Glowing in the Dark

David Peak. Aqueous (Ingram, dist.), $14 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-0-9847399-4-3
Whether Peak (Surface Tension) is better understood as part of the new extremity represented by Blake Butler or as a language-pushing experimentalist like Gary Lutz, the underground that he claims as his territory doesn’t get much more subterranean than this. Literary and horror culture converge in stories that name-check George Romero only to make it clear that urban life is far more horrifying than roving hordes of hungry undead. The grisly “Helping Hands” proves that modern horror needn’t stoop to bogeymen with violence in the Sudan a reality, and the viscerally disturbing title story is right to declare that it’s only when one looks closely that things begin to break down. Then there are the faceless nightmares plaguing modern apartments, sending “Strange Signals from the Center of the Earth,” the wartime dead that book passage on the “Trauma Train,” and the Gogol-inspired “Diary of the Possessed,” in which Lucifer is consigned to a madman’s rotten tooth. When literal things that go bump in the night do appear, as in “The Four Humours,” it’s as the demonic incarnation of vast silence, blood, and childhood fears. The influence of avant-garde poetry and late-night television are equally plain in Peak’s short stories, making this an authentic new evil that will appeal to readers drawn to the weird. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Genre: Fiction
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