Sin & Ashes

Joseph S. Pulver Sr.. Hippocampus (www.hippocampuspress.com), $20 trade paper (325p) ISBN 978-0-9844802-4-1
Desperate lives that dead end in violence, pain, and occasionally supernatural experience dominate the 50 impressionistic short stories and poems that make up Pulver's uneven second story collection (after Blood Will Have Its Season). In "As the Sun Still Burns Away," a witch-woman brutalized by the people of her town returns from the dead as a predatory ghoul. "She's Waiting" describes a werewolf's physical transformation in terms as painful as any of her kills. The narrator of "Caligari, Again" finds himself adrift in a menacing landscape modeled eerily on the set of the German expressionist horror film. Pulver approaches the bracing subject matter of his stories fearlessly, but his opaque and fragmented prose style—"A crowd of blind, aggressive hearts don't even pause their chitchatting about the broadloom temptations"—renders much of their imagery indecipherable. More sketchy mood pieces than fully-fleshed out stories, the tales in this volume cry out for better developed characters and plots that would make them linger in the memory for longer than it takes to read them. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2011
Release date: 12/01/2010
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