Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Gregory Miller's Scaring the Crows
Scaring the Crows: 21 Tales for Noon or Midnight published by StoneGarden
First up is Gregory Miller with his short story collection. You know you're going to get well written stories if they're done by a man who gets this accolade:
"Gregory Miller is a fresh new talent with a great future." – Ray Bradbury
If I got a sentence like that directed at me I'd be doing a little sex-wee in my pants.
I decided before actually doing the reviews to give you a little hindsight into the authors by sending them 5 quick questions, none the kind they've probably/hopefully never been asked before. Gregory was game enough to provide answers.
1: When you were a kid were you the first to climb to the top of the tree(or lamppost depending on how urban you were) or did you stand back egging the clown on that would?
It depended on the height of the tree, and who was watching...
2: Did you ever get stung by a bee at school, and if so, did you go to the nurse and request a plaster?
Yes and no.
3: At school did you bring a packed lunch or risk food poisoning...if you brought your own was a carton of Um Bongo in it?
Brought lunch when I was little, risked food poisoning when I was older. I have no idea what Um Bongo is.
4: Were you ever a cub, or a scout?
5: Where did your dad try and hide his porn?
He didn't have any...Or at least I never found it, if he did.
Now I'm in no way saying I'm a reviewer with any skill. Just gonna say what I thought.
Scaring the crows, as the title suggests is filled to brimming with a selection of stories ranging from horror, nostalgia to drama.
The stories with horror elements reminded me a lot of the old Pan Book of Horror stories. Great and chilling tales that managed to get by without the need for excessive violence, gore and profanity. The tales were told with great prose and got by on style.
The books opener: Scaring the Crows. Is about a woman Edith Krepps with a decent amount of mental issues and deals with her escalating madness, which roots lay in how men have treated her. I won't say any more. He definitely chose the right story to start the collection with as the crisp writing geared you up for what's to come.
Arachno is another tale that has the creepy theme to it. This one knocked my socks off with its originality.
Lorna Gould's Roses is a sharp one and cements the reason why you should never trust old people.
I really loved this line from it.
"Well, the wife was fat and wore dirty shirts and said dirty things. And the husband swore enough to turn the grass black…"
The drama ones, the likes of The Hunt set on the outskirts of a town where the winter has been harsh and now the wolves are starving and have gotten too close for comfort. The men have to deal with it. In this story he manages to take you away to a remote place where winter is thick on the ground and makes the threat feel very real as the men did what needed doing.
Goodbye Friend, the empathy that Gregory wrote this with makes me wonder if it happened to him. It actually got the wife crying(Not me, I only cry at the end of Karate Kid when Jonny gets up after being crane-kicked and says, "You're okay Laruso!" and hands him the trophy).
The Day After, It handles the problem with dementia without a softly-softly approach and doesn't condescend either of the main characters.
You can tell that Gregory feels very strongly about family as a lot of the stories revolve around them in an earthly way, no sit-com dads, or soap-opera mums.
The Piano is another that deals with the elderly, their worries and their secrets.
All of the stories are so original. Hell he even threw in one with a time machine that had me grinning at the start with its nostalgic references to Atari 2600, Transformers, Star Wars and He-man action figures.
I do have one criticism and that was there seemed about two stories that finished a little abruptly. But, hell, that's not bad going out of a book of 21 stories to only find a couple of things I didn't like.
I'm not going to go and list all 21 stories. I think you need to read it to find the gems for yourselves.
If you're only into hardcore splatterpunk, this book isn't for you, you've gotta have a bit of soul about you.
But if you're looking for a book you can just dip into for a short burst of a story and either want a story that leaves you feeling warm, or one that abandons you nursing a chill, then you can order your copy from here if you're a yank, or here if you’re a Brit. And at a price of £5.95, or $7.95 you pretty much can't go wrong.