Immobility by Brian Evenson
Josef Horkai is awoken from storage half paralysed. Those that wake him inform him that something has been stolen from them, that he is a fixer and that he must get it back. The world has been destroyed by catastrophe and only he can make the journey outside, carried by two men in hazard suits that they refer to as mules. What they tell him doesn’t quite add up but he sees little choice in believing and helping them. He has to get it back soon and hurry back so they can freeze him again before his own time runs out from a creeping paralysis that they can slow but not stop.
Evenson creates an atmospheric book from this premise, with a protagonist that knows very little and explores the world with nearly new eyes. The desolate blasted landscape is brought vividly to life and a selection of odd characters inhabit it, Evenson’s prose is stark and well suited to the subject matter and the book, as well as having a quest like structure meditates on some deep philosophical existensialisms. There are some issues, the protagonist seems a little too clueless perhaps and the twisted tale could have been straighter and had just as much, if not more, impact. However these are very minor niggles and on the whole this is a great book.
Overall – Stark, philosophical, apocalyptic. Not your run of the mill SF. A tale beautifully told.
All the little animals by Walker Hamilton
Bobby is 31 years old but has learning and emotional difficulties and is really a young boy trapped in a man’s body. His mother owns a large department store but when she takes up with a man that Bobby calls “The Fat” things go downhill for Bobby. When she dies he runs away. Written from Bobby’s perspective this is a powerful tale marred slightly by the moustache twirling Fat who felt a little too Eeeevil to be real. Bobby takes up with a Mr Summers who sees it as his job to bury all the small animals that are destroyed by cars in Cornwall and who takes Bobby under his wing. The book is divided into several sections and each section has an illustration of a small dead animal drawn by Seb Howell. This is a book that could probably be read in one sitting (I read it mostly in queues a little at a time) and it is an affecting story.
The opening lines are - I can remember the tune, not the name of it, because I’m no good at names, but the sound of it. I’ll never forget the sound of that tune. I can’t remember the driver man’s face though, and that’s funny really, because I watched him as he died and yet his face is just nothing under black hair in my memory. Poor driver man.
Overall - Written in a simplistic style with a very individual voice it is an effective little story