I finished Chris F. Holm’s new collection of short stories (Dead Letters: Stories of Murder and Mayhem) last night (Friday) and have been pondering how to go about discussing it meaningfully since then.
It should come as no surprise to any of you reading this that I’m already a fan of Holm’s work (click to visit other posts where I’ve talked about it), so I knew before I even started that I’d swipe the last page with a smile on my face. The difficulty stems from the fact that writing about short stories is fucking hard, yo.
The first story – “The Putdown” – was a very difficult read (Holm admits in the introduction that it was even difficult for him to write), and I ended up more than a little weepy as I sat in the corner with my phone plugged in (this book is currently kindle only, but on his blog, he tells us that he’s working to get it in other formats for the rest of us – in the meantime, yes I read it on my phone!), but then the second story – “Action” – had me laughing so hard my 13y/o turned around to check on me to make sure I was okay. Most of the house was already in bed by that time, and I was attempting to stifle my laughter so I’m pretty positive I sounded like I was choking to death.
After finishing this book (and really, I was more than a little sad when I realized how close I was to the end), I can say that my reactions to the first two stories very much set the tone for the rest. As with the rest of his work, this author is quite adept at blending the humourous with the horrific, and nearly everything in between.
Each story is fairly chock-full of Holm’s noirish sensibilities, so there’s a commonality between them all – but other than that, they’ve little enough in common with each other that I’ve had a hard time picking a favourite, or even one that I’d tell you all you HAD TO READ RIGHT NOW, ZOMG! because really…I just want to recommend them all.
Wait. I lied. Read “One Man’s Muse” (because I think all fans of that other author from Maine have wondered what happened to the trailer he lived in where he wrote his earliest works [sidenote: this one scared the bejeezus out of me, and having just re-read Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, it hit a lot harder than anticipated]) and “The Hitter” (a novella that managed to be gross, terrifying and lovely all at the same time).
(One last parenthetical statement, there’s a story about cannibalism, so I’m totally counting it for Zombruary. WIN!)
There you go. Why are you still sitting here reading my crappy blog when you could be reading the work of someone far better at entertaining you than I? Go! Buy it now! (click here to do so)