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13 jabs to the brain [Oct. 24th, 2007|09:20 pm]
Literate Freaks


[mood |impressedimpressed]

I approached Digging Up Corpses with both anticipation and apprehension. I was frankly unsure whether James L Grant could carry the momentum of his full-length novels, Pedestrian Wolves and On The Banks of Lethe. Foolish I was to have doubted for a moment.

These are thirteen delicate - or not so delicate - jabs to the brain, in Grant's indescribable but inimitable and instantly recognizable style. Oddly, some of the stories, particularly the final three, aren't even "horror" as such, but they're still profoundly disturbing. "The Last Flight" especially struck a chord with me, as it will everyone with any awareness of the changes in the US since 9/11.

I reluctantly give Digging Up Corpses four stars instead of five because the short story format doesn't allow Grant to fully exercise his primary talent: character development. Unlike Wolves' David or Lethe's Charlie, we never get more than a glimpse of some severely damaged people. It's frustrating to know that these characters have been rattling around in Grant's overheated brain, and that we'll likely never see them again.

That small objection aside, Digging Up Corpses now occupies a place on the Horror shelf of my collection, between Barker and Lovecraft. That's the best way I can think of to describe this work.