Tim W. Lieder (ed.), Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre. Dybbuk Press, LLC, 2005. Pp 144. ISBN 0976654601. $13.00.

Reviewed by Jehoshaphat

Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre is a collection of short stories that cover a variety of themes. These include new takes on nursery rhymes and horror myths, stories about parrot enthusiasts, and psychological discourses and thrillers. These stories are written with a serious tone as well as, in some cases, subtle humour and a tongue in cheek. Cynicism and wit invariably make an appearance.

This was a very enjoyable read. The stories were well written and communicated, with good character development, skill in the use of story length. Whilst no two stories were even similar, there was consistent quality and the majority of the content held me extremely captivated. The psychological stories (‘Head Drippers', ‘Something Funny is Going On’, and ‘Clob’) deserve particular mention as they were very delicately crafted. The suspense of whether the main character in ‘Head Drippers’ really was schizophrenic is dealt with admirably. The way that the exclusionist frustration and paranoia in ‘Something Funny is Going On’ is treated is worthy of note. The shyness of the main character in ‘Clob’ is handled sensitively, subtly and substantially, like the majority of the psychological stories. ’

It was only a couple of times that I felt that my mind wondered, and that the story may have needed one more critique and slight amendment. These were not, however serious flaws. ‘Peppercorn Rent’ could be viewed as a tad contrived, but the amusing characters and witty retorts more than alleviates that. ‘Hermetic Crab’ has a slight problem in setting the scene, characters and essence of the story initially, but recovers by means of true suspense and excitement as the story progresses towards a pleasant, if twee, conclusion.

These stories were clever and a joy to read. The title of the work has an elusive meaning—this collection was nevertheless cute, macabre, funny and horrific all at once. There were some comparable moments with Irvine Welsh's short stories, particularly with some of the more distasteful and grim stories, but Welsh wrote that style of story better in his Acid House—though this point is merely an attempt on my part to provide a sense of what to expect. Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre has its own charms that I recommend you enjoy for yourself.

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