The Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction #8
I know you shouldn’t judge books by their covers (or indeed titles), but I’ll confess it’s the reason I bought this one. Well, look at it. You’re telling me you’re not intrigued?
Maybe it was because of my illogical impulsiveness that my hopes weren’t high.
Like most publications, some of the stories are better than others, but what did strike me is that in every case, the level of writing is unusually high. The editor clearly has an eye for quality prose.
Anyway, the highlights.
“Bang Bang” by Adam Breckenridge is a great little story about a powerful man with the freedom to dispose of anyone who bothers him. The repetitive inevitability of his trigger finger was really making me laugh by the end.
“We Witnessed The Advent Of A New Apocalypse During An Episode Of Friends” by Blake Butler is by far the darkest of the 11 stories within. The title describes it perfectly and we see a gradual intrusion of nightmare into the whimsical, familiar, laughter-track world of Rachel, Chandler and co. It’s creepy and vividly disturbing, shared by both the cast and their TV dinner audience. I read it through twice, and may do again.
“Castle Cesare” by Rhys Hughes is probably my favourite. This historical, Italian tale describes a man who becomes trapped upon a vast and realistic orrery, one of those mechanical devices that depicts the solar system with models of moving planets. It has humour, tension, imagination and a brilliant, uncontrived punchline.
There’s also a story by D. Harlan Wilson, and his words glow from the pages, as always.
Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by this mixed bag of the imaginative and the bizarre. A quality journal from a keen editorial eye to which I’m tempted to subscribe.