Thursday, February 07, 2013
Ed here: There's an infamous Gerald Kersh story titled "The Queen of Pig Island." It's infamous because its scalding humor and perverse conclusion leave lesions on your brain.
I thought of the Kersh story as I read the brilliant stories (yes, brilliant) in John Kenyon's first collection THE FRST CUT. In some respects the book is a running commentary on neo-noir and neo-hardboiled. He ransacks many of the now-traditional tropes to create a voice and style all his own. And to bring a sad humanity to his stories that so much crime fiction lacks.
The style is as spare and clean and magical as poetry. A number of these pieces are so rich in detail they are virtually mini-novellas.
I like the description Amazon uses:
"James gets a job delivering organs for transplant, but needs to make a little detour first. Lenny's appreciation for the comedy of Steve Martin gets him out of a tight jam. Tommy has some secrets buried in the back yard, and they don't seem to want to stay there. Rick's reunion with an old college roommate ends in gunplay. In these stories, John Kenyon looks at the people who are usually content to hide under rocks. But when you pull the rock away for a look, that's when the trouble begins. You won't find buckets of blood here, nor twisted hillbillies with arsenals that would give a militiaman pause. No, what we have here is more dangerous, more sinister: stories filled with the kind of people we encounter every day. They live check to check and the last one came two weeks ago. They have been under the thumb of the man for a long time, and just decided they've had enough. They seek redemption when the world isn't ready to provide it."
As I said of Kersh, some of these stories leave lesions on your brain because in addition to the writing, they are just damned amazing, shocking, stunning tales. There's a page and a half piece about a man in poverty that is as powerful as Hemingway's six word story about unused baby shoes.
You can get this on Kindle for $1.99. You'd be crazy not to buy it right now. I gaurantee you've never read anything like it.