We All Need Monstrous Affections
Words / 4/27/2010 9:59:23 PM
Just in case you think our Monster Chris only enjoys his monsters in graphic format (see Satan Factory and Marvel Monsters), he is now raving about an aptly named collection of disturbing short stories!
A giant Cyclops, a cottaging wendigo, a basement dwelling tar baby, a family of mutants with a terrible gift for love, vampiric miners, a swamp witch... these are just a few of the "monsters" that await in David Nickle's debut short story collection Monstrous Affections (2009). As impressively diverse as this rogue's gallery may seem to be, the truly breathtaking feature of the book is the author's marvelously assured hand as a writer and the deft precision with which he manages to give life to that dark world that often seems to lie just out of our view at any given moment.
A Bram Stoker and Aurora Award winning writer, Nickle brings a marvelous sense of reality to his work. Subtly nuanced characters and thoroughly familiar settings give his tales an irresistible taint. Award-winning writer and editor Michael Rowe notes in his marvelous foreword that Nickle is the kind of "scrupulous and demanding writer who would wrestle the Devil for the perfect word" and indeed, each of the stories in the book have a carefully considered feeling of economy that ensures that many of the finely crafted tales in the book live on in the mind long after it has been put back on the shelf, not unlike the slightly implausible word of mouth folklore passed down by weary townsfolk that has become local legend.
One of the finest stories in the book, "Other People's Kids" (which sees print for the first time in this volume) casually offers up a family on their way back to the big city on Labour Day weekend. Nickle brilliantly and unforgettably transforms a rest stop visit into a adrenaline-fueled romp of wanton destruction instigated by a mischievous shark-toothed sprite who can only be seen by children. In the hands of most writers this could quickly become tiresome but Nickle grounds the story firmly in his characters and economical prose which makes it a delight. Similarly the story "The Pit Heads", about three aspiring artists on an excursion to a seemingly abandoned mining town near North Bay, Ontario is not only a convincing tale of terror but also a thoughtful rumination on the nature of artistic inclination. It not hard to imagine either of these tales being brought to life on the big screen by a capable director with an eye for a good story.
It is the combination of skilled writing and the carefully crafted believability that Nickle infuses his stories with that make Monstrous Affections so unforgettable - and believable. The seemingly humble conceits behind these stories mask some truly inspired flashes of weirdness and a theme of families and what ultimately holds them together, which runs through the 14 stories in the book. From "The Sloan Men", in which a young bride and her future mother-in-law risk everything to escape the men they have fallen in love with to "The Inevitability of Earth", where the man whose dim memory of his grandfather taking flight leads him to an unforgettable but natural demise.
Monstrous Affections has already won David Nickle the Black Quill Reader's Choice Award and deservedly so, Monstrous Affections is an absolutely brilliant collection and easily one of the most satisfying books of the past few years and marking David Nickel as one the most talented writers to emerge from Canada in the last 10 years.
Book - 9 / 10
Monsters - 8 /10
Monster Chris Jill's p.s.
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Jill's p.s. Get your copy of "Monstrous Affections" in our Killer-astore. (Get good karma too, your purchase keeps our web-blood pumping!)