Some people have a ton, some people have a few, but just about everybody has a book, or books, that they love. I asked author Erik Hofstatter and...
North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud (2013)
“Violence filled his dreams. In them he rent bodies, spilled blood, painted the walls using severed limbs as gruesome brushes. In them he went back to the park and ate the children while the teacher looked on.”
The flummox title of this Shirley Jackson Award-winning collection is quite misleading. It oozes a sense of fantasy. A peculiar field guide to elusive mythical lake creatures, extinct or long forgotten—but let me assure you that the monsters swimming within are both real and ferocious. They’re called Homo sapiens—my favourite breed of monster. The collection contains eight reprinted stories of pragmatic dark fiction, plus an original tale of aberrant love entitled ‘The Good Husband’. Each story is a harpoon, aimed at your heart, and Ballingrud throws with fatal accuracy. The majority of characters are working-class people: flawed, damaged by life, and tortured by their own existence. As I read, part of me clung to their pain, healed in their misery—as if I discovered an oasis in the middle of a burning desert. I knew these people. I was one of them. We had something in common. A lot, in fact. Ballingrud’s world is populated with amoral but relatable misfits and the quality of his prose is extraordinary. It fascinates and infatuates. The book captures our strengths and weaknesses as a race and explores atrocities we are all capable of, deep inside. Ballingrud is a master at exposing our true ugliness. Who we are, what we do, and how rotten our core really is. Supernatural elements are also present in some of the stories, but it’s the human frailty that connects and shocks the most. Astounding collection.
Erik Hofstatter is a schlock horror writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. Other works include The Pariahs, Amaranthine and Other Stories, Katerina, Moribund Tales and Rare Breeds. WEBSITE TWITTER FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM