CONFESSIONS OF A GHOUL - 2001
By M.F. Korn
Silver Lake Publishing
TPB 118 Pages
M.F. Korn's new book, CONFESSIONS OF A GHOUL, appears to be the final nail in the coffin of Silver Lake Publishing, now gone
to meet its maker (who is running from debtors no doubt.)
This is certainly not the fault of Korn as his book is generally above par. The best stories
in this collection are the rollicking "The Great Find Of The Non-Traditional
Computer Cowboys". For some reason that I couldn't quite put my finger
on, it reminded me of Hemmingway and Hunter S. Thompson.
Three stories in a row: "And Now, The Wizard Of Gore, May I Present The President",
"Rags To Riches To Hell", and my favorite, "The Unwelcome
Guest" all concern themselves over variations of a central figure
being the World's Greatest Horror Writer. They are brief bites of Horror
tropes made all the more palatable for their unique twist ending and wry humor.
"Letters From Skitzo" is an uneven tale told entirely in letters back and
forth. The ending is expected and the least of these stories.
Finally we reach the centerpiece of this book, "Confessions Of A Ghoul".
Everything that has come before this story seems naught but a series of movie trailers
while waiting for the main feature.
"Confessions Of A Ghoul" is rich and textured in a way rarely seen these days.
It takes its time without ever meandering through meaningless prose. M.F.
Korn wants us to thoroughly get inside the head of the characters and
does it in a way that never reveals too many secrets.
The story is about a Ghoul who has named himself Tiresias. He writes and babbles
like a person going slowly mad from Syphilis. He shuffles through his
life and a backwater University town somewhere deep in the bible thumping
Louisiana South. Tiresias may or may not realize that he is being shadowed
by a University student who has chose him for his thesis.
Tim Meadows is the student intrigued by Tiresias and his ghoulish behavior, all the
moreso because there is a rumor that Tiresias was once a brilliant student
of the University.
Confessions Of A Ghoul delves page by page, ever deeper into the very dregs of human
existence. Paranoia, perversion, and cannabalism are just the linchpins to this tale.
The problems I had with this book seemed to have less to do with the author than with
the editing. Spelling errors abound and whole paragraphs are repeated,
over and over again turning what seems to be a fascinating story into
a muddle. Notice this paragraph from page 73:
The night was black and dismal as midnight in the secret recesses of some sinister deep space.
Whimpers whistled through the spooky paddock. Tiresias stopped and hunched
over something in the thicket with the clearing just ahead. He waited,
and then saw Tiresias brandish a sort of utensil, which looked much like
an ordinary kitchen steak knife. He appeared to cut and thrash, and saw
and hew away at a bundle of lifeless bulk which lay propped sideways on
the very ground. The man was cutting away at a body. Very much deceased
since God knew when, but now Tiresias was hungrily chewing at a now separated
chuck of the meat of the remains. It looked like a frail body, perhaps
that of a homeless bum or such. He wrenched more bloated flesh from it
with a steak knife, digging in as it were.
The scene is part of a fascinating whole. Too bad the whole thing gets repeated
again on page 82 throwing the entire story off whack. I had to reread
it a second time, taking care to jump over the redux so that the story
flowed the way it should. Hopefully, future reprints will take care of this issue.
Another place the book falters is with the very first story, "Eternal Questions
Posed At The International House Of Pancakes". While the story has
strands of self-effacing humor, it is also bloated with an overabundance
of self-congratulatory sneer. M.F. Korn's character, Mark, makes secret
fun of the multi-psuedo intellectuals and their conspiracy and UFO theories
at a local eatery and bus station. Unfortunately, Korn gets so involved
in the myriad progenitors of the form that the story begins to read more
like a smart ass trivial pursuit game of junk science theorists than a
humorous jaunt through this other world: As if name dropping alone betrayed
a studied knowledge and understanding of the crackpots.
This book, though flawed, is still enjoyable for all the best reasons I mentioned
above and gets 3 BookWyrms from me.
This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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