I finally got done reading Langan's "Mother Stone". And it's my favorite Langan story right now because it employs a lot of the themes and postmodern tools that Langan uses in his fiction.
Langan is probably my favorite modern horror/weird writer. Though I think Strantzas, Hirshberg and Kiernan write some of the best and most effective horror I've ever read, Langan holds a special place in my heart.
The reason he holds a special place is, well, let me go back. I got into a heavy postmodern meta kick when I first read House of Leave by Mark Z. Danielewski awhile back ago, and that made me view how prose could be used differently and how the physical material in which the prose is published on could be a used as a narrative tool to add a depth not seen before. This postmodern kick was further reinforced by comic writers like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Dave Sims, Marc-Antoine Mathieu and others. So I bought as much comics, prose, illustrated works that employed such things. Works that referenced itself and other works, realized it's relationship with the reader and the reader's relationship with the work; a complete and alien deconstruction of linear narrative and genres; heavy fragmented paradoxes, absurdity and surrealism to the point where it turned itself and deconstructed itself. I love works that do that and Langan's work a lot of that. Not only does he do that, he also employs horror, another thing I love. It's a match made in heaven.
Those type of themes and narratives come out in "Mother Stone". Though we don't see heavy surrealism but a more deconstruction of the relationship between protagonist and reader. In "Mother Stone" we see Langan's multiple narrative, academia, themes and different levels of trauma, alienation, and relationship with memories come into play through a second person narrative. Though it is used as a way to alienate the protagonist from herself, viewing herself as a whole different person that she doesn't recognize. I viewed it more as the relationship with the reader. Every time a you is read and perspectives are flipped, moved from one body to another, one memory to another and forced into a story, we become more active and engaged than we would if written traditionally. Our relationship with the story become more entangled and more emotional resonant. And this all comes to a heavy conclusion, where the protagonist comes to terms with herself. Instead of being thrown around by Langan, by us, she must take reigns of the story and become independent. In that moment, she also realizes she is her own story and we're finally kicked out. But sadly, in that moment of epiphany, she's doomed because she's kicked the creator and invader out and in doing so, she has made her own ending as just as she's made her own beginning.
It's hard for me to explain just how much this story resonated with me. How it hit all the horror and postmodern funny bones. Even looking back at what I've written, I just.. I don't, but I do know I fucking love this story and I can't wait to see what else Langan has in store for us.
OH MAN! Occultation, my favorite Barron collection.
This is just a quick write up and I'll do more in another post.
Occultation's stories like Mother Stone, heavily resonated with me. I think that has to do with the different types of protagonists. In Imago and The Beautiful Thing, we mostly read about lone tough hard-hitting men fighting against being assimilated and ruined by a landscape that's infinitely older and chaotic than they could ever imagine. In Occultation, we see not tough men but somewhat regular folks in relationships. And most of the time, the reason the horror and their ruin starts is because of those relationships. There's an almost cannibalistic and leachous end to these people and relationships.
It's interesting to read these stories from Barron and I think these are his most effective stories he's ever written. And I think that's to do with the relationships within these stories and how the mold and bend and adapt to the horrors they come across. This is also why I love "The Redfield Girls". A story that's not only molded through the relationships of the Redfield Girls but their individual relationships with legacy, ghost stories and past generations. It's a story that has a lot of nooks and crannies in it that don't jump out in your first time read, but as you re-read and you discover them, you view the story and relationship in a whole new light.
I need to re-read these stories again. Not only to fully grasp what Barron is doing but because they're so well written and horrific.
Another quick thought. I use these quick thoughts as springboards for the future posts I'll do for these works but also to quickly share them to our readers.
He claimed to be working on a book called A Thousand Different Outcomes To The Malvinas War, but he'd never shown a single page to anyone, perhaps fearing that, if he did, one ending or another would become fixed for ever. I'd never come across anything like that in the English bibliography on the Malvinas war. The winners, it seems, reach their destination believing they've walked a straight line to victory; it's us losers who are always left to fret over the multiple possibilities of history.
The Islands, my novel of the year. This outdoes Krasznahorkai's Seibo There Below, Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, Vasque's The Sound of Things Falling and Marias's The Infatuations; wow, that's one hell of a novel.
The Islands tells of the Malvinas islands but through Catch-22 filter. Felipe Felix is a professional hacker who live in Buenos Aires and a veteran of the Malvinas/Farkland war. He is hired by a wealthy person to solve a mystery. From there starts an absurdist romp through the Argentinian mindscape, Malvina veterans, a thrilling murder mystery, and a dissection of the Malvina/Farkland island matched with heavy surreal humor and dsytopian view.
The Islands does not want to be a realistic noir, crime, and historical fiction but to push such themes to satirical ends, also wanting to push the boundaries of reality. The book really did a number on me and I can't wait to further dissect it and write a further detailed post.