Wednesday, October 07, 2020

31 Days of Halloween - Day 7 - Book

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud. Small Beer Press. 2013.

I'd never read anything by Nathan Ballingrud before reading this collection of short stories. Having read it I am now an enthusiastic fan of his. This book collects nine of his stories. There are vampires, werewolves, the walking dead, the titular lake monster, hauntings, Lovecraftian horrors, but not like you have ever read them before. Ballingrud has taken traditional narrative expectations, not just genre tropes, but how stories are told in general, and done away with the rules and created fiction that delivers the goods with a punch in a way that never goes the way you think it will. He doesn't care about answering all the questions he calls forth, or even ending where you think a story should end, but that's okay. These stories are powerful and powerfully told. I don't know if it's an odd coincidence, or a theme that Ballingrud prefers to play with, but each story also features a character who represents the different faces of toxic masculinity, but in ways that are non-preachy and often sympathetic. The combination of these broken men who don't know how to love, or can't, or won't makes for a potent combination with the fantastical elements.

I know I'm only at day 7 here, but I don't expect I'll read another book of fiction for this countdown that is so fresh and so good.

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

This sounds like a fantastic read! You've sold me! :D