Thursday, July 10, 2008

People Are Strange

One of the real joys in associating with the horror community online is getting turned on to a new writer who is going to be a big thing. There is a thrill associated with knowing the work of a soon-to-be-successful writer before he catches on big time. One of these writers is James Newman, and the first thing of his I’ve read is People Are Strange, his new collection of short stories.

There are nine stories in this book, and there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. My two favorites are the bookends, “The Honest-To-God True Story of Earl P. and a Bug Called Abraham Lincoln” and “Holy Rollers.” Newman shows a strong Joe Lansdale influence (that’s a good thing) and “The Honest-To-God True Story of Earl P. and a Bug Called Abraham Lincoln”, in which a fly claiming to be the reincarnation of Abe Lincoln convinces Earl to carry out a bit of retribution, is where it is most apparent. The story has a Lansdaleesque type of sick humor, and had me laughing out loud. Everybody ought to read this one. “Holy Rollers” gives us a grim story about a visit from some truly persistent door-to-door evangelists, illustrating that I was right when I rigged the yard sprinklers to hit the front door, and put the switch just inside the door. There’s some finely handled suspense in this tale.

Here is the full table of contents:
Introduction by Jeff Strand
- The Honest-To-God True Story of Earl P. and a Bug Called Abraham Lincoln
- The Good, the Bad, and the Severely Maladjusted
- Your Cold, Black Heart
- The Tell-Tale Fart (A Parody)
- Bless This Meal, O Lord
- Suffer the Children
- Keeping Up With the Joneses
- A Town Called Hatred
- Holy Rollers (Novella)
- Holy Rollers: The Graphic Novel Art by Keith Minnion (sneak peek at a project that never was)

As a DVD-type bonus feature, a couple of pages from an aborted comic book adaptation are included at the end of the book, giving us a sense of what might have been.

Although he may be influenced by Lansdale, Newman has his own voice, and it’s a good one. People Are Strange is available in very limited quantities, so you should order one from The Horror Mall or Croatoan Publishing today.

On a related note, Newman read the beginning of his forthcoming novella The Forum (due soon from Cemetery Dance) and it is no understatement to say he had us on the edge of our seats, and hungry to hear the rest of the story. This is available for pre-order, and I would definitely recommend it.

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