Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review of LAWSON VS. LAVALLEY by John Edward Lawson and Dustin LaValley (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2011)

Lawson vs. LaValley

A good story to page count ratio always gets my pulse racing, so when I examined this thin book’s table of contents, I nearly had a heart attack: Thirty-five stories in one hundred and twelve pages! I love collections like this precisely because of their ability to introduce readers to a wide variety of characters and place them in a range of settings, with such economy of words. Some of these tales—those starring homicidal milkmen or a murderer of axes—are absurd, as the best flash fiction often is. Others touch on sensitive personal and political issues like euthanasia and homophobia. And there are imaginary horrors—winged demons from the sinkholes, a possessed dildo, a rodent-munching vagina dentata, a vampiric gas tank—alongside all-too-real ones like terminal illness and irrational, fundamentalist mobs. The imagery utilized is always affecting, frequently grotesque. In “The Stoma Laughs Last,” a sentient stoma drools bits of bloody stool when it speaks; in “The Lightness of Being,” the slow dissection of a sacrificial victim is detailed. To read and finish this is, for fans of the short and horrible, like waking up, wide-eyed and sweaty, after a succession of satisfying nightmares.

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