Mr. Volpius, a writer of horror stories, is bitten one morning by a serpent coiled around the thorny stem of a rose bush in his front garden. Panicked, he quickly instructs his wife Eva to call upon a doctor, who soon turns out to be of dubious intent. The story takes off from here and revealing more would spoil this entertaining tale. As in Rhys Hughes’s previous story, some absurdist and comic elements are incorporated into the narrative to great effect. The story explores ideas concerning poetic inspiration, the solitary nature perhaps of the writer’s life and his imagination- and particularly, the role of his muse (and her infidelities, also to great and grotesque effect.) The tale moves beyond its boundaries in its final act, contrasting nicely with the well handled claustrophobic parameters in the first half of the story.
Paper Cuts, by Nick Jackson, one morning horror writer Mr Volpis is bitten by a serpent hiding in his rose bushes. Is a fine story that mix the comedic elements of the story well with the more tenser moments.
In this collection, the theme of circularity crops up several times. Here, a writer writes about a writer, and the words bite back. Every writer will recognise the feeling of digging as deep as you can inside yourself, laying your soul on the page and still only seeing a poor shadow of better writers' work. Sometimes your own words come back and mock you - here they do worse than that. Ironically, this is a highly original piece, and often quite beautiful, in a red, squishy and dripping sort of way.
Any further reviews after 20 Jan 12 will appear in the comments below.
My own views: http://horroranthology.wordpress.com/editors-story-by-story-commentary/