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Yet more genius from Evenson. I'd never rank his books, but this collection is special: the stories echo in ways that make them all of a piece. Something's at the threshold, and it needs to breathe... There's also a great link to Immobility. Thank goodness for this extraordinary writer. If you like Ramsey Campbell or Thomas Ligotti, you need to read this guy.
The stories are so-so, not good, not bad, the writing, however, is utterly juvenile and not in the good way. The writing is simplistic and completely lacking. While this could be viewed as a stylistic choice, coupled with somewhat trite and hackneyed plots and concepts it really seems as though the author is simply unskilled and also not very widely versed in the attempted genre. Almost every story reads like someone cleaned up something written by a 6th grader. His technique and methodology is all over the place, not just from story to story, but from paragraph to paragraph and in a few cases sentence to sentence. In several stories internal dialog shifts from being relayed via italics in one line to being denoted with em dashes in the next.
The characters are poorly fleshed out and rarely read as real, relatable people. In the case of "The Palisade" the characters are given names, vague backgrounds and their relation to each other is laid out. They are not, however, given physical descriptions, yet this becomes an important factor in the story. The narrative in this story shifts unexpectedly as well. Basz, the younger character serves as a pseudo first person narrator for the majority of the tale, yet in the last two pages it shifts to his uncle, who to that point had simply been a plot device and little else. "Leg" is without a doubt one of the worst stories I have ever read by an actual author. The story has no point other than to relate the authors vague concept of some type of alien life form (he himself seems unclear what this lifeform is). The characters have no personality outside of a near animalistic, momentary drive and what little personality they have been given leaves the reader feeling that they were cognitively damaged in some way. The world/environment in each story is hazy, with little to no description leaving the reader somewhat lost. When environmental description is attempted it's muddled and confusing to the point that it almost becomes random words thrown at the page. The stories are questionably horror, but the tales are so simplistic, the characters so poorly fleshed out, the environment so badly imagined and the writing so simplistic that the storues are completely stripped of any impact.
How anyone could compare this drivel to Kafka is completely beyond me (and yes, that comparison is made on the back of the book).
I bought this sight unseen because my favorite author mentioned being excited about it. I have learned my lesson. This was not a bad book by any means, just not at all what I was looking for. I would say some of the stories are pretty interesting and lend themselves to a world that should be explored further. However, most stories are boring and not remotely horror. I would liken this to reading Poe in junior high and just being bored while intrigued with what could be.
Since I bought sight unseen, I would not at all be surprised if you told me this was written for tweens to read at sleepovers and the word hell on the cover to for edge.