mom is doing special effects work on a movie in another city, Martin is spending the summer at a Bible camp. While he's not religious, it seems like he's going to have a fun time. He makes new friends and even has his first kiss. What he doesn't know is that the Reverend who runs the camp is completely insane.

Comeau is probably most well-known as the writer of the now ended webcomic, A Softer World. He's also written several books, his first of which, The Complete Lockpick Pornography, I've reviewed on this blog before. The Summer Is Ended And We Are Not Yet Saved is a tribute to B-grade horror films, slasher films especially.

While it's not fair to this book, I couldn't help but compare it to another horror novel of Comeau's, One Bloody Thing After Another. That novel, like this one, also concentrated heavily on the characters and spent a lot of time developing the relationships between them. However, it was also much more abstract in its horror and more original. The biggest problem with The Summer Is Ended... is that it doesn't really balance out the relationships with Martin and his mother and his friends at the camp with the over-the-top, bloody plot. It feels like it can't tell if it wants to be a campy (ha!), blood-splattered romp, or a heartbreaking story. Given how well Comeau usually does heartbreak, that's a bit of a disappointment.

Despite that, I still really enjoyed the book. It's easy to tell that Comeau has a deep love for the slasher genre and it kept me reading in spite of its flaws. Not to mention that his simple but impactful prose makes anything he's written worth reading.

While it's not Comeau's best work, I still recommend it.

Buy The Summer Is Ended And We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau here. 

Psychosomatic by Anthony Neil Smith

Lydia is the ex-wife of a rich drug dealer who lost all her limbs in a car crash, Alan is a small-time criminal doing odd jobs to get by, Terry and Lancaster are a pair of fratty extortionists and car thieves, Norm is a drug dealer looking to muscle his partner out of the picture, and Megan is a thief who disguises herself as a nurse to steal drugs from a hospital. Their various schemes bring them crashing together in a way that leaves a lot of bodies and destruction behind.

Psychosomatic was Anthony Neil Smith's first novel, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. It's masterfully plotted, keeps moving at a fast pace, and never feels bogged down despite the number of characters. The characters are also repellent and yet compelling enough that I didn't want to put the book down.

I had previously read and reviewed one of Smith's later novels, XXX Shamus, which he wrote under the pen name of Red Hammond. I'm curious why he felt that one needed to be under a pen name when this is what he writes under his real name. I found many parts of Psychosomatic much darker and more fucked up than XXX Shamus, the ending especially.

If you like dark neo-noir stories, this is a must-read.

Buy Psychosomatic by Anthony Neil Smith here. 

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