Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animosity by James Newman

James Newman has described Animosity as his, “love letter to the horror genre.”  I certainly think this is an apt description but I would take it a step further and argue that Animosity is James Newman’s big ol’ bear-hug to, not only the genre, but the fans that keep it alive and kicking.

This is the book that every horror fan needs to read because, lets face it,  it’s tough being a part of this community.  People assume we are all crazed maniacs looking to undermine the moral fiber of society.  I remember going into my local indie bookstore, asking where the horror section was and the clerk glared at me as if I had just asked for a step-by-step guide for committing every carnal depravity known to man (and some that may have been brand new.)  It doesn’t stop there, though.  The cautious glances from store clerks when you pick up that amazing new edition of Cannibal Ferox or the frightened look your co-worker gives when they find that beat-up Laymon paperback sitting in your office- yep, we deal with a ton of (completely unjustified) persecution.  Why are we the only real literary and cinematic genre that has dozens of conventions devoted to it? I’ll tell ya’ why- because we are so marginalized from society that most of us don’t even bother talking about the genre in mixed company.  We need these events so we can revel in our mutual love of the macabre. Well James Newman decided to step in and tell us that we are not alone. Nope, there are others just like us and a few that are little worse off.

From Necessary Evil Press:

Andrew Holland is a bestselling horror writer. While none of Andy’s neighbors has any interest in reading his macabre books, they’re pleased to have a celebrity author living among them.

 Then, one morning, Andy finds the body of a child several hundred feet from his front door. A little girl who has been raped and murdered.

 And everything changes on Poinsettia Lane.

 Andy’s neighbors turn on him. Their animosity is subtle at first: a dirty look from across the street, a friendly wave that is not reciprocated. The local media exacerbates the tension in the neighborhood by insinuating connections between the horror writer’s work and his role in the girl’s murder.

 The authorities clear Andy of any wrongdoing, but the stain has set.

 Before long, this once-quiet, peaceful neighborhood becomes a maelstrom of anxiety and chaos. Andy’s neighbors surround his home like a horde of zombies – but instead of a hunger for flesh, these monsters are driven by lies, fear, and hatred.

Andy Holland’s neighborhood is just like our neighborhoods and his neighbors are our neighbors.  They are the people who we interact with on a daily basis and we can easily see them reflected in Newman’s characters.  That is what makes this book so incredibly frightening.  We can easily see what animosity can do to a person.  It can bring out the hatred and ugliness in the people we know.  Newman’s vision of a picturesque community plays out like the classic Twilight Zone episode, ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’ as the true villains are those who claim to be “fighting the good fight”. Logic gets tossed to the wayside as mob mentality takes over and people begin looking for any reason to point the finger.  The interesting thing is that in a world that claims to embrace diversity, the person with the slightest idiosyncrasy is the most commonly persecuted.  This is the lesson that Newman is trying to get across to the reader.  He is telling us that just because our tastes lean toward the macabre, we are no different than those people who paint their chests for sporting events or the bible thumper who condemns all non-believers.  He is taking us in and telling us that we should celebrate our passion instead of hiding it.

Animosity is a story that begs to be read in one sitting.  This book starts off as a slow simmer and before you know what hit you, this thing is at a rolling boil.  Newman’s ability to create tension is reminiscent of Ketchum as he sucks the reader in with very commonplace events and escalates the whole affair until the reader and characters find themselves in a frenzied free-fall with no hope of escape.  The magic in Newman’s writing lies in his ability to keep the whole story planted firmly in reality as he presents these seemingly impossible scenarios.

Animosity solidifies Newman as a must-read author for me.  His unique voice and blue collar style really speak to me in a way that few authors can.  Animosity , much like his other work, doesn’t rely on supernatural monsters but, instead, explores the inner evil within humanity.  If you have yet to read anything by this extremely talented author I strongly urge you to head over to the Necessary Evil Press site and pick up your copy today.

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