Paul Meloy lives in
Suffolk and is a
psychiatric nurse. His story Black
Static won a
British Fantasy Award in 2005 and this collection, was shortlisted for
an award in 2009.
with Paul Meloy
watched Frank prepare a joint of
beef once by cutting slits in the thick, bloody muscle and pressing a
fistful of garlic cloves into the gashes. That's what that
dog's head looked like, battering itself earless against the sharp
steel edges of the doors: like an enraged and gory joint, tumorous with
great yellow cloves of teeth, animate with a mindless longing to chew."
Reviewed by Pauline Masurel
For sheer inventiveness, you'd be lucky to beat these stories. The late
Lenny Bruce pitches up to piss in the narrator's sink, a clown runs
away to unjoin the circus and feral mutant pandas terrorise a suburban
Meloy does faded glory and extraordinary happenings remarkably well.
There are some fabulous, almost Dickensian, character names: Nurse
Melt, Doctor Mocking, Ginger Lee and Jack Feculant. The opening story, The Last Great Paladin of Idle Conceit,
is not only one of Meloy's great titles, it examines how our heroes
from the past might fare in the modern world. It is, indeed, a
wonderful conceit, well played out and the story sets the tone for a
log of slick, black-humoured prose to follow.
I should probably
fess up that I'm not an habitual reader of Horror, well, not since my
adolescent reading of Edgar Allen Poe and Pan anthologies, but even
though it's not a genre I'd normally be reading, I enjoyed the
exuberance of these stories. If I have one major quibble with this
book, it's that I wasn't sure that I really needed both a Foreword and
an Introduction telling me how special Paul Meloy's work is. I should
have preferred to get stuck in and find out for myself.
most part, these are blokey, laddish stories. They're funny and
well-crafted, but if you're easily offended by misogyny in a first
person narrative then they may not be the stories for you. If you can
be open-minded and accept the attitude simply as a "point of view" then
you stand more chance of making yourself at home in these rather
I can honestly say that I never quite
absorbed the underlying "message" of this collection, so I am probably
paraphrasing incorrectly when I say it is about the Paladins who will
deliver us from the Autoscopes (who are fans of entropy) in a war with
the Firmament Surgeons (the good guys). There are characters, locations
and references which reoccur in different stories forming linking
worlds and arguments.
All of this washed over my head somewhat,
I'm afraid, although I'm sure some people will enjoy it. But I could
still grasp the gist of an argument that says: "...there are more
destructive powers in the world than there are constructive ones.
Entropy is a dark, ever-widening eye that never ceases in its function
to see all and disassemble it. So we have to close that eye a little,
we have to throw a little salt in it, shine a little light in it;
temporarily blind it, if you like. To give us a chance."
These stories certainly fling a little salt. Be careful where you
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