Friday, 7 October 2016

Review: My Glass is Runn, Die Booth

Zombie stories I actually liked!

Okay, that isn't a review. Let's try again.

Die Booth's latest collection of short stories My Glass is Runn is a delightfully ambiguous mix of terror and tenderness. These are stories that are not afraid to look at the dark places, but are capable of remarkable grace, and it is in this tension that the collection works.

Take a story like 'The Ghost Bride' where a bereaved mother is haunted by a white clad apparition - the victim of a terrible crime. The sense of eireeness, of the uncanny, of the awful things one does for love are intense - but Booth never looses that human dimension, giving the denoumont it's power. These are tales that slip through cracks, offering different constructions on horror truisms, motivations that come at you from the left field. These twists of perspective can be used to offer a redemption, even a happy ending. Sometimes, they can throw you headlong in to the shockingly dark. Perhaps most unsettling, however, is when Booth decides to bring the two into ambiguous synthesis.

This is a collection that is wary of authority, or conventional success. It sides against parents, bosses, peers groups and urban life, in favour of more equitable, human connections, life lived on a smaller scale. There a real tenderness here, even in the most uncomfortable moments - a sense of outsiders tenuously clinging to one another, seeking some desperate relief. This is not to say there aren't some distinct and impressive scares - 'Don't Be Afraid of the Lights' is a glory of skin-crawling horror - but Booth deals in a quieter unease which I found remiscent of Kate Mos.

However, for all its strengths, My Glass is Runn is an uneven collection; many of the stories have previously been published elsewhere and some of the shorter examples have the abruptness I associate with a tight word cout. It isn't that they aren't perfectly satisfying ghost stories as they stand, it is only that compared to the longer pieces in the collection it becomes clear that they could could have done with a little more space to breathe.

Indeed, Booth's fiction seems more suited to a slightly longer tale - with the exception of 'Dust Bunnies', my favourites tended to be those where more time was allowed for character development and the slow build of terror. And, where this suceeds, it is sublime. 'Maketh the Man' is probably my favourite, and a nightmarishly intense look at infatuation and its consequences, but 'The Fourth Ape' is also a fantastic take Gothic, while 'To Be Heard' is a wonderful ghost story in the old style.

Also, zombie stories that I liked.

There really is an awful lot to love here. Booth balances the familiar ghost story form with a fresh and unconventional voice. Not only is My Glass is Runn a book to read - he is an author to watch.

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