My new venture — to review samples of recent short stories from some of my favourite living writers whom I have reviewed in the past — starts with GARY FRY. My previous reviews of his work were very early in my gestalt real-time career, and they are still linked from HERE.
“When had the world become so obsessed with self-expression? He wondered whether it had begun during his own youth back in the 1960s, when individualism had taken precedence over other considerations.”
I take that to heart. When did the internet actually change me? And the need to self-express my thoughts, such as those I am writing out now, here, on this open stage. Yet, writing about this story is like getting back into a very comfortable coat of which I welcome recalling the wearing. But not comfortable in the normal comforting sense. It just means horror fiction still works for me in making me feel profoundly uncomfortable, in an inspirational way. And that is meant as a great compliment to this story, as Gary Fry seems to chill my frissons even more than they once did, after all these years. I mean that most sincerely, folks. Batter me a kipper, Missus! – an old catchphrase from one of my own old stories, recently reprinted, as it happens. And this story is full of famous actors and comedians and their catchphrases in the mouth of an impressionist called Charles Guise who is getting on in years, once well known on TV in the 1980s, and now consigned to lower grade theatres, here in the evoked genius-loci of Scarborough, and staying in a flat found for him to last out the fortnight of his theatrical run. Now near alcoholic (“…after eating in a curry house to balance the food and drink in his belly, he belched his way back to his accommodation.”), he has a backstory of regrets regarding, inter alia, his now grown-up daughter, and this flat has a window-bricked-up room that seems to have some ‘negative’ vibes as well as voices, and, as it pans out, the whole situation becomes startlingly multi-layered with all else we learn about him, and it includes overlapping imitations of words and voices of the people who had stayed there. I would spoil it to tell you more. It is very effective and original, discomfortingly nightmarish and genuinely suspenseful, despite this also being a comfortable showtime costume for me to wear, as if I am braving out again my own steps upon the horror fiction stage by openly wearing it here on-line, on-stage. No longer a mouse, but a man perhaps too mean to be me. From the story’s Guise as disguise to its ‘fight or flight’ and then to its ‘nature or nurture’, its words have given me one enormous ‘civilised snarl’.
“…each lip incongruously firm amid such a catastrophe of flesh.”
THIS STORY IS DUE OUT THIS MONTH IN ‘NIGHTMARE ABBEY’ #2.
EDIT (6 Nov 22): My ongoing reviews of single stories by living authors: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/11/06/the-single-story-toward-a-novel-world/