DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

by Rob Hardin
ISBN: 1-57366-027-2
$9/206 pp.

At one point in Distorture author Rob Hardin tells us: "Writing is dissonant counterpoint -- the chamber music of nightmares & empty attics. It is vomiting in order to savor last night's narcotics. It is contamination, the act of scraping pathogenic bacilli from the walls of the throat and injecting them into the mind of the reader. It is recoil & distortion, the sociopathic spewing of fictions."

coverA musician as well as a writer, Hardin writes with the darkness of Mahler, the atonality of Schoenberg and the elegance of the baroque -- dramatic, ornate yet without excess, full of conflict and sensuous imagery. Word against word, his counterpoint supports his themes of pain, dysfunction, societal corruption, isolation, personal psychosis, death, distorted eroticism. Hardin refuses to follow the rules in his world of twisted reality made vivid with splashes of nightmare. He never resolves his dissonance, the discord becoming cordage that binds then pulls you into another dimension. Once there it becomes very difficult to escape, even if you want to. When/if you do break out, you will find that you have indeed been injected, contaminated, infected forever with Hardin's brilliant disease. You will never be quite the same.

The recipient of this year's Firecracker Alternative Award for fiction, Distorture is a collection of short stories, vignettes, and word "orchestrations" beautifully presented in an illustrated paperback that the author also designed. The book is challenging, intelligent, cruel, and often highly amusing. Hardin tells stories, but also offers slices of narrative, description and surreal interpretations that intersect the more straightforward writing in a postmodern redefinition of fiction. Throughout it all there is his exquisite use of language:

"You love the searchlight of a blind girl's hand."
"Her mind went dark like a theater ready to dream."
"The future is a chromatic sequence of plumes arranged in the hand like tarot cards."
"The reliquary possessed an air of disquiet. Presences blew through its halls like the scent of violent women."
"Inhaling the cool fluff of his pillow, he sheathed his complicity in the illusion of loss..."
For those who appreciate dark fiction and can accept the truly cutting edge, Rob Hardin's cerebral Distorture will come as a revelation and cause for celebration.-- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.