"Cut Corners, Volume 1" Book Review
Written by Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little and Ray Garton
2011, 32 pages, Fiction
Released on September 22nd, 2011
Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little and Ray Garton. Those names would rank pretty high on any best-of list of horror writers. The folks from Sinister Grin Press, a new horror imprint based in Austin, Texas, had them at the top of their list when they decided to put together their first tome. The result is Cut Corners, Volume 1, a book that brings together an original story from each author and puts Sinister Grin Press on the horror map with a considerable bang.
Cut Corners kicks off with The Address, a tale by Campbell that packs all the creepiness and horrific crescendos the author is known for in only 11 pages. An elderly man is lost and looking for the train station. His quest to get back home takes him into a eerie forest. As he follows sounds the sounds of voices emanating from the forest in hopes that they will lead him to the station, the reader gets as confused as him and the story starts to take on a darker hue. By the time the man reaches what he erroneously thought would be the train station, he stumbles upon a confusing commotion that will prove to be deadly.
Bentley Little's contribution, Conversation Between Two Women Overheard At My Dentist's Office, is an instant classic that brings together all the humor, gore and nonchalant violence that the author is capable of. The narrative is basically a dialogue between two women that begins like a usual "Can you believe this happened to me?" conversation and very quickly turns into a gruesome confession. From attempted rape to fingers turned into squished nubs and faces turned into pulpy messes, this short tale packs an unbelievable amount of brutality, humor and bloodshed.
Ray Garton's Autophagy closes the collection with a wonderful mix of science fiction, horror, an impossible love story and sharp critique of a dystopian future. While the narrator struggles to keep his wife from knowing there are creatures coming out of him and hiding in the walls, he learns that his potential lover is facing the same thing: splattering noises as things come out of her, sounds inside the walls of her apartments and a lot of fear. By the time the two scared individuals decide to throw caution to the wind and enjoy together what time they might have left, time is exactly what they run out of. As a bonus, the story starts with one of the best first sentences ever: "Strange things have been coming out of my body lately."
Cut Corners, Volume 1 is a very entertaining read with contributions from some of the best names in horror. Interestingly, the tales contained in the book can serve as a great collection piece for horror fans or as an introduction to the genre because the stories all capture the essence of the authors. Campbell is a spine-chilling storyteller with a penchant for the unknown, Little is a master of absolute horror beneath the facade of suburbia and Garton creates likeable, believable characters and throws them into incredible messy and horrifying situations. Highly recommended.