Michael Boatman, God Laughs When You Die. Dybbuk Press, 2007. Pp. 148. ISBN 9780976654629. £7.99.

Reviewed by Karina Kantas

A collection of nine short stories in the not-so-subtle genre of Horror.

Although he is a professional actor and author of the forthcoming comedy novel The Revenant Road (Drollerie Press, 2008), God Laughs When You Die is Michael Boatman's first literary collection.

This collection consists of stories that are comic, disturbing, absurd, grotesque and utterly bizarre. A few of the stories such as ‘Folds’, ‘Katchina’ and ‘Dormant’ are understandable horrors. But then there are more bizarre tales, such as ‘The Long Lost Life of Rufus Bleak’, which will take a couple of reads before you find your way through the fog of confusion. ‘The Last American President’ is an absurd little tale whose non-existent plot is too complicated to explain. Here's the first line, so you get the idea: "Today in the Oval Office, the Secretary of Defense tried to swallow his own intestines." See what I mean?

Boatman's writing is raw and in some tales hard-edged. He has no fear when it comes to expressing himself with words. It's his grotesque details that make the stories entertaining.

My favorite of the collection is ‘Dormant’, a science fiction-flash, about a man who's been told he is terminally ill with EBM; extraterrestrial, bipedatropic, microcarnivore. A very short tale that is so well told, you can feel the EBM squirming inside you as you read.

One tale that has stayed with me (I doubt it will ever leave) is ‘Folds’. It's the first in the collection and rightly so. Chun king is a five year-old big boy. Big in the sense he weighs 120 pounds. Chun King is no ordinary child and his weight gain is no ordinary obeseness. This creepy, disturbing tale will give you the chills and would not look out of place on an episode of The Twilight Zone. (No surprise then that Boatman's horror-comedy film, Evil Woman, is scheduled for production by Guardian Entertainment.)

There are also illustrations throughout the book by Amanda Rehagen, John Perry and Vanesa L. Wojtanowicz, which just add to the macabre tone of this collection.

God Laughs When You Die is not a book for readers that want a scare, but if you have a warped sense of humor and can work out puzzles of bizarreness, then you'll enjoy this collection.

Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk

Buy this book from Amazon.com

Home Current Back Issues Guidelines Contact About Fiction Artists Non-fiction Support Links Reviews News