My to-be-read pile, isn’t really a pile, it’s more like an entire bookshelf. Unwieldy to say the least. That’s why I’ve been taking this break to read. A lot. I can’t write up every book, doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, it just means they aren’t topical (for example, I just finished Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon, a very good book well worth your time, but also one that’s been out for a while and received some great write ups by people better qualified than me).
I’ve been trying (and failing) to keep up with Shroud’s novella series. I loved Tom Piccrilli’s All You Despise, already reviewed the first Hiram Grange and I am more than halfway through R. Scott Mccoy’s Feast as I write this. Which brings us to the topic of discussion: Rio Youers’ Mama Fish.
The page count is slight but the plot and emotion outweighs that of any book in recent memory. In Mama Fish, Youers bounces from 1986 to present day to tell a genre bending story that is humorous, heart breaking, and funny while being both in awe and critical of the “wired” world we now inhabit. He does all this in crisp prose and a narrative voice that is sly, but never over indulgent.
The story is narrated by Patrick, a thirty six year old paraplegic who reminisces about his high school days and the strange boy, Kelvin Fish, that he tried to befriend with disastrous results. To summarize any more would ruin it. Just get the book.
The juxtaposition of Patrick’s adventure as a kid, all of his internal flights of fancy kept intact, with his world-weary observations about technology and the way we grow dependent on them are both frightening and frighteningly accurate.
I haven’t read his other books (something I will be sure to alleviate soon), but I can say that Mama Fish is the work of someone not afraid to mix it up. A confident voice untethered by the preconceived “demands” of a certain genre (be it horror or otherwise). A smart book that doesn’t talk down to readers, and rewards them for their intelligence. This was easily one of the best books I read this year and further proof that some of the best stuff comes from the small press.