Friday, January 20, 2012

Colleen Anderson - It's Only Words

Colleen Anderson’s opening story of shifting malleable identities, temporary unsatisfied catharsis, exorcism and infection (of the body and of actual texts) opens this DF Lewis edited anthology of horror stories. Kudos must go to Tony Lovell’s excellent cover artwork and photography which already seems to perfectly complement Colleen Anderson’s opening tale. Lloyd, the tale’s protagonist we discover, is plagued by some form of personality disorder or schizophrenia. He might also be haunted by the stories he has been reading since he was a boy. It is a strength of the story that this disparity remains unclear-his thoughts and mind however are certainly subject to a cacophony of voices. A seemingly banal incident involving the protagonist’s car being unjustly towed away has harrowing consequences. Revealing more would spoil this excellent tale. Colleen Anderson incorporates elements of body horror and intertextuality in an effective and original way.


Curtain-raiser “It’s Only Words” by Colleen Anderson is a muscular start with the tale of Lloyd, a frustrated and unhappy man who collects horror anthologies. He finally snaps and kidnaps a smug wheel-clamper, but rather than the murderous revenge-against-society one might expect, the results are much more memorable and interesting. I won’t spoil it by revealing the moody sting in the tail of this original piece.


The opener, It’s Only Words by Colleen Anderson is a “chronicle of pain and lonliness” where a library of horror anthologies is used to teach others life lessons in a variety of splendidly gruesome ways.


 Kicking of the anthology is It’s Only Words by Colleen Anderson. In it Lloyd, who is an avid collector of horror stories, struggles with everyday life, he finds it hard to interact with people, and thinks that everyone is out to get him. One day he finally snaps, and kidnaps a smug smart arsed traffuc warden. Once he is bound and gagged in Lloyds house, Lloyd dsecides to tell his story to the traffic warden in a very unusual way. Soon Lloyd embarks on a quest top get his story told to all those who deems have wronged him. Colleen Anderson kicks off the anthology in a stunning fashion, this is a moving tale, tat shows there is a power in words and stories


"...the tale providing a tasty sampler of what is to come." (Black Static #25 - TTA Press)


There is a grand metaphor at the heart of this short piece, about the power of words to remake an individual. Ms Anderson handles it quite deftly overall, her high poetic language beautiful and emotive, though some of the more prosaic sections seem a bit dull by comparison. A good idea, well executed, which is as much as one can ask from a piece this length. I might have preferred it without the last paragraph, which more or less explains it all - I was enjoying the uncertainty.


In “It’s Only Words”, the fine first piece in the anthology, the protagonist uses fragments of texts to cocoon his victims, thereby relieving the thunderous discourse of the inner voices that poison his existence but, as people around him begin to lose their ability to communicate, he fears he has become the agent of this linguistic decay and the final impression is of a world spiralling into chaos.

Any further reviews after 20 Jan 12 will appear in the comments below.

My own views: