||[Sep. 26th, 2007|12:19 pm]
Dybbuk Press Community
Grady Harp posted this review on Amazon and Powells|
God Laughs When You Die by Michael Boatman
Grady Harp, September 18, 2007
Dark, Skanky, Funky Little Twisted Tales: Performance Art
GOD LAUGHS WHEN YOU DIE: Mean Little Stories from the Wrong Side of the Tracks - that's enough of a title tied with a terrific cover art borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch to make any inquisitive mind pick up this book. The fact that it is the debut outing of classy actor Michael Boatman adds to the impetus, but it is the settling in with these nine weird short stories that makes the reader realize that here is a new writing talent in the making. The stories could be read aloud and be considered as performance art, so full of wild imaginings and colorful creations, at times repulsively detailed explorations of body cavities and characters who drop in like gargoyles to keep the eye and the senses alert.
Where Boatman finds these ideas it at once curious and frightening. Yet he is able to tell the stories with a superb vocabulary that seems to ooze from the page like a jellied corpse attempting to rise. There is a lot of violence here, yet controlled with a sense of building tension for the reader to quickly turn the page for more detail. His 'characters' are flat like comic book figures - until they speak or do perverse and nasty deeds, and then they are strong enough to resemble memories from bad dreams or dyspepsia.
Sounds like a book that might be more than the average reader could swallow? Maybe. But it is definitely an art form looking for an incarnation and Boatman seems to be able to open and close each of the fairly brief stories like an able craftsman. If the 'book' feels dissociative, then that may be part of the purpose of choice of format. Whatever Michael Boatman has created here begs for development into a novel state, and perhaps being committed to a full-length book on one topic would hone the ideas and imagination with the skills he so obviously has at hand. Try it - but leave the night light on... Grady Harp