“After Moreau”

And here we look at the story to be discussed next week at LibraryThing’s Deep Ones group.

Review: “After Moreau”, Jeffrey Ford, 2008.

I suppose you could call it this an existentialist post-modern story given that it is a sequel and rewriting of H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau and one of the films based on it, The Island of Lost Souls. 

But, as is often the case when authors let some other writer do at least half the work in constructing the imaginative scaffold for a story, the central idea behind it is rather trite: all of Moreau’s experimental subjects started as humans (abducted from American beaches) and were turned into animals. 

In this 1,930 word story, our narrator, Hippopotamus Man, tells us what happened post-Moreau: the understated agonies of transformation from Moreau’s injections, the persisting ability to communicate with other victims of the House of Pain, and how they could still have sex with each other. And we get the rewrites of the Lawgiver’s dictums from the film. They are all cheap paradoxes – or, at the very lest, hardly rules — like “Eat Don’t Eat” with only the final rule breaking the pattern: “Fuck Whenver You Want”.

Even among the experimental subjects living in the wake of Moreau’s fall, there are some especially odd ones. The Boars still wear human clothes and talk “crazy politics not of this world”.  Giraffe Man keeps injecting himself with Moreau’s drugs and becomes a putrescent mass.

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“The Beautiful Gelreesh”

This week’s work of weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing:

Review: “The Beautiful Gelreesh’, Jeffrey Ford, 2003.

Unlike the last Ford story I looked at, “The Delicate”, I am going to get into the plot of this one. The weirdness of this story is more diluted though, for me, more memorable than “The Delicate”. That’s perhaps because the world of this story seems to abut our world at least enough that we get references to the Silk Road and the Bible. It’s also because of its satirical element. Still, the stories end with a similar feeling and seem to share similar motifs even though they do not, as far as I know, occur in the same world.

Our story opens with a teary therapy session being conducted by Gelreesh. Right up front, we get the sense he’s not human. The story opens with

His facial fur was a swirling wonder of blond and blue with highlights the deep orange of a November sun. It covered every inch of his brow and cheeks, the blunt ridge of his nose, even his eyelids. . . . His bright silver eyes emitted invisible beams that penetrated the most guarded demeanors of his patients and shed light upon the condition of their souls.

But we forget about that first impression because Gelreesh is indeed penetrating and sympathetic. “ . . . when, may I ask, did you perceive the first inklings of your despair”, he asks his patient.

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“The Delicate”

This week’s weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “The Delicate”, Jeffrey Ford, 1994.

Unlike last’s week’s weird fiction, this story is pure weirdness and has no allegory I could discern.

It’s short, three pages in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. It’s so packed with weirdness and so short that there’s little use in reviewing its plot. It would compress the story little.

Definitely recommended.

The Thyme Fiend

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Review: The Thyme Fiend, Jeffrey Ford, 2015.

Fourteen year old Emmett Wallace has a problem after spending the hot, dry days of August biking the roads of rural Ohio in 1915.

He needs thyme tea to keep nightmares away at night.

And, after exploring an abandoned farm and finding a body in a well, he’s going to need it to keep the daymares away too. The sight of the skeletal Jimmy Tooth haunts him.

Despite Emmett’s age, the rural setting, and a hot summer in the early years of the 20th century, Ford isn’t doing another Ray Bradbury takeoff.

That cover image is a striking one. Nascent love shows up, and the climax is unexpected and … lacking a complete explanation as to how a certain character gets from point A to point B.

The residents of Threadwell, Ohio are well drawn.

The story even takes a stab at the old problem of many horror stories that reviewer Ed Bryant once noted: exactly how all this is going to be explained to the authorities at story’s end. (And sometimes that explanation would be a better story.)

A well done modern weird tale.

If you don’t want to read it online, you can buy it from Amazon like I did.

 

(All right. Maybe I just like skeleton stories.)

 

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