September 21, 2012

Why it Kicks Ass: Attic Clowns by Jeremy C. Shipp!

Clowns never really were
funny, weren't they?
Keeping in touch with my horror roots, I decided some time ago to rekindle my fondness of evil clowns. The original obsession with this type of monster had nothing to do with Stephen King's iconic translation of the theme; I just don't like clowns. I don't get them. Honestly, why would anyone think that children would like to see some guy in oversized dungarees with a parody of a human face... for a face! How can this be anything BUT horrifying to any kid? Therefore, in my view all clowns are evil, even the ones that cry.

So, coming back to my original point. Lately I've been seeing a lot about this writer who apparently ran off four (4!) volumes of clown horror stories. Not wanting to run the chance of encountering a 'too much of a good thing' sort of situation, I just ordered the first volume from RedRumHorror (again with the Stephen King, see?)

The book contains 13 stories (of course) of varying lengths, but all of them deal with clowns and/or attics, although the whole gamma of horror creatures makes an appearance (living soap men, for example). Now, here's the kicker: none of them actually deal with clowns in the traditional sense! AND THAT'S JUST WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT THEM!

At this point I'd like to remind you that the 'Why it Kicks Ass' section of Floating Robes is NOT a review section. I'd just like to explain why I think this book kicks the proverbial ass.

Having said that, none of the stories are actually horror, none will give you nightmares unless you're like me and have an inborn fear of going crazy. The clowns in the stories are often representations of fears, personas, complexes or other psychological phenomana in the mind of the protagonist. Jeremy C. Shipp created with this a map, if you will, of the dark side of the human mind! With evil clowns!

For example, take the story of the man stuck in the attic with a dead clown (called A Quivering Gray Fog). There's a hole in the floor which leads to Hell. And there are a bunch of photographs on the desk which depict the same photograph. Every night, our protagonist takes a photo of the photo. On the original we'll probably see why he's here and what is going on, but by now the photo of the photo of the photo is so far removed from the original that it's hard to figure out. Well, without giving away the plot, the solution involves an underling demon who feasts on human feet.

Without getting to pretentious (or maybe it's too late) the man obviously feels guilty about something and the dead body probably has something to do with it. He feels he's halfway down to Hell and furiously tries to find out what he did wrong and why he's there. The story eminates an array of loneliness, guilt and confusion with not only redemption at the end, but also an overwhelming sense of human foolishness.

As you can tell, the stories are mostly bizarre and weird and certainly not for people who like to hang on to horror in the traditional sense. There'll be a lot of people who 'just don't get it'. But to anyone with an interest in psychology (like all horror writers should have, I'm sure), the stories are just great!

Mr. Shipp's style is terse and almost without any adjectives which makes the stories even more tense and gloomy than they would be otherwise. An ironic sense of humour surrounds most of the stories although I never found myself laughing out loud. Reading the book puts the reader in a strange mood, though, and I found it hard to shake the type of thinking that this kind of writing instills in the reader. Even now, long after I've read the book, I still think about it, much like I do with some of the classics I used to read when I was younger. I guess that means that Mr. Shipp has created some sort of post-modern clown punk horror classic or something!

Okay, so now he's got me rambling about it. If you haven't read the book and are into some weird stuff, go buy it. If you like your vampires sparkling, please forego this one. If you've read the book and 'just didn't get it', re-read it and remember 'It's all in your head!'


Mr. Shipp's Blog
To the Book!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...