"With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Written by J.R. Hamantaschen
2015, 208 pages, Fiction
Released on September 9th, 2015
Every once in a while you'll find a book that transports you and makes you forget about the outside world. If you should ever find such a treasure, for the love of God don't read it on the bus. On two separate occasions this collection of macabre short stories made me zone out and miss my stop. And those missed stops were totally worth it.
I normally don't like short story collections but J.R. Hamantaschen's With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer is awesome. Eclectic, poignant, thought provoking and sometimes cringe inducing, it's kind of like my life sans the unfortunate wardrobe choices.
"Vernichtungsschmerz" is the opening story, and it deals with death and the decisions we make on how to face it. "VernI'mnottypingthislongasswordagain" was a little slow to get into, but soon shifted gears to where I was actually disappointed that it ended so quickly. Very visual, hence the word cringe-worthy. This is not a unicorn and fluffy kitten writer; readers, expect to have your head messed with.
Next up is "A Related Corollary", a brief but honest view on people who are depressed but hang on for their friend's and family's sake. I wasn't particularly wowed by it. Perhaps because I struggle with depression it is more like reading a diary of my everyday life. I do recommend this people not prone to depression, it might help them understand what life is like for the rest of us
"The Gulf of Responsibility" centers on a social worker whose investigation of his client leads him into a horrific underworld. Like "Vernseriouslyfuckthisword", it's slow to get into but then sucks you in. I like the protagonist Alex, he's quite realistic and a fun if flawed character to read. It ends on a vague note, making me wish there was more to the story. Lucky me I got my wish
When a law student's personal records are sent out to the entire school, an African American student ponders how this will affect his relationship with a racist colleague in the piece "Big with the Past, Pregnant with the Future". This story is actually thought provoking and has a good view on racism. In fact, I had almost forgotten this was a horror story until a brilliant little twist at the end.
A popular Goodreads reviewer finds her life in danger when she wins a book from a sadistic writer in "Soon Enough This Will Essentially Be A True Story". I love this story. In fact, this one has to be one of my favorites. It's witty, J.R. actually writes teenagers very well; something a lot of adult writers cannot. The ending murder spree reminds me of good old '80s slashers before they turned into self-aware '90s parodies of themselves. I have to say I'm glad I like this collection because I'm kind of terrified of what would've happened had I not.
In "I'm A Good Person, I Mean Well and I Deserve Better", a couple's date night turns into a fight for their lives when a monster attacks. I like this one almost as much as "Soon Enough This Will Essentially Be A True Story". The akward pre-monster portion made me chuckle. It reminds me of a few not-so-fond memories of my online dating days. Ever notice in some horror or action films, two completely opposite characters wind up together and then skip off into a happy ever after? I hate that, we're supposed to just accept these two different lives just melding together perfectly with no problems. "Good Person" deconstructs these fairy tale endings with a harsh but entertaining sense of realism.
"Cthulu, Zombies, Ninjas and Robots: or a Special Snowflake in an Endless Scorching Universe" follows a guy named Malcolm as he attends a very reviled Lovecraft/Cthulu convention. My least favorite of the collection, it kind of meanders and it's hard to follow. Perhaps if I had actually read Lovecraft I might appreciate the story more. Yes, I am a self-proclaimed horror junkie who has never read Lovecraft, COME AT ME BRO!
"Oh Abel, Oh Absalom" follows a man named Vernon who gets out of prison only to find himself still being punished for his crimes by a mysterious group. Another favorite of mine with some great character development, and it also ties in with "Gulf of Responsibility". Vernon is an asshole character, but an asshole surrounded by murderers, which makes it easy to kind of root for him. It brings back our protagonist from "Gulf", Alex, and fills in the gaps from the previous story making it more understandable.
Wrapping up the collection is "It's Not Feelings of Anxiety; It's One, Constant Feeling: Anxiety", where an average Joe fears failure as tries to deal with the responsibility of marriage and a new baby. It feels very realistic even though I'm female, unmarried, and never having children, I can empathize with that all-too-familiar fear of messing up. Like "Big with the Past", you are lulled into forgetting that you're reading horror until the inevitable oh by the way MONSTER! endings that I love so much.
In conclusion J.R. Hamantaschen is just too awesome to pass up. How can you not love a guy who posts reviews for his book by a pug, and pointedly dedicates this book to no one. Horror fans need to read this collection. Just try not to read it on a bus.