Thoughts on Chris F. Holm’s 8 Pounds

Initially, I thought I’d be posting a standard review of 8 Pounds, but am still not entirely sure how to go about  that.  Reviewing short stories is HARD, yo.

You guys all know that I already enjoy Holm’s writing (since I’ve talked about it before here and here), and as evidenced by our limited interactions on twitter, he’s a pretty neat guy.

So, having experienced Holm’s The Collector series (two books so far and I’m EAGERLY ANTICIPATING the third [only seven months to wait!]), I thought I knew what I’d be in for when I decided to read some short stories that my illness addled brain would be able to focus on.

That was my first mistake.

Second mistake?  Reading in bed while trying to fall asleep.

Third mistake (yeah, I made a few)?  Not taking the “Horror and Suspense” part of the tagline seriously.

Because, while The Collector books are full of dark humour, they look like sunshine and unicorns dodisharkicorns and rainbows next to the fuligin cloak* that is 8 Pounds.

No, I’m not even kidding.

Back to the mistakes!  I should never have read the story “A Better Life” right before falling asleep.  It led to the WORST EVER, most terrifying dreams.  Even now (a few days later and in the broad light of day) is still pretty haunting.  I hope I never have to worry about mice in my house, or I’ll be sure that this story is playing out in real life.

Also haunting me (probably FOREVER, so thanks for nothing, Mr Holm) is the story “The Well” which…I don’t even have words.  It’s only ~800 words long, but its emotional impact is that of something with thousands of words of set up and plotting.  I mean, I write blog posts that are over 800 words long ALL THE TIME, but nothing I’ve written will have the potential to stay in your mind long after your eyes leave the page.  Not like this, anyway.

While these two stories alone are worth the price of admission, another must read is the titular story.  In “8 Pounds” a couple of old friends are laughing over drinks and arguing whether 8 Pounds is the going rate or weight of a human head.  I was giggling at it until the last few sentences, when I was hit with the literary equivalent of a junk punch.  Dude.

I guess what I’m saying is this:  even if you’re not (or THINK you’re not) into crime stories or horror stories or suspense stories as a general rule, you get 8 stories in this collection for 99¢.  I don’t usually think of myself as a fan of crime fiction, but it didn’t impair my enjoyment in the slightest.  Yes, you’ll find some of the standard genre tropes inside, but they’re all done in such an enjoyable way that maybe you won’t notice.  Give it a chance – you have nothing to lose but a dollar and a few hours of your time, and might even find a story that grabs you and sticks with you.

* fuuuu, Kate‘s going to be thrilled that I’m speaking in Wolfeisms