cart before the book...
reviews and recommendations for jeremy robert johnson's work had been popping up all over the place for a long time. i'd been wanting to read something by jrj for a while, but he's put out so many books i didn't know where to start. along came social networking to the rescue! unbeknownst to me, some of my fb friends happen to know mr. johnson personally and directed me to start with a happy little jaunt down insanity lane called "angel dust apocalypse".
ada is a collection of twenty short stories. each detail uniquely crafted, mind altering versions of what can only be described as hell. to me, most modern horror writing tends to be derivative of other more famous big shot names in the industry or struggles so hard to be shocking that it falls flat in it's sheer transparency and lack of any real heart of vision. not so with these stories. not so in the slightest.
whether lost along with drug addicted rave kids circling down the drain of disassociation, experiencing body modification to the furthest degree of nightmarish borderlines, or sewing a suit from live cockroaches in order to survive nuclear annihilation...each story is populated with real people and true emotion. honest fear and pain seethe, brilliantly sculpted from jrj's dark imaginings.
one particular story, "swimming in the house of the sea" is not so much a tale of horror as it is one of regret and frustration. being a parent of a special needs child, this subject matter was addressed so brutally and yet simultaneously so tenderly that i found myself weeping uncontrollably. it's a beautiful journey into the mind of a sibling burdened with unwanted responsibility. how he unleashes his rage against the unfair world he is forced into. his regret, palpable and heartbreaking. without becoming sappy and overwrought, he lets us know how strong brotherly love can flow even in the toughest of challenges.
i don't believe i need to disclose how rare it is to find such deep wells of emotion right along side horrors able to wake me sweating through the sheets in the middle of the night. jrj is a master that should be recognized as a true genius in this dark fiction world overcrowded with too many sparkling vampires and hunky zombies.
myself, i very much look forward to exploring his other works as soon as possible. i already have a few loaded on my book apps ready to scare the crap out of me!