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★★★★☆ 4 stars
Really, the name of Things To Do When You’re Goth In The Country doesn’t even need me to come up with a snazzy headline for the post. It’s already kickass enough. So naturally, when I saw this book and read what it was about, I couldn’t fail to hit the Request button. So let me tell you more about it.
Things To Do When You’re Goth In The Country paints a dark, rural landscape of America – not just one of open and vast spaces outside, emptiness of population, but an inner emptiness too, the lack of morality, the crippled human soul, the weirdness of turning wild and uncivilized. This is a collection of short stories, all depicting the life of someone different, living in the countryside. Most of the characters you’ll encounter will at the least be queer, if not different from the rural norm in more ways than that. Some will have left the darkness of the country and will be revisiting it, some will be challenging the rigid thinking of stereotypical religious fanatics and old-fashioned conservatives. This book is a tour of the dark and creepy in America, and it pairs up well with the polished and the beautiful we always see on the news.
The book starts out with a story of a woman visiting her relatives ‘back home’ – meth cookers, aliens watchers, constantly on probation, trapped by laws that don’t even exist, too weak, dark and hated to be able to crawl their way out of the system. Then we also read stories of runaway junkies, living as pets to local kids in the cemetery mausoleum. Stories of growing up in strict, fanatic Christian sects, the Christian channel telling you that 90’s troll figurines will come to life at night and eat your kids because they’re of the devil. Of rich Mensa society families whose mentally ill children share the same hallucination with someone on speed. Of the futility of a life in the country, because the only way out is either the veil of alcohol or killing in the army – sometimes shooting your own. And to almost each of these stories, Chavisa Woods adds an element of weirdness, sometimes magical realism. None of the stories are completely down to earth. They are all wacky, but in just the right way.
If you love dark stories about the rural reality, and if you’re not scared of human darkness and emptiness – this book is for you. I don’t normally read collections of short stories, but this one was definitely worth it. It will make you think. It will make you wonder. It will challenge your worldview.
I thank Chavisa Woods and Seven Stories Press for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Do you go for dark stories like that? And do you like to read literary?
I’m Evelina and I blog about books that made an impression on me. I love middle grade, women’s, scifi and some literary too.