[full view art]

Angeldust Apocalypse

Jeremy Robert Johnson. Eraserhead Press. $10.95
180p. ISBN: 976249839
(July 2005)

book cover Jeremy Robert Johnson's Angeldust Apocalypse does not, thank goodness, fall into the "entirely not ready for prime time" debut collection category that we so often see from the small horror specialty press. This is not to say, however, the author would not have benefited from waiting a little longer to put together a collection. Choosing from a broader range of only his best would have better served to showcase Johnson's work. Johnson doesn't strike me as the patient type, though. He excels at pathology and perversity and often -- as in "Two Cages, One Moon" (original to this collection) -- he manages to make an impression even though the story itself is incomplete. "League of Zeroes" is not quite as much of a premature ejaculation. Its exploration of truly extreme body modification is interesting, but the story as a whole could have used a little more stamina. In "Swimming Through the House of the Sea" Johnson works in a more standard literary style providing enough information and characterization for the reader to understand the core familial dysfunction (the theme or at least an element of many of his stories) and consequently "Swimming" is one of the book's finer stories. He finds similar success with the uncharacteristically sentimental "Luminary". "Snowfall" straightforwardly deals with the end of a dysfunctional world as sensed through a deaf child who finds beauty in his doom. Roberts most balls-out drug-drenched writing -- like "Wall of Sound: A Movement in Three Parts" (another original) -- will turn as many readers off as it turns on, but that's the name of the game. Other experimental work -- particularly vignettes like "Stanley's Lips", "Ex-Hale", and "Branded" -- probably should have been left out. Nevertheless, Johnson is a confirmed weirdo and authentic writer of uncommon emotional depth who deserves to be watched. I'd just be a lot more comfortable eventually recommending a collection refined from only the best he has to offer. -- Paula Guran (Originally published in Cemetery Dance #55, Summer 2006)