Wednesday, June 8, 2011

20th Century Ghosts: A Quick Review

It's not fair.  I know.  Being the son of the man who lifted Horror back into the mainstream world of books.

I like Joe Hill.  I loved Heart-Shaped Box.  And I liked Horns a lot.  And I'll buy his next novel.

But 20th Century Ghosts... well, I was expecting more.

I was expected something like: killer toys and killer machines and killed aliens and killer rats and killer children.
I was expecting monsters.

I was expecting fun.

I know, it's not fair to compare his work to his father's.  They are individuals with individual writing styles and different visions.  But I just couldn't help but remember back to Night Shift and how much fun it was to read because of the monsters and the kookiness.

20th Century Ghosts... most, but not all, of the stories center around loss.  Loss of a child, of a parent, of a sibling, of a friend.  Loss of innocence.  Loss of childhood.  And a lot of the stories, though not all, are built around the children of broken or downright strange families. While thought provoking, I found most of the stories, well, depressing.  And not really fun to read.  We all remember The Mangler and Sometimes They Come Back and Children of the Corn and The Ledge and Quitters Inc.  They were fun stories.  Quirky and weird, and I will often go back and re-read some of those stories.  I can not see myself wanting to re-read any stories from Ghosts.
That's not to say that the stories are bad; they are not.  They are well written.  Tightly written.  And they will make you think.

But for me, they border more on Literature.  Now, there is nothing wrong with Literature. I just prefer something a little more fun in my horror.  A lot of these stories... I felt like they were what Steinbeck would write if he had a little Poe, a little Kafka, in him.

Like I said, they weren't bad stories.  Just, well, a little depressing.  Some ended abruptly, leaving you scratching your head.  Some went on a little too long.  And some were, well, a little bizarre.  Very little in the way of supernatural, mostly awful human beings driving the action.

My favorite stories were: Best New Horror, The Black Phone, The Cape and Last Breath.
It's a good book, and you will enjoy if you are into serious, pensive horror.

But don't go in expecting The Mist or The Monkey or I Know What You Need, because you won't find it.
You will find pensive and bizarre and serious and disturbing.

But very little that I would consider fun.  Quite frankly, many of the stories felt me feeling depressed afterwards.

Agree?  Disagree?  Tell me what you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment