This was not an easy one to get through and that’s a fact. This collection of short stories is not difficult in the literary sense. It is difficult in the shocking and nauseating visual image sense. This is a book that hits the reader in the guts and goes to work.
The stories are void of heroes and few of the characters possess any likable traits. The true core of these tales seems to be the ideas, and not the humans created to act them out. Within these pages is captured the dark underbelly of the human subconscious; things that people think about but never mention, fearing a breach of proper human etiquette.
Johnson gives his readers extraordinarily deep cuts out of a defining moment in the lives of his characters. They find themselves in situations that few have experienced, but that many of us carry in the back of our minds along with our deepest fears. They find themselves on bad trips, riddled with parasites, facing nuclear holocaust, surrendering to their own delusions, and craving attention so desperately that they are willing to employ any means necessary.
There are no happy endings. In fact, none of the stories contain any real denouement. The reader is left with an imprint on their psyche, free to draw their own conclusions, which are often more grisly and elaborate than any definitive words laid down by an author.
This is a book that I could not put down once I picked it up. I am not sure if it was because I was so enthralled by the imaginatively gruesome scenarios, or because of the realization that the sooner I stopped reading, the sooner I would be left with my thoughts, free to imagine each tale’s conclusion. –Denise (Eraserhead Press, 205 NE Bryant, Portland, OR 97211, eraserheadpress.com)